Listen to Infectious Ska from ManaTapu, Kick-Ass Reggae Band from Malta

ManaTapu band members
Image courtesy of ManaTapu

ManaTapu is the reggae and ska band with big rhythm and rebellious lyrics. Listen closely to get that feeling of living free.

International reggae flavor

ManaTapu – Mur Imma Mur (Official Video)

For the last 11 years, ManaTapu has been adding a spicy flavor to the Maltese reggae scene. Their international composition of band members allows them to grow their community like borders don’t exist.

Aside from playing festivals in Malta like Earth Garden Festival and Beer Fest, they also have played Sete Sois Sete Luas Festival in Portugal, and Reeds Festival in Switzerland.

We sit down with two of the eight members, Dario and Ryan, who take us down the winding rasta road that is ManaTapu.

Who is ManaTapu?

ManaTapu – Rastaccun (Official Video)

ManaTapu is made up of eight Maltese and international artists. They collectively speak four languages, all of which can be heard in their music.

Dario Vella C is the lead guitarist and vocalist, Nick Morales is on vocals and acoustic guitar, Pupa Chile and Tete (a.k.a. Camacho Criminal) are lead vocalists and MCs, Ryan Abela is on drums, James Saliba on bass guitar, Luca Gurrieri on saxophone, and Liksu is on trumpet and keyboard.

Quite a crew to say the least.

From garages to stages with ManaTapu

Pupachile directing the crowd at Beer Fest 2017. Image courtesy of ManaTapu.
Pupachile directing the crowd at Beer Fest 2017. Image courtesy of ManaTapu.

The beginning of ManaTapu’s journey traces back to Dario Vella’s early teenage years. Armed with a guitar and an unwavering passion for music, he began writing songs with some of his mates. While some never saw the light of day, others were adapted and used several years later as part of ManaTapu’s setlist, such as ‘Babylon Aside’ and ‘Fool’.

As time went on, continuing to play and experiment with music and songwriting, a proper band started to form. The band originally practiced in Dario’s father’s garage in Sliema. It was in this humble setting that birthed one of their beloved tracks, ‘B’Naqra Paċenzja,’ (‘With a Bit of Patience’) inspired by a neighbor’s plea for patience amid the noise levels of their rehearsals.

Around 2013, they decided to join Battle of the Bands, their very first public gig officially introducing themselves as ManaTapu. This is where they won first prize, which would ignite their reggae flame to burn for years to come. It allowed them to grow into the band known for drawing inspiration from other sounds and genres such as funk and blues, incorporating it into their reggae world.

What’s reggae music without a little bit of protest?

A big part of what makes this band stand out is their pattern of protest and activism. It’s a prominent element in their music. They touch on important local and global themes such as environmental issues, and corruption.

“Most of us are activists, we are aware of the issues that we face. We go to protest, and sometimes even play at these local demonstrations, so what we believe in comes out organically in our songs,” Ryan tells us.

Dario explains the process of songwriting to give a message to those listening. He says they also use lyrics as a checkpoint for themselves, a reminder of what they need to hear from time to time.

Listen for that feeling of Vivre Libéré

ManaTapu – Vivre Libéré (Official Video)

One thing that we love about this band is that they don’t fit into one box. They push to keep writing things that people can relate to, making them feel seen and heard when listening to their music. “Everybody wants to live life free (vivre libéré).”

At their live gigs you can feel a massive audience reaction. People feed off the crowd-rushing surge of energy and spirit ManaTapu bring to life through their music and lyrics. Pupa and Tete then come in with a fresh perspective, adding new layers and languages, making it the perfect blend that is the ManaTapu sound.

New ManaTapu EP in the works

Album art of Rastaccun single
ManaTapu EP is in the works

During our interview with the ManaTapu boys, they let us know about their latest EP in the making. Two months ago they unveiled the captivating ‘Rastaċċun’ music video, the third single from this release.

The band is in a constant state of creative exploration, incorporating diverse influences shaped by the musical landscape of their home country. Sharing the stage with a traditional Maltese marching band is a great example. It shows commitment to pushing boundaries and evolving their sound.

Through experimentations like these, ManaTapu keeps influencing a new age of music among the Maltese community and sharing it with the rest of the world.

The long road down the reggae unknown

Manatapu – Different Plants

When asked how to sum up the ManaTapu experience so far, Dario and Ryan agreed to “describe it best as a long road down the reggae unknown.”

Catch ManaTapu live at Earth Garden Festival this summer 6-9 June 2024.

ManaTapu Links

Written by Jeanine Scerri

Jeanine Scerri is a freelance music journalist and skilled photographer in the field of travel and music festivals.

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