In its third year, Manifest is once again offering a bold and diverse lineup of bands and artists, highlighting the many femme, trans, and non-binary folks making music today, yet underrepresented in most music festivals. It is anti-corporate, features 25 bands, and runs for two days starting tomorrow.
As a proud media sponsor for Manifest III, Unsweetened Magazine will feature short interviews with bands from this year’s lineup to give you, the Manifest Music Festival lover, all of the reasons to see all of the artists performing.
Next up is Bangzz, a feminist garage punk duo who don’t give you the option to misunderstand them. They are equal parts rage, wit, and new-found freedom. And not for nothing, Erika, alongside Sarah Shook, is in so many ways the beating, bleeding heart of Manifest III. Catch Bangzz tomorrow night at Local 506 at 10:30 pm. They’ll perform with H. E. McEntire, The Muslims, and Pie Face Girls.
Who are you and where are you from?
Erika: My name is Erika and I am from Tokyo, Japan.
Blair: I’m Blair, I grew up in Arnold, Maryland
Is your town supportive of your music?
Blair: Does the town support us or do we all support ourselves? There’s luckily a fairly active and supportive music scene that exists in the Triangle, and through that we’ve been able to book a good number of shows pretty continuously. Slim’s and the Cave have nearly always been able to come through for us in a pinch; the Pinhook definitely comes through in hooking us up as openers for bigger acts; I can think of a few awesome fucking DIY spots that kill it and have given us some of the best shows.
How do you describe your music?
Erika: Bangers only! Fast, loud and to the point. Like a bullet ripping through – our music is direct on purpose and most of the song titles are statements.
Blair: Brash and curt and in your face. You can’t walk away without a full awareness of what we’re trying to throw at you
Describe your first show.
Erika: It was at Ruby Deluxe with Sidewalk Furniture two summers ago. I remember I had laid out my pedals in a way that trapped me in a circle of wires on stage and my biggest fear was tripping over them. But it taught me how to lay out my pedals differently for every gig since. I truly believe that there are some things you can only learn from playing out often. You can only learn so much hiding your songs in your bedroom – something I did for years! I am glad I am able to share my songs now and move on to learning more about performance and gigging in different rooms. That is also why I am so passionate about creating space for new bands to test out their sets and grow and creating space especially for marginalized populations that never felt welcome in these spaces.
Blair: It was at this place called Ruby Deluxe in Raleigh — a club with extremely low ceilings, dark red and black walls, and a really awesome queer presence. Until that point I had only been there for dance parties and didn’t have any vision in my mind of what it would be like. I felt like it went over pretty dang well, but because that was our only show with a bassist in the band, I don’t have a lot to compare it to.
A few weeks later we played our first show as a two-piece & I was definitely a nervous wreck. Erika and I had decided that playing side-by-side (facing each other on stage) made the most sense, and that totally shattered this feeling I guess I’ve always had that I’m hiding safely behind a drum-barrier and no one really notices me. Being able to see into peoples’ eyes is somehow really preoccupying (is that a strange thing to say?) and I’m still getting used to it.
Your last show?
Erika : I think it was Hopscotch? We had a friend eat a burrito on stage while we played our song “Pretty is a Trap.” It was to demonstrate that women exist outside the male gaze, we are not here to look pretty for you, we are just trying to eat a freakin’ burrito. I am so tired of every depiction of women in the media being hypersexualized. Like we don’t exist unless some man finds us sexy. It compromises our humanity. Pretty is a trap. Dont care what u think patriarchy – I am just here to live my life and eat burritos.
Blair: Hopscotch night 1 at Slim’s! Couldn’t have chosen a better place to play Hopscotch, I love the size of the room and the feeling of being totally surrounded by people who are legitimately hype to be there. It was probably my sweatiest show of the summer (idk tho, Erika might have to weigh in on that because we definitely played in a bar the size of a walk-in closet in Brooklyn that had no windows or AC or fans) and I took off all my clothes and some sweet, sweet person fanned my back with this sweet light-up fan thing that I don’t quite understand the innerworkings of. Then we got drunk in Erika’s hotel room and saw Sleep so all in all it was p dang sweet.
What’s so great about Manifest III?
Erika: Manifest is a completely different space than most festivals or venues. The air feels different. I feel free at Manifest to dig in to how I really feel and express myself fully between songs. A lot of these songs come from a very painful place – hence the name of our first tape coming out soon is called Fresh Cut. Many of the songs are about my painful feminist awakening. When I perform these in front of cis-male audiences, they see it as a performance but when I perform to women and non binary folk and express that I am half the person I should have been because I was told to be “ladylike” my entire life it’s not some kind of show – its empathy. There is something human and tangible in the air.
Blair: When I first moved to NC and started a band (SLIME), Manifest gave us our first show. It gave us a huge boost, and motivated us to polish off a fresh four-song set in under a month. We were so excited, and I still remember how much I looked forward to that night. We played the Nightlight and even though I was still so new to the area I felt like I walked into that room already having a dozen friends. Manifest II was one of the earlier shows BANGZZ played, and that definitely brought the same kind of excitement and same kind of support. This year, I’m playing with another new band at the festival, and Manifest III will be our first show together. It’s very genuinely becoming a landmark for myself and so many other bands in the area — many bands have their first shows here, and are able to make connections with other like-minded musicians and artists and creatives in our own area. I’m about it.
What do you have coming up?
Erika: We are releasing our first tape! BANGZZ – Fresh Cut Our plan is to release it then go on tour!
Blair: my birthday. And halloween is coming too.
What are a few things you’d like everyone to know about your music?
Erika: We collaborated with some dope artists in Berlin who made a “Dead Princesses” video using our song Pretty is a Trap. The purpose of the video is to specifically attack and kill off eurocentric beauty standards. We can’t wait to share what they did!
Blair: we are not looking for a bass player
Who are you looking forward to seeing at Manifest III?
Erika: Loamlands, Post Pink, Geexella, Sand Pact!
Blair: Post Pink, Pool Boy, Loamlands, Stephen Mooneyhan
Why do you love/hate the South?
Erika: I fell in love with Carrboro. NC – a little artsy bike town next to Chapel Hill and have lived there for 10 years. I love the slow pace neighborhood and found it very nurturing for me as a growing artist. However the lack of diversity is really starting to get to me. I am tired of being the only Asian person everywhere I go. I grew up in a very international environment and I miss that so much.
Blair: I don’t know how qualified I feel to answer a question like that. I grew up in the north, and never left that place until I moved here in August, 2015. I definitely think my conceptions about what the South would be were shattered — it’s way better, and I might be able to say I like it better here than where I grew up. But I don’t know what that says about *the* South vs. just Durham. It sure is small around here though.
What is the last goddamn thing the South needs more of?
Erika: Dear South, Time to take down Confederate statues and flags. If it doesn’t represent all of us it represents none of us. Let’s find something we can all agree on and unite under that. Because yes we ALL live here and we ALL want to be proud of that. But your flag is exclusive of so many people who like you have lived here for generations. This is their home too. If you love your home you should love those who love it as well.