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What Chelsea Manning Is Listening to Right Now

At 30, Chelsea Manning has already lived several lives. She first came into prominence in 2009, as a whistleblowing Army intelligence analyst who leaked thousands of classified documents, detailing some of the military’s previously undisclosed actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison and ended up breaking civil rights ground while serving time in a Kansas jail, becoming the first U.S. prisoner to undergo gender transition surgery during their sentence. Then, right before he left office, President Obama commuted Manning’s term.

In the nearly year and half since, Manning has been very busy, devoting most of her time to a Democratic Senate bid in Maryland. In addition to everything else, Manning is also a lifelong electronic music fan with a deep love for club culture. This weekend, she’ll deliver a keynote speech at Moogfest in North Carolina. We caught up with her recently to talk about her favorite songs and how music played an important role during her darkest hours.


Eurythmics: “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” (Steve Angello Remix)

This remix was played a lot in the D.C. club scene that I was a part of in 2006, and I found it on my iTunes library recently, and I just started jamming to it. I’m 30 now, and it’s fascinating to look back at that time period. It’s brought memories of good times—simpler times, at least—especially in the political environment. And the club scene is very different now too. I have been to a few clubs since I’ve been out [of prison], but mostly in New York. It’s so different than the club scene of the mid-2000s in D.C., which was a lot of drum ‘n’ bass imported from London and Bristol. When I go to clubs now, I almost feel old, to be honest. Some of the younger crowds make me feel like I missed out on my 20s.

You also used to DJ yourself. Do you think you’ll release any music of your own?

Funny, I have an enormous amount of recording equipment and music gear that I haven’t had the chance to play around with, and I’ve been talking to people about making music again. I mean, I’ve already been on two conference calls today, so I don’t necessarily have the time right now, but I would like to take some time to be creative. I’ve talked about doing collabs with a few prominent names in the electronic music industry, but I won’t name names.

Speaking of collabs, what did you think of the song that techno producer Jean-Michel Jarre did with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden?

I wasn’t jamming out to it or anything. Something either works or doesn’t work for me. That was a song that I knew I should really like, but it wasn’t my particular flavor.


Selena Gomez: “Come & Get It”

This was on a playlist I made in 2015 [while in prison] of all the songs that I’ve ever really enjoyed and also the ones that I was listening to at that time. There would be very popular songs playing on the radio, but not necessarily the underground songs that I really enjoy. I was afraid that I was going to be in prison for a very long time, so I wanted to get a playlist together. Somebody suggested that I should put it on Spotify, which got big after I got locked up. I actually wasn’t familiar with how Spotify worked. So I wrote down songs that I was listening to and songs that I remembered, and had somebody on the outside put it all together into this Chelsea mix. There’s a lot of influence from electro and trance, especially from the mid-’90s.

A lot of pop music at that time started to incorporate styles that I particularly enjoy, including Selena Gomez’s “Come and Get It.” The production is really high-value, and it’s something I would listen to on my own time, in my own space, and not necessarily as a pop song; I would actually just listen to that song without Selena Gomez. If I listen to music, it has to match my particular mood or feeling, and I often listen to a lot of the upbeat, Selena Gomez-type songs that I really enjoyed while I was in prison. They were positive, forward-thinking, and danceable.


Blank & Jones: “Catch” (Progressive Mix)

This is another song from 2006 that I have a fond memory of. My manager hates it, because I play it on repeat constantly. In prison, we were only able to listen to the radio, and I would have to wait until Saturday night to hear the local Kansas City area electronic music DJs play sets of Calvin Harris-level popular electronic music. I had to catch them out of the air, on the radio, and I didn’t get a chance to play the songs again. So the ability to put a song on repeat is now very valuable to me—even though it has driven some of my friends crazy.

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The world famous Red Rose Mafia girls international online magazine. Hand picked with the latest music, news, fashion, tech, health and more for their viewers. Originally created in East Los Angeles- Hollywood the Red Rose Mafia sisterhood/ membership has grown from a local sisterhood to a worldwide sisterhood. Founder Adela Delgado and members of RRM has been responsible in influencing southern Californias street trends and today's generation worldwide.

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