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Manou | Source: Courtesy of Manou
Manou | Source: Courtesy of Manou

MANOU, beginning as a music star, moving to the US, and making a new start as an influencer

Dayna Remus
Apr 21, 2023
11:50 A.M.

AmoMama does interviews with women who motivate and inspire us under the "Mothers With Will" banner. And today, we snagged a conversation with Manou.

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Manou is an influencer with over 1M followers on Instagram with her hands in many pots, such as blogging, social media, fashion, beauty, and even music. Manou shares her story of being the star of a famous band in Europe, moving to the US, and making a new start.

AmoMama makes podcasts about women who motivate and inspire us under our "Mothers With Will" banner. And today, our guest is the multi-talented Manou.

Manou. | Source: Courtesy of Manou

Manou. | Source: Courtesy of Manou

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It seems like you have lived several lives. Take us back to the beginning. You were born in Switzerland?

"Yes."

What was life like back there?

"Oh my God, life was very different, let me tell you! Switzerland is like this very small country. And no, it's not Sweden; it is Switzerland because a lot of people get mixed up with that. We're very well known for our chocolate. That's what I love to eat most as well.

I grew up in a small town. We had literally, like, 800 people in our small town. So I knew pretty much in the beginning, already when I was like, really, really little, that this is not for me. I'm not a small-town girl. I want to go to the big city.

And I remember I had, literally, a poster of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in my bedroom. And that was so colorful; the lights and the bridge. And that was always a dream."

Manou and her children. | Source: Courtesy of Manou

Manou and her children. | Source: Courtesy of Manou

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"Now, looking back, I feel like that was my vision board without even realizing I had a vision board at that age yet, but it gave me so much motivation to get out of there. Be like, 'I need to leave this small town. I need to go somewhere big.' And so yeah, I started at a young age. I wanted to become a singer; I wanted to be a dancer. I wanted to do this whole packaging of, like, 'I want to be known. I want to be famous!'"

Yeah, that's definitely a movie to be made there. So, what did you do then? Did you go ahead and study acting or music? How did you end up in the band "beFour?"

"So pretty much my whole childhood, I grew up with music because I come from a, say, a musician family because my dad makes music. And I grew up having a piano around me, like 24/7, then we got a guitar, then I started playing clarinet and all that. So I did all that growing up, and at one point, I'm like, I want to make this my job.

So I started going, taking a lot of workshops. I started going to musical theatre school. That was like the first step I did, then I went to New York for one year, and I started musical theatre there as well, studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre school, and then I came back, and I was like, I want to go into pop bands. That was always my dream, but I didn't know how to do it, and I didn't know people who actually did until I saw this one casting in Germany."

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Looking back right now, I'm always somebody that's like it's meant to be.

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"It was a pop group of two girls and two boys. And that's literally all I knew. I was like, this is me! This is exactly what I want to do! So I told my parents, I was like, 'Look, I'm going go to this casting in Germany,' so I went there; I got through the first round. They invited me back to the second round. I went there with a train. When I was driving back on the train, I already got a call from them like, 'We want you in the band.'

I was like, okay, what do I expect? Like, how does it work? They're like, 'Well, we're gonna follow you guys all day long with the camera, and then you go on tour, and you record your album and stuff.' I was like, oh my God, this is literally a dream come true!

So I moved to Germany on that Tuesday. I literally left everything behind, and I started a whole life that I never dreamt of. I was like, this; this can't be me; this is not possible."

And how old were you?

"I was 24."

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Just one step back, you went to Lee Strasberg, the Institute?

"Yes, correct: in New York."

Family support is really important if you want to follow your dreams. Do you have siblings? Were there other people that could become accountants while you were living your dreams?

"Yes. And that didn't happen either. I have an older brother. He was the same as me. He started as an accountant, then he was like, 'No, I'm a musician.' And he did the music as well."

So it was like a reality series, but you're also in a band, so you're also performing, but they're still in your face with cameras and all of those things. What was it like?

"Amazing. It was the best thing, but yet also the hardest experience in my life that I've ever been through — that I will probably ever [go] through. It is such hard work. I mean, hours and hours of work. We would get up at five or six in the morning. We worked until ten or eleven or twelve at night. It was very hard. Like not everybody can do it."

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I can imagine. The few hours that you give to people on stage, there are days and weeks and months of preparation before you actually get onto that stage, and there's so much training. You have to be fit in every way.

"You know what I think is also so important, and I talked a lot with my husband when I first met him; he didn't really know that scene, and he didn't know what to expect when he met me — that I came actually from that band, you know? And then he was always like, 'Yeah, but these people; they have it so easy to have so much money. They have such a glamorous life.' I'm like, 'That's what you see. You don't see behind the scenes.'"

So I like something that you mentioned, and I think a lot of celebrities don't really talk about it that much, but you feel kind of responsible for your fans because they are the ones buying the CDs and attending the shows. And so you want to make them happy, you want to answer fan letters, you want to meet them backstage, but it's also exhausting.

"We entered this mall where we had a signing session where we would first perform. We literally gave a signature to every single fan in the mall. And the moment we came on stage, these people went so crazy, they almost pushed the barricade [over].

So our tour manager came on stage. He's like, you know, 'We have to stop. We have to leave.' We're like, 'What do you mean? We can't leave. We're in the middle of everything.' He's like, 'It's not safe. We have to get out of here.' So we left, and let me tell you, the office exploded with hate messages, hate emails, hate letters. It was something else."

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What does that feel like, though? Having all these people just waiting to see you? You said the only time you were alone was when you were in the restroom. What is that life like?

"That life is literally like a dream. I think the problem is, everything happens so fast and so intense, like all these feelings and all these emotions you're going through, that you don't realize what's going on until it's done. Until it's over.

I remember when it was over, we were all breathing and looking back, and we were like, 'Ah wow, what kind of project was that?? That was insane!'

"When you're in that machine, you don't really have time to think because you're, 'Go go go' from morning to night."

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I've got a very silly question to ask you because you've just said that the other three band members were all German. Which part of Switzerland are you from? How did you bridge the gaps between Swiss German and German, or, otherwise, if you spoke French?

"My mother language is Swiss German. So it's not that hard to transfer into German, but yet it's a different language. You know, I still had to feel comfortable. And that was always my biggest burden. That's why in the beginning, I was like, 'I don't want to talk in the interview.' I just didn't feel comfortable, and at some point, I had to tell myself, 'Okay, believe [in] yourself.'"

And then, one day, the music ended. And as you said, you guys looked back and said, "Wow, you know, that was a crazy project." How did you go from all of that craziness back to life as you knew it before, or what happened after that?

"So me and my other band member, Alina, we always had this dream to go back, go to America. That was always like the country that's made for us. Like, we want to live over there, and then we already went on vacation one or two times before just to kind of like see LA, and then the moment came, and we all had other plans.

We [Manou and Alina] said, 'Okay, right now, it's go big or go home,' you know? And it was so tough because you're still in that vibe of, like, 'Okay, we're famous. Everybody knows us.' And then you arrive in this big town where nobody knows you. You're going to start all over again.

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"You start at zero, even below zero, because your ego is still working on that experience."

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So management was trying to block you from breaking up the band and leaving, and so you get to Los Angeles: You don't have a manager. You don't have PR people. You don't have a machine that's working around you, trying to get you gigs, trying to get you spots, trying to get you noticed, and putting out your name and your phone number and your pictures and everything out there. Were you like two girls living out of a suitcase in a hotel?

"It was worse than that. I remember we almost, literally, we almost got a deal as a reality series because these people, when we had meetings, couldn't believe it, because we come from such a glamorous lifestyle.

We lived at like AirBnBs in the beginning, but not good ones, like you know, some kind of rental apartments where, like, sometimes we slept on the floor somewhere."

At what point do you say to yourself that this isn't working out? Do you first spend all the money you've already accumulated? All your wealth — you've now spent it and it's all gone, and then you say, 'Yeah, I don't think this is working out. I'm just going to go back to Switzerland.'

"No, there was never a plan B, and there was never an option B for me to ever move back. I was like, 'This is it, and we're gonna make it here.' Like there was no way for me to stop what we did and just be like, 'Okay, I'm gonna go back to a normal life.'"

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Okay. So how did the dream end? How did the music end?

"I invested all my money into this huge supposed PR guy. And we shot an entire music video. I released a record, and all my money was in that one package that I prepared. It turns out that the PR guy screwed me over so badly. He never did anything. He took all my money. He just literally left with it."

"It took me so long just to make that phone call to my parents and be like, 'I'm done. That little girl that had the dream. It's enough.' I lost everything at once."

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Does it still hurt when you talk about it? Does it still make you really angry knowing that they did this and didn't have the decency to even tell you that they made it up?

"Hurts me for sure. To know that I lost everything like that. And for my ego again, I think I've been telling myself, like, 'You gave up on music.' That was hard, but looking back right now, I'm always somebody that's like, 'It's meant to be.' It always makes sense afterward. And I know that I keep telling myself over and over in life when I have a really difficult moment.

Every day I was so broken, and then I met this one girl; she's like, 'Well, I work as an influencer.' I was like, 'Wait, what is that?' She kind of introduced me to this whole scene, and that was like 2015; we're talking like nobody knew about all this.

I wanted to give it a try, but it was more of a distraction in the beginning because I didn't know what else to do with my life.

Because now I look back, it's like I could have never been that musician because I wanted to have a family so bad. How do I want to tour with, you know, having these two beautiful children with me? That's not possible. I will never see them. So I'm so thankful right now that, actually, this whole mess started because what would have happened if not? I would have never had a family. I would have never had children and [a] husband."

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I'm a firm believer that what is meant for you can never pass you by, and what's not meant for you will never happen. And if you just trust in the universe, the universe knows what you need.

With over one million followers on her Instagram and her numerous online projects and passions, it certainly does look like the universe has this former pop star turned influencer's back. Wherever it may take her next, AmoMama will be there to support Manou's relentless success.

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