The Designed Life: Manny from Momentum Drums

In The Wild

The Designed Life: Manny from Momentum Drums

Professional drummer, amateur rock climber and Topo fan Manny Osoria has led an exciting life. Drumming for the hit show STOMP, playing for the Torch Relay at the Olympics, evacuating from Italy at the height of the early can understand why we wanted to know more. Read on to learn what we found out.

You've got quite the résumé. Any highlights from the long list of acts you've been a part of?

Being a performer in the off-Broadway show STOMP is definitely at the top of the list. I’ve been doing it for years and, as a professional drummer, the show is consistently challenging and an absurd amount of fun to perform.

I’ve also done some amazing stuff with my company Momentum Drums, we wrote and choreographed a Delta Airlines commercial during the holidays which was a blast, and performed for the 2010 Olympics on the Torch Relay. It was a variety show with Cirque du Soleil performers and I even got to run with the Olympic flame; it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

What's the most important lesson you've learned from being a performer?

That flexibility is key. I also have a background in Event Production/Operations and, like in that field, as a performer you learn quickly that no amount of planning will result in everything going right. You have to be able to think on your feet and improvise as trends (and the industry itself) change and especially when you find yourself in challenging situations. Constantly working on your weaknesses is huge too. Being able to recognize what they are and how to overcome those weaknesses is invaluable when it comes to becoming a better performer or artist.

Piece of gear that's changed your life?

I picked up my Mountain Rolltop Topo bag from a little shop in San Francisco in 2011. That thing has been to hell and back with me, and might hold more sentimental value than anything else I own.

We hear you've taken your pack to 22 countries and 49 states. If you had to pick just one of each, which would be your favorites?

Oh my god this is going to be impossible! I legitimately can’t pick just one of each so I’ll list five of my favorite cities in the world so far (in no particular order):

  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Montreal, Canada
  • San Francisco, USA
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Venice, Italy

You were in Italy when COVID-19 hit and you had to stop touring. What was that like?

We knew it was a big deal because we were being sent home, but honestly none of us really understood the gravity of the thing until a few weeks later when everything started shutting down in NYC. I live in Brooklyn and actually had COVID-19 back in March and it was by far the most sick I’d ever been. Obviously a lot of my friends in the entertainment industry are hurting right now so we’re all just trying to stay positive and work on digital content until things get better.

In addition to being a drummer and a rock climber, you're also a capoeira player. How did capoeira come into your life?

So I actually had to audition for STOMP three times over 7 years before getting hired! The first time I auditioned they told me my drumming was up to par but my movement and stage presence was super awkward and stiff to say the least. I didn't feel like taking a standard dance class and a friend told me about Capoeira, which is a martial art that incorporates dance elements into its training (for which there are historical reasons). And, although Capoeira can be really dangerous when we “spar”, the thing that really got me hooked was the music, community, and philosophical components that make up the foundation of this particular martial art. Sparring with someone is less fighting and more like a game of chess: moves and countermoves.

Capoeira really becomes a way of life and can nurture really beautiful friendships, all while those same friends kick your ass up and down the mat. I learned how to move and use my body in ways that I never could before and I absolutely would not have gotten into STOMP without it.

Favorite musicians/ athletes/ people who inspire you who you're following right now?

One of my peers at STOMP, Marivaldo Dos Santos, is a brilliant percussionist and also started an organization in Brazil called Quabales, which works with at-risk youths to teach them drums/percussion and put on shows all over Brazil in order to give back to the community. I use the term “peer” loosely because this guy is a beast on the drums and miles ahead of me in terms of performance skill and career, but he’s been an inspiration to me for a long time and I love being able to work with him outside of STOMP on his Quabales project.

Carlos Lopez is a percussionist with Cirque du Soleil (a position I’ve been eyeing for a while now) and just following him on Instagram gives me tons of inspiration. He’s been with the company for years and motivates me to always try new approaches in my practice routines and also work on my weaknesses.

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