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Die großartigen MEN im Interview

Vor ihrem fulminanten Auftritt bei der poolbar-Festival-Tour im Wiener WUK, trafen wir die drei charmanten MEN, JD Samson, Michael O'Neill und Ginger Brooks Takahashi, zu einem kurzen Interview.

How did this whole thing MEN start out?

JD: In 2007 Johanna Fateman from Le Tigre and I started djing together and later on we started to write original music as well. Around the same time I was also working with Michael and Ginger on a seperate project, Hirsute, with Emily Roysdon, which was also original music. We kinda just merged the projects after a little bit of time. One reason was that Johanna decided to have a baby, which was really exciting, but naturally, she had less time for the band then. I was really excited about what Hirsute was doing, so we just brought it all into one, called it MEN and here we are.

fuck your best friends by himmel.gelb

How did you come up with the name MEN?

JD: We called it MEN because we thought it combined a lot of stuff that we stand for. And we had done some press already under the name and we didn't want to confuse people with a million different projects.
Ginger: You should totally tell the story with you and Jo and the airport.
JD: Yeah, me and Jo called it MEN originally because we had this whole philosophy of ‘What would a man do?' Like when you are in a club and the promoter gives you less than the guarantee was for then you have to fight for yourself, it's about confidence and stuff. When we were at the airport we just always laughed about how men always come from behind and cut you in line. So we decided we were going to be more like them. (Everyone laughs)

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Since you and Johanna were the founding force behind MEN: How much of Le Tigre is still in this project?

JD: Some might say that some elements are similar, because you know, I wrote music in Le Tigre and I write music in MEN, but it's a whole new thing. It's a totally different sound. Some things are similar in the respect that it's dance music, that we are artists and we are political and have a certain community. But the music is much more dynamic and more structurally (JD pauses) advanced. (Everyone laughs)

Do you consider yourself more as a band or as a performance art project?

Michael: I think at this point probably more just a band. Well not ‘just' a band. I think we want to incorporate and evolve our performance to be more performance and artistic, but right now, it's our first tour and we are sort of just playing and getting a feeling for the stage, the three of us. But I am sure the project will evolve at some point.

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Personally for me, judging from the performances of you I have seen myself, there is definitely a large part of performance in your stage presence. E.g. you like to use props and costumes on stage.

Ginger: I think that all just comes into play naturally because these are the kind of things we are interested in. We are not interested in ‘just playing' our instruments, there are so many other factors, like the things that we are reading or sculptural elements. It just naturally comes in, it comes into the band and then it ends up on stage, on our bodies - as our costumes.
JD: We all know each other from an art scene as opposed to a music scene, so we all want elements of visual art or performance art to be incorporated in our shows.

Tell us a bit about the importance of gender/sex for your project.

JD: We are queer and we are a queer band. So we will always be thinking about that and writing about that and being that. It is a necessary element for our band. But you know, we don't talk about sex all the time. But we are talking about it a lot. (everyone laughs)
Michael: As far as gender is concerned, you know, when JD and Jo were MEN, there was something different about two women called MEN. Then we had do decide whether or not we would go on to use this name, like when I joined the group I asked: ‘Is it weird that I am a man and we are called MEN? Does it have the same effect? Or does it contradict the original idea that JD and Jo were going for? Or does it somehow enhance the question: What is a man What is a human?'
JD: And exactly that is the whole point. Rethinking it. Like my aunt who is a total suburban housewife was talking to me about the name of the band. And her husband asked me: ‘Why do you call it MEN when there is a man in the band?' And she was like: ‘You just don't get it! That's the whole point!' She totally got it.

What are your future plans for the band? Will there be an album any time soon?

Ginger: First we are going to play some shows in Canada for the Gay Pride festival, when we come back home from Europe. In July we are doing a US tour.
Michael: We have enough material now for an album, so we are already recording it and looking for someone to put it out.
JD: We mostly do it song by song. When we can afford another song, we do it.

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What artists, who are working at the moment, are people who inspire you or who you admire for what they do?

Ginger: Well, we are doing a cover of a Joan Armatrading song, it's called "My family", and we are also going to use it as a theme for this larger performance, we are going to do when we get back in June at the new museum in New York. She is a huge influence of JD's, Emily's and mine. We are working on Michael in this matter. (Laughing)
JD: In terms of people who are working right now: I think we like certain elements of certain people's work. I am personally totally into The Presets. I really love how they can write songs that are really club anthems, but are also dark and emo. So for my personal influence of beat making and putting stuff together, they are an influence. But it's funny, there is no band that I would say about: That band rules in every way. I mean, our friends are big influences, as artists and musicians. Like Barr. We love The Gossip and we have been listening to Animal Collective a little bit, but kinda marvelling on how weird it is that they are so huge. Like thinking about things intellectually a bit more, why things are the way they are in the music business. That's kinda weird that the influences are: picking apart other people's music.

Das Interview führte Julia Preinerstorfer.
Fotos von Mirjam Bromundt.

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