“I make individual music for individual people!” – DANIEL MENCHE im Gespräch

Daniel Menche hören, heißt jemandem zu lauschen, der über eine hohe Arbeitsmoral verfügt. Faulheit ist, wie er selbst erzählt, der Feind. Gleichzeitig offenbart sich in seinem unglaublichen Output auch ein Kampf gegen die eigene Langeweile, die den im Nordwesten der USA lebenden Amerikaner immer dann befällt, wenn er nicht komponiert oder mit Sounds experimentiert. In Bewegung zu sein, nicht aufhören – hier schlägt sich ein Muster nieder, welches auch die nichtmusikalischen Bereiche Daniels Leben durchwirkt. Als passionierter Camper, Wanderer und Läufer schätzt er die Bewegung. Zudem gibt er an, dass die Ideen ihm am besten zuströmen, wenn er sich körperlich betätigt. Dieser Tage erscheint auf SIGE Records, dem feinsten aller kleinen Labels, sein neuster Streich: “Vílke“. Das baltische Wort steht dabei für Wolf. Genauer gesagt, stammt es, ebenson wie ein Elternteil von Daniels Freundin aus dem Litauischen. Wölfe und ihre Brüder die Kojoten haben oft mit ihrem Geheul die langen Ausflüge des bewegungsfreudigen Amerikaners begleitet. So bilden Aufnahmen dieses Geheuls auch die Soundbasis von “Vílke“. Da Daniel, obschon er einwirft kein großer Schreiber zu sein, unfassbar ausführlich geantwortet hat, folgten wir seiner Idee, das anschließende Gespräch im Original zu belassen. Der wunderbare Humor Menches offenbart sich so noch besser. Und bevor Daniel nun loslegt, sei an dieser Stelle ein herzlicher Dank an seine lektorierende Freundin und seinen weltbesten Manager – den “Smile Maker“ Arrow – gerichtet.

? Have you already been creative today?

Yes actually! It’s part of my morning routine. Wake up, eat cereal, drink coffee, walk my little doggie and then work for an hour on music. Right now I have several projects I’m working on so it’s exciting. To be honest I will have months where creativity is very difficult to grow, like a stubborn vegetable in the ground. Then somehow creativity will shoot up out of the ground in overabundance. The mornings are best for the mind I think because in the evening I’ll work way too long and late and honestly that’s when my work doesn’t work so well. So the next morning I’m spending more time fixing than creating. Now I’m rather strict that I only work on music when I know I am not tired. I mean we only have 16 waking hours a day and ideally it’s a good idea to separate those hours into three categories: Mind, Body, and Spirit. Read a lot of books or something for the mind. Then exercise the body and feed it right. And finally for this thing called a “spirit” that is all about making art and music or whatever that can be called your own and no one else’s. So it’s a good trinity of sorts to follow. As of today I am furiously working on a new side project called “Beast Resonator” that as of now will be four or five hours of intense percussion music that is entirely intended as exercise music. I’m talking very dangerous aerobic workout music! I’m getting really excited to get this released on Bandcamp and start some sort of new sonic physical exercise revolution…..well maybe that is.

? What do you think were the most important crossroads on the way of your history as an artist?

There have been a few. I would say in the early beginnings (1991) it was meeting and befriending Key Ransone of Small Cruel Party. He was an incredible inspiration full of creative energy and a man of the highest integrity and dignity. We would perform a lot together and he was a strong supporter of my work in the early days. He was a practicing Buddhist and that was interesting to me, how that influenced his work. We both toured Japan in 95 and that was certainly a crossroads because it was the first country I visited! It was an amazing experience. Meeting many Japanese artists and observing their way or I should say the “Japanese way” of making art was very profound for me. It was the non-attitude of it all. The non-thinking Zen about it way. I mean just witnessing Incapacitants and Merzbow as a three piece and so many others just going for it without any hesitation. It was really exciting to take in the eastern approach to making extreme music. Many of the Japanese noise artists told me directly that they really appreciated my work over the other American/European noise because “I was not trying to be like them”. So that was a compliment of sorts, to get that reaction from my Japanese peers. Throughout the 90s it was the Japanese noise artists that were some of my biggest supporters! Another crossroad was when I read Yukio Mishima’s “Sun and Steel” and that had the most profound punch in the face effect on me. That was in 2001 and clearly one can see/hear a difference in my music. That book totally changed my music and also my physique! Because you see that book links art with the physical self. So that book made me into an exercise fanatic and a creative warrior. I got more actual muscles and I made more music because of that book! So that book clearly affected my music. Yukio Mishima’s nationalist vibe was just silly to me so I simply glided over that nonsense. But his attitude about art and exercise was spot on! I immersed myself in all those samurai philosophy books like the Hagakure and just replaced all the talk about sword fighting with making music. Books about Zen have helped too but to be honest I am far far far away from being truly Zen…..still working on that! Around 2004-2005 I became very obsessed with trail running and found myself running in deep forests. Sometimes even barefoot and wearing nothing but shorts. I would run and run and run through forests and that is when I became very in tune with animality. I stopped thinking about being a human and start feeling more like an animal while running. Sounds silly to say that but really it’s absolutely natural to feel this while blasting through a dirty trail barefoot with the bottom of your bare feet bleeding. BEST FEELING EVER! I would lose myself and just be a ball of sweaty energy. I would have the craziest visions and ideas running through my head during these wild exercises, so that when I would get home I would immediately get more than enough inspiration to work on music. That’s why there was a strong percussive element coming into my work around that time (2004-present). It all came from my lustful passion to run through forests. I broke a bunch of bones in 2005 from a high speed skateboard accident and that was a bit awful. I’m still very much active but my body has been a bit abused from physical injuries. For three years now I’m more about long hikes in the mountains and forests than say running. You see with running in forests you have to be constantly looking at the trail in front of you so you don’t trip and fall. By hiking or walking I can focus more on sound around me and also be able to view more of nature. That explains my photography and also my field recordings. That is all from my long hikes. My nature themed recordings such as Kataract and Terra Paroxysm are due to my hiking. All of my crossroads with my music is entirely due to a crossroad with my physical self. As my body is changing so is my music. What my music will be like when I am a very old man……I don’t know really but I promise it won’t be boring and mellow! Mortality is a great motivator! The more I realize time is getting shorter the more feel like shaking my tail and absorbing life as much as possible and in return trying to offer some music along the way.

? You’ve released an unbelievable amount of records, how do you oversee all of your releases?

Well to be honest it’s really rather shameful having such a large discography. It’s NOT something I take pride in. It’s a reflection of my ridiculous pathology to keep moving on and not stopping. I see my discography as measurements and documentation of time, of the usage of music and sound. Rather intriguing throwing my entire discography into iTunes – it will automatically tell you exactly how many minutes, hours and days worth of music that I have created. I can’t tell you how much it is exactly but yes it is a peculiar realization. I’m not reflecting on the amount of releases but rather the actual time increments of my work. And to think about how many hours went into each recording to make that, say, one hour CD would be about 48 solid hours to make that one hour recording for that one CD. Then there was the time and effort for the artwork and packaging and even doing interviews! So it’s a time value measurement that I am referring to and not how many releases. As I see it there’s a hell of a lot of other ways to waste time so making so much music and spending so much time getting it done is time well spent. Work ethic is absolutely precious! Once you have a strong work ethic, no one can take that away from you. Laziness is my enemy. So if my discography looks ridiculously huge well that just shows how much I am at constant battle against laziness. My war against boredom! The great quote from Bruce Lee sums it up…. “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” As far as using time as my main canvas to paint on then I’m at peace with it. I’m comfortable being a cockroach in the music world where the apocalypse can happen and I’ll still be making music somehow. There’s a lot of criticism for us cockroaches. So what if we cockroaches have big discographies!? It just means we cherish time and life very much! When the day is over and my head is on the pillow and about ready to fall asleep at least I know I made some sort of personal accomplishment in spending a few hours on making music as well as exercising my body and mind. Again back to that trinity I mention before (Mind, Body, Spirit) Even if it’s something 99% of the world would not like or appreciate I’m still comfortable that I’m creating some sort of energy in the air waves in the form of music. I would have great regrets if I did too little as opposed to doing too much. I’ll take the “too much” route.

? Where does this endless creativity come from?

This may sound strange but really it’s natural that exercise is very crucial to creativity. Or I should say “blood to the brain”. You will see artists, writers and musicians all trying to get blood to the brain to get that creativity kick and so they smoke endless amount of cigarettes or other drugs and such just to get that kick of blood. Coffee is AWESOME! And yeah I love coffee and it’s good for creativity. Besides that caffeine addiction I have never touched drugs or cigarettes and I have always kept my health very clean. So it’s intense exercise that truly gets my blood pumping and going to my brain and I get the craziest ideas swimming around there when I am in a most intense physical state. When it’s all said and done it’s all about getting blood to the brain. What happens when blood doesn’t get to the brain? You faint or die actually! So blood to the brain is it and if you can get a lot of blood shooting to the brain you are a powerful engine of creativity. All you have to do after that is to figure out what tools are needed to unleash that creativity. For what I do it’s an ongoing process of choosing technological tools for the aim of creating an imaginative state of ecstasy. In short I’m a dramatist with sound so really it’s a process of getting the drama delivered as strongly as possible with the aid of electronic tools. We are all emotional volcanoes….,.most are very dormant but some of us have figured out how to explode our emotions. I’m really happy that I find my way to explode.

? What role does the word “catharsis” play for you and for your work?

Well catharsis is obvious in my music and so much of contemporary extreme music. I really admire the original classical Greek definition of Catharsis of being the process “purification” or “cleansing”. I like that! I hope my music can achieve this. I have always felt music should be a wrench that clogs the gears of the machine known as the mind. Music should function as a weapon to halt the process of thinking and usher in a wave of emotions. Or as Kafka would say about writing, “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.” I like that approach a lot! I think the roots of cathartic music can be traced to being very young, when you start noticing the world that you were born in is…….very fucked up. And the only friend you have is music. Now this is when you are very young and mom and dad are starting to really piss you off, as well as teachers, police, and any and all grownups. So with the awesome technological devices known as music players and the high volume knob you discover that you can incinerate all the bullshit of the world with music. Just hit play on your player and let SLAYER melt all those annoying grown ups. I mean nothing is more cathartic than a SLAYER concert! SLAYER is the champion of cathartic music! This is just an example but that is how catharsis comes into our worlds at a young age. “Disgust” becomes a mighty rocket fuel and music can be a great rocket to escape. It begins with that gut instinct that you are being held down into some sort of soul bondage. It’s like a fire hose tied into a knot and music unravels that knot and the water blasts your soul out into a much better place. This is what music did for me when I was young. Many years ago when I was young and performing concerts I would have visions right before hitting the stage that my arms turned into two fire hoses and my blood would blast out of my arms into the audience and somehow the sound of all this would be blasting through the PA. I would put this silly fantastical image in my head right before I would hit the stage just to get into the right vision of the concert. Of course it’s a silly vision but I need these silly visions to at least have a metaphoric goal in mind. Sometimes I would feel cathartic after the performance that the imagery in my imagination matched what the performance gave off but of course there were many short comings too. I mean us humans are cursed with grand delusions and we are always trying to make art to match these wacky huge epic visions. Especially when we are very young. These days I haven’t had that cathartic intention anymore. I’m in such a solid place in my life that I really do not need anything cathartic for myself but CERTAINLY I offer something to younger audiences and they do get it! So instead of searching for the next catharsis I am now serving it to younger audiences. Older audiences aren’t that hungry for this effect but the younger ones certainly are because after all they KNOW this world is very very very fucked up and reason and meaning are losing ground. Intense and extreme abstract art offers an experience that is very much needed these days. It’s interesting to see that the most chaotic music now is actually rather calming and harmonious with young people. There will always be a supply and demand for cathartic artistic expression.

? Could you briefly point out your working process?

I am very observant of my surroundings and I am always visualizing objects into sound. For instance the sound of the inside of an object. That is why I love contact mics. I am always feeling objects around me with my fingers and trying to sense a vibration running through them. I search for sounds that the ear cannot hear. Like finding myself hiking in a forest and a broken tree limb is in a surging river and I can feel the water bashing through the tree branch and feel the vibrations. So then I clamp a contact mic on it and record straight to my recorder. When I hike I bring my camera and recorder and sometimes I have more photos than recordings and sometimes the other way around. What is moving around in the solid matter of an object is something I am always fascinated with. Sound waves moving are such an incredible concept. So it becomes an exciting process of imagining… “hmmmmmm what is in that object and how can I take ownership!” The hunter and gatherer approach. Then of course there are musical instruments. I know absolutely nothing about any instruments. I have zero knowledge of how to play any instrument but I perceive musical instruments the same as I would the sound of a rain storm or a flower pot crashing. My album GUTS is all from old piano innards and I treated that piano as if it was a trash can that I would throw off the top of a building. Or for a really big acoustic phenomenon I can see how a sound source can be made into a character like in theater or film. Like for instance my waterfall album Kataract. I looked at and heard gigantic waterfalls and saw potential in how they could be cast as a character in an intense drama of sound. So by grabbing raw and loud waterfall recordings I shape a them into a character and put them on display as a emotional element. Vilke was created by looking at the essence of wolves howling as something dramatically displayed in an otherworldly manner. Looking for sound sources is similar to being a casting agent for film or theater. Find the right sound source and inject a big dose of drama into it. Then it’s the ability to script the dialogue and give it the final costuming. All said and done I’m just creating drama with sound and your speakers are the stage where the sounds perform their drama. I perceive every music project I am involved in as a big theater presentation but strictly in the sound world. And yes BIG drama is what I aim for.

? How do you feel your compositions have evolved over the years?

Oh yes to a certain extent but also not so much either. In some regards there are similarities with my early work and present so I am glad I have stuck to my guns and stood my ground in being honest with my work. I have a belief system that still stands of my music being direct and honest. And I do feel there has been an ongoing pursuit to make the strongest work that I can offer. There’s a test of sorts that can be applied to anyone at an older age and that is: Say you are 43 years old for example (That’s my age). Now observe what you are creating artistically NOW and you put that in a time machine and present that to your much younger self of say 18 years old……Would that 18 year old self freak out in shock how crazy insane awesome you became or would he or she be rather disgusted that you grew up to be a boring old fart who makes terrible boring music? That’s the test! Who are you NOW and would your younger self be disgusted or excited by that person? After all being 18 years old is an age when you think you are immortal and older folks seem sooooo uncool. Well the game plan is to totally blow the head off of your younger self. When I was younger I was a weak and fragile person who really could not see myself as an older person who would be any stronger. I had huge low self esteem. The good news is that as I have grown older I have also grown stronger and making my own music has empowered me. So it’s a guarantee that if my younger self would hear what I am doing now with music I would totally have my jaw hanging down and my eyeballs would pop out. I would be crippled with shock if I heard what my 43 year old self is making for music now. When I was young I thought I would never be able to travel. Because of my music I have traveled all over the world and met countless amazing people. This is all because of my music! My 18 year old self never could have imagined! Now think of the tragedy of being young and wild and seeing yourself becoming old and boring…..what a horror that would be! How about if you apply that to your own health? Imagine sending a photo into the past of your older self…..would that younger self be repulsed or amazed? Once you start competing with your younger self in this manner you will strongly pursue making your life as kick ass as possible because after all that is what any 18 year old wants. So yes my music has grown but so have I as a person.

? Your album “Vílke” is just about to be released (http://sigerecords.blogspot.com/). What can you tell us about the recordings? What were your intentions for the album as you headed into the studio?

Living here in the northwest I often go hiking and camping out in the forests and mountains. A few times while trying to sleep at night I heard a strong chorus of howling from wolves or coyotes and that sound always makes my arm hair rise. It’s one thing to hear a recording but to actually hear it in the wild is just beyond haunting and extremely beautiful. Trying to record wolves in the wild is very very very difficult so I was lucky to record a whole evening’s worth of wolves and coyotes howling while I had a rare opportunity to spend the night at the Oregon zoo. I didn’t really have an interest in recording howling as documentation because I had a much different vision and that was to create a massive choir of howling wolves that are confusing to the ear. A blurry line between the synthetic and natural world. As you know electro acoustic music is a hybrid of electronic processing and acoustic sources, which is a very exciting world to play around in. Especially electronically manipulating traditional instruments such as cellos, trumpets and other acoustic instruments, which I have done a hell of a lot of. I was looking into choral music and how I could make it my own. I’ve worked with human voices for choral music such as the collaboration with Joe Preston “Cerberic Doxology” and then with a high school choir for “Hover”. I really wanted to create a massive choir with wolves yet it had to be as “other worldly” as possible so to speak. So it’s layers upon layers of wolves processed with granular synthesis and other synth techniques. I absolutely love powerful choral music so making some sort of music with howling wolves was something I have been obsessing over for years. After making massively layered wolf drones I felt it needed something more to give it a savage and graceful energy. So that’s when I added snarling guitars and pounding drums to really give it the dramatic feeling of a virtual wolf pack. There are four tracks. Two of them have that running – chasing, hunting and being hunted feel to them. And the other two tracks are more graceful, there’s a calm peaceful energy to them as though it’s the dreams of wolves while sleeping. Again this is all about creating drama and using the wolf as the character.

? Could you explain the title “Vílke”?

I had the recording all finished but trying to find a title to anything I record is actually the most difficult part. Hence, my lack of song titles and simple title naming. Honestly I am not talented when it comes to the written language or for that matter spoken English. I know my limits and the written language it is one of them. (As this interview may demonstrate!) But anyway I knew the whole album is based upon wolves so I opened my favorite book in the world: “The Complete Oxford Dictionary” and looked up every single word for wolf. Well my girlfriend is part Lithuanian and so I gravitated to VILKE as the Lithuanian word for female wolf and by coincidence I found this Lithuanian beer that had this ridiculous graphic of a blond women (who kinda sorta not really looked like my girlfriend) along with a wolf. The beer tasted awful…..but it’s a source of a funny inspiration. And in all VILKE simply looked good as word and as a visual type of person and not at all a “word” type I found VILKE simply looked good as a word and my girlfriend was honored too.

? What role does the album play for you personally?

The ongoing theme of animality is a theme that I am most comfortable with. As you know my work is very abstract and never really thematic. There are never any political or religious or “worldly” themes present in my work. It’s absolutely abstract! Although the energy of my music coming across as animalistic as possible is something I can certainly stand firm with. The gauge for my own work is if the music sounds as beastly and animalistic as possible. Even when my music is at its quieter moments it still has that poetry of an animal in its calmest state. My quieter work could be soundtracks to animals’ dreams, while my most intense work is the feeling of animals in their most savage state. Some of my other “animal” themed albums like “Creatures of Cadence”, “Hope and Prey” and “Animality” for example strive for this feel. Vilke I feel is my strongest work in regard to capturing this essence of the otherworldly ecstatic animal state. This is oldest and purest pursuit with us humans, expressing drama through art. The earliest cave drawings are of animals presented in states of action and in the moment of intense drama, and then of course the earliest music is based upon animal energy. Drumming reflects the movement of running. All of my percussion work is formed around the rhythms of a wild animal running or galloping. Very rhythmic and but also always on the verge of chaos. Of course many people prefer to make music for the divine and for their own god or gods but as for me, I stick with the animals and I’m making my own hymns for them. Vilke is my hymn to the wolves.

? How did you get to working with Faith and Aaron and their label SIGE?

Just a couple of years ago I was introduced to them by Joe Preston and he told me that Aaron had a hardcore punk band and wanted me to remix a track……That really confused me and gave me a WTF response. But I was curious because I couldn’t find this so called band anywhere on the internet because it wasn’t even known to the world. As it turned out the band was called “Split Cranium” and included members of ISIS and Circle which are two bands I never ever heard music from. Well then I stumbled upon Mamiffer and immediately I was blown away! My favorite new band! I was absolutely stunned by Mamiffer and thought it was some of the most gorgeously powerful music I’d heard. I was still scratching my head over doing the hardcore band remix but then I met Aaron and Faith in a coffee shop in Seattle and immediately knew I would have two lifelong friends. So then working on the Split Cranium remix was a exciting challenge and as it turned out, an incredibly fun challenge, because after all I was weaned on that hardcore punk music in the 80s so I know my punky roots and the mix turned out pretty cool. After that it has been a good relationship of hiking and cooking and many other projects that have nothing to do with music or art. Aaron and Faith are pretty darn awesome folks!

? What can you tell us about the creation of the artwork?

Having Faith do the art was awesome, she is someone I always wanted to work with. It’s a slight collaboration of sorts because the cover is a collage of close up photos of animal fur that I sent her and that she made into the main art. And the rest is her special style of art that is very simple and effective. Her artwork perfectly represents my music and I hope to work with her more in the future. Maybe even with more video work much like what we did for the VILKE short video. She has talent beyond the stars! (Video Link HERE: http://vimeo.com/60593016)

? What can you tell us about your new project with MAMIFFER?

It’s vocal based. Not my voice because honestly I really do not have a good vocal voice. So there will be two very long songs, one with Aaron’s voice as the main core and other with Faith’s. So far it’s “on your knees” beautiful! Absolutely the most elegant and graceful recording I have been involved with. It’s still in development but it’s been a real pleasure using their unique vocals as a rich piece of sonic clay to sculpt with. It will be very shocking for many to hear how gorgeous this new music is.

? One has from the outside the impression that your life is full of impulses and inspiration. Do you listen to a lot of music in your day to day? If yes, would you like let our readers know of a few noteworthy bands or albums?

Generally when someone asks me what music I listen to my overall response is “The most beautiful music and/or the goofiest music.” Which is rather accurate for the most part. WFMU is constantly playing at my house and job and that covers the goofiest music end of the spectrum. I absolutely LOVE anything that Vicki Bennett is involved with and anything she touches makes me very giddy with joy! I’m a huge disco fan too! Also I love super insane dance music or electronic techno freakiness. Anything that encourages me to dance silly, I’m all for it. Then for beautiful music I really do hunt down the heaviest of the beauty and mostly this is coming from women artists. I do find most of my music collection is from women. Case examples of recent new work would be: Hildur Ingveldardottir Gudnadottir, Preterite (side project of Menace Ruin who I also very much like), GROUPER, Worm Ouroboros, Fever Ray, Promise and the Monster, Chelsea Wolfe, Jessika Kinney, and of course Mamiffer. Some of the most exciting music I heard this year is Maria and the Mirrors….That’s some seriously insane stuff! LOVE IT! I also listen to a lot of choral music, as loud as possible, such as Arvo Part, Veljo Tormis, György Ligeti, Krzysztof Penderecki and so forth. I love anything by Miko Vaino as far as electronic work goes; the same goes for William Bennett (Cut Hands). Stephen O’Malley has been involved with some very exciting new music like KTL and such. I love techno from REGIS. I listen to a lot of soundtracks especially any of the soundtracks from Warren Ellis and Nick Cave, those are great! And then yes I have a sweet tooth for the metal stuff and that is all over the place in taste. Old and new or dumb and smart metal. I am always loving and always finding the next step of metal. I’m usually the first person in line buying the new Anaal Nathrakh album….My guilty pleasure I guess.

? Do you believe that music is only a narrative in harmony with other things?

Good question and also a dangerous question where the answer can bring up endless philosophical debates. As with many other musicians I do feel that music is a result of language stopping and music beginning. I can certainly relate to this since I have always found a voice through my music that simply makes more sense than any words I could express. Thus this makes talking or writing about music rather senseless but we are all rather senseless creatures’ right? And while it is true that us humans are cursed (some say blessed) to constantly trying to find some sort of poetry in nature, whether it being sound, words or images. Creating a narrative to the harmony of things is part of the human goal to find meaning in which animals simply do not need to do this themselves! The absolute firms embrace of chaos and the harmony of this earth is crucial. Music is a reflection of the harmony AND chaos of nature. I can relate greatly to the Jackson Pollock quote “I don’t paint nature. I am nature.”

? Would you agree to the assertion that music in general loses some meaning when it is enclosed to a small group of fans, but simultaneously gains meaning by belonging to special or unique audiences?

Well I could agree in both parts of that. I have always hidden from any scenes or trendy flocks of sorts. My work has never been something that music journalists want to write about and believe me I am VERY happy for that! I aim for my work to hit listeners in an individual way. Music scenes or trends have never been my thing and that’s why my music is always in the dark hiding out and waiting for someone to discover it. I typically avoid all journalist hype. Been like this for 25 years now and I’m happy for that. To be honest it’s most exciting for me to perform concerts for audiences who have never heard of me at all. Music journalists can really trash me but then there’s a young person who approaches me and tells me how much my music has affected them in the most personal and unique way….whose side am I on? I make individual music for individual people and that is a beautiful position to be in as a musician. Even if only one person heard my music in my whole life and that person got some sort of personal experience from it then that would be a job well done. I really like the idea of people receiving my work in the widest of ways and especially when it’s in a way I would never ever imagine myself. My favorite performance was in Mexico City to about 600 people who had really never heard of me and I tell you the look in their eyes was just incredible. They really understood my music right at the beginning of my set. And it was really fucking LOUD! That was an amazing experience. That was an amazing audience and the energy in that space was just atomic! Whereas I have performed to audiences who are obsessed with the scene thing and who have read and absorbed all forms of music opinion journalism and dumb blogs and it feels like going to court and performing to judges and juries. And of course after your concert is done the damning opinions come pouring in on the internet. That’s just how our so called social information culture is. I feel there is a stronger effect on large audiences who know nothing about my work and better yet I love the idea of people not remembering my name! They just hold on to the sonic experience. This is the great goal! To make a intense impact without credit. Funny still to this day that very few people know how to say my last name right. Even close friends still say my name wrong. In case it matters it’s pronounced “men-chee” but really I get a giggle when folks say it wrong. Ideally I want my music to speak louder than my name.

? How did you get first interested in photography?

True story but I went and saw the 7 and a half hour movie “Satantango” by Béla Tarr in a movie theater! That is a bit rare to do and the whole experience of watching this loooooong movie in a large dark theater had the most profound effect on me. I am talking about a total religious experience watching this movie! No way can you get this experience on a small TV or computer. This “Satantango” absolutely blew me away! I walked out of that theater….(actually maybe I crawled) and I told myself that I would make B/W photography in the same manner as “Satantango”. You see I didn’t think in terms of film but rather photography. This movie inspired me to do photography and that is saying a lot you see. Nothing else at all inspired me to get into photography except for “Satantango”. I then saw his other movies and yes all of them are amazing but that 7 and a half hour theater experience of “Satantango” was really profound for me! After that I became obsessed with black and white nature photography.

? What is the name of the adorable dog on your landscapes images?

That’s Arrow! He’s my dear little doggie who has become very famous! He even has his own Facebook fan page! He’s my closest animal companion and a real heartbreaker. Actually I call him the “Smile Maker” because everywhere I take him everyone smiles. I walk him down the street and everyone walking past has a big smile because of him. He sits on my lap and naps while I make my music so he’s sorta like my manager. Arrow’s always with me.

? Will there be Daniel Menche-gigs in Europe in general and in Germany in particular in the near future?

I WISH!!!!! I love coming to Europe! I do have a European booking agent Qu Junktions so anything that may come up, I will be there front and center! I played in Berlin in March, 2012 and that was the best show of my European tour. Really awesome energy in the room! The only problem with touring is that I am a school librarian so I have to work during the school months. As of now I have no offers but I am very eager!

? What do you feel that live elements add to the finished recording?

My live performances can be greatly different from my recordings as many know, but lately there’s been a stronger bridge between these two worlds. For many years I kept those two (concerts/recordings) far apart. But recently it’s getting closer. For instance my live shows would convey a sense of wild chaos while my recordings were very controlled and civil so to speak. It’s the difference between a pet dog at home behaving and those are my recordings and a dog running wild and free in the woods and that would be my live performances. As loud as possible and on the edge of total chaos. But it’s coming together more now. So my recordings in the past 5 years or so are getting a lot wilder and yet they still have that “well behaved dog” sort of feeling. The core elements of “grace” and “fury” are two that I feel are best partners. I’m projecting my videos during performances and that is exciting if I can get a huge projection along with a powerful sound system. These recent performances can be an intense sensory overload. My video work is based upon countless black and white nature photos animated as fast as possible. So it’s basically a bright strobe light of nature. I prefer performing in this audio video sort of way but if there’s no video then I perform in my usual manner. Last time I performed I had several disco balls spinning at different rotations in total darkness. That made the audience really nauseous! I looked at the audience from the stage and it looked like a room full of zombies in a disco. It was hard not to laugh!

? Would you like to tell us about your future plans?

Working on a sizable collaboration with Mamiffer now. It will likely have a new project name for it. But it’s turning out to be an amazing creative journey with them. And as I mentioned before I am starting a new side project, “Beast Resonator”, that will be strictly recordings for exercise. Those will be available on Bandcamp soon and I will continue to add more recordings to that. Also I hope to start making some new videos soon for my solo work. I made several videos in the past as a series called “FULMINATION”. I really enjoy making videos and it is a really strong challenge for me. Much harder for me to be creative with video than music but it’s a good challenge. I just finished a new solo recording for a split LP with William Fowler Collins and that will be very cool! It’ll be a concept album of sorts. Oh and if I ever get around to it I want to finish my album entirely of MISFITS covers……if that ever happens. Beyond that there will always be something washing up on shore for me in the form of music opportunities and such.

Fotos: Daniel Menche

(D.L., S.L., CVG)

 

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