Momus (musician)

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Momus
Momus(musician).jpg
Born Nicholas Currie
(1960-02-11) 11 February 1960 (age 54)
Paisley, Scotland
Residence Osaka, Japan
Other names Momus
Occupation Author, journalist, songwriter
Website
www.imomus.com

Nicholas Currie (born 11 February 1960), more popularly known under the artist name Momus (after the Greek god of mockery), is a songwriter, blogger and former journalist for Wired. Many of his songs are literary and could be classified as postmodern.[citation needed]

For nearly thirty years he has been releasing, to marginal commercial and critical success, albums on labels in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Japan. In his lyrics and his other writing he makes seemingly random use of decontextualized pieces of continental (mostly French) philosophy, and has built up a personal world he says is "dominated by values like diversity, orientalism, and a respect for otherness." He is fascinated by identity, Japan, Rome, the avant-garde, time travel and sex.

Career[edit]

Musical[edit]

Momus began by recording post-punk material with various ex-members of Josef K in a group called The Happy Family in the early 1980s, and was associated with the musicians around Postcard Records (although he never recorded for that label). His debut solo album Circus Maximus (1986, él records) explored biblical themes in dark, almost Gothic acoustic style, and his debt to the influence of Gallic pop was clear from a subsequent, sardonically self-referencing cover of Jacques Brel's "Jacky" and portraits of himself in the style of early 1960s Serge Gainsbourg.

In 1987, by which time he lived in London, he signed to Creation Records, and began to record the hyper-literate, quirky pop songs for which he is best known. A trio of albums, The Poison Boyfriend, Tender Pervert and Don't Stop The Night blended accessible dance-pop with such heavy lyrical themes as paedophilia, necrophilia and adultery. The latter album almost yielded a hit in the UK with "The Hairstyle of the Devil" which peaked at No.94 in the UK Singles Charts in May 1989. Subsequent albums on Creation included Hippopotamomus, a scatological tribute to Gainsbourg, as Momus continued to push boundaries of acceptability within accessible pop structures. By 1994, however, when Creation signed Oasis, his music began to seem wildly out of place on the newer, more 'laddish' and commercial sounds Creation then started to produce, and he moved to Paris and signed to Cherry Red Records. Since then he has lived in various countries and, while less popular in Britain, has had a reasonable level of commercial success in a number of countries, especially Japan, where he wrote and produced records for successful singer Kahimi Karie, including the hit single "Good Morning World".

He has been sued twice. The first time was from Michelin UK, for the song "Michelin Man", which compared the mascot to a blow-up doll, on Hippopotamomus (1991). He was also sued by Wendy Carlos for the song "Walter Carlos" (which postulated that the post-sexual reassignment surgery Wendy could travel back in time to marry her pre-surgery self, Walter) on The Little Red Songbook (1998). The case was settled out of court for a fee of $30,000, withdrawal of the song, agreement not to use Carlos's name for any purpose whatsoever and payment of damages and attorney's fees to Carlos. To pay off the debt, Momus wrote thirty songs, one about each person or group who commissioned a song at the price of $1,000, compiling Stars Forever (1999). Patrons included artist Jeff Koons, Japanese musician Cornelius, and three-year-old animator/superhero Noah Brill. Stars Forever also features the winners of a karaoke contest started on The Little Red Songbook (1998).

In 2000, he performed "As You Turn to Go" (written by Stephin Merritt) on The 6ths' album Hyacinths and Thistles and "Mnemorex" (his own lyrics) on Kreidler's self-titled third album. He has continued to release Momus albums, as well as contribute to other artists' records since.

As author and other activities[edit]

Momus has written for Wired, Vice, Index Magazine, AIGA Voice, 032c and Design Observer. Momus has also been a guest instructor on sound-art projects with students first at Future University in Hakodate, Hokkaidō, Japan during the early months of 2005, and then again in September at Fabrica, the Benetton Group "research centre" near Venice, Italy. In 2006 he was a featured artist in the Whitney Biennial in New York City, serving as an "unreliable tour guide" to visitors of the exhibition. He kept an online blog documenting his everyday experience, philosophies and fetishes.

Momus said in 1991 that "In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people", which has evolved into a meme, "On the web, everyone will be famous to fifteen people".[1] The quip parodies Andy Warhol's famous prediction that, "In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes".

The Fotolog.Book with texts by Momus on photoblogging was published in April 2006 by British publishers Thames & Hudson.

Momus has published several books. The Book of Jokes and The Book of Scotlands have received positive reviews in the LA Times and the Guardian. The Book of Scotlands (Sternberg Press) was shortlisted for the Scottish Arts Council's First Book prize. He published The Book of Japans in 2011, also on Sternberg Press, and UnAmerica in 2014 (Penny-Ante Editions).

Personal life[edit]

In the last two decades, Momus has lived in London, Paris, Tokyo, New York and Berlin. He has made Osaka his home since 2010. He is an atheist.[2]

He wears a patch over his right eye because he lost the use of it in 1997, after contracting acanthamoeba keratitis from a contact lens case washed with tap water.[3][4]

His cousin is musician Justin Currie, the lead singer and songwriter of Del Amitri.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Album name Release year
Circus Maximus 1986
The Poison Boyfriend 1987
Tender Pervert 1988
Don’t Stop The Night 1989
Hippopotamomus 1991
The Ultraconformist (Live Whilst Out of Fashion) 1992
Voyager
Timelord 1993
Slender Sherbert 1995
The Philosophy of Momus
Twenty Vodka Jellies 1996
Ping Pong 1997
The Little Red Songbook 1998
Stars Forever 1999
Folktronic 2001
Oskar Tennis Champion 2003
Summerisle, a collaboration with Anne Laplantine 2004
Otto Spooky 2005
Ocky Milk 2006
Joemus, a collaboration with Joe Howe 2008
Hypnoprism 2010
Thunderclown, a collaboration with John Henriksson 2011
Bibliotek 2012
Momus in Samoa 2012
Sunbutler, a collaboration with Joe Howe 2012
MOMUSMCCLYMONT, a collaboration with David McClymont 2013
Bambi 2013
MOMUSMCCLYMONT II, a collaboration with David McClymont 2014
Turpsycore 2015

Compilations[edit]

Album name Release year
Monsters of Love 1990
Forbidden Software Timemachine 2003

Singles and EPs[edit]

Album name Release year
The Beast With 3 Backs 1985
Murderers, The Hope of Women 1986
Nicky 1986
The Hairstyle of the Devil UK #94 1989
Spacewalk 1992
The Sadness of Things 1995
The Thunderclown 2011

References[edit]

  1. ^ Momus (1991). "POP STARS? NEIN DANKE! In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people...". Grimsby Fishmarket. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 
  2. ^ Thompson, Stephen (6 September 2000). "Is there a God?". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  3. ^ Gerry Visco (13 October 2007). "Momus Revisited". New York Press. Archived from the original on 22 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  4. ^ Momus (April 1998). "Story of an Eye". Retrieved 2008-05-29. 

External links[edit]

Listening