Man Machine is an either-or situation of a one-man band. Amazing, raw electro-pop music that at first listen sounds more like a pisstake of the world, but then you realise under the surface these songs have amazing pop-potential that will probably never be fully developed – and then again, that’s the beauty of Man Machine. It’s a mixture of theatre and anti-drama, mysanthropy-come-fun and indifference towards life’s ends… The name itself can very easily be confused with the most delicate minimal wave type-of band out there – and very probably there are dozens of minimal wave bands that culled their stage name from Kraftwerk already, but this version of Man Machine alone is probably the most representative of true (un)emotional relationship between the man and the machine. Once this machine’s functions expire, it will probably remain that way. A funny way to remember it. In this tiny interview, Man Machine talks about his inner feelings and told a stunning joke at the very end. But be patient, read the full interview.
SD: If you’d choose between a man and a machine, what would you rather be?
MM: Man himself is actually a machine, only the purpose of this machine isn’t quite clear, neither is the performance that great. But if you think in terms of classic division between a man with emotions and a machine without them, I would definitely rather be a machine.
SD: Are some of your songs based on personal experience? The lyrics to individual songs seem quite ironic, I dare say misanthropic even, insidiously aggressive (“I Hate Human Race”, “Maybe Death Is Home”) – but in spite of all this, there’s also a breath of optimism (“A Dreamer Is a Dream Too”)… Do you consider only particular subjects of interest, or are subject matters that don’t interest you at all, also an issue?
MM: All my songs are my own thoughts based on personal experiences. The song “I Hate Human Race” came out when I saw some horrific violent video in which a group of racists mercilessly beats the immigrants. This song is a statement of the moment, in which a man is disgusted by the human race – and there are moments like this all around. The song “Fuck War And Everything About It” speaks of war films, war songs and stories about war heroes and everything else that glorifies the war. “Maybe Death Is Home” is an attempt to try and see death from another angle. I think death is a happy moment because eternal life would be tremendously boring. And so on, and so forth… I am not thinking about songs in terms of pessimism or optimism. I write them the way I feel they should sound. When I’m satisfied with the result, I consider a song been done. I am a misanthrope. To me, the history of mankind is one long sequence of slaughter, rape and theft – and I think it will never change. Whenever there’s a mention of global warming, the nuclear war or any other catastrophe that might exterminate mankind, I immediately feel glad at heart. I hope the human race will disappear forever and that nature will recover and the universe will continue to exist in the bliss of its unconsciousness. The insidious aggression is very probably the outcome of personal character or maybe even the lack of upbringing. I explore only subject matters that interest me.
SD: Your stage performance seems quite relaxed, spontaneous, funny… Is Man Machine a slave to certain music parameters or is he, despite the preferred electro-pop (especially due to his choice of name), more aspired to the element of confusion?
MM: I’m in electro-pop (if I am) because it’s the simplest way to do it. At home I programme the synthesizers and then carry them over onto stage, play, sing and that’s it. What interests me in music is what someone else has to say. It’s irrelevant how he’ll do it. All this storytelling about the scene, genres, studios, guitars, mixing racks and producers are so boring and pompous. And utterly redundant. When I listen to music, I am not at all interested how or with what it is been recorded, when it is recorded, who recorded it and in the end who wrote it and played it. I am interested in music alone and that’s it. I realized it is not me who is important, it’s the music… therefore, I decided that it is absolutely irrelevant what is happening when I’m on stage – meaning, I am relaxed while my funny side takes place forth (laughter).
SD: At one moment, you mentioned that you don’t pay that much attention to music… Can that be considered advantage in terms of creating your own music? Is greater music knowledge and listening a form of strength or is it a weakness?
MM: When I was around 14 – 15, I started listening to music obsessively. I was manic about it. Music was everything to me, there was nothing else – except maybe some friends and soft drugs as well. This thing lasted for some ten, fifteen years – a period in which I’ve absorbed absolutely everything I possibly could, and fell in love with what I found appealing. For me, that’s enough. During this last couple of years, I get happy when I discover something worth of my attention, but I cannot really say that music makes such an impact on me like it did before. When I’m at home, I enjoy being in silence. Greater musical knowledge/listening is neither strength nor a weakness. I think, hearing hundred-fifty-thousand songs never helped anyone in writing a good song on their own.
SD: What’s the most frequent reaction by the audience at your concerts?
MM: I pay attention to the audience very rarely during my performances, so I cannot really say it from my own perspective but most of the time, people mainly express compliments.
SD: You wrote a song called “Elvis Is Jesus Is Elvis”… can this obession with idols, whether the real ones or those that are illusory, be cured?
MM: No, I don’t think so. It is hard to accept the fact that we’re nobody, we’re nothing. Actually, Elvis and Jesus don’t have that much in common, except for the fact there are countless people that have their images on their bedroom walls – which I find pretty ridiculous. Regarding Jesus, there is no actual evidence that he actually ever existed so I cannot really discuss his persona but Elvis was simply this modest guy who fancied guitars, cars, girls and his mum. I am not saying this is not enough of a reason not to put his picture on the wall, but then again (and very probably) you can also treat a picture of your neighbour that way just the same.
SD: Did you ever put a joke into music, or were you ever considering to do such a thing? What is your favourite joke?
MM: The art of telling jokes is something I have no talent for. I am truly and desperately bad in it. But I really do like good jokes. My favourite joke:
A cowboy rides across the desert, had a job to do, got some money and he wished for some whiskey. He arrives to a small town and notices people are running away, hide their children, shut their windows. He asks some bloke – “What’s goin’ on?”, and the bloke responds in fear – “Do not go to town, the black rider is coming.” The cowboy thinks for a minute and decides – “well, what the hell, I’ll still have that whiskey and then I’ll leave, I also have the gun, screw the black rider!” The next moment, he stops by the bar, ties his horse, steps towards the bar… all of a sudden, a man runs out of the bar and screams at the cowboy – “Are you freakin’ nuts?! Whatcha doin’ here, get out, the black rider is coming…!” – and runs away. The cowboy again thinks for a minute and then says to himself – “… now that I got this far, I’ll drink that whiskey, no chance I’ll run away now…” – he enters the bar in which the owner was already putting away the bottlesm the glasses and everything else that might be smashed. The cowboy orders some whiskey. The owner of the bar looks at him, part angry, part scared, and asks him – “Are you mad, better find a hole to hide, the black rider is coming!” The cowboy replies – “Oh, cut the crap with this black rider bullshit, gimme some whiskey and mind your own business!” The owner gives him a bottle of whiskey, grabs the money and runs away, hiding into the cellar. The cowboy pours himself some whiskey and just started to enjoy the drink, when all of a sudden he heard the sound of footsteps approaching. Besides that, the only sound was the howling wind. A tall, fearsome man dressed in black enters the bar – the biggest and scariest person the cowboy had ever seen. He stops looks at the cowboy and points a finger at him, saying – “You…! Get over here and suck my cock!” The cowboy’s legs started shaking of fear, so he thinks – “well, whatever…” – kneels before the black man, unzips his pants and starts sucking his cock. After a couple of minutes, the fearsome guy looks down towards the cowboy and nervously yells at him – “Come on, hurry up, man! The black rider is coming to town!!!”
Further information: manmachine1.bandcamp.com/
Man machine / Brigitte Helm in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927)