Photo by: Yve Assad

Prior to his life as a touring musician, Montreal's Manny Blu was training for a career as an MMA fighter. Blu found himself back in his hometown, when a leg injury left him unable to compete in professional matches. In search of a hobby to pass the time, Blu gained a newfound appreciation for music.

Inspired by B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and John Mayer, Blu first began performing casually – taking requests from the friends who'd visit. 

Manny recalls:

“That was how it all started. All of my friends were living in other towns, playing hockey. They'd come back to Montreal during the summer, once hockey season was over, and they'd ask me to play the country songs they'd been listening to. I learned all the hits…and I learned there's a culture and a vibe to country music that's like nothing else.”

With his upcoming EP New Ink, Blu dives into new territory once again – fusing rock instrumentation with his country roots.

Blu's sophomore release introduces listeners to a genre known as outlaw country – a blend of rock, folk and country rhythms. Though new to the genre, Blu continues to deliver his own unique take on country music – with blues and rock & roll influences. 

Recorded at Nashville's OmniSound Studios with the help of producer Aaron Eshuis (Rascal Flatts, Scotty McCreery) and songwriters Josh Osborne (Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire, Keith Urban), Ross Copperman (Kenny Chesney, Florida Georgia Line, Kacey Musgraves) and Rhett Akins (Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton), the rock-centric approach was born from Blu’s love for one of his favourite bands, Mötley Crüe. Specifically inspired by the group's album New Tattoo, New Ink is a sentiment to releasing his inner creative expression and new sound to the world.

Each of the EP's five songs tell stories of love, loss, breakups, and everything in between with a mix of country twang and heavy riffs.

“I wanted the album to sound the way we do live. There's more rock, more soul, and more volume this time around. It's bigger and louder, but it's still me. And more importantly, it's still fun.”

From MMA fighter to road warrior, Manny Blu demonstrates tenacity, perseverance and a profound passion for everything he does.

Q: Tell us about your hit single “Born To Ride”

“Born To Ride” is a song about love, and finding a loving partner that will go through all of life’s ups and downs with you. It’s a play on the saying “ride or die” but I feel like it’s a couple notches above that. It's definitely something, both lyrically and sonically, I wanted on the album and I couldn't be happier that it's out now as the lead single for New Ink

Q: What can we expect from your November album release New Ink

Well, I think that New Ink has a lot more of my sonic influences. From blues to rock to southern rock, yet the country music storytelling lives in every song. The themes are real life, the ups and downs and everything in between. This EP is definitely bigger and bolder than the last one and I love it.

Q: How was your experience recording the album in Nashville? How did your surroundings influence the record? 

After having spent so much time on the road with my first EP, I had a better understanding of the shows I wanted to put on, the way the band sounds all together and honestly the music I wanted to make. I wanted to represent that with New Ink, and I think we did. Nashville is the home of country music, but there are so many other types of music around and knowing that there are ways to walk the line between a few genres made the process of making this EP a lot more fun.

Q: Do you have a personal favourite on the record?

I certainly do, but no one will ever know what it is ;) 

Q: Why do you think there’s been a skyrocketing surge in popularity with Canadian country music?

I think when you look at Lindsey Ell and Tenille Townes and the effort they’ve made and the work that they’ve done, they are finally getting rewarded and it's awesome. I think that seeing them do it gives a lot of hope for a lot of others, like myself, taking the risk and competing in Nashville. Quality and persistence always wins. But you have to chase it. You have to get out of YOUR comfort zone and really make the push. 

Q: What’s some advice / words of optimism you would give to fellow creators during these times?

Stay interested, and stay creative. I’ve used this time to better my craft and really figure out what I wanna do next. There isn’t much we could do right now, but stay ready and being creative will pay off when things eventually get back to some kind of normalcy. 

Q: What’s next for Manny Blu?

 More music…Bigger and larger than life type of music that grooves and still has a storyline for the country music listeners. Playing shows would be nice too haha...