The Deep End: Johnny Manna

Johnny Manna, recent New Paltz grad, is a solo artist you may have seen perform around town. A guitarist and vocalist who fits right into the indie pop rock genre, Manna has been making music since he was a child. What started as an appreciation and focus on rhythm guitar, turned into a serious pursuit for Manna. Once into adulthood and having started college, he started to take voice lessons and learn more about songwriting. Everything Manna learned was part of his aim to create his own sound— a sound that communicated who he is. 

What first peaked Manna’s interest in music was the song “Good Riddance” by Green Day. Hearing it inspired Manna to create music of his own like that one day. Green Day went on to be an influential band for Manna and his own musical discovery.

Now, Manna often finds inspiration from almost anything, creating songs out of the continuous thoughts he has on various different situations and experiences. 

“One of my favorite things sometimes is to just create a fictional situation in my head, maybe with several different characters, and write a song based on their perspectives in whatever situation I imagine,” Manna said.  

Once composing these reality-inspired songs, Manna loves to hit the town with solo performances. Open mics, gigs and shows are all atmospheres he enjoys immersing himself in. 

“I’m always a fan of such a warm and welcoming environment for self expression and creativity,” Manna said.  

 While Manna mostly creates music and plays alone, he also plays with others, forming a band. 

“Whether it’s another friend coming in to track drums or another vocalist coming in to make a song a duet or just add an extra harmony,” Manna said. “It’s the collision of all sorts of different creative ideas into one thing that is definitely what I find the most enjoyable about songwriting.”

Already being a singer-songwriter and playing mostly guitar, Manna has picked up some piano as well to expand his skills and knowledge. With the help of friends on drums, he also records music.

In his writing and recording process, Manna typically starts with just one of either bare acoustics, vocals or piano. 

“As far as my recordings go, I’m lucky enough to have been very close friends since high school with the person who would eventually become my engineer and producer,” Manna said.