The Musician's Musician

One question that’s often posed in the Reader musician interview is “Favorite local performer?”

The most frequently cited is Manuok (pronounced “man-you-okay”), aka Scottish-born Scott Mercado, who’s been name-checked over a dozen times — by Sven-Erik Seaholm, Marie Haddad, Drew Andrews, Michael Tiernan, Bart Mendoza, Marcia Claire, and others.

His high profile may be related to having been involved with over a dozen local bands, including the Album Leaf, Via Satellite, Tristeza, the Black Heart Procession, Mr. Tube, and Lowcloudcover.

It’s no coincidence that these bands are made up of some of the city’s most adventurous and experimental performers. Mercado’s own music, whether doing his one-man thing or backed by various like-minded locals, falls into a sparsely populated “noise artist” category somewhere between Gordon Lightfoot and Devo. Or Dave Matthews meets Björk. Yeah, it’s hard to describe.

“You could call it dark, experimental pop,” suggests Mercado, “though I just read an online review that called me ‘electro-indie folk,’ which I think I like a lot.”

Manuok’s No End to Limitations was released last November on local Loud and Clear Records.

WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

1. The Pinwheels EP. “I dug this one up from my local archives to check out the amazing pop songwriting.”

2. The Bipeds. “A heartbreakingly funny and smart band.”

3. By Sunlight, self-titled. “I can describe this best with four words: Steely Dan Real Estate.”

4. Musée Mécanique, Hold This Ghost. “They sound like Sparklehorse having dinner with Grandaddy while texting Low about later that night, and they’re really nice people.”

5. Drew Andrews, Only Mirrors. “The song ‘Only Mirrors’ should be worth nearly ten million dollars.”

MUST-HAVE DVDs?

1. Blue. “From the Three Colors trilogy about French revolutionaries. Holy cow, I love the music, the colors, the direction, the acting, the silence, and even the spaces.”

2. Léon — the Professional. “Because of Gary Oldman. It’s always because of Gary Oldman.”

3. Office Space. “Because every second of that film is funny, and even the casting director should win an award for it.”

ALL-TIME FAVE BAND?

“If I really have to, Led Zeppelin, because they range from raunchy to orchestral, unapologetically.”

FAVORITE READ?

“Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle. Despite having a degree in English, I’m not much of a reader. Cat’s Cradle got me interested in writing, which got me interested in something other than music, which got me this awesome degree that I do very little with — except mention it in a résumé or during an interview.”

WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH THE POWER OF INVISIBILITY?

“Save hundreds in self-tanning products.”

ANY CELEB ENCOUNTERS?

“I’ve only met a couple of celebrities, but I have met a bunch of fancy musician types. There’s nothing crazy to share. It seems, at all times, almost everyone I know just wants to relax and have a beer. And fight.”

SEXIEST LOCAL PERFORMER?

“The penguin in Mr. Tube.”

BEST THING YOU EVER WON?

“Two grand worth of L.A. junk from a battle of the bands at the Whiskey when I was 16 years old. I kept the comics, but the shiny clothes didn’t make it.”

DRINK OF CHOICE?

“Scotch or else bourbon or else foo-foo drinks with umbrellas. As long as all are underscored by Tecate.”

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS?

“I play soccer three times a week and suck terribly. But that was probably guessable.”

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