Mon. Dec 9th, 2019

UPCLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH MANNY ZELAYA: THE MAN BEHIND HARDWELL

5 min read

Ever attended a Hardwell’s gig around the globe? Ever found yourself amazed by the perfection of the whole night and asked yourself who’s behind that?

Well, there’s a whole super skilled team of people working in order to make your experience unforgettable, coordinated by the tour manager.

This team is called OnTourManagement, established by Manny Zelaya.

Hardwell’s tour manager is one of a kind, a very talented and humble guy who takes care of all the superstar Dj’s need and much more!

We’ve been lucky enough to meet this busy man for a chat about his job!

TBA: Who is your inspiration?

MZ: I would have to say my mother. This year has been a difficult one for me and my family. My mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. When I first heard the news it brought me to my knees in tears.
I will never forget my girlfriend at the time rubbing my back and trying to help me get off the ground. I thought it was a death sentence for my mother. 

As days progressed I started to realize how strong my mother has been and will be moving forward. She told me, “Son I believe in God and I know he will help me like he always has in the past.”

I was considering staying home this summer and taking a break from work. My mother said to me, “Son I have lived my life, now please live your life.” My mother told me “If I pass away you will still need to work”. I learned that even when you’re looking death in the eyes, you need to keep hope alive and have strong belief in God the almighty. 

TBA: What is it like to be a tour manager and what does it mean to you?

MZ: Being a good TM is a tough but rewarding job. Or at least I would like to think so. As a TM, you forfeit time with your family, friends, dogs and holding a steady relationship.

I’ve missed birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years! I don’t even get invited any more to events because people are just tired of me saying that I’m not home…

Now, it’s not all that bad or I wouldn’t be doing it for a living. My biggest reward of being a TM is the amazing people that I get to meet all the way. The people I would like to call my extended family. These are the people I see working behind the scenes. Stage managers, production managers, artist liaisons, etc… but most importantly are the amazing fans! Seeing the meet and greets and seeing fans finally meeting their heros. To me, all those sleepless nights now have a purpose. To know I had a small part of making a fan so happy are the joys I get when I’m on the road. 

TBA: Can you explain me your tasks?

MZ: I have tour managed in all different capacities. TM normally books hotels, airfare, arrange transfers, advance shows from hospitality and technical requests. We look after our teams and we make sure the artist is happy and comfortable on the road. If anything goes wrong, it’s always the tour manager’s fault. Even though in reality, it’s not, I take it that way because I’m a firm believer I need to see mistakes coming before they actually come. Being a TM you need to be a problem solver and you need to be as cool as the other side of the pillow. 

TBA: Ups and downs of your work?

MZ: Like any job you have highs and lows. I guess for me lows would be if we missed a gig. We didn’t miss one gig this past summer and that to me is really impressive! With no sleep and traveling so hard, and barely eating, we still made it to every show! 

The highs of the job are when my artist walks off stage and tells that was a “sick fucking show!” It’s very rewarding when managers from our team tell me the show looked amazing from front of house.

I also really love i when I hear fans say, “wow amazing show.” To me the best feeling is to know that our fans didn’t feel cheated. It’s important bay they know that this team, Hardwell’s team specifically, does it best and every single show is as good as the last… or better. 

TBA: Can you tell me a secret about your job?

MZ: The best secret I can tell anyone about doing this job is that you need to have excellent time management skills. You need to know how to budget your time with work and also with keeping a personal life.

TBA: The funniest thing happened on the road?

 MZ: We always have fun times on the road! I have been touring with this team for 4 years now. Honestly, I can say we have never gotten into an argument with any team member. I believe that’s because we have a lot of respect and admiration for each other.  We’re not just coworkers, we’re now family.

I really can’t narrow it down but trust me we have plenty of fun and above all love for each other. 

TBA: 10 minutes to the show….what kind of troubles could you face and how will you solve them?

MZ: During our transition between artists on stage, you can always run into technical difficulties. We use cat-6 lines that need to be connected for our timecoding system. Various times, someone forgets to connect those lines. I’m typically on stage trying to locate these cables. Sometimes the DJ gear is connected wrong, meaning it’s not 1234 or monitors are not connected correctly. This can be an issue during my artist’s gig.

I’ve been blessed to work with some fine people on stage. Issues don’t normally happen but when they do, we solve them because that’s what we do. We are problems solvers. 

TBA: A day in your life….

MZ: I wake up everyday at 6am est because I deal with a lot of people in Europe. By this time the day is almost over in Europe. I Stay up till about 9pm because I deal with people on west coast in places like Los Angeles or Las Vegas. I send emails like any other TM. I try to workout and eat healthy. I’ve been working on a new food concept ideas for ibiza and I hope I can announce it by the beginning of next summer. 

 

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