You may have heard this artist’s name the last time you were at a restaurant or diner. Alexandria Maniak often has to remind even herself that her server isn’t a mind reader when she tells her, “I’ll be with you shortly.”
Before she took the Union stage on Wednesday, Maniak sat with me to discuss the meaning behind her band Shortly’s name and the inspiration for her lyrics that are almost more like poetry than music.
Wanting a name that signified her slow, but steady rise into the music industry, Maniak chose to stop making music under her own name. Now she goes by Shortly—“it means soon, but not now,” she said.
However, her history with music isn’t short at all. She began playing guitar at a young age when her mother taught her the fingerpicking of her beloved Simon and Garfunkle and The Mamas and the Papas. From there, she picked up the bass guitar and drums, and just like that music became everything.
In 2013, Maniak competed in a talent showcase to win a recording scholarship. Both years of competing proved disheartening for Maniak as she didn’t win either one. Luckily she did have multiple modeling and acting contracts waiting for her. But that wasn’t enough—she needed music. “I didn’t get the music scholarship,” she said. “I didn’t need to have everything, but I needed that one thing. I knew then that it was something I wanted to take more seriously.”
It wasn’t until she was offered to sign on with Triple Crown Records that music became a career option. Maniak was, and still is, a student at Wayne State University, so needless to say, her bank account wasn’t stocked and ready for the starving artist life. But recalling a Death Cab for Cutie song, she thought of the lyric “were you happier when you were poor?” After all, music was her dream.
“So here I am [playing a concert] …on a school night.”
As Shortly develops and grows, Maniak desires for the band’s sound and music to remain malleable. With the influences of her mom’s love for folk acoustic, but also her dad’s love of 80s metal, Maniak doesn’t want to define her band under one genre. However, their current sound is a self-described “ somber, emo” feel.
This contemplative ambiance comes straight from the pages of Maniak’s journal. The lyrics are her deepest thoughts and recounts of change, growth and issues around mental health. “I have some mental health things I’ve been dealing with my entire life,” she said. These sentiments and ideas manifest in songs such as “Two” and “Spare Time” which appear on her EP Richmond.
As she has been for years, Maniak is currently writing music—and lots of it. “There’s going to be a lot happening this year,” she said.