UTG INTERVIEW: My Woshin Mashin

My Woshin Mashin

Who knew that a band with such a bizarre moniker that we only very recently became privy to would make for one of our favorite interviews in recent months? Russia/Germany’s My Woshin Mashin may seem similar to the likes of Die Antwoord based on the picture to the left, but their music is very much their own, sharing sounds with next to no one.

The genre-bending group’s Hugo Simons took some time to speak candidly with UTG about their most recent release, insight into their homelands, and much more about their music and its elements. Venture through the “Read more” break to absorb our conversation with the creatively unique, My Woshin Mashin.

First off, can you explain the name My Woshin Mashin and describe the group’s sound for those that haven’t had the opportunity to hear your music.
Well, when we were starting our project we invented our mythical language and some strange words (you can hear them on tracks “Smell of Love” and “Space Invaders”). So that’s how we found this weird name, My Woshin Mashin, which means (from Mawamian to English), My Washing Machine. We thought that it would be cool if people begin to ask, “what the heck?” And this name is perfectly describing our passion to mix music styles such as techno, new-wave, pop, industrial, gospel etc. Our friends call us “Moby on Speed.” Don’t know what it means exactly but sounds great. I know, this name sounds kind of funny and silly to some people, but we like it, we like how it sounds — abnormal.

Your music is incredibly unique as I haven’t personally heard much like it. When the group originally came together to create, how did you come to decide that you would write and record this type of music?
Oh, thank you very much. Glad that you like it.

It was in 2010 when Bibi and me came to Berlin for the first time. There was a crazy birthday party at our friend’s house. That’s where we met this very shy but 100% freak person, Scherman. We had a talk about everything we like — movies, music, culture, art. We couldn’t understand each other well because he talked a weird kind of the English language and we talked the same oneXSSCleaned. But it was sweet. He said that he had a small studio there in Berlin and we said that we wanted to make a project, and then he said, “Let’s go!” That’s how the story begins. Our first demo songs were “Crab,” “Happiness” and “Godzilla.” Later we had to go back to Russia, but in 2011 we came back to Germany and recorded our debut Mawama. Scherman doesn’t like parties, crowds and noise so it’s very hard to take him out of his Wendenschloss studio to make a show together. That’s why usually we make shows without him (Bibi and me) or with a help of Max Tyrcoon (live bass) and Yu-Yu (live keys).

Evil Must Die is set to release in just a week from now. What can you tell us about the album? What themes does it contain lyrically? What inspirations led to the way it was written?
Evil Must Die differs completely from the funny stuff we did before. This album is more serious and holistic, but also we have kept a little part of our weird sense of humor and cynicism that you can find in previous releases. Our debut album, Mawama, was about imaginary monsters (Crab, Inspector, Zombie etc), but Evil Must Die is about real monsters — the people and their values and behavior — about weakness, peace and love. I think it’s a true hippie album. We were inspired by the everyday-life-as-a-war in Russia, and sad but very good people in here, by the Dostoevsky/Bradbury/Vonnegut/Dovlatov books and the light they bring and of course by the music we were listening to during the work (Moby, Portishead, Prodigy, soundtracks from Soviet Sci-Fi movies, Afro-American Primitive). And first of all by this book, Vegan Freak, by Bob and Jenna Torres.

To expand on that, you’ve stated that some of your previous works were aimed to be funny and maybe more frivolous than your newest album. Do you now aim to be taken more seriously? Is My Woshin Mashin a project you all plan to focus on indefinitely? What is your ultimate goal with this band?
Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Our first funny tracks were made with cynical sense of humor and sarcasm. But some of our early tracks already contained stuff that we’re using right now. For example our most popular song, “Crab (He Came in Peace)” — everybody thinks that it’s just a funny trash/b-movie song about a giant crab, but actually this is a vegetarian/social song where food is eating the people. So this is serious. Of course, the new album differs a lot from “monster tunes” because it’s more emotional and — mmm, down to earth. But still it’s the same band with familiar passages. You can always find something sad in funny and serious stuff in windy songs. It’s just a question of time, place and taste. And yes, we want to be taken seriously — how could it be otherwise? I’m not too ambitious but I hope that this album will reach its listener. That’s the goal.

On your Facebook page, you’ve stated that Evil Must Die is dedicated to animals. Can you elaborate on that?
Spending most part of life in Russia, we have to live with the fact that Russian people don’t care about homeless animals and animals at all. There is a small percent of good people who spend their money, time and energy trying to change these things. I’m not talking about vegetarian activism or something like that. I’m talking about private orphanages for homeless animals and free veterinary care. Russian streets are full of animals with sad eyes and nobody cares (except those people have I already mentioned). Everything is okay with this in Germany. German people love animals and that’s why I respect Deutschland so much. While I was living in Berlin I didn’t see any homeless dogs or cats or cruelty against animals or news reports about mad people who like to hunt grey crows to increase their shooting skills or who like to kill homeless dogs under cover of night and then throw them out to garbage as a trash. But I saw this stuff here, in Russia. Government doesn’t care, people don’t care. Completely shocked. “The more I know people, the more I like animals” — so that’s why our album is dedicated to animals. Actually it’s a long and sad story!

Does that tie in with the cover art for the album?
More yes than no.

Can you explain the art to us?
Evil Must Die means “Earth without human activities.” Explanation of the cover art: Our nude bodies as a symbol of refusing and liberation from the people values and opinions. Behind us you can see a few kinds of animals (e.g. two dinosaurs, two elephants, etc). This is a reference to the Noah’s Ark. Two flying penguins as a symbol of faith to do something impossible one day. Sorry, but I can’t tell you the meaning of the blue apple in our hands — it’s a secret [smiles]. Also we were inspired by the classic cover art of John Lennon’s Two Virgins.

By the way this cover art was drawn by Bibi. The original size of the picture is 2 meters on 2 meters (canvas, tempera). Local print fabrics refused to print our CDs because of “nudity.” I dare to say that they cannot separate art from porn. Strange people.

You guys have a lot of various material on your Bandcamp page. How would you say Evil Must Die differs from that past material? How would you say you’ve progressed as musicians since your older efforts?
There is a cool band in Germany called Pyogenesis. They started from doom/death music and came across the years to the power-pop-punk. It seems like they were looking for themselves through all these genres and have fun with brutal, metal, alternative and punk stuff. So I just would like to say that we are on the same way — the endless search. And the new album is just another step into the music experience. As I have already said, our music transformed from funny electro-clash into a serious mix of industrial, trip-hop, punk and even tango. And I like that. We added more “live” instruments into our songs (e.g. piano, piano accordion, melodica, bass, guitars). Also we added more melancholy tunes but have kept common drive of the band that people heard on Mawama. After all, it’s not about the genre, it’s about the music itself.

It seems that you guys are split between Russia and Germany. Can you explain the distance situation and how it affects the band?
Me and my wife Bibi were living in Berlin for a few years, making art, working and so on. But we had to go back to Russia this year because of many problems that I don’t want to describe. So we were afraid that we couldn’t work together with Scherman as perfect as it was before. But we have tried and it has worked. Internet is great you know. I think this model of cooperation is usual for many musicians all round the world. So sorry that we can’t spend a lot of time with Scherman right now, but anyway, friendship is a great thing and friendship between Russians and Germans is the greatest thing.

Also on your Facebook page, you make reference to “great pains to learn singing in your international language.” Was this meaning English? And why did you feel it was important to learn it and incorporate it into your music?
I was afraid of this question [laughs]. In the beginning we wanted to sing in our mythical language but then we had to conclude that it was too much. Scherman speaks German well but doesn’t like to sing and we’re so tired of singing in Russian in our previous bands. So the choice was obvious — English! The English language is very melodic and light, without sharp edges and very clear. But as you can hear we have a hard accent and we like it because accent is adding something special to the singing. Accent is cool.

Do you currently have any touring plans in the works in support of the new album?
Working on that. We’re looking for the right person who can help to organize a tour. We have invitations to play a show in the UK, the USA, Russia and Mexico. But still no dates or details.

Songs like “They Live” and “Betelgeuse” seem to be inspired by the films if I’m not mistaken. Are you guys big film buffs? Do they have a lot of influence on your music?
Hell yeah! We are big old-school movies fans. Modern cinema is full of computers, pointless 3D and awful actors (except Killian Murphy — he is great). We prefer old, very old and very-very old movies. Early works of John Carpenter and Ridley Scott, Fritz Lang, Ingmar Bergman, Soviet drama movies like Mesto Vstrechi Izmenit Nelzya with Vladimir Visotskiy as Gleb Zheglov, Ed Wood’s masterpiece, Troma Films and so on and so on. The last great movies that I have discovered was an Indian remake of Nightmare on the Elm Street called Mahakaal and a Turkish version of Rambo. Gosh! This is madness!

Oh, by the way. One year ago we directed our own trash-drama-movie Smell of Love which was presented to the world in Las Vegas on Polly Grind Festival in 2012.

And answering your question about influence — yes, movies (and books) inspire us very much. Mawama album was completely inspired by the American cinema.

So now that the album is completed and about to come out, what are you going to be working on now?
First of all we must heal our grey crow Nina that we picked up on the street with a broken wing this winter. This is the main goal. Then we’re planning to make some wild videos, release our first vinyl record in Germany, sell it, earn a million euros and begin to work on an unusual release — Soundtrack to an Imaginary Movie. And live shows of course.


Written and conducted by: Brian Lion – Follow him on Twitter

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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