Manouche: “This song was made in Italian language as a demo!”

Manouche is a Slovenian band that is known for making jazz, electronic dance and gypsy-swing music. The band was founded in 2011 by the singer-songwriter Robi Pikl, who is the guitarist and the main vocal, Marco Grabber (producer and electronics), Krešimir Tomec (bass and accordion), Petra Trobec (vocal and accordion) and Luka Ipavec (vocal and trumpet).
Manouche gained popularity due to their unique style of music and quickly became one of the most recognizable bands in the Slovenian music scene. They had several hits across the country, the biggest one being “Kje Si Lubi?” and they also had several tours, even through France, where they took part at the accordion festival Le Grand Soufflet in Rennes.

This year, Manouche are going to take part at EMA, the Slovenian national final for the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 in Turin. They will perform in the first semi-final on February 5th with the song “Si Sama?“.

We had the chance to interview Robi Pikl, the founder and frontman of Manouche, about their participation at EMA!

Hello Robert, hello Manouche! Thank you so much for talking to us today, we are really looking forward to find out more about your music and your work!

First of all I’d like to know who exactly is Manouche? Who are the band members?

The original band members are four from the beginning: Petra Trobec, she’s mainly the back vocalist and playing accordion, Luka Ipavec who plays the trumpet and is also a backing vocalist, he also helps me with some arrangements. Krešimir Tomec is a bass player, who won’t be on the stage that evening but he’s producing the songs and most of the albums were recorded in his studio.

So there are four original band members but that evening on the stage will also join us one trumpet player who went on several concerts with us before. And two sisters will be joining us as back vocalists who already joined us live for two album promotions. So it will be some kind of Andrews Sisters moment. I really like those girls, they are a lot of fun and very nice!

So in fact there will be six people on the stage that evening!

Where does your name Manouche come from?

I was a lot in France during the last 20 years because my sister has family there. I have a big connection to their music and I’m most connected with the French music because they have a lot of crossovers. Also, Manouche has a huge variety of different songs and I always try to experiment a bit and find different styles. The main style is always gypsy swing but if it would be just this, we would be boring for our radio stations. I am invited in the studios quite a lot and in fact the original band members all met in the studio.

Why have you decided to enter EMA this year?

Good question 😄

From time to time, when we have concerts, the other members ask why don’t we ever enter a song to a festival. We have three very big festivals in Slovenia but the biggest one is EMA. And the last two years were very difficult for professional musicians, so I said different times, different logic. And somehow the song was accepted.

There’s a funny story about it. This song was meant to be a single in December and I didn’t have the intention to send it to a competition but then I felt a bit too fat to make a video 😄
So I said why don’t I try this and do some sports to lose a few kilos!

But this project was made with great musicians and great work from all the band members!

Your song for EMA is called “Si sama?” and was written by you! Can you tell us a little bit more on what your song is about?

Yeah, all the songs from Manouche are always some kind of a love story with a lot of funny words, and so is this one. In English it means “Are you alone?” and it has a very humorous text.

In fact this song was made in Italian language as a demo, not for EMA or Eurovision, but it was inspired by a song from the Olympic Games, which I like a lot and then I thought it’s an Italian kind of song, so why don’t I try to make some Italian texts? Which was really stupid! I’m so grateful for my wife who said “What? You will make a text in Italian and then release it in Slovenian? Are you crazy?” – And she was right!

That day I started to write it in Slovenian and the result was even better, so it’s useful to listen to wives! If I want an opinion I always play it to my daughters or my wife!

Well, the Eurovision Song Contest is going to take place in Italy this year, so if you win EMA you could perform your song in Italian too!

That’s quite funny! Well, maybe. We’ll see about that!

What will you be doing on the EMA stage?

Our songs are always made with triple vocals. Of course I am the main vocal but there will be solos and I’ll be playing the guitar too, so Petra and Luka will help me a lot with vocals. And of course the earlier mentioned Andrew Sisters moment! We will try to sing it as good as possible and smile!

We are too old to do any acrobatic stuff so please don’t expect that! 😄

What is it that are you most looking forward to, when you think about the upcoming time at EMA?

To have a good time there! If somebody younger and more beautiful than me wins, that is okay.

I’m sure some people are interested in the music we make and that’s what I like about music and why I’m musician. I never expected anyone to select our song but then again it’s different than the others, which can be an advantage. It’s good to have many different songs!

What would it mean to you to win EMA and represent Slovenia at Eurovision?

Oh! I’m not so far yet! First goal is to have a good performance at EMA!

But last year we had our 10 year anniversary and we had at least 500 concerts, also in France and Switzerland, so we do have experience on foreign stages, so that wouldn’t be a problem for us!

EMA and Eurovision aside, what other goals do you have for the band?

A lot of concerts in the near future! We are a very good and energetic band to see and it’s nice music for all the generations because it’s not too modern and not too vintage. Well maybe this song is very vintage but it still has some elements that our fans want to hear!

Finally, do you have a message for our Slovenian and international readers?

Be safe! Love each other! Don’t count each other’s mistakes! Listen to good music! We live in different times but I’m sure there’ll be a lot of shows and concerts in the future!

And watch the festivals of course! EMA and Eurovision!

Thank you for this nice Interview, Robert! We cannot wait to see Manouche on the EMA and maybe even on the Eurovision stage soon! We wish you the best of luck for the upcoming days!

You can listen to a snippet of Manouche’s entry “Si sama?” and the other contestants from EMA’s first semi-final here:

If you want to support Manouche, you can vote for them in our poll!

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