MAU – The Interview
One of the best things about blogging as opposed to working for An Organisation with a reputation to uphold, is that you can get away with asking what the hell you like. Which is why I know that, just like me, the wonderfully open Luís F. de Sousa of MAU likes to fuck to Shlohmo and Lapalux. Good man! We talked about their 4th album (due any day now!), the future of the music press and, um… giant bunnies stealth shagging on stage.
Just so’s you know, the name ‘MAU’ comes from the famous scene in The Deer Hunter where Robert de Niro and Christopher Walken are forced by the Vietnamese to play Russian roulette. ‘They’re slapping the two guys and shouting “Mau! Mau!” We actually have that word in portuguese, which in a childish kind of way means “bad”. I liked the sound of it and to give it a bit more meaning, I came up with Man And Unable.’
Starting out as group of friends from a variety of countries -Germany, Israel, France, Portugal – all studying in Denmark. A European pick n’ mix of minds, languages and influences that would result in an exciting project (as well a clash of ideas down the line). Luís, bored with his film studies decided not to spunk his brain cells on drugs like the rest of us, and instead resurrected his Roland Grovebox 505. A wise move. Into bands like Fischerspooner and Peaches, Luís began messing around with electro clash loops; the beginnings of his future forming in the cogs of his musical mind.
2010 marks the rebirth of MAU on their metronomic lifeline. The pre and post years are integral to the bands’ sound. With members coming and going, sounds, style and personalities being developed, the pre years were MAU’s troubled teens.
Photo credit – http://imagemdosom.com/
Luís talks of the bands old albums, like you would when reminiscing about fashion trends of your teenage years. It’s a little cringey, but part of the process to become who you are as adult. Modest at times, overly critical at others. A grounded combination MAU is more of a duo these days, with Nuno Lamy (who Luís’ refers to as his ‘filter’) as the integral other half. It wasn’t until MAU’s rebirth in 2010, and the release of their 3rd album, Backseat Love Songs, that he seems happy with the results. Probably because he and Lamy decided to be ‘selfish’ with the sound. Selfish though they may be, they share the stage with Pedro Oliveira (guitar), Eliana Fernandes (synths) and Alex Zuk (drums) for their live shows.
Today MAU have a pretty unique sound, which is some feat considering how many electronic/indie acts there are out there.
‘Our new album “Safari Entrepreneur” is hard to describe…which is a good thing,’ he says. It’s more coherent than previous releases; probably because it was created as part of a two-man project. With fewer opinions to reflect it’s more whole. ‘There’s a lot of electronics, strong and bouncy beats, african and caribbean vibes, filtered and pitched vocals, all glued together into some sort of dark pop songs.’
‘I didn’t put a lot of emphasis on the lyrics…most of them are really simple and short, so you don’t get distracted from whats important, which is music and what it makes you feel.’
This is so true of real music. Let’s forget about the nonsense in the charts about fireworks and name calling and baby this, baby that. Real music connects with the soul without lyrics. You can lose yourself, forget where you are, abandon your worries by simply listening to something that resonates with your soul.
‘Sometimes I lose track of time while playing this new loop over and over, like I’m in some sort of hypnosis mode… losing yourself in sound, like you would in some sort of primary ritual,’ Luís says, reflecting on making process of the new album. ‘We have some guests in this one, Max Greenhalgh from Inspired And The Sleep wrote the lyrics and sang “Impala” and Samantha Krzyston and Jaron from Leitbur featured in “Cold Cheap Leather”.’
Safari Entrepreneur, their 4th venture, is undergoing some finishing touches from their friend, Jaron Widman (of Leitbur fame) and hopefully we’ll get to hear it very soon. ‘We love each-others work, so this is really exciting for all of us.’
Original material aside, MAU produce some of the finest remixes you’ll hear on the web. They consistently blow me away. They always manifest a certain MAUness, and are the best way to get a sense of their current sound. Luìs relies on about 15 ‘really good blogs’ (RB included!) as his source of the best new music and remix inspiration.
‘It’s a huge challenge to recreate a really good song, but I love it. Plus, it’s an opportunity to make new friends from all around the world and a starting point for future collaborations.’ Luís is most proud of his Passion Pit remix. Despite Carried Away, being his least favourite track on Passion Pit’s latest album, he honed his skills as an alchemist. Something he saw as just water transformed into a colourful cocktail with a few twists and shakes of the stems.
Apparently their live shows are also something to behold – so they’d better come play the UK soon. They used to have a kind of mascot back in the day…a giant rabbit who would pretend to fuck everyone on stage. Obviously a band with balls. Once, while opening a set for Iggy Pop and Tricky (very cool huh!?) at a Portuguese festival, they dedicated their track Prick, to a big-shot, well known producer they’d had some issues with in the past…needless to say they haven’t played a Portuguese festival since. Never mind. With sounds as stellar as theirs, they’re sure to feature on many a summer line up in 2013.