Mira Manga is a musician, writer and label manager for ECC Records and ECC100.
Best known as being front woman of Glitter Teen C band Disco Pistol and indie comedy electro outfit The Duloks and inspired by her bard character in Dungeons & Dragons, Manga still writes music and appears as Maria in a YouTube soap Thamesmeerd.
She is the author of the book Danger! Cosmetics to Go, which chronicles the company that came before Lush.
Manga splits her time between Docklands in London and Lush HQ in Poole, enjoying the proximity to water in both locations.
This is art, as told by Mira.
Art is what happens when we express our creative energy. A powerful thing, it can change your mood, or make you contemplate ideas you hadn't previously considered. It can brighten a room or create a tone or make you feel anxious or edgy or even scared.
A true reflection of our souls, thoughts and dreams translated through a chosen medium, be that singing, painting, sculpture, design, screaming or sewing...it really does explode out of us humans.
The creative world’s best-kept secret
It's hard to choose just one. For me, my language of artistic expression is music. Growing up I was obsessed with bands and music and it was all I wanted to ever to do; sing, go to shows, make music, collaborate and harmonise.
The magic of music and it's ability to absorb you into a whole other world, complete with tribes of new friends and live shows and shared soundtracks and experiences is something that's always been quite hard to explain with words. I think the movie Almost Famous by Cameron Crowe expresses this perfectly, especially the exquisite pain of loving a band so hard that you can barely breathe. I urge everyone to watch this just to get a taste of what that feels like. Similarly the Phonogram comic book written by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie encapsulates the whole "music is magic" and pays homage to a particularly prolific time in music, the Britpop era and beyond!
As an extrovert who is also a people pleaser, I'm afraid my basic artistic instinct is to produce art that will engage people and help me to get their attention. In The Duloks, a female comedy, electro, indie rock trio, our main aim was to make people laugh with our performance. When I was dying of grief over a devastating break up, the howls of pain from my heart would emerge as sorrowful ‘poor me!’ songs that I was able to twist wryly into lessons on dating for our fans. I like songs to be catchy and melodic and harmonic so that they make their way into the listener's ear and pop up in their heads at the most unexpected moment. I take pride in creating earworms - they are my wriggly children.
Since my sex 'n' drugs 'n' rock n roll years and a shedload of therapy, I find myself in a wonderful place where I am fully congruent. That is to say, I am happy with who I am and all too comfortable with laying it all out there for other people to adore or detest as they see fit. Expressing myself freely = sharing my feelings, views and innermost secrets and giggling as I figure out ways to sing / compose that will give listeners and watchers a kick of some kind. Be that a belly laugh or a wince or a sorrowful shaking of the head in my general direction and leaving the venue to head to the bar.
What role do artists have in today’s society?
The world is a dark and scary place and the day to day grind is tough. Art offers escapism, a portal to a completely different place, an opportunity to explore fantastical and beautiful ideas or just a way to step out of the real world and into another place. It's nice in this other place. You can breathe and absorb the art all around you. It refreshes the mind and the soul and inspires you.
It also offers an opportunity to challenge the status quo. In turbulent times like these, artists are able to confront the establishment rhetoric and spread alternative ideas and outlooks.
Two different sides of the same coin. Escapism vs Realism. Light and shade. You can't have one without the other.
Personally I err on the side of the more frivolous and feel fucking grateful for all those art activists out there giving a voice to my concerns and creating awareness.