Interviews around the World
Interview realised by Mindaugas Peleckis for the online magazine RADIKALIAI (LITHUANIA)
„The Merricks is a one man band from Geneva. I am a musical puzzler under any influences. I'm a puzzler, playing with all the sounds I can find. My first instrument is electric guitar. Then, I love to play with all kinds of real or unreal instruments. My aim is to make understand that noise doesn't exists: it's just a bright sound we're unable to apprehend.“
All those internet pages write: Genre: Experimental/Electronica/Dark Ambient/Ritual. Sounds Like: Front 242, Autechre (æ), Steve Reich. My opinion: no genre, sounds like nobody /nothing else.
What do you think about Patrick Modiano? Is he worth to become a Nobel prize winner? Who would be better in French / other literature?
Never opened a book by Modiano, so I can't tell.
Who are You? Tell us more about Yourself, Your background?
I was born in Geneva (Switzerland) 1972. I always practiced music, painting and writing until now. I formed a few bands in the 90's (punk, electro, new-wave) but I'm on this solo project since the 2000. I prefer to work alone. I began to put my works on the web since 2010. I play electric guitar, synth, drum machine and sometimes sing. I published my first book when I was 20. My first painting exhibition was in the 2000's.
How many books You‘ve published? Could You please tell a little bit more about each of them and what are Your main ideas?
I published 4 books: L'aveugle imaginera ce qu'il veut (short texts), Peu importe le sens des mots (aphorisms), Les anneaux de Némée (novel) and Vortex (poems). I have no main idea, I'm inspired as well by the human behaviour, society, and nature.
Are You more a writer, poet or a music creator?
I don't like to say I'm an "artist" because for me it's it means I would be arrived. I'm always working hard.
When did You start to write and to create music? Who / what inspired You?
I always played music. I also listen to a lot of different kinds of music. From Genesis to Nirvana, Bach to Conflict or Satie to Bowie. The only music I really can't stand is French hip hop. My influences are numerous. Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, Kraftwerk, Can, Dirk Ivens, Legedary Pink Dots, Pierre Henry, Devo, The Residents... and so much more.
Tell us more about Your musical career, bands, projects, albums.
I just released 1 day ago my 111th solo album under the name of The Merricks. I made 10 collaboration albums. All of this in 4 years. I guess there will be another album solo next week.
You are so prolific, almost like Merzbow, Aube, Muslimgauze... What makes You create so much?
I'm prolific because I'm free! I can do what I really want to do. No producer, agent, or any other kind of people on my back to ask me what they want instead of what I AM. Because I compose and play what I AM. It's my flesh and soul. So one could say it's very organic music, even if I use electronic devices.
What are Your main musical styles / ideas?
Can't answer your question. I can't define my style. It depends on my mood.
What music, religion, philosophy, literature, other things inspire You?
I would say I'm a Nietzchean animist zen... the organic energy of this philosopher, an everlasting love for nature and observing it, and the discipline (but not only) of zen. I meditate 2 times a day, it's very important for me.
What do You know about Lithuania?
Sorry to say I'm completely numb in geography, and I wouldn't really be able to place Lithuania on a map!!!! I know it's one of these countries which have been submit to the USSR power... but really not more.
Merci beaucoup. (And i know where Switzerland is – somewhere in Africa, right?).
Interview realised by Christos Doukakis for the online magzine LAST DAY DEAF (GREECE)
Marc – Emmanuel Ackermann is a Swiss multitasking artist behind The Merricks. Since 2009, he has been overproductive having released 185(!) albums within the period 2010-2015.
If you are not familiar with The Merricks, it’s high time you got to know them (basically, him). And the best way to begin? The following interview…
So Marc, feel free to introduce The Merricks to our readers. What was the origin of this project?
I’ve been playing and composing music since I was a very young child. After a lot of different experiences, in bands, duets and solos I came to this project in the fall of 2009. I didn’t know precisely what I was expecting, but I wanted to change direction to a more experimental vision of my work.
Correct me if I am wrong. You have self-released well over 150 releases only on bandcamp. How would you explain this overproductivity?
Actually, I released exactly 185 albums from 2010 to 2015 and this year I am taking a break. Bandcamp is a kind of “laboratory” for me. Some albums have also been published by different netlabels around the world. Creating is my food; I can’t live without it! So I don’t feel I’m overproductive, I just do what I feel.
Could you tell us about your musical background? From what I have read about you, you were a member of some new wave punk bands during the 90’s. What are the main differences between working on your own to collaborating in a band?
Yes, punk, new wave and electronica bands … well, each experience has its good and bad sides. It’s really a great pleasure to play with other people; it brings a deep feeling of sharing and understanding that seems to encompass everything around you, but it means also a lot of conflicts, a lot of egos and a lot of lost time. Composing and playing by myself gives me absolute freedom, and I love it! But the chapter is not definitely closed, I may work again in such structures in the future, and I have already released some collaboration albums with musicians from all around the world.
Do you use any traditional instruments for your compositions, or is everything we hear a product of technology and ‘digitalism’?
It really depends on the album I focus on. But most of the time, I mix traditional instruments and digital methods. I use electric guitars, synthesizers, drum-boxes and I’m fond of recording sounds around me to insert into my works.
Apart from musical influences, what inspires you most when writing music?
I’m a sensual, sensitive and spiritual person, so I hook up all the emotions inside and outside myself to create something which I hope is interesting, and above all, not boring!
‘Shave My Spirit 2’ is one of your latest releases. A 46-minute electro-experimental magnum opus which provokes interest from its initial seconds. Could you share with us the story behind this release?
Actually, it had a ‘Shave My Spirit 1’ before, and I guess there will be at least 2 more opuses. In this work, I try to evoke the feelings I get when practicing Zen meditation, for I’m a kind of industrial monk, lol!
If you had to name 3 current Swiss bands/acts/artists we should pay attention to, who would they be and why? Are you fond of Darkspace, a magnificent, space, black-metal band from Bern?
I’m not very aware of what’s being done musically in Switzerland nowadays. Essentials bands from here are, to me, The Young Gods, Yello and Swamp Terrorists.
Apart from music, you are also involved in writing books. Could you explain to us how you can combine music with writing? Are there any other forms of art you’ve been involved in?
Yes, I’m a composer, multi-instrumentalist, writer and plasticist. To me, music has nothing, or very little to do with writing. To make music, in my opinion, you just have to be open, generous and have a lot of ideas. Writing isn’t more “difficult” but it works differently. A lot of discipline (in my case) is needed, and concentration too. The only comparison I would find between these two media is rhythm and fluency. In both cases, it must “sound” easily-made; even if we all know that it’s not easy at all to produce.
Are you performing live as The Merricks? If so, how would you describe the experience?
I have awful memories of my first and only concert with a band I was in, over 30 years ago. The audience didn’t care at all, lol! But I plan to program new gigs in the near future, perhaps in 2017 or 2018. I’m quite excited about it!
What are your plans regarding The Merricks?
2016 is a year of pause for The Merricks. I have worked really hard these last 5 years, so I need some rest to come back again stronger next year. For now, as I have decided not to release digital albums anymore, I’m searching for financial backing to release CDs. 4 albums have already been made. I just have to press and distribute them, but as I live on a very low invalidity supplement I can’t afford to do so, even though costs aren’t so high nowadays. May luck be with me!
Interview realised for the online magazine NEUFUTUR (USA)
Hello, Marc. You’re quite busy when it comes to your music. What is your creative process and what sources of inspiration (e.g. books, television, film) get your creative juices flowing?
As I’m also a writer (8 books published until now) and a plastician (some exhibitions in the 90s), I read a lot of poetry, philosophy (mostly presocratics and Nietzsche, not mentioning buddhists writings) and scientific essays. I find novels boring, I always guess what’s going to happen. It’s all, or a lot about form. I’m still found of Flaubert, Rimbaud or Dostoyevsky (amongst many others) because their form transcends the matter and the original message. For now, I’m deep in alchemical theories. I used to watch a lot of movies, but I don’t find pleasure in it anymore, except with artists like David Lynch or, more classical, Akira Kurosawa. The works of Giacometti and Bacon shaped me a lot. I don’t watch TV.
Your body of music takes on a number of genres, while your individual compositions are much longer than typical radio fare. What sort of artists have most shaped your discography?
As anybody, I’m influenced by the worst and the best…Sometimes, “bad” music can give you much more feelings than “good” one. To me, the frontier doesn’t stand between good and bad, but between alive or not. Nowadays, too much music sounds dead to my heart, even if it’s well crafted and ingeniously built. The “pop” format is quite annoying, I like to be free to create pieces that don’t fit in. I listen to what the sound has to tell to me, sometimes it needs one minute or less, sometimes it asks twelve minutes or more, there’s no law. Though I’m classified as an experimental/electronic creator, I always evoke myself as a “punk”, because it’s the first kind of music I played and because the notion of “energy” matters a lot to me. It’s all about generosity and pushing the walls always more far. More personally, I would say that the influences you can hear in my works are Chu Ishikawa, Mick Harris, Bill Laswell, Brian Eno, SPK, Front 242, Throbbing Gristle and early Kraftwerk.
In a related fashion, how do you think The Merricks‘ music has changed from 2011’s (In)famous to 2016’s Powerlessness?
Actually, I always composed music. I set my first band when I was 14, and later I came to work alone because it gave me more freedom of creativity. I started releasing my music on the internet in 2009, which is quite late. Until that, I was making “tapes” as a lot of musicians, I guess… The essential difference between my early works and now is that I am not looking for efficiency anymore, my sound is more “round” and evasive. Pushing the limits forwards. But maybe I’ll come back to “basics” later, no door closed.
A number of The Merricks releases have a short/simple title but you have two releases from December 2015. What does Shave My Spirit (1 and 2) mean thematically, and how do you name songs and releases?
“Shave my spirit” and the 4 “Zazen” releases are directly connected to my philosophical beliefs. I’m a quite mystical person, though I don’t believe in God, and Zen is not really a religion formerly speaking, because it’s build on the inner strength, spirit and capacities of human being, more than on external forces. For these two “suites”, I created the music after the name I gave, which is not always the case. Often, I give a title after what I hear of the sounds I built, but I don’t mind a lot about this, I really could give numbers to it instead, it wouldn’t change anything to me.
We’re a third done with 2016. What sort of plans do you have for the latter part of the year?
2016 should have been the year of 2 physical releases for The Merricks, for I decided not to put new works on the internet anymore, unhappily it begins quite bad. 2 CDs has been released on the now closed Belgian label “Hyphen Records”, in 2014 (Muddy sunrays) and 2015 (Autumn dogs). I set a crowd funding project to earn some money to press a third CD this year, but it didn’t work at all, so I will do everything by myself, which will take much more time, for I haven’t got any fortune… wait and see !
Let’s talk technology. What does your current recording and music production set up look like? What sort of upgrades do you want to add in the future?
I’m not a huge fan of technology, even if it brings great tools, it’s only tools. Creativity is a kind of psychic disease, I think, and I wouldn’t survive without it. It’s all my life since I’m a child. But I’m really keen of all analogical synthesis, it gives you a lot of potentiality in the shaping of sounds and structures. I like to mix the rugosity and instability of analogical devices with the hopeless defined form of computer softwares. I love this meeting of unleashed life force and digital rigor, it brings a paradoxical feeling and understanding of the matter. I don’t have a lot of stuff, and don’t want/need much more. I really enjoy the Dave Smith Instruments devices, they are very intuitive and powerful. I should say I used to be a drumbox collector, but it’s over now and I got rid of it, the computer softwares don’t sound always very good in comparison, but it’s much more malleable, and, after all, you can re-shape the original sounds even if takes lot more time to do. I still have (and play) the electric guitar I bought when I was 12, love it… My latest acquisition is the Pocket Operator drumbox (by Teenage Engineering, I think, not sure), a very good tool for live performances, but quite limitative. To finalize my set, I would like to get the Mochika XL by Atomo Synth, the Analog Four by Elektron and the Prophet 6 by DSI. Then it will be HEAVEN, lol !
How can listeners find samples of your music?
I released 185 albums in these last 6 years, so there’s a lot of stuff to listen to, maybe too much, I agree. Some releases are available for free on different netlabels (God Hates God Records, amongst others), but my main “headquarter” is The Merricks Bandcamp page, so don’t hesitate to check it out, the prices are very affordable. To have an idea, you can also check my Reverbnation page…
Thanks for speaking with us tonight. Do you have anything else that you would like to tell NeuFutur?
Thank you and sending best thoughts to you and your readers, take care of your beautiful souls, let’s blossom !