Scottish born writer/musician Nicholas Currie is one of the most fascinating people to listen to – a genius lyricist, a compelling blogger, and a witty conversationalist. His way with words is always apparent. He’s brought us a lot of clever insights and humorous observations over the years, in his songs and in his essays. His music is both experimental and accessible, catchy pop songs reminiscent of the Pet Shop Boys, beautiful and melodic songs about life and love, and quirkier, riskier songs filled with humor. He’s had a long, full career and still manages to impress us with his work and his perspective.
Aida: You are one of the most prolific and consistently compelling writers out there, even when writing about the mundane. What sparked your interest in blogging and how do you stay interested?
Momus: Well, thank you, but I don’t blog any more! I stopped in February. Not because it was bad, but because it was too good, and taking up too much of my time. Now Facebook takes up too much of my time instead!
I think what I was trying to do with LiveJournal, while I was there, was show that time spent online wasn’t wasted. It was rather puritan in that respect: “these are golden hours, and here’s the proof,” my blog seemed to say. I wanted to have something ennobling to show for all that clicking. So I turned clicks into opera, and created Click Opera.
My official position now is that I’m turning from text to texture, and from opinion to onion.
A: You have a large discography with so many memorable and inspiring songs, and some of your collaborations have been just as inspiring. What was it like working with Stephin Meritt on the 6ths, and how did that collaboration come about?
M: I got close to the Magnetic camp (ha!) when we played some New England college’s gaysoc together. Stephin’s dry sense of humour appealed to me, and he liked my lyrics. So – demonstrating his dry sense of humour – he gave me some of his own to sing. He was shockingly demanding. I sang the song several times in my London flat, but he didn’t like my interpretation (or the sound of the underground trains in the background) and made me sing it again at his apartment in the East Village. He made me sing it over and over again until I sounded as world-weary as him. I hear Phil Spector does the same thing, but at gun point.
A: One of my favorite songs by you (and maybe ever) is The Sadness Of Things. Some of the most beautiful words I’ve ever read, and one of your more serious and introspective songs. Can you tell me about the inspiration behind it?
M: Well, that song was written by a Japanese artist called Ken Morioka and produced by a frenchman called Dominique Brethes. I only wrote the words and sang it. The idea behind the lyric is the literary technical term “the pathetic fallacy”, which is when people confuse nature with their own feelings (a storm might represent their inner rage, for instance). This is a kind of anthropomorphism, because nature really doesn’t care how we’re feeling. I combined that thought with some cribs from T.S. Eliot’s Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock.
A: You’ve witnessed the rise of some incredible and innovative music (on top of creating your own). Although there are still great albums being made, I feel that music has been stagnant for quite a while now. There are rarely any surprises. I can’t imagine what the next groundbreaking thing could be. Do you think we’ll eventually get a new era with new sounds?
M: Clearly the pace of innovation has slowed. Pop has become a repertory artform rather than a laboratory artform. It’s no longer got the eyes of a generation or a hemisphere on it. Pop now contents itself with recycling past glories. There’s so much certified greatness stocked up in its past that the likelihood of a pop artist now making the ultimate pop statement approaches zero; it’s been done. I think great work will happen in computer games and other artforms we haven’t invented yet, but pop per se is effectively over. Michael Jackson was its last megastar, and it died with him. People will still make great albums, but they won’t matter much.
A: What are you enjoying most about music right now?
M: I actually enjoy non-music more. Right now someone’s got an irritating bassline going upstairs, and I wish he’d shut it off and open the window and listen to the church bells and the jets taking off and the magpies fighting instead.
A: I remember you writing about being addicted to information. I think a lot of people are addicted to the internet for that reason as well. Do you ever miss the days without internet or are you happy with the way things are?
M: I think the internet is incredible, but I resent incredible things, because they stop us appreciating slightly less incredible things. So I’m trying to see the internet as boring right now, so that I can see boring things as interesting. But it’s doomed to fail, because then the internet gets interesting again, because it’s boring.
A: You’ve done so much over the years. Is there anything you’d still like to accomplish with music, writing, or otherwise?
M: I would like to write an epic poem. Maybe an epic erotic poem like the Kama Sutra. But I need to do a bit more research first.
To Keep up with Momus: www.imomus.com