MOUSE ON MARS

Mouse on Mars
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MOUSE ON MARS



Written by Alison Potter
Photos and illustrations by Marco Borggreve
21 Monday 21st November 2011

Do you and Andi find it easy to work in the studio together?

No, not always, but on the other hand we can’t really do anything else. We don’t really have proper jobs. The only thing we can do is be in the studio, making sounds and arranging and structuring them. We make music and we’re not very good at anything else. Sometimes you can be fed up with each other or there are other more important things going on in your life. But Andi is a good musician and good friend, and it is fun to work with him.

Mouse On Mars encompasses a wide range of musical genres and styles. What inspires you musically?

Our musical influences are everything, everything that can be called structured noise. Even unstructured noise can be music and can be inspirational. For the first time ever, we feel that contemporary electronic music is getting really interesting and as varied as we have always wanted it to be. In the past we liked different ideas of electronic music, for instance, there are things about techno we liked, a lot more things we didn’t like. We took the parts we liked and were flexible about our music, making things look and sound how we wanted them to. With the development of better software, there is so much more flexibility in terms of making music, I mean even dubstep isn’t dubstep anymore, it is so many different things.

Paeanumnion - Mouse on Mars with musikFabrik (excerpt 1)

How do you think you fit within the German electronic music scene?

Genetically we are German, but we refuse to let this identify us. We like to focus more on what things can become, not where they come from. We are not interested in where the sound originated, but what we can do with it and how it will complement other sounds. I strive to be original and find newness. What I am saying is perhaps typically German, and I am part of the post-war generation that refused to be labeled German. We have an English band name and we play all over the world. Very often people don’t even know where we come from, and at the beginning everyone thought we were English, because at the time we had a London-based label, Too Pure. I don’t want to translate any German heritage or virtues, I just want to make music that is us. Our software and gear is from all over the place, everything we do and make comes from all sorts of places, so I like to think of us as wider than just German.

Your show at Barbican on 25 November is called ‘Paeanumnion’. Firstly, how do you actually pronounce ‘Paeanumnion?’

We pronounce it PAAE-AN-NUM-NION. The first sound is ‘P,’ then ‘AAAE’ with your mouth open really wide as if you feel really sick, then ‘NUM,’ and finally ‘NION.’ PAAE-AN-NUM-NION.

Thanks for helping me with that. So how did you come up with the name?

We stole it from the Ancient Greek, ‘Paean,’ it was easy to buy, and then we messed it up a bit. It means loud and joyous song.

Paeanumnion is an ambitious orchestral collaboration with André de Ridder and musikFabrik. Tell me a bit about it?

Basically it is a very conventional set up. We have 25 amazingly skillful musicians, and then two who are not very technically skilled – that’s Andi and me – we are all part of the orchestra on stage. André De Ridder, who is our friend and collaborator, is also part of the ensemble as the conductor, and he is like the drummer in the band, he keeps the metronome. And then together we play this piece which is basically three movements. The first gives a sense of what this word ‘Paeanumnion’ is, and the whole thing explores different corners and it gets quite sinister and difficult at times. It can be quite abstract and a challenge to the ears, but then it comes back in and becomes rhythmical again and has more of the sense of a song, as it leads into quite a beautiful end. So that is it, we are all part of the score and do different things, but work together in a harmonious cacophony.

I understand that for Paeanumnion you have created your own musical software, which you also used for the production of your upcoming album Parastrophics?

Yes there are different software projects, there are two smaller ones which we use on our iPhones. It is a gadget that enables us to produce amazing results, but it is not a complex piece of equipment and it is easy to use. These two things are used live, and there is another piece of software that we are working on at the moment which is more complex, and that is a graphic sound device. So this was important for the production of the piece and it is something that we use for the performance, but when we use it elsewhere we will use it differently. The smaller ones we use on our iPhones can be used quite freely, so if you see us waving an iPhone around we are not calling our mothers – “Hi Mum! I’m playing a show in the Barbican. You should see this!” – we are making and mixing sounds.

Can you tell me a little about Parastrophics?

The album will be out in February on Monkeytown Records, a more electronic label. They are from Berlin and started by Modeselektor, who are friends of ours. It just made complete sense to release our new album through them. We feel really great about this – its more club-orientated than our previous records. We worked hard on the sound design and the aesthetics. For us it is quite new in terms of the sounds and the software we have developed. It took us quite a few years to make this album, but now it is finally coming together. I hope people will like it and enjoy listening to it. I think of it like a flipbook, lots of little pictures that all connect to make one long seamless movement.

You have had such a long career and are able to do pretty much anything you want – including playing alongside a 25-person orchestra. Is there anything you still want to achieve?

Ummmm do you mean like tongue-kissing Angelina Jolie type of thing…?

 

Mouse on Mars are playing at the Barbican this Friday (25 Nov). See here for details.

Parastrophics is out 24 February, 2012.  To hear more, check mouseonmars.com

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