We had the good fortune of connecting with Manuel Rivas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Manuel, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I’ve always been into music but didn’t really understand what I wanted to, or could do with it. I had worked in customer service, factory jobs, etc and it always made me feel absolutely miserable being there. I know I wanted to do something more with myself, a career in something I’d actually love doing but wasn’t sure what that was until I went to my first audio engineering school and discovered post production sound design!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I consider myself a sound designer. Even though I have done various sound recording and editing projects, I mainly carry myself as a sound designer, first, and music producer second. I think what sets me apart from others was my upbringing, which also was toxic for a child. Without getting into much specifics, life just taught me early on that there are gonna be a lot of people who will try and take advantage of you, and I’ve learned that the entertainment industry works exactly in that way. I’ve turned down more so-called “opportunities” than just keep saying “hey well I need the experience” I’m at a place where I now really understand my self-worth, my talents, my strengths and accept my weaknesses and it definitely wasn’t at all easy. I went through a lot of self-reflecting, therapy, medication, family and friend support, etc to be where I’m at now. My childhood was a basically a horror story full of abuse and alcohol but what I didn’t want to become was another sad story of a person from a battered home who ends up giving up on life, you know? As many times as it got hard, mentally, physically or whatever. As ugly and dark as it got, I had to tell myself, little by little, that I could overcome this and be in a better place, and I could do exactly what it is I wanted to do deep down and come out on top. I just had to, and I’m glad that I can use sound design and making music as a fun, and fulfilling way of making ends meet. i’m not thriving financially or anything like that, and you know, we gotta eat and pay bills but you realise how much that doesn’t fully matter when you unlock that sense of accomplishment inside you that goes “wow, well i’m finally doing it!”
If there was anything I’d want the world to know about me or what I’d want them to learn from me is that no matter how rough things were in the past, you CAN get through it. Don’t let your struggles outshine your ability to be great – and I say this as someone who never thought I’d be getting any of the opportunities I’m getting now. It really is all about mindset. Navigating through such a toxic industry while struggling with your mental health isn’t at alleasy, and I’d like to use this time to bring more awareness to that. Some people are insanely talented but have to put in double the amount of work just to cross the street like everyone else, and I think there is more credit to be given for people with mental disabilities.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of my favorite spots LA county, besides the beaches, would probably be Little Tokyo. Great food, and just overall and fun time to experience. I took my friend Matt recently to one of my favorite ramen spots, Daikokuya. Great food, and great service every single time. i also took him to one of my favorite childhood taco spots up in Pasadena, La Estrella #2. This was one of the first places went to eat at when i moved back to LA after 7-8 years spent in NY and it’s still good!! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It’s hard to really pinpoint one person. Everyone who I’ve ever encountered has inspired me, creatively in some way or another. I was blessed to move to NYC and meet so many talented creatives out there, who’d eventually inspire me to do my own thing, my way.
But if I’d have to dedicate this shoutout to anybody it would definitely be my mom! She’s always supported anything I’ve wanted to do so as long as it made me happy. She’d actually encourage me to do something with my life when she noticed how unhappy I was at my day job. She didn’t want to see me depressed, or anxious about living my life. She’s always there to support before I even ask her for anything. She’s honestly the best, and I don’t think I’d ever learn to be strong myself if it weren’t for her. My mom isn’t one to play games with!