John Maus

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John Maus
John Maus (6420801209).jpg
Maus performing in 2011
Background information
Born (1980-02-23) February 23, 1980 (age 37)
Origin Austin, Minnesota, U.S.
  • Musician
  • singer-songwriter
  • composer
  • record producer
Years active 1999–present
Associated acts

John Maus (born February 23, 1980) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, composer, and academic from Minnesota.[10] An early collaborator of Ariel Pink,[11] he has released several albums that incorporate elements of 1980s synth-pop, post-punk, and Medieval music.[12] He is a former professor of philosophy at the University of Hawaii[11] and his intellectual pursuits are reflected in his style and approach to music.[11][10][12] His first two albums, Songs (2006) and Love Is Real (2007), generally drew negative reviews upon release. After the positive response to 2011's We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves, Maus grew more widely accepted as an outsider artist, and there was a critical reevaluation of his earlier work.[13]


Maus was born in February 1980[not in citation given] and grew up in Austin, Minnesota.[10] Experimenting with music from an early age, his first efforts were strongly influenced by Nirvana and film scores of the 1980s.[14] He later studied music at the California Institute of the Arts.[15] As a college student he was interested in experimental music, such as the work of Michael Pisaro, as well as Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music. When he befriended and began to work alongside Ariel Pink, he took a greater interest in pop music.[15] While continuing to make music, Maus went on to study philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas Fee, Switzerland, where he earned his master's degree. He was awarded a doctorate in political philosophy from the University of Hawai'i, where his thesis advisor was Michael J. Shapiro.[16] After finishing his dissertation, Maus planned on becoming a teacher, stating in 2011 that he could not foresee a career in music.[17]


Maus performing in 2012.

Maus is known for the energy of his performances.[not in citation given] A 2012 review of a London performance in The Guardian noted him to be a "ferocious theoretician" in particular given his quoting of Alain Badiou in the title of his album We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. The review also remarked on the physical nature of his live shows, "Prowling the stage alone like a patient who has given his care nurse the slip, Maus pogos, head-bangs and gives vent to a succession of feral howls as he jack-knifes at the waist, singing over pre-recorded tapes in what he self-effacingly describes as his "karaoke show"."[18]

Charles Ubaghs 2012 review for the BBC took notice of the philosophical undertones of Maus' works: "...behind these retro overtones is a desire to explore our modern relationships with pop, and its impact on our wider philosophical and cultural lives." The review also remarked that on Maus' self-referential tendencies: "Couple this with lyrics like The Fear’s surprisingly frank “What’s wrong with me, ‘cause I’ve tried everything,” and you’ve an accessibly rich portrait of Maus’ ever-questioning mind."[12] Likewise a 2011 BBC review noted that Maus was " as much a professional existentialist as he is a synth-pop musician" and that "reading his interviews can make your cerebral cortex pulse with befuddlement."[11] Maus states "I'm not thinking about that [aesthetic theory] when I'm working over the keyboard, or musing over musical ideas in my head. But when discussing it, we want to have some new thought about this new music. I wouldn't claim that my music is new, but generally speaking pop music begs for some kind of radical new way of talking about it."[19]


Studio albums

Title Release
  • Released: 2006
  • Label: Upset the Rhythm
Love Is Real
  • Released: 2007
  • Label: Upset the Rhythm
We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves
Screen Memories
  • Released: 2017
  • Label: Ribbon Music
  • Released: 2018
  • Label: Ribbon Music

EPs/unofficial releases

  • c. 1999: Snowless Winters EP (Demonstration Bootleg)
  • 2000: Love Letters from Hell (Demonstration Bootleg)
  • 2003: Second Album EP (Demonstration Bootleg)
  • 2003: I Want to Live (Demonstration Bootleg)


Other appearances


  1. ^ Sedghi, Sarra (December 4, 2014). "John Maus Psychoanalyzes Ariel Pink, Calls Him a Nymphomaniac". Paste. 
  2. ^ Bevan, David (September 6, 2012). "JOHN MAUS". Spin. 
  3. ^ Pelly, Jelly (July 20, 2012). "John Maus: A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 8, 2016. 
  4. ^ "John Maus Book". Dummy Mag. July 19, 2011. 
  5. ^ Reges, Margaret. "John Maus". AllMusic. Retrieved October 8, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Hogan, Marc (June 21, 2012). "Grab John Maus’ Icy Obsession Anthem ‘Bennington’". Spin. 
  7. ^ Bevan, Davin (July 8, 2011). "John Maus - We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 8, 2016. 
  8. ^ Lindemann, Lodovico. "Cosa vuol dire "musica psichedelica" nel 2016?". Rockit (in Italian). 
  9. ^ Smart, Dan (June 7, 2017). "John Maus returns to tour the US, becomes the pitiless censor of Donald Trump’s tweets". Tiny Mix Tapes. 
  10. ^ a b c Loscutoff, Leah (July 2011). "John Maus". BOMB Magazine. Retrieved July 26, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c d Parkin, Chris. "John Maus We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves Review". BBC Music. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c Ubaghs, Charles (2012-08-21). "John Maus A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material Review". BBC Review. BBC. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  13. ^ Thomas, Fred. "John Maus A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material". AllMusic. 
  14. ^ "Upset the Rhythm - John Maus". Upset the Rhythm. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  15. ^ a b “John Maus” BOMB Magazine July 2011, Retrieved July 26, 2011
  16. ^ "University of Hawai'i Department of Political Science". Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  17. ^ "PhDs And Dropouts: Killer Mike, Kreayshawn And John Maus Talk School". The Fader. August 29, 2011. 
  18. ^ Gittins, Ian (15 August 2012). "John Maus – review". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  19. ^ Pelly, Jean (August 10, 2012). "John Maus". Pitchfork. 

External links[edit]