Photo: Press (Man Power)
There’s one hit wonders and Geoff Kirkwood is definitely not one of them. Instead, the Mexico-based Brit has proven to be somewhat of an all hit wonder: After his debut in 2014 under the Man Power moniker on both John Talabot’s Hivern Discs and Jennifer Cardini’s Correspondant, where he followed up the year later with an eponymous LP, Kirkwood has released between three and five EPs per year, most of which have been more than well-received. Having launched Me Me Me in 2016, he returns to his own imprint with a two tracks, “Valhalla & Fidelity” after his latest EP for Correspondant, Souvenirs. As if that weren’t enough, he also recorded a contribution to our Groove podcast that is as straightforward as answers to our interview questions.
You’ve started out as an anonymous producer and to this day your public posts are sometimes tongue-in-cheek. Do you find it difficult do have to promote yourself as an artist?
I think it’s a lot easier to promote myself as an “artist” than it is to present myself as a person. The whole idea of social media, and particularly in relation to self promotion, is that people are presenting a consumable, hyper-stylised ideal version of themselves. That just feels really odd to me at a really basic level, so rather than pushing a super suave international man of mystery version of myself I just really play up the more annoying side of my personality. Social media users seem to really fall in to two camps, the people who are selling stuff – even if that’s just their selves as a person – and the people giving away too much personal shit. I really don’t want to put the real me up for sale online, so I’m having fun with this fictional version of me instead. If anyone thinks that the versions they’re seeing of their other favourite DJs aren’t conceived as a fiction, then they really need to think again. All the opinions I present online are my own, but they’re certainly not always presented in the way I’d choose to do so in real life, and while you might find out what I had for breakfast that morning I’m actually pretty good at not giving away the more intimate details of my personal and family life. In that sense, whatever I put up on there is fair game for the trolls and bullies, but nothing I talk about is really of a nature where I could even bring myself to be upset about what people say about it. It’s a sad fact that a big chunk of musical success now stems from the cult of personality that exists online, but the last thing I’d do is put up something that truly meant something to me on a deeply personal level (with the exception of some political posts I’ve made during the UK elections) as I have friends and family to speak to about that kind of thing and I really don’t want to invite the absolute shit show of opinions from strangers that surface when any DJ has the temerity to talk about problems in their personal life.
When it comes to opinions on my music that’s another matter. I’m at a place where my opinions on what I release and why I release it are so secure that by the time a record comes out that they’re bomb proof. I make music I’m proud of. How it’s consumed, contextualised, or even marketed by other people is out of my hands.
Basically, anyone can think what they want about “Man Power”, I really don’t care how seriously they take me as social media entity, and I always try to be as honest as I can within the confines of what I deem is appropriate for sharing. However, the music should speak for itself. That’s not to say everybody should like it, but their opinion certainly shouldn’t be crafted from what I look like on Instagram, or by what I say on Twitter.
Your 2015 debut LP took cues from Laurie Anderson’s 1982 album Big Science. What made this work of hers so important to you?
There’s a naïveté in her album that was borne of her being at the forefront of the technical possibilities at the time, which I guess chimed with me being at the full extent of my limited technical capabilities when I wrote the album. She was limited by what technology was capable of at that time, whereas I was limited simply by what I was capable of as a music maker when I made the album. The results have a crossover in some areas I think though. There’s definitely a bemused optimism and childishness in her work which I hoped to try and emulate in my own album. I really try to find that artful space where possible, which I don’t think is necessarily always connected to ability or process, and working with a limited palette often yields some very pleasing results regardless of whether that limit is external or it comes from what you’re capable of realising from your technical prowess. My favourite bands aren’t necessarily the ones with the most virtuoso musicians. There are a whole host of other influences in there too, but she’s a good example as it’s the link relates to process rather than outcome in a lot of ways.
In the past years, you have also been mentioning a second album that may include a full band set-up and references to Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, and other artists. How far has this progressed?
I’ve written at least four albums since I made those statements. I don’t really make music with a release in mind, I make it because it’s just something I do. If some work isn’t right to be released for any reason then I’m more than happy to sit on it, or in some cases delete it all completely – which I actually did with the album I was referring to in your quote. I’d still love to do something conceived with a full band too, but thats simply not practical until I move back to Europe. I’m currently working on a couple of collaborative albums, but the next long player is most likely to be something I’m close to finishing right now that’s is quite experimental, very personal, and which details my childhood and my relationship with my region and it’s history. I’m currently debating whether I release this as Man Power, or as another project.
In 2016 you started your own label Me Me Me, where you’ve somewhat ironically only released one solo EP so far. What’s the concept behind Me Me Me?
Funnily enough I just sent my second ever record for the label off to pressing today! It’s a double A-side to commemorate the second Birthday of the label in September. The name Me Me Me is kind of deceptive I guess. It’s more in reference to the fact that I see genre boundaries to be fairly meaningless now. Instead of genre, people tend to refer to tracks as “something Talabot would play” or “Weatherall would play” or, Villalobos, or Floating Points, or Hunee or whoever. That to me really means that all DJs just represent their own personalised genre now, and this label is me displaying my own genre. It gives me the freedom to release a slo-mo New Wave track one month, and then some 140bpm techno the next, as they’re both things I’m in to.
All proceeds from the recent We We We compilation went to the Help for Refugees NGO. How did the project come together and why specifically Help for Refugees?
Once I’d made the decision to do the compilation as digital-only, to fit on the huge volume of tracks I wanted to use, then it became apparent that the income from it wouldn’t be hugely meaningful divided by the artists, but could actually make a big difference if donated to a charity. There are so many worthy causes out there which are deserving of assistance and I really don’t want to be in a position of saying why one cause is more deserving than another. From a personal perspective the plight of the refugee is something that is being frequently maligned by the media, so it felt right for me – and all of the wonderfully kind artists who contributed music – to do something to try and redress this if we could. Once I’d started doing my research on the cause it became apparent to me that Help Refugees were exactly the type of charity I wanted to work with. They’re a small group of volunteers that work in the spaces that get missed by the big organisations, and their lack of a large management structure means that the money is getting directly to the people who need it the most.
What was the idea behind your contribution to our Groove podcast?
In essence it’s just a bunch of tracks I’ve been playing recently, but I guess I’ve been playing more big festivals as of late, as it’s the season for them. With that in mind it’s likely quite big room and not as deep or leftfield as some other mixes I’ve got out there, but it’s definitely representative of a part of the spectrum I play in – and I really do love playing this way when I get the chance.
Last but not least: Where can we see you live or behind the decks in the near future, and what are your plans as a producer and label owner?
Gigs wise, off the top of my head you can catch me at Houghton Festival, Newcastle with Orbital and Plaid, Tulum, Monterrey, San Francisco, Burning Man, Lux Fragíl, Amnesia in Ibiza, Warehouse Project Manchester, Cocktail d’Amore in Berlin, EC1 London, and Thuishaven Amsterdam for Life and Death at ADE, all in the next couple of months. As a producer I have the record coming on Me Me Me plus another one with a Roman Flügel remix for Four Thirty Two, both out before Christmas. Label-wise you can look forward to appearances from Shit Robot, Vin Sol, Edmondson, Vyvyan, Gerd Janson, Kujo, Ian Blevins, Kiwi, Frank Butters (aka Cult of Glamour), Christophe, Mor Elian, Johnny Aux, Austin Ato, A Sagittariun, Ben Caldwell, Wes Baggaley and Jaye Ward and a bunch more I can’t mention yet, all within the next 12 months.
Stream: Man Power – Groove Podcast 171
01. Carl Craig – Sandstorms (VCO Update) (InFine)
02. Essaie Pas – New Path (Anthony Rother Remix) (DFA)
03. Terranova – Let It Fall (Kompakt)
04. Hiver – Inverted Scale (Obscura)
05. Barratt – 1983 (Life and Death)
06. Christian Nielsen – Cycle (Kompakt)
07. Gabe Gurnsey – Eyes Over (Phantasy)
08. Terr – Neuromancer (Krystal Klear Remix) (Correspondant)
09. Fango – Admire (Desgustibus)
10. Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill (Modern Artifacts Heavy Disco Edit) (Modern Artifacts)