Words by Helena Markos
Photography by Cristina Cipriani
Today we are utterly thrilled to introduce you to the Greek artist Manos Simotas, who has repetitively triggered our interest with his dynamic, ear-catching project Unhuman and his own label Liber Null Berlin. Manos is based in Berlin and he is openly sharing with us his interesting tales. This interview came few days after his astonishing, thought-provoking performance “Mass” together with Nullam Rem Natam and only few days before his upcoming release “Nylon Speech EP”, on Phase Fatale‘s label BITE.
Manos is an artist with a strong attitude and his continuous development is worthwhile to be followed. His music is the fruit of his perception of the everyday experiences and life itself.
Manos Simotas has been actively involved in the scene since 2012, when he released his first tape “Emperor Black”. Keeping always his roots in post-punk, Unhuman released on prominent labels, such as Instruments Of Discipline, Veleno Viola, BITE, Amok Tapes and Strange Therapy. Unhuman has also a collaboration with SARIN, performing live together as Nostromo.
Liber Null Berlin, is the vehicle that he uses to communicate and share his conceptual art, by combining unconventional and unorthodox forms of expression with cutting-edge experimental, noise, EBM and techno. Manos has talked to us about his inspiration, his perception on the music and his fascinating upcoming projects. There is a certain unpretentious deepness in his words that makes this interview a very special one. Enjoy the reading.
T.O.P: Hi Manos, first of all thank you for dedicating time to answer to my questions! I would like to ask you how has your journey into the music started and what’s the highlight of your path, so far?
Unhuman: Hi Natasa, thank you for your time and interest in my Unhuman project. Music has been part of my life since I was a kid, I got my first guitar when I was about 7 years old and I started studying music and learning how to play. Guitar was just the introduction, I wanted to be able to make my own music and because of that I started practicing and experimenting with more instruments. I fell in love with the sound of different instruments and of course each instrument has a different approach, evokes different feelings and emotions and each instrument has its own fascinating history. In my teenage years I was already part of many different groups, I would be playing the guitar in one band, drums in another, bass guitar, synths and vocals, I was into many different genres like death-rock and post-punk, dark-wave, surf rock, heavy- metal and avant-garde, it wasn’t long before I began creating ideas for solo projects and at that time I met the noise and industrial scene.
I was never a raver or part of the overall electronic scene and what really excites me about electronic music is that I have the freedom to express myself and mix all of these different genres together in order to create something new. I enjoy creating music the most and as long I am able to do that in my life I feel fulfilled.
T.O.P: We believe that dark music can work as a sort of exorcism against our inner demons and we experience a high degree of savagism and roughness in your music. What do you deliver through them?
Unhuman: To be honest the reason I love dark music is for the sound. A funny thing to mention is that my father was running a small metal factory when I was a kid, so this was my first familiarization with the “Industrial sound”, maybe that led me to do what I am doing today? Who knows?
I am not really trying to deliver any of the elements you mentioned and most of the time when it comes to production I never think of a genre or try to categorise things as such, I’m just enjoying the process and trying to challenge myself with creating new sounds and ideas. The Unhuman project is a quest for sound, it wasn’t and it will not be 100% specific or run along a familiar line, I want people to have their own feelings about what I do, because every person hears differently and that’s exactly what is exciting about music.
T.O.P: Liber Null Berlin is counting already several years and releases. This is your “child” and you had a very clear vision behind it when you found it. Is your vision being fulfilled as you look at the evolution of the project?
Unhuman: Liber Null is about 6 years old now. I started this collective in Berlin. I can’t just call it a label because it’s a lot of things together. I wanted to create a platform where several artists share their different approaches and creations together to become one. Liber Null has been hosting a big variety of art and not just music, it is an evolving project and I believe it mirrors a part of myself and also a part of the people that are involved with it.
It is very unique to see a Liber Null showcase as it combines a lot of different elements besides music and parties, for me it is always in a way educating, it is alive, something to interact with. To answer if “my vision is fulfilled with the project”, I would say “definitely not”. I think if you are fully satisfied with a project it is no longer asking anything of you, I believe Liber Null still has a lot to offer me and to the people that are interested.
T.O.P: At the base of this project there is a powerful manifesto, that clearly represents something beyond music, it is understood as lifestyle; “Against logic. Against morality. Against order. Against time.” Are these the worst enemies of the modern world? And how do you express this through your art and your own micro- world?
Unhuman: The term “Liber Null” comes from the Peter Carol book. We are sharing the same manifesto with the heresy of Aleister Crowely. Sound must be unknown, to be beyond morality, beyond time, beyond logic, in order to create something new. In that way anything material or tangible can be considered the “enemy”, people should be open to the unknown, to new ideas of art and expression.
T.O.P: Is there any specific person, moment or experience that you feel they have played a significant role for you and your work, both as person and artist?
Unhuman: To put it simply, I would say it’s just music. Sound makes me feel complete; it’s my escape from everything. Countless bands and artists are always moving and influencing me.
T.O.P: While producing, would you say that you are influenced by relationships and other people? Or you are a more introverted type? Inspired by your own personal quest?
Unhuman: I must say it’s both. I feel constantly inspired by sound, the sound that objects make in certain spaces, something as banal as a car door slamming, or a beautiful scene, like white swans on the Berlin canal or two dogs fucking in an alleyway. Sharing and creating music with myself and other musicians is definitely one of my greatest influences.
T.O.P: In a post-rave era, what do you think are the biggest challenges for the contemporary electronic music scene and how do you deal with them?
Unhuman: I don’t deal with them; it’s not my role. I just follow my own path into sound. I only feel the need to evolve and to create something new. I don’t want to label my sound, Unhuman is a project above one single sound. I was never into rave music so I can’t really tell you much about that scene, or what the challenges are in contemporary electronic music. I am a part of it but this is something that happened naturally, it’s not something I decided to become a part of or to influence.
T.O.P: What are you obsessed with and what do you most hate?
Unhuman: I certainly hate that question 😛
T.O.P: Do you want to share with us any crazy stuff that happened to you during a performance?
Unhuman: Well, define what is “crazy”? Because dealing with music and nightlife makes every day crazy and fascinating! I am thankful I have the ability to travel across the world and to share my music. Each performance and each place has been totally unique and a new experience for me. I know you wanted a story but it’s too difficult to single one out.
T.O.P: Does your cultural identity work against or alongside you? Do your roots influence your music and in what way?
Unhuman: Coming from Greece, the city of Athens has been a huge inspiration for me from the very beginning. Greek culture has played an important role in art over the centuries and learning about Greek culture is like learning to appreciate art.
Life in Athens is so different to every other European city I have been to or lived in, there is a very unique atmosphere there, you can feel the weight of its age and the weight of its contribution to civilisation.
T.O.P: Any plans and collaborations for the near future?
Unhuman: There are several releases coming out in the upcoming months. The first that has been announced is my collaboration with Sarin, Nostromo. Our new 12”, “Extreme Manifestations”, is out on the famous Berlin label Aufnahme + Wiedergabe.
I can’t hide my excitement for my upcoming 12” EP as Unhuman, that is going to be released on Phase Fatale’s label BITE! A big thanks to Hayden for believing in me and supporting my sound. The record is a little bit different from my previous productions, towards more dance floor and techno oriented territories, without missing any of my aesthetics. There is also a track on that EP that carries my goth roots and has Petra Flurr singing on it!
I also much looking forward to see the wax I did with An-I! Douglas and I share a similar taste in music and we have the same vision. I love the tracks we did because they bring a totally fresh sound. You will be hearing more about it very soon! Last but not least, during the summer time I am having a split 12” with Roberto Auser on one of my favourite imprints, Enfant Terrible.
T.O.P: Finally, which album or tune would you suggest as mind/soul healer? For sure that wouldn’t be just one?
Unhuman: So, by random choice I would say Midnight (Raga Malkauns) by Pandit Pran Nath