The rising pop star just released her first single ‘Just Can’t Let You Go’ on iTunes this week, which features Lil Wayne’s protégé Lil Twist.
Her album is also on the way, which is pretty impressive for such a young artist. It’s easy to see where she got her start, though.
Manika grew up in Las Vegas, the showiest of show towns. Besides being around music and entertainment her entire life, Manika says there were other perks to growing up in Vegas as well.
“It’s cool how there’s something always open. In the middle of the night or 2 a.m., if you wanted to go shopping or eat, there’s always a place open for that,“ says Manika.
She got her start after meeting CeCe Sammy, a coveted vocal performance coach, by chance in Vegas. After working with her and developing a unique sound, Manika was then introduced to Frank DiLeo, Michael Jackson’s longtime manager. Sammy and DiLeo now co-manage her.
“At first, I was really intimidated because I was working with Frank DiLeo and Travis Payne and people that have worked with the legendary Michael Jackson. I was like, you know, I better be good,” says Manika. “The thing I love about Michael’s team is that they’re super talented and also they’re such great, good-hearted genuine people. They’re so supportive, and I couldn’t ask for anyone better.”
Manika says she’s been singing for as long as she can remember, so it’s no surprise she naturally found her way into the business. For the past few months, she’s been touring across high schools, which she says has been a tremendous growing experience.
“I was totally excited to start and get my music out there, and it was also a little nerve racking because, when you think of it, it’s your first time you’re hearing me. It’s been great, the kids are so sweet,” says Manika.
“It’s really amazing seeing the process of how a song starts as an idea, a storyline and an emotion, and then it keeps building. You get the track done, you do the music video, then you get the live performance and you relate it to an audience.”
She also reveals that she graduated high school a year early so she could focus on her career and performing. Aren’t her friends jealous, I ask? While her friends are doing math and English exams, Manika is touring the world. Must sting a little.
“They’re really cool about it, they’re really supportive. They’ll be like ‘Oh, I miss you! I want to hang out with you more!’ but I’m just so busy I haven’t gotten the chance to see any of them,” says Manika.
Her debut song, ‘Just Can’t Let You Go,’ is an upbeat pop song that one expects from a young artist. But Manika plans on differentiating herself from other teen stars – she already has, by incorporating unexpected details into her music.
The debut single features a rap by Lil Twist and beat boxing – two things right off the bat that you wouldn’t expect from a teen star. So how did the collaboration come about?
“We actually knew someone who knew him and we sent him the song idea and some of my other materiel. He just really loved it and was like ‘yeah, I’d love to do a collaboration’ and things just really clicked off. He did the rap, nailed it, and then we shot the video together.”
The video was shot in a studio in New York, as well as on location on Venice Beach in Los Angeles. Being a one-time tourist to L.A., I know that Venice Beach is, like, the most tourist-y area in California. So, from staring tourists to interesting personalities, Manika dealt with it all during the big shoot.
“It was funny, there were some really interesting people. There was this guy wearing a brown Speedo with like, rubber snakes on him,” says Manika. “It was cool, though, a lot of people were looking like ‘what’s this, what’s this.’ And I was like ‘you’ll be hearing from me.’”