003 || Man Power
Me Me Me boss Man Power doesn’t really go in for genres and one look at this his impressive discography will tell most of what you need to know, but there is much more to this Geordie than big releases. As well as his own labels Man Power regularly pops up on equally wide ranging influential imprints such as Correspondant, Hivern Discs, Life and Death and most recently James Murphy’s DFA Records. It is a bit of a waste of time trying to pigeon hole an artist that draws on so many musical influences and melds it into something all of his own but that is what is so exciting a release of DJ set from Man Power. There is just no telling what musical direction is coming up next.
We were lucky enough to sit down with one of the busiest artists in the game for an extended chat that covers everything from his productions, record labels, travel plans and of course the white-hot mix that he has delivered ahead of his set at our Halloween Terminal V shindig. So sit back and open your mind to world of Man Power…
How has life been for you since COVID-19 impacted the world?
I guess I’m the same as everyone. I’m dealing with a bunch of fairly unique circumstances that all feel either amazing or nearly impossible to cope with. I’m definitely at the acceptance phase of the grief process, after going through denial and anger. I’ve enjoyed the chance to get fit and healthy and work on some new projects without having to fit everything into intense periods between travel destinations though, so that’s been a complete blessing.
Has this allowed you to work on other projects or do you always find the time for diverse projects?
It’s definitely given me more time to do things properly I think. I’ve always had a bunch of things going on at any time, but a lot of them either evaporate, or turn out to be worthwhile, or I realise that the commitment needed from me is too much. This period has given me a lot more time to commit to being hardcore and dragging certain things kicking and screaming in to existence.
At the beginning of lockdown, I was on my own in a tiny flat in complete isolation, and during that period I developed a bit of a prison mentality and became like one of those guys who becomes a lawyer while they’re on death row.
What was your connection to electronic music in England’s UK’s North East growing up?
My mother’s really young, so I was listening to her acid house tapes in the car with her as far back as 88/89 when I was 8/9 years old. It’s always been around me as a sound, just not to the exclusion of all else. It was just a pretty normal thing to like alongside all the other stuff I was in to. I didn’t really get deep in to the actual scene until I’d come back from living in Australia about 2004. I’d always gone to house clubs, but I also went to rock clubs, mainstream things, and all kinds of places and gigs.
Around the age of 24 I kind of dropped out of the real world for a almost a decade though and that coincided with me really embracing the local electronic music scene. I made a lot of friends and realised that i could support myself by taking DJ gigs using the records I owned, so I did that. I guess you hang around something long enough and it starts to define you in a way.
It’s a bit “local house scene? completed it mate”. The majority of my close friends probably consist of people i met during that period
You have been up keeping a steady Me Me Me release schedule even through lockdown, are these releases that have been in the pipeline for a while or have you made a conscious decision to get music out during these times?
There’s been a bunch of different reasons for different releases.
I put my next 4 EPs out at the same time at the beginning of lockdown. That was simply because I wanted to give the profits to charity as it was the fastest and most effective route I could come up with for trying to raise some money for NHS workers, who were in need at the time. Obviously, they were ready and waiting to get released, we just changed how we did it. Then we released an album by Last Magpie. This was purely as we thought people would like to have music that makes sense when listened to outside of a club setting.
After that we did another charity release which featured remixes people did of a track I made in lockdown. I put the stems online and we had nearly 100 submissions to me challenging people to try remixing it with some kind of forced limitations which they could choose to set. The quality was so good I thought it made sense to use the label platform to get this music out to people, and again raise some money for charity. As lockdown eases and things get more normalised we’re now about to returning to something a lot more similar to how the label was working pre COVID.
What else do you have coming up on Me Me Me and other labels?
On Me Me Me we have a whole bunch of music coming up by friends of mine, including Club Tularosa, Christophe, Maxxi Soundsystem, Colors in Waves, Gunn, and Armacord. With regards to my own music I decided I only want to work people who are already friends, or who I could benefit by letting them release my music and gain some attention for themselves. I’ve given releases to a couple of guys who I think I can help out. One is to the Paradiso Label which is run by REES, a young producer from the North East of England who is just making a name for himself as a DJ too. The other release I gave to Alan Dixon, another guy from the North East making waves with his productions, who is about to launch a brand-new label too.
Beyond that I have a whole new musical project that isn’t Man Power which I’m trying to finish, another album I’ve produced for my friend the artist Marske I’m close to finishing the second JUAN POWER album (with Juan Maclean) and I’ve sent a bunch of new music to friends with labels I’ve enjoyed releasing on in the past, which will likely result in a few releases on labels people already associate me with.
I’ve been asked to do a very large art project over the next year too, which I think is going to take up a lot of my mental space, and I’ve also started my own charity in the North East of England to try and aid regional development and help people from a similar background to me. As such I just want to work with people I like, and not really think too much about fame or fortune, or even of popularity tbh. I tend to find if you do good things they just look after themselves anyway.
Moving on to the mix that you have recorded for Terminal V, when and where was it recorded?
I just did it at home yesterday. around 9pm. it was late in the evening and I was wearing a pair of Carharrt trousers, a breton and a Levis shirt. I had eaten a microwave chicken tikka meal earlier in the evening. Later that night I watched a Youtube Doc about Newcastle’s industrial history. You know, the usual.
There are quite a few energy shifts throughout the mix, is this typical of your upcoming performance at Terminal V?
Being totally honest I’ll probably just kick the very arse out of it at Terminal V.
For this mix and I guess other podcasts how important is to you to include these notable different sections and influences in a mix?
It’s purely down to my mood mate as there’s no audience so it’s a statement, not a conversation. Like making music, which means it’s down to how I feel at the time. I mean, I think these are all just bangers anyway, so it’s all subjective anyway tbh.
You produce quite a wide variety of music, what genre / style are you happiest playing out?
I tend to not think of music in terms of genre or style, but more in terms of energy like you mention above. The energy level just depends on the communication you’re having with the crowd, but any type of style or genre is fair game for what I use to create the differing levels musical energy. That said, as trendy as it is right now, I do think most trance is a bit shit.
Do you have a game plan in mind for your set at Terminal V? Any particular route you want to go down?
I’m really looking forward to coming in like a rocket tbh. I’ll have a lot of friends there, and its meant to be a party, and it’s in Scotland, so I’m excited about the opportunity to just lose my shit for the duration of the set.
Interview by Stu Todd