Everyone wants a piece of Rush Midnight, the solo project of Twin Shadow bassist Russ Manning—and why wouldn’t they? His new EP, +1, is dripping with sex appeal, and reworks the anthemic 80’s nostalgia of Twin Shadow into something that is both laid back and danceable. And did we mention he looks great in bronzer? We caught up with the 27-year-old Brooklynite shortly after the October 30th release of +1, chatting about romance, alter egos, and giving the bass some love.
Rush Midnight is your alter ego. What kind of guy is he? How is Rush Midnight different from Russ Manning?
For me, it’s something that’s cool to turn on and off. Rush Midnight’s songs use certain subjects that I might not normally use, really simple ideas that I just repeat that I normally wouldn’t repeat. I guess having this name and this alter ego makes it easier to follow through with things, and to separate myself from the art. It’s also kind of a cool way to express myself romantically.
Yeah, some of the tracks, like “Crush,” for example, have pretty romantic vibes. Who are you writing about?
So many songs were inspired by my girl, Anjia. “Dreaming of an Island” was about her being in the Philippines, and I was in Europe somewhere dreaming of being together. And you know, some ideas will start off based on a real person, and then it will kind of blossom into more of a fantasy.
Interview magazine called you a “wistful Casanova.” Are you down with that image?
Ha! Well, like I said, the alter ego allows me to really dig into like this kind of sexy nighttime romance stuff that I might not otherwise talk about. I love really intimate music, but I also wanted to be masculine, at the same time, and kind of neutral, so everyone would be into it. So yeah, that’s a compliment. I’ll take that!
+1 is inspired by your travels around Europe, South America, and Australia. Can you talk a little about what that was like?
It was pretty awesome, and pretty inspiring. I think it’s healthy for artists to be on the move—you have a home studio where you create, and then these trips fuel you for the studio. So we spent like a month in Berlin in between shows, which was really awesome. I love Berlin. We went to Turkey, Brazil, Australia; Australia was rad. The list could go on forever.
How is +1 a departure from your work with Twin Shadow?
For me it’s a lot dance-ier, with the bass line and vocals becoming the real anchor points. Twin Shadow has kind of a guitar theme in general, and this is just my way to give the bass some love.
Do you plan on returning to Twin Shadow anytime soon?
We’ll see how it goes; I think Rush Midnight is requiring 110% at the moment. I’m gonna give it my all and see what happens.
How important is it for an artist these days to maintain multiple projects?
I don’t know if it’s necessary, but it’s always fun. The idea of a band now is kind of absurd—most bands aren’t real bands. You have one person who writes the music, or maybe two, and then you have these other guys who are either strictly performers or have their own music. And it’s really cool when one band can be the launch pad for other bands, like Beach Fossils and Dive, for example.
You have a great sense of style, especially in your video for “The Night Was Young Enough.” Where does your aesthetic come from?
For that video, I found this bronzer…I don’t know if I’m giving away some deep dark secret here. We look really sweaty, kind of grimy in that video, I just thought it was kind of unique—like sweat but also kind of gold. And I’m really into strong colors. For my record, we took photos and bleached them blue. I want to keep up with that; for the LP, I want to do something similar in red. If I see an image and the color grabs me, I’m gonna remember that image. It’s really basic and fundamental, but I think it’s important.
Do you have any favorite designers?
You should check out Various Love Affairs. My girlfriend Anjia is the designer. She’s really talented. I make some stuff myself, too—right now I’m working on a hooded leather vest, and I’m trying to stud the shoulder parts. I worked on it a lot during the hurricane. I want to eventually have 5 or 6 really cool garments to choose from.
Let’s talk a little more about the EP. What’s the overall concept you’re trying to convey?
I guess I just want to show people a vision, and give them a time and a place for each song. In general, there’s usually some type of nostalgia, some longing for what has been. That’s an ongoing thing for me; I tend to glamorize the past, even if it wasn’t fun at the moment. Anywhere I’ve been, I’m gonna tell you it was awesome, even if I had the flu while I was there.
Can we expect a full-length album anytime soon?
For sure, definitely at some point in 2013. I have a ton of songs at the moment, and these next couple of months I’m just whittling it down in between shows and kind of polishing it up. My drummer and I might go into a studio here or there and add in some percussive elements to the whole thing so it translates better for live.
Things move really quickly for up-and-coming artists nowadays. Do you find that overwhelming? Or do you feel like Twin Shadow has prepared you?
You know, it’s funny. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Now that I’m doing a solo project, what I’ve realized is that, for the outside observer, it looks like stuff is happening so fast, but in reality, there’s so much preparation for every little move—for every write-up, every interview, every record, there’s a ton of time that goes into it, and a ton of reply-alls on email chains. People think things are so sudden, but they’re not. I actually think a lot of artists want everything to move faster. You make a piece of art and you’re really excited about it, and you have to wait four more months for everyone else to hear it! So that’s kind of a bummer, you know?