Momus (musician)

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Momus
Momus(musician).jpg
Born
Nicholas Currie

(1960-02-11) 11 February 1960 (age 60)
Paisley, Scotland
Other namesMomus
Occupation
  • Songwriter
  • author
  • journalist
Years active1980–present
Musical career
Genres
Labels
Websiteimomus.com

Nicholas "Nick" Currie (born 11 February 1960), more popularly known under the artist name Momus (after the Greek god of mockery), is a Scottish songwriter, author, blogger, and former journalist for Wired.

For over thirty years he has been releasing 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."[1]

Career[edit]

Musical[edit]

Nicholas Currie's musical career began in 1981, with his band The Happy Family, featuring ex-members of Josef K, who made a single and a concept album The Man on Your Street: Songs of the Dictator Hall on hip UK indie label 4AD.

In 1986 Momus recorded an E.P. of his translations of Jacques Brel songs "Nicky", and wrote a lengthy article on Brel for the New Statesman.[2] On October 22, 2009 he performed at the Barbican alongside fellow Brel enthusiasts Marc Almond and Camille O'Sullivan at a celebration of Brel's career Carousel: The Songs of Jacques Brel.[3]

His album Don't Stop The Night included the single, "The Hairstyle of the Devil", which peaked at No. 94 in the UK Singles Chart in May 1989, and was a local hit, coming in at No. 32 on a year-end list, at San Francisco's KITS Live 105 radio station.[4]

Momus's 1980s albums were a great influence on Jarvis Cocker, who wrote to Currie asking him to produce future Pulp albums. Those same albums were a huge influence on Brett Anderson,[5] Currie's championing of Suede following his friendship with Anderson and particularly bass player Justine Frischmann got them early attention, before she left to form Elastica. Momus also features in Bad Vibes the memoir of Luke Haines's whom Currie dubbed 'The Hitler of Britpop'.

In the early 1990s, Momus struck up a working relationship with a number of J-Pop stars. A cult audience for Momus and the indie labels he had released his early records on - particularly el records - led to the formation community of musicians in Shibuya, Tokyo, and the founding of Cru-el records, and the emergence of 'ShibuyaKei' artists such as Cornelius and The Poison Girlfriend - who performed Momus songs. Currie began writing specifically for nOrikO (aka the Poison Girlfriend) and Kahimi Karie. In 1995 Kahimi Karie's Momus-penned song "Good Morning World" went to number one and was featured in a heavily syndicated advert, giving Currie his first real hit and financial stability for the first time.

He has been the subject of a number of documentaries including Hannu Puttonen's Man of Letters.

As author and other activities[edit]

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".[6] The quip parodies Andy Warhol's famous prediction that, "In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes".

He has published a book of lyrics, and has written texts or introductions for several books on art and culture.

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, as well as several ebooks.

Partial bibliography[edit]

Author name Title Publisher Year Format Genre/subject
Momus Lusts of a Moron Black Swan Press 1992 pb lyrics
Nicholas Currie Pierre et Gilles Taschen 1993 pb art/photography (French, English & German)
Nicholas Currie Fotolog.Book Thames & Hudson 2006 hb photoblogging
Momus Matt Stokes: Lost in the Rhythm Art Editions North 2007 pb art - essay
Momus The Book Of Scotlands (Solution 11-167) Sternberg Press 2009 pb novel
Luath Press 2018 pb second edition
Momus The Book of Jokes Dalkey Press 2009 pb novel
(Le Livre des Blagues) La Volte 2009 pb novel (French)
(El libro de las bromas) Ediciones Alpha Decay 2012 pb novel (Spanish)
Momus The Book of Japan's (Solution 214-239) Sternberg Press 2011 pb novel
Momus Unamerica (Success and Failure) Penny-Ante Editions 2014 pb novel
Le Serpent à Plumes 2015 pb (in French)
Momus Zizek's Jokes MIT Press 2014 hb cultural studies - afterword
2018 pb
Momus Herr F Fiktion 2015 ebook novel (German and English)[7]
edition taberna kritika 2019 pb novel (in German)
Momus Black Letts Diary iMomus 2016 ebook diaries[8]
Momus Popppappp Fiktion 2016 ebook novel
Momus Somewhere There are People Like Me iMomus 2016 ebook journal [9]
Momus Off the Beaten Track: A Year in Haiku Boatwhistle Press 2016 pb poetry - contributor
Momus The Bertie Wooster of Alienation iMomus 2017 ebook diaries
Momus Niche: a memoir in pastiche Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2020 hb autobiography

Lawsuits[edit]

In 1991 following the release of the album Hippopotamomus Momus was threatened with legal action by the Michelin tyre company for his song 'Michelin Man' which saw the company's eponymous mascot, an anthropomorphic pile of rubber inner-tubes as a metaphor for hypersexual rubber fetishism.[10][11] Remaining copies of the album were destroyed, and the track was withdrawn from subsequent pressings of the album, and the album's cover was amended to remove a hippo-headed pastiche of the Michelin Man character, the lyrics to the track were included in the lyric book Lusts of a Moron under the amended title 'Made of Rubber'. The 2018 box set Recreate restored both the track and title, with the accompanying booklet by Anthony Reynolds 'Sons of Pioneers', detailing the legal wrangle but not explaining the track's reinstatement.

In 1998, Momus was sued by the songwriter/artist Wendy Carlos for $22 million[11] for his song "Walter Carlos" (from the album The Little Red Songbook, released that year), which postulated that the post–sexual reassignment surgery Wendy could travel back in time to marry her pre-surgery self, Walter. The case was settled out of court, with Momus agreeing to remove the song from subsequent editions of the CD and owing $30,000 in legal fees.[12] Momus's following album Stars Forever consisted of commissioned sordid biographical sketches in the style of the Wendy Carlos song, conceived as a crowdfunding exercise to pay Currie's legal fees.

Personal life[edit]

In the last two decades, Momus has lived in London, Paris, Tokyo, New York and Berlin. He made Osaka his home from 2010 to 2018, and currently splits his time between Berlin and Paris. He is an atheist.[13]

In December 1997, he contracted acanthamoeba keratitis in his right eye due to a contact lens mishap sustained whilst on holiday in Greece, causing loss of vision on that side.[14][15] Although his sight subsequently improved following surgery,[16] he has suffered lingering effects from the infection since, causing him to often be photographed in an eyepatch, very dark glasses, or squinting.

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
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
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
Glyptothek 2015
Scobberlotchers 2016
Pillycock 2017
Pantaloon 2018
Akkordion 2019
Vivid 2020

Compilations[edit]

Album name Release year
Monsters of Love 1990
Learning to Be Human 1994
Twenty Vodka Jellies 1996
Stop This 1998
Pubic Intellectual: An Anthology 1986-2016 (3 CD Box set) 2016
Forbidden Software Timemachine 2003
Pubic Intellectual: An Anthology 1986-2016 (3 CD Box set) 2016
Procreate (3CD Box Set) 2017
Recreate (3 CD Box set) 2018

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. ^ "Pubic Intellectual - An Anthology". Rough Trade. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  2. ^ "One famous Belgian". Newstatesman.com. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  3. ^ "CAROUSEL: The Songs Of Jacques Brel feat Arno + Marc Almond + Diamanda Galás + Arthur H + Momus + Camille O'Sullivan at Barbican Centre - Rock, pop & dance". Time Out London. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Live 105 Top 105.3 of 1989". Rocklists.com.
  5. ^ Brett Anderson 'Lost Albums', NME, 12 February 2012
  6. ^ Momus (1991). "POP STARS? NEIN DANKE! In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people..." Grimsby Fishmarket. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  7. ^ "Fiktion". Fiktion.cc. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  8. ^ "Momus Black Letts Diary 1979" (PDF). Imomus.com. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  9. ^ "Momus Black Letts Diary 1980" (PDF). Imomus.com. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  10. ^ Anthony Reynolds (2018) Sons of Pioneers Cheery Red pp.9-10
  11. ^ a b Shepherd, Fiona (10 September 1999). "The World Can Change in a Matter of Momus". The Scotsman. UK. p. 23. Archived from the original on 28 March 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2013 – via HighBeam.
  12. ^ Selvin, Joel; Vaziri, Aidin; Heller, Greg (7 November 1999). "$1,000 Bought a Custom Song on Momus' Latest Album". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  13. ^ Thompson, Stephen (6 September 2000). "Is there a God?". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  14. ^ Visco, Gerry (13 October 2007). "Momus Revisited". New York Press. Archived from the original on 22 October 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2008.
  15. ^ Momus (April 1998). "Story of an Eye". Retrieved 29 May 2008.
  16. ^ "Momus | Encyclopedia.com". Encyclopedia.com.

External links[edit]

Listening