MANUEL DA ZIRA :
Outside Merignac or Bordeaux, not many people will know this name. However, this songwriter, mc, dj from Merignac has years of involvements in the Reggae world…Explanations!
Flash back: 1985, it is very quiet and boring in Merignac. In the suburban neighborhoods, the oldest, who were already specialists in stealing moped and car radios, are following the example given by their elders, by robbing villas and surrounding houses, leading them to a long and inevitable descent in to hell…
After having listened to rock (Led Zep, AC/DC, Status Quo, Queen) and French songs (Renaud, Cabrel, F. Lalanne), the young Manu pays attention to the music that the oldest of his neighborhood are listening. Indeed in the mid 80's, rock is not the symbol of rebel music anymore, but this rhythm on the off - beat coming from Jamaica, the Reggae. Bob Marley passed away less than 5 years ago and this music that everybody thought will disappear, is resisting, and is slowly infiltrating into the most sensitive cities of France.
That's how the albums of Steel Pulse (Earth Crisis), Marley (Uprising, Confrontation, Babylon by Bus or Pablos Moses (In the Future)) were played on car radios, walkmans and radio players.
Manu doesn't stop inquiring about the Jamaican culture, by devouring writings from Francis Dordor, Bruno Blum or Helene Lee, visiting regularly libraries, looking for old issues of Best or Rock and Folk. He is also discovering this music via the broadcast of Feeling Black Machine or the late Graffiti FM 101,7, hosted by Edgar "Junior" Gomez (current president of Black Box 103,7 Bordeaux) and the local face, Docteur Jocka. These last one gave him and Nico, his alter ego from Merignac, his first opportunity to host a program about Reggae, on the Tuesday evening time slot from 10pm to midnight. Manu is speaking into the microphone, while Nico is working on the technical production, in this program called Cool Runnings. Now, adventures can start….
It is at that time as well, that started the first meetings with Jamaicans passing in Bordeaux. Then after months and months, the list of prestigious names was getting longer and longer. Pablo Moses, Culture, Burning Spear, Gladiators, Mutabaruka, Toots and a lot more came and went in front of the itinerant microphone of "Cool Runnings". The program was eruditely thought, and received the best reggae labels (RAS ARIWA GREENSLEVES), the last new releases and found the offices of Rock'n Ragga, with their brand new association, and marvelous albums of Israël Vibration (Strengh of my life), Ini Kamoze (Shoking out), Yellowman (Rides again), or yet the live of Burning Spear in the Zenith. On the turn tables, you could hear as well, the first sounds coming from Paris or Marseille: Pablo Master, Princesse Erika, Massilia Sound System, Supa John, Daddy Yod…
In 1988, FM GRAFFITI is on the edge of bankruptcy. A national network buys them out, and changes the schedule, cancelling the current programs. Our two Raggamuffins are now laid off and we had to wait until 1991 and the program « Ragga n Co » to hear them back on the radio.
Meanwhile, Manu, who is also playing the guitar, enjoys learning more about the skank, meets the artist from Martinique Bongo Fire and joins the "Radical Roots" as a rhythmic guitarist. During that period, with his sparring partner, Chico, he also learns the organization of concerts and enjoys working in the community life ( presentation, hosting, broadcasting, promotion) especially in the events like the Marley Memorial, hall of Grand Parc Bordeaux 1990 or yet, the late and forerunner Reggae Festival d'Arcachon.
1991, come back on Bordeaux's radio with the program Ragga n CO , on Frequence 4… It's the time where Raggamuffin was exploding in France ; Tonton David's hit « Peuple du Monde », Nuttea's song « Un Dj parmi des millions de Dj » and the Saïsaï record with Mafia and Fluxy… Our three fellas could not resist anymore, they started working actively on their new project, « Double Embrouille Sound System » : a very easy and largely used recipe : one selector (Chico), two Dj (Many and Chico), toasting first on vinyls then on CDs, with the arrival of Bouyax in 1997, on a powerful numerical equipment 16 digital tracks. The group will be on tour from 1993 until 2003, doing more than 300 concerts accross France (one of them as a first part of the Jamaican group « Third World »), recorded few Streets Tapes, two albums, and the 6 tracks album "Bouillant, Sincère et pas Corrompu" signed by the basque label Agorilla (of which the awful sleeve will prevent any promotional use) and the album "Foi 2 Ragga" distributed by the late Tripsichord.
When « Double Embrouille » split in 2003, Manu takes the name of Manuel Da Zira, leading his own solo carrier, hiring musicians and staff, creating his backing band the "DR5 Riddim Band", named as a tribute to the famous Work-Station of Marque Boss. The long rehearsal cessions start in 2004 and the first official concert is programmed on the 26th November 2005 in Merignac. Meanwhile, faithful to the catch phrase "Volem trabalhar al pais" and having as principle that "Un Petit chez soi est préférable à un grand chez les autres" ( A small home is better than a big one to someone else), MDZ develops the distribution and billsticking of Bip-Bip Production ( See the song "L'afficheur" and/or the page BipBip production/Street Promo) to insure a total independence outside of all the music business networks ( Managers, labels …). In consequence, days are well fulfilled in the BipBip Production studio, since, simultaneously the production of his first solo album is launched "Portugues suave" which sees the daylight in 2006. This was maybe a too heavy workload, since after 2 years of intensive work and few changes of musicians, the project DR5 Riddim ends without having the chance to be on stage. Back to the start then, or back to the studio, since MDZ goes back on Studio BipBip Production, and like the good old days, with the microphone in the hands, the first lyrics are flowing in the summer 2009, giving the foundations of the next album currently in production.
To be continued….