Sam Manville is the most articulate and intelligent man to ever call me a four letter curse word. Under the name FTSE, Manville records dark, arch tunes that combine the wordplay of hiphop, the nuanced beats of electro, and the hook heavy choruses of any good alternative rock. His debut album, Joyless, is a stunning release, one Renowned For Sound’s own Jessica Thomas said would ‘leave you questioning what we’ve become in the modern world we live in.’
Not that Manville is a newcomer by any definition of the word. Though Joyless was his first full length, he had already released a trio of warmly received EP’s, with each generating increasing amounts of buzz, and further convincing the world of his unique skills as both a keen, alt pop savvy musician, and an unparalleled wordsmith.
We spoke to Manville about Joyless, the single Brits Abroad and what his ideal crowd might look like…
Sam Manville: I’m at home at the moment, hatching a plan for the future.
JE: The lyrics for Brits Abroad are brilliant. Was there a particular incident that sparked you writing that song?
SM: I wish there was cus I’m sure that’d make a far more interesting story but the truth is it was a song I’d been meaning to write for a long time. It’s become an accepted rite of passage now and although the press like writing about it with a certain degree of sensationalism all they are really doing is encouraging it. It’s just another horrible part of contemporary British identity that pisses me off.
JE: What do you think it would take to change that kind of ‘let’s holiday in a developing nation so we can get trashed super cheap’ mentality? Do you think it’s possible to change it?
SM: It’s another impossible situation, part of me says stop making these cheap type of holidays available for people but I understand that a lot of the communities that have to tolerate it also rely on the business it brings. I think the underlying problem is the mentality of Britons but unfortunately that is something I wouldn’t know how to change. Like most of the subject matter on Joyless we’re not presenting answers, just high-lighting issues.
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JE: You requested videos of ‘people doing stupid stuff on holiday’ on your facebook page for the Brits Abroad video. How many people responded? Was there any stuff you got sent in that was too crude to show?
SM: No one responded, we don’t have a very big social media reach as we’ve only started using it very recently. I don’t think there could have been anything too crude, it was an open playing field.
JE: With a song like Blood On My Hands, what comes first: the lyrics or the melody? How much of the end product do you have in mind when you begin working on the song?
SM: The verse for Blood On My Hands was written like a lot of the verses on the record, I’d just put a load of thoughts down and then when I have a beat I’ll adapt them so that they work. I knew the tag line for the track had to be ‘I’ve got blood on my hands’ and then the chorus melody was kind of dictated by that. Every song starts differently so I very rarely know where it’s going to end up.
JE: A recent piece by the Guardian about you seemed determined to paint you as a ‘miserablist.’ How do you respond to the categories the media have tried to pigeonhole you into so far?
SM: It’s just how journalists have to write. Human nature is to compare things to other things, to try and bring meaning to abstractness, so coining a term to describe something so that others can make sense of it without actually experiencing it is inevitable. I don’t mind, people can write what they want.
JE: A lot has been made of your distinctive voice. What age were you when you began using it as you do now?
SM: I’ve always been aware of faux American accents, I always strove to present my vocals as an honest representation of my natural voice. I started singing like that about 10 years ago but I did fall into the trap of masking it a little about 4 years ago. When I realised what I was doing I kinda just said ‘wake up, what are you doing?!’
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JE: What is your favourite thing about being on tour? Also, what is your least favourite thing?
SM: I toured extensively in my late teens / early twenties. I don’t want to do it again. I absolutely love playing live, I think when I’m on form it is the best medium for people to experience what I do but the whole bullshit that comes with touring I find difficult. It leaves no space for a life outside of it. I don’t think it’s a healthy environment for anyone. Once you get over the whole ‘DUDE, WE’RE ON TOUR’ bullshit it’s just fucking boring.
JE: Did you ever have one of those much fabled, seemingly all too common disastrous shows early in your career?
SM: I seem to consistently have shows like that. Too many to count. Come to one and you might be lucky enough to witness it for yourself.
JE: What does your perfect audience look like?
SM: The House Of Commons
JE: Tell me something you’ve never told an interviewer before.
SM: You’re a cunt, oh shit, no, I might have said that before…
FTSE’s new album Joyless is out now.