Review & Interview: “I Still Stand” by Manny Torres

“I Still Stand” by Manny Torres is a soulful rock song with a powerful message of endurance and overcoming obstacles. Highlighting Torres’ emotive voice and rhythmic style, “I Still Stand” is a song that tells an important story about determination in the face of adversity.

The song immediately launches you into the verse with Torres’ gravelly, textured voice singing “Life knocks you down”. Reverberating guitar echoes enter to accompany the stoic lyrics as he depicts a tale of hardship and feelings of defeat. The instrumentation builds with light percussion and rhythmic guitar notes that ring beneath the words. The prechorus shifts the tone to reveal a light violin melody before launching into the powerful, syncopated chorus as Torres victoriously declares “I still stand, I still stand”.

Based in Chicago, Illinois, Manny Torres grew up playing the drums and drew inspiration from the rhythms of Latin music. Manny found mainstream success when he became one of the top 14 contestants on American Idol, but shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer and had to put his music aspirations on hold. After receiving several rounds of chemotherapy treatment, he was declared cancer-free in 2018 and was able to return to creating music. While “I Still Stand” originally began as a song about experiencing a mugging in Chicago, the experience of fighting cancer and triumphantly emerging on the other side made its way into the honest, optimistic track. “I Still Stand” showcases Torres’ incredible songwriting, soulful and emotional voice, and brilliantly rhythmic instrumentation. With this single, it is apparent that nothing is going to keep Manny Torres down.

Written by Katrina Charles

Q&A with Manny Torres

Q: “I Still Stand” is a soulful and empowering anthem about resilience in the face of adversity. Walk us through your writing and production process in making this song.

Manny: “I Still Stand” has been one of those songs that’s been in the arsenal since I first started writing music. My brother Zeke helps me co-write a lot of my music and we started writing about the struggle that came with moving from a small town to a big city. The song sat for a while and resurfaced during my battle with cancer when I was probably at the lowest place of my life. 

I wanted this song to be an anthem of resilience in the face of adversity not only for myself but for anyone who needs the reminder to keep fighting. With Jacob Banks & Imagine Dragons in mind, I went to LA to work on the production with my producer Nick and within two days the song was finished. 

Q: In the first verse, you sing about a time in your life when you’re on autopilot, clocking in and out of work. How did you keep your artistry alive during that period of time? 

Manny: Honestly by putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward! I was intelligently ignorant – I just kept trying and trying. While working 40 hours a week and going to school for 16 credits a semester I still always found time to gig and make music. Through repetition, inspiration came.


Q: In the song’s bridge, you defiantly sing “I’ll fight till it’s over.” Did you always have that fighting spirit inside of you? Did it ever wain when you were battling cancer?

Manny: I’ve always had a fighting spirit and a hustlers mentality. I would be lying if I said it didn’t fade from time to time, especially during my battle with cancer. But in that time I lean on my faith and my reasons of…why I do what I do, to lift my spirit up! 


Q: How has living in Chicago made an impact on your music?

Manny: Living in Chicago has impacted my music in a lot of ways but I’d say mostly through the relationships I’ve made. I moved when I was 18 not knowing anyone and built a music career from the ground up. From my manager, the musicians I play with, to the Chicago artist I listen to – all of those friendships and the experiences we’ve shared has shaped my style and sound to what is today. 


Q: You were one of the top 14 finalists on American Idol’s final season on Fox. What did you take away from your experience on American Idol?

Manny: Idol gave me a glimpse of what the music industry requires out of an artist, along with the rollercoaster ride that comes with it all. Grateful for that experience and opportunities that’s come from it. 


Q: If you could have a conversation with your younger self the first day he moved to Chicago, what would you say to him and how do you think he’d react to seeing where you are now?

Manny: I would say to learn to stay true to yourself and to focus on the music and message you want put out. Don’t be strayed by who everyone wants you to be.
I think he’d be proud and excited to see where I’m at… but never satisfied! The grind never stops. 

Interviewed by Brynn Hinnant

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