Who is Man Power? That’s what we kicked off our promo with when we announced your gig with us. I know you are keen on keeping your identity under wraps; is that something you want to try and continue as you get more exposure or is it becoming more of an open secret?
It’s become a fairly open secret amongst friends and the people I meet on the road, but it’s something I’m still quite keen to keep under wraps as far as the greater internet community goes. Mainly because the truth will be so disappointing in comparison to the fantasy.
What led you to create the Man Power projects?
I’ve been releasing records for several years as part of a collaborative project.That project is reliant on being able to connect my tastes and influences with the people I collaborate with. It was becoming evident that there were elements of my tastes that weren’t appropriate for what we were doing so I started Man Power as a way to explore those elements.The anonymity thing was just a necessary adjunct to remove comparisons with the other project. I also reasoned that the lack of a real person behind the music would hopefully let the music become the focus and allow it to be judged purely on its own merits.Looking back, I now realise that this was quite naive. It would be disingenuous of me to say that the whole mystique element hasn’t added to the interest in the project. That was never anything that was built in to the concept though. It’s kind of a happy accident in a way, but it’s also a bit frustrating as something that was supposed to bring the music to the forefront has potentially become something that overshadows it.I’m not complaining, as so far it’s allowed me to play around the world in some amazing clubs and festivals, and it’s lead to more people paying attention to the music I release, but it certainly was never conceived as a gimmick, and it sometimes concerns me that this is how the project is perceived.
You were recently included as part of a new scene labelled ‘Primitive’ by DJ Magazine along with Daniel Avery, Eskimo Twins and Hardway Bros as well as established artists like Ivan Smagghe, Weatherall and Jennifer Cardini. What do you make of that? A valid observation or another example of lazy journalism?
It’s incredibly flattering to be lumped in with all of these DJs and artists, as they’re all people who I admire greatly. You can regard the whole “Primitive” thing as cynical in one respect, as (with the exception of Jennifer maybe) I don’t play or make music that is very similar to any of those other DJs, which leads you to think that it’s just been a convenient way to simultaneously incorporate a job-lot of breakthrough artists on the left field of dance music, with a view to increasing their readership.However, while the music isn’t that similar, I do think that all of these artists (myself included) all come from a similar personalised place with what they make or play. We all have a tendency to jump across genres and dig a little bit deeper, so while its not a great surface connection, I’d venture that their is a deeper thematic connection between everybody mentioned in that article. We all like “weird”. We all play across all tempo’s. We all have different shades in the music we play. So from that point of view I can see where DJ Mag are coming from. The name itself is a different matter.
There’s more than a touch of humour in your persona as can be seen from the accompanying artwork and track names for your releases; do you think that’s important to balance out the seriousness of the music?
I think you should take your work seriously, but not yourself.For me, too many artists get that the wrong way round.They’re happy to churn out generic music, but are super conscious about their public persona.The celebrity DJ thing seems to be somewhat counter productive in terms of concentrating on good music.This is a mild mannered rebuff to that phenomenon.
You’re working on an album at the moment; what can we expect from that and when will it be ready for release?
The Album should be out before Summer 2015.I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but it’s going to be very different to what I’ve done before, while at the same time having a lot of familiar elements to the things that are starting to define this project.It’s very important to me to actually ensure it’s a cohesive album, rather than just a collection of shorter club bangers.
Any plans to put together a live performance?
Yes. I’m working on a personal live performance involving hardware etc. I just need to conceive a way that isn’t either “man with laptop”, or merely a rehash of something somebody else is doing.Ideally I’d also like to perform the album with a full band if possible, but a lot of this depends on the popularity of the LP I guess. I’m going to remain hopeful though.
What’s the most obscure record in your collection?
Obscure is a funny thing to qualify I guess. The strangest thing I enjoy playing at the moment is a remix of that awful cod D&B tune that came out in the late Nineties. Puretone – Totally Addicted to Bass.There’s a promo 12 with a tribal remix on the B Side, but if you play it on 33 +8 it turns in to a chugging and belching percussive beast, with the pitched down vocal just adding to the weirdness.
It’s been a busy summer for you with gigs at Fabric, Electric Elephant and Unknown in Croatia plus a tour of South America. How have you found the reaction to your music since touring?
It’s all been incredibly rewarding.I think I’ve finally reached a stage where at most of the gigs I play there is a majority in the crowd who are familiar with me and have specifically came to hear what I’m going to play.
That brings a certain amount of pressure, but it also brings an amount of freedom to what you can play. Not because people are more forgiving (they’re really not), but because you know that you’re being judged on giving a true account of yourself, rather than how you service the rest of the night for the other DJs playing etc. I’ve been fortunate enough that on several occasions clubs have remained open one or two hours after their closing times, due to their still being a full dance floor at lights-up. which is one of the most flattering things I’ve ever experienced, and one of the nicer aspects of playing in different countries with a more relaxed attitude to licensing hours etc.
A cursory Google search for ‘Man Power’ and ‘Interview’ returns hundreds of results for leading UK recruitment agency Manpower. Had any interesting CV’s submitted to you by mistake?
Actually, credit where it’s due. They’re a global recruitment company. I’ve possibly already removed any mystique by answering these questions, but in the interests of over sharing I have to admit that choosing this particular nomenclature has led to me constantly feeling embarrassed when called upon to introduce myself to new people.A word of advice is that you should always choose a name which you feel comfortable announcing to strangers.
What can people expect from a Man Power gig? Do we need to organise a Moodymann style screen to hide your appearance?
While I want to keep my face off the internet, I have no issue with showing my face in a gig.Online all I’m interested in sharing is my music. A gig is about interaction though, so it’s genuinely somewhere that I’m required to share all of me.I toyed with obscuring my face during my early gigs, but it felt too contrived and a bit of a contradiction of what I was trying to say.Ben Williams (Gatto Fritto) came up with the best suggestion when we were discussing how I could hide my face at gigs. He suggested that I devoted a portion of my fee to paying 2 burly minders to attend all of my gigs (in tuxedos) and just stand in front of me, shoulder to shoulder, blocking every bodies view.
You can catch Man Power on Saturday 4th October when he plays for us @ Wharf Chambers, Leeds.
Full details and tickets