Members: Joan Costes, Adrien de Maublanc
Occupation: Graphic designer, DJ (Joan Costes), producer, sound engineer (Adrien de Maublanc)
Recent release: Masomenos's Unidentified Aerial Phenomena LP is out via Automatic Writing on September 23rd 2022.
J: Currently finishing la faim du tigre by Rene Barjavel, it has a full chapter on the magic of the building and functioning of the ear system. Relates well to the final question of this interview. Pretty trippy read but haven’t found a translated version to offer yet.
A: Any painting of Kandinsky
If you enjoyed this interview with Masomenos and would like to find out more about the duo, visit their official homepage.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
J: I started buying some records and playing them around 23. Back then I enjoyed mostly disco, funk, and enlarged it to club music in general. I would listen to other, more chill sounds, but I love the “playing” part of the mixing, and the dancefloor feedback.
A: I built myself a home studio as I was a film director back in 2000. I’ve always played with something, on the piano or guitar, like a melody that is always there in my head, mostly melancholic, with strong influences from Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles, Supertramp …
Some people experience intense emotion when listening to music, others see colours or shapes. What is your own listening experience like and how does it influence your approach to music?
J: For me it’s all in the body, in the belly mostly. It stirs up the emotions, makes them alive there, and playful even when heavy and intense.
A: Yes, I think we feel the same way. An emotional process and yes, it can trigger pattern or colours. In the See the Music Project we made installations following the score to light the surrounding.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
J&A: Well, music is always there, in the front, or in the background, soft or loud. Even when silent. We call it the lung of Masomenos. When there is not enough of it, we suffocate even though our approach is way broader, but it’s the music that binds it all together.
The challenges have been multiple, so have the breakthroughs. The studio building process is always a mystery, how you unmount and remount, disconnect and repatch. Super organic. Then the sound that goes out from it, and then another set up.
A : Now we’re building a house and studio in the South of France, all the fear has been packed for months …
I still cannot imagine the day I will be once again on it. Such a long road, it looks surreal. Wondering what the first productions there will be like … even I can’t say.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
J&A: With our name, Masomenos, and vivid colours, we can be like chameleons identity wise. But at the same time over the years, we definitely have shown a certain sense of identity. As creators, it’s tricky not to stay stuck in it, while still honouring it.
As listeners I guess we are more incognito, more free maybe.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
J&A: Colours, emotions, bounteousness.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
J&A: Music is up in the air, always was, always will be. How you hear it, play it, dance to it is only in the present moment. Then it’s up in the air again, running freely.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
J&A: Mmm, never thought of this. I guess our hearts and being true to ourselves.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
J&A: Well now, it’s only about construction work, family life, and prepping the UAP album release.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance, or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
J: I would go back to our first piece, Bon Voyage. It was a statement, a Ufo, an adventure, a forecast of our years touring, and of our life together, a true journey!
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
J: Over the years I’ll say Adrien has had a more solitary process even though he enjoys being in the studio with other musicians. He’ll need his time alone to get down to it.
For me it’s a community thing. As I’ve said earlier, I like the feedback of the dancefloor, or simply being part of it. Sharing music with friends, listening together, playing b2b.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
A: I wouldn’t dare to state anything on that. Or maybe over a glass of wine, listening to some good music.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own and that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
J: All the time it plays the strings of our emotional chords, just every time it’s good music. Otherwise, it’s just entertainment. It needs to be transcendent, to get down to what life is.
There seems to be increasing interest in a functional, “rational” and scientific approach to music. How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
A: Life itself
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
J: Devotion, or at least dedication, is the key to joy. Music is a glutton and generous monster that gives a lot, and also demands a lot.
A: Maybe some of us reach the moon having a great cup of coffee?
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it is able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
J&A: Some mysteries need to stay mysteries for our sense of rapture to be permanent. Again, we’d love to have a nice dinner with these topics on the table …