Belgian Berliner Manu Louis talks about how his adopted city influenced his latest album Kermesse Machine, out in Germany May 27 with a release show at Südblock.
I’ve always been a hybrid in everything I was doing. Culturally, I was raised with English and American pop and rock, but geographically it was far away. So, I felt I should work with traditional music from Central Europe such as brass bands, fun fair music and by extension wedding music or Eurodance; things I didn’t feel related to culturally but that were happening close to me. Now that I live in Berlin, I’m mainly influenced by the two or three concerts I see a week: experimental, pop, jazz. I like West Germany, O Tannenbaum, Sowieso for its jazz, Ausland, Flittchenbar. I never go to venues for more than 200 people. I like to see artists on the same level as the audience. When it’s less of a rock show, you get much more out of it.
I taught myself all the main tools of composition; harmony, counterpoint. I also went to the conservatory to study composition under [US composer] Frederic Rzewski. But I don’t use scores anymore with the music I’m doing now – it’s all programmed. Writing music is just a technique. It doesn’t give you a solution for everything, and I felt a bit sick of chromaticism, tonality and atonality. Berlin certainly has an influence with its electronic and experimental traditions, where the sound is more important than the notes. Right now, I’m using a semi-modular synth for the first time. I’m getting into electronics bit by bit, but I’m entering very dangerous territory here that makes you buy things all the time. I hate that. I’d like to sell my gear and buy new gear; recycle it. I think that would be a very good way for me to work.
Manu Louis / Neoangin, Sat, May 27, 21:00 Südblock, Kreuzberg