Talk About Body
An interview with JD Samson of MEN
By Lizzy Von Stange
Good news party people, electro pop trio MEN is passing through Albuquerque again—this time with more “bomp,” stage antics and a new album under its belt.
MEN rose from the ashes of the departed feminist electronic band Le Tigre. Heading up this crew is mustached front woman JD Samson, Michael O’Neill and brand new member Tami Hart. Founding members Johanna Fateman and Emily Roysdon, not currently on the tour, also contribute to the group.
The Brooklyn-based art/performance collective which formed in 2007 only this February unveiled its first album—Talk About Body on IAMSOUND Records. MEN continues where Le Tigre left off, with its album evoking political discourse that advocates feminism and the LGBT community.
From the road Samson took time to answer some questions about the album, the tour and the girl behind the mustache.
How is the tour going—what stops are you most excited about?
We are really excited about going to see our friends all over the states, to play with Big Freedia in New Orleans and to see some sunshine.
A typical MEN set includes flashy fashion and what instruments?
The MEN set uses a microKORG synthesizer with Ableton Live software, live guitars, live bass and sometimes collaborations, yes. I usually make our outfits these days. So fun!
What can one expect at a MEN’s show on this tour?
Well we have some cool new stage antics involving triangulations and fixed helmet connectors. Also some lighted banners and a lot of new improvisational parts to songs.
What was your vision for MEN and are you happy with the band so far?
My vision was a genre-less, fun, smart eye-opening collaborative project. And yes, I'm very proud and happy that we are exactly where we are.
What is the idea with labeling yourselves as an art/performance collective?
I think sometimes on a rock tour, it’s hard to pull out a lot of performance elements as people aren't that open in that kind of a space. But we do bring those elements through as much as we can. We try to perform in museums and other art spaces as much as possible so that we can create our own space and add a lot of new elements to the performance, plus collaborate with other artists. But the time it takes for this is sometimes hard to bring on tour.
MEN is known for being a strong advocate of feminism and gay pride. Is there a deeper message you hope to convey or a particular audience you are trying to reach?
No, this is just us. We aren't being didactic. We want to remind the rest of our people what is actually going on. We want to speak with the audience. Have an equal exchange with them. I could care less about what they wear or who they fuck. Everyone is invited.
Do you think your music has made a difference?
Pop music is a cool genre because it is accessible and easy. Yet it promotes catch phrases and can so easily be "messed up," "punked" or "queered." Also, dance music promotes movement, sharing, vulnerability and safety.
What took so long for Talk About Body to debut?
We kept touring so we could afford to make it.
The album seems to have sexual connotations, especially on “Credit Card Babies.” Who’s doing most of the writing, and is there an overall message you’d like to send?
Every song has a different writing process. We just take it as it comes. Michael and I wrote the music, and then I mostly wrote the words and we kind of all widdled it into what it is now. We wanted to discuss the frustrations of having gay babies in that track. The record brings up a lot of issues of power and money and sex. We realized this when it was done.
Do you have a favorite song on the album?
I love “If You Want Something.” That's my favorite.
How was it working with Christina Aguilera?
She is awesome, strong and a really hard worker. She is great at her job.
Who else would you like to work with?
I would work with anyone once.
What’s next for MEN?
New record, world tour, India and art spaces.
Is there any chance of a Le Tigre reunion?
Probably not we all have different projects going on.
What do you do when you are not making music?
I make visual arts and look at people and at the Earth. I try to relax. I work too much.
You have a film degree and also appeared in the movie Shortbus. Do you plan on returning to movies?
I think about it, but the industry has changed so much—what I learned is kind of obsolete.
Starting out as a projectionist for Le Tigre, did you ever think you would be where you are today? Do you believe this is your true calling?
No, somehow I fell in and now this is what I do. I wish I was a doctor.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I want to have kids and be healthy and happy.
with Romy and The Gatherers
Tuesday, March 29, 9:30 p.m.
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Tickets: $10, 21-and-over
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