Manny Bravo Talks Depression, Racism, Hope on Debut “We Gon’ Die Anyway!”

The fourth-year University of Florida student opens up about the reality of a time billed to be the best four years of his life.

By Tyler Francischine

If we gauge our reality by the media we consume — and let’s face it, it seeps and creeps in no matter what — then those four years we spend as college students are bound to be the best days of our lives. This is a time in which experimentation leads to real discovery about our identities, our futures, the reason why we ended up on this planet. Right? Not quite.

What if our college years end up being a series of struggles, interminable weeks in which feelings of otherness lead to suicidal thoughts and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness? Many students at the University of Florida may find the Gator Nation doesn’t give all newcomers the same welcome. For these students, it takes more effort to sift through the dominant culture and carve out a space of one’s own.

manny bravo press photo

On his debut album, Manny Bravo, born Emanuel Griffin, delves deep into his time as a Gator, piecing apart the experiences that nearly broke him and the ones that built him back up. The 21-year-old says the meaning behind the album title, We Gon’ Die Anyway! has evolved along with his sense of self.

We Gon’ Die Anyway! was primarily inspired by a drug overdose. You see college kids partying and taking drugs in movies all the time. What the movies don’t show you is how many of them end up in a hospital or a casket. After a normal night of partying and poor decisions, I was almost one of them,” he says. “I used to say ‘We gon’ die anyway’ to justify my drug consumption, selfish behavior and defeatist attitude. Ever since the overdose, I say it as a reminder that I need to live the best life that I can every single day.”

On album opener “Bored of Education,” Bravo catapults listeners into the world of a suicidal college freshman, feeling adrift in a sea of (white) orange and blue sports fans: “Imma blow my brains out in my dorm room anyway/It’ll probably make the front page of the school news unless my school wins a football game”

manny bravo album art

On the eight tracks that follow, Bravo chronicles the idiosyncrasies inherent in attending a large university in the South. Even though University of Florida leadership publicly touts values of inclusiveness and equality, individual students of color may experience interactions of another flavor. No stranger to the tenuous nature of racial politics on campus, Bravo has met with UF President Kent Fuchs about improving the school’s racial climate, and he currently serves as a student advisor to University Police Department Chief Linda Stump-Kurnick.

“I’ve been called ‘nigger’ by students in moving cars. I’ve had professors assume I’m at UF because of some minority scholarship. However, the majority of racism I’ve experience at UF has been subtle. There are certain little microaggressions I have to deal with on a daily basis,” he says. “UF is in an interesting position. It’s a top-10 institution, so there’s a demand to be diverse. At the same time, a lot of its money comes from racist, old White dudes. The administration wants to keep the donations coming in and keep a progressive public image. It’s having a hard time doing both.”


On track “On-Campus Freestyle,” Bravo paints a clear picture of the racist perceptions maintained by members of the authority: “Cops stopped and frisked the kids with melanin/ And the kick is, while the cops is messin’ with niggas, my dealer is a White chick”

“The University of Florida portrays itself as inclusive, but it isn’t,” Bravo says. “The same fraternities and sororities have been running student government for decades. ‘Every Gator Counts,’ but we don’t count equally. If you’re a minority and aren’t part of Greek life, you have to create your own place to prosper. I’m still trying to figure how to do that myself. Whether I figure it out or not, I’m not all that angry about it. It’s good practice for the real world.”


Bravo cites artists Kid Cudi, Kanye West, Tyler, the Creator, Lil B and Paramore’s Hayley Williams as influences, leaders in creating their own brand of sound. For Bravo, newness is the word.

“I want to make stuff that nobody has ever heard before. If you know yourself, that shouldn’t be hard to do. After all, there’s only one you,” he says. “The artists I admire most created their own lane and influenced future artists to follow their heart by doing so. I want to be that type of artist.”

Just as a once terrified freshman becomes a nearly collected and confident upperclassman, the mood of We All Gon’ Die Anyway! lifts as it progresses. “TRY!” urges listeners to keep on keepin’ on, even in the face of adversity. That doesn’t mean moments of doubt are in the past — the second-to-last track, “Off-Campus Freestyle,” dips back into the pit of despair with the lyrics “I said I was happy/ I lied.”

As one’s college years come to a close, that unsettled feeling is replaced with a more insidious fear: the question mark that is The Future. For Bravo, creating music affords him an outlet to channel these fears, and he hopes this album serves listeners in a similar way.

“[Music] allows me to express these feelings of doubt, frustration and depression in a healthy way. On top of that, it also allows me to help somebody who is going through similar situations. I’m able to give them a soundtrack and let them know that they’re not alone,” he says. “I want the people who aren’t passionate about their major and don’t know what they’re going to do after graduation to hear a song like Off-Campus Freestyle and say, ‘That’s exactly how I feel.’”


Ultimately, We Gon Die Anyway! leaves listeners with a sense of hope, resilience and power. Just as Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” implores audiences to focus inward to create change from within, Bravo’s album closer “BElieve in YOUrself” advises listeners to recognize their own power. “Use school. Don’t let school use you.” As Bravo enters his last months at the University of Florida, he looks forward to a future surely replete with experiences he can draw from to grow, evolve and share his truth with others. He plans to release a follow-up, “High Dive,” this winter.

Find Manny Bravo online at,, and




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The Dewars To Play Farewell Show Wednesday at The Atlantic

By Tyler Francischine

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Photo courtesy of The Dewars

Like pilgrims making the trek to Mecca, Gainesville musicians The Dewars are leaving their Florida roots behind in search of gigs, thrills and opportunity in New York City. They’ll play one last show Wednesday night at The Atlantic with Tiny Farm and Pearl & The Oysters. On the opening track of their 2015 full-length All A Part of The Show, Anthony and Zachary Dewar warn against the perils of a life spent comfortably at the homestead. Far from suckers for their hometown, the brothers prepare to bring their signature combination of haunting harmonies and clever lyricism to New York City’s ears.

True to the Dewars’ penchant for #twinning, the following quotes cannot clearly be attributed to one Dewar over another.

What inspired your decision to move to the Big Apple? What are your goals and dreams for this next phase?

“While I partially agree with Tim McGraw’s statement ‘You can have a lot of fun in a New York minute, but there’s some things you can’t do inside the city limits,’ I also believe there are things you can do inside the city limits that can’t be done elsewhere. As far as dreams and goals go: mass stardom, billions of dollars, 101 dalmatians and an infinity pool.”

What will you miss most about Gainesville, or Florida in general?

“I’ll miss my Gainesville friends and that Thai restaurant called Bangkok Square. In terms of Florida, there’s a lot to miss but I haven’t been able to miss them yet because I’ve just been here. But let’s face it – you can take the boy out of Florida, but you can’t take the Florida out of the boy.”

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Photo courtesy of The Dewar family

What was the biggest challenge of being a band in Gainesville?

“The biggest challenge of being a band in Gainesville is getting a hold of Ryan O’Malley. Honestly, the hardest part of being a band there was the people weren’t ready. Our music is like a foreign language they couldn’t understand. But seriously, the hardest part about being a band there is that the long-term prospects proved unfruitful, and it’s not that stimulating of an environment to write in. For me. No offense. Go gators.”

Now, some background – how long have you been creating and playing together?

“We’ve been playing since the summer of seventh grade but didn’t take it seriously until the winter of eighth grade. To be honest, I don’t clearly remember meeting each other, but we’ve known each other for a long time, and we’ve been creating art forever.”

What effect do you hope your music has on listeners?

“That depends on the song – sometimes charmed, sometimes scared, but mostly pleasantly surprised and amused.”

zach dewar

Photo by Noah Lamport

What’s your favorite aspect of the musical process?

“All aspects have their unique perks. Like love and marriage, you can’t have one without the other. If I had to choose, it would be fishing for new concepts and bringing them to life.”

Where are you at within the creation process of your next release?

“That’s a really good question. We’ve had some flaky producers that have led to unfinished albums but we’re going to crank out some DIY albums in the very near future. Might as well be an LP, but with the shrinking attention spans of today we could be releasing it note by note.”

How do you define success for The Dewars? On a broader level, what do you think constitutes ‘making it’ in today’s climate?

“You start by setting your expectations very low. Just kidding. Success boils down to being excited about the art that you create and its potential to positively affect those who come into contact with it. I would consider ‘making it’ being able to travel around the world on my music and rock some socks off along the way.”


Photo by Noah Lamport




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Pearl & The Oysters To Debut Album at The Atlantic Wednesday

By Tyler Francischine

Pearl photo illustration

Photo illustration by Manon David

The swampy heat and critter-filled wooden houses we call home in Gainesville may create a personal hell for some, but for the Parisian transplants who make up Pearl and The Oysters, it’s a strange and beautiful paradise.

With song titles like “Lake Alice” and “Santa Fe,” Juliette Davis and Joachim Polack pay homage to the land they love (among other people, places and things) on their debut album With Pearl and The Oysters. The duo will release the album with a performance at The Atlantic alongside The Dewars and Tiny Farm Wednesday night.

Davis calls the north central Florida landscape exotic and inspiring.

“Subways, crowds, being anonymous — that’s my ecosystem,” she says. “Here, there are armadillos and raccoons living under the house. That’s the most exotic thing I could imagine.”

Though lyrically influenced by the local flora and fauna, the sonic landscape this album creates is otherworldly. The sounds coming out of Davis’ Suzuki Omnichord, which was created as an electronic substitute for the autoharp, add a layer of near-fantasy to this batch of songs composed of bouncy bass lines, driving guitar licks and key lines that smack of Chico Marx in their playfulness. The influence of early electronic musicians like Raymond Scott and Jean-Jacques Perrey is made explicit with the song title “Welcome to the Wendy Carlos Appreciation Society.”

Polack says he was most influenced by the song structure and sound of 70s pop artists like Electric Light Orchestra and Wings, and he took cues from The Dandy Warhols in combining electronic instrumentation and guitar-based rock. Davis looked to The Everly Brothers when she crafted these songs. Before a single lick or word was written, the pair settled on a common goal: build a sense of sonic unity within this album.

“I don’t think we’ve ever tried so hard to leave a sound signature,” Polack says. “Like reading a good collection of short stories, I want listeners to get the sense that the songs are different, but there is something binding them.”


Photo by Noah Lamport

Polack and Davis met in their high school music class and have been collaborating since shortly after graduating. They both went on to receive master’s degrees in musicology from the Université Paris-Sorbonne. While Polack learned composition the same way as Debussy before him at the Conservatoire de Paris, Davis’ education was in jazz, picking up techniques from her father, long-time professional musician Jean-Michel Davis, who currently plays percussion in the group Les Primitifs du Futur.

Polack began playing in bands at age 13 and promises he practiced the violin every single day for 10 years straight. Davis recalls hearing that she sang from her crib as a baby, and she definitely remembers having to wait for her big-girl front teeth to grow in before she could start playing the trumpet. She says her and Polack’s backgrounds have left a mark on With Pearl and The Oysters.

“Having been around this knowledge all my life gives me tools and instincts. I can throw myself into the music and put into it what I want to hear,” she says.

Polack says,“I don’t drink a lot. I don’t smoke. Writing music is me being with myself in a good way.”


Photo by Noah Lamport

The pair’s journey brought them to Gainesville two years ago, when Polack began his studies of Brazilian music within the University of Florida’s doctoral program. From the start, Polack found the town to be home to creative minds and receptive ears. Local record label and artist collective Elestial Sound nabbed Pearl and premiered their first single, “Vitamin D,” on the June compilation ES17.

“Gainesville is very special,” Polack says. “When I arrived here, I met musicians organically and quickly. It’s easy to talk to a musician after a show and say, ‘Let’s jam or listen to music.’ In Paris, it’s not as easy to connect. You’re just another drop in the ocean.”

Davis says her previous musical ventures in Paris suffered from lack of a supportive arts scene, and her experiences in Florida have proved the opposite.

“Gainesville is alive. People are interested, passionate and curious about art,” she says. “Having people support your art is very important. You can create the music you want and show it to people in a positive way.”

Juliette Davis of Pearl & The Oysters

Photo by Noah Lamport

The pair recognize external pressures for bands to be successful, but Davis says the glamour of fame isn’t attractive to them. For Polack, victories like West Palm Beach audiences lining up to get their records autographed after a show, or releasing a full-length album on vinyl and cassette, prove rewarding and renewing.

“We’re a mixture of ambitious and not very ambitious. Every band wants to be as big as possible, but I want to enjoy what we are doing now,” he says. “In Paris, we were chasing blogs and labels, and it never happened for us that way. When we started Pearl, all I could see was how good it felt to play music without those other concerns or expectations.”

That feeling of freedom has eased the pair’s work on a follow-up to With Pearl and The Oysters. Listeners can expect to hear remnants of 50’s R&B and doo-wop, and of course, more of the same mix of Floridian fantasy and reality.

“It’s almost offensive,” Polack says, “how much we exoticize Florida on the next record.”




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The Conch, September 1, 2015 Theme was, “Neighbors and Roommates”

We had a swell time hearing stories about roommates and neighbors at The Conch in September. You can check out some of the best stories from the night here
heck out other Conch podcasts here
nd check out all the other Grow Radio podcasts here

Check out our Facebook page for other Conch-related info

Come to the next Conch event, October 6 at Lightnin’ Salvage. Theme will be, “The Internet.

Photos by Bruce Proctor

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A sad week for Grow Radio, two former DJs passed away

We’re saddened to bring news that two past Grow Radio DJs died last week.
Travis Fristoe hosted two radio shows. The Mixtape Party with Don Fitzpatrick and Culture Wars.
Pat Fitzpatrick hosted Protest, Inc. with assistance from his son Dan Fitzpatrick , another Grow DJ
Both were forces of nature in their worlds, striving to make our world a better place to live for all.

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The Conch, June 2, 2015 Theme was “Summer Vacation” with featured storyteller Shannon Cason

We had a great night of stories and storytellers June 2. And we want to thank Satchel for bringing Shannon Cason and his family to Gainesville from their home in Detroit so that we could enjoy Shannon’s stories and they could experience our hometown.

Check out the great stories from the night in our podcast here

You can find out more about Shannon and find his podcast  here

You can see more from the Conch on our Facebook page

photos by Bruce Proctor


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The Conch, May 5, 2015 “Viva Mexico!”

The Conch in May featured storytellers telling their stories based on the theme, “Viva Mexico!”
You can check out the podcast here
Don’t forget to come to the next Conch, June 2 when the theme will be, “Summer Vacation”
We’re excited to bring featured storyteller, Shannon Cason, to tell a story at The Conch in June

Check out Shannon’s podcast, Homemade Stories, at his website,
e made a nice shout out to Satchel and The Conch in episode #64

check it out here!

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The Conch, April 7, 2015 “The Great Outdoors”

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The Conch in April had the theme, “The Great Outdoors.”

It was sponsored by Alachua Conservation Trust and Alachua Audubon

You can check out the podcast here

You can find out more about The Conch on our Facebook page

Don’t miss the Conch on May 5 when the theme will be, “Viva Mexico!”

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The Conch, March 2, 2015 “Gardening and Farming”

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The Conch in March had the theme, “Gardening and Farming.”
We were proud to partner with Forage Farm, Swallowtail Farm and Porters Community Farm

Enjoy our new podcast format which features some of the best stories from the night

The Conch Podcast

Find us on Facebook and check the schedule for upcoming Conch events

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The Conch, Feb 3, 2015

We had a great Conch event February 3 at Lightnin’ Salvage. The theme was. “Weird Florida” and the tales were entertaining and…weird. Enjoy the podcast here and we hope to see you March 3 at Lightnin Salvage when the theme will be “Gardening and Farming” and we’ll be partnering with Forage Farm, Swallowtail Farm, The Porters Community Garden and Florida Organic Growers

Check out the podcast here

Photos by Rick Stepp

Photos by Rick Stepp

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