Momus (musician)

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Momus
Momus(musician).jpg
Currie in 2005
Born
Nicholas Currie

(1960-02-11) 11 February 1960 (age 62)
Paisley, Scotland
Other namesMomus
Occupations
  • Songwriter
  • author
  • journalist
Years active1981–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 musician and writer.

For over forty 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 use of continental 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.[2][3]

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.[4] On 22 October 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.[5]

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,[6] and was also a local hit at San Francisco's KITS Live 105 radio station.[7]

Momus' 1980s albums were a great influence on Jarvis Cocker, who wrote to Currie asking him to produce future Pulp albums.[8][9] Those same albums were a huge influence on Brett Anderson,[10] 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'.[11][12]

In the early 1990s, Momus struck up a working relationship with a number of J-Pop stars.[13] 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.[14] 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.[citation needed]

Momus has continued to release music regularly. His 2020 album, Vivid, which documented the COVID-19 pandemic and Momus' own suspected case of the virus, earned some coverage in the mainstream media.[15]

He has been the subject of a number of documentaries including Hannu Puttonen's Man of Letters.[16]

As author[edit]

Momus has published a book of lyrics,[17] and has written texts or introductions for several books on art and culture.[citation needed]

Momus has published six novels.[18] The Book of Jokes and The Book of Scotlands received positive reviews in the LA Times[19] and the Guardian.[14] 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,[20] and UnAmerica[21] in 2014, as well as several ebooks.

2020 saw the publication of Niche: a memoir in pastiche in which Momus tells the story of his creative life through fictional eyewitness statements from famous historic figures.[22]

Blog and vlog[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".[23] The quip parodies Andy Warhol's famous prediction that, "In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes".

From January 15, 2004 to February 10, 2010, Momus wrote a blog on the LiveJournal platform called Click Opera.[24] Initially a collection of links, Click Opera evolved to become a substantial daily cultural essay. After announcing it unexpectedly in an interview with magazine called Chronic'art, Momus ended the blog on his fiftieth birthday because it had become too time-consuming and because Livejournal was being wound down.[25] It is cited a high point of the blogging era[26] and led to Momus becoming a columnist with the New York Times and Wired.[25]

Since 2016, Momus has been releasing a series of improvised lectures and travel vlogs called Open University.[27][28]

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 bibendum mascot as a metaphor for hypersexual rubber fetishism.[29][30] Remaining copies of the album were destroyed, 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.[29]

In 1998, Momus was sued by the composer/musician Wendy Carlos for $22 million[30] 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.[31] Momus' following album Stars Forever consisted of commissioned biographical sketches in the style of the Wendy Carlos song, conceived as a crowdfunding exercise to pay Currie's legal fees.[32][33]

Personal life[edit]

Currie attended boarding school at the Edinburgh Academy while his father taught English for the British Council in Athens.[13]

Since 1984 Momus has lived in London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, Berlin, and Osaka.[13][34] He currently splits his time between Berlin and Paris.[35] He is an atheist.[36]

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.[37][38] Although his sight subsequently improved following surgery,[39] he has suffered lingering effects from the infection since, causing him to often be photographed in an eyepatch, wearing dark glasses, or squinting.

His cousin is musician Justin Currie, the lead singer and songwriter of Del Amitri.[40]

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 Japans (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)[41]
edition taberna kritika 2019 pb novel (in German)
Momus Black Letts Diary iMomus 2016 ebook diaries[42]
Momus Popppappp Fiktion 2016 ebook novel
Momus Somewhere There are People Like Me iMomus 2016 ebook diaries[43]
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[44]
Momus Niche: a memoir in pastiche Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2020 hb autobiography
John Robinson Famous for Fifteen People: The Songs of Momus 1982 - 1995 Zero Books 2021 pb and ebook biography and critical analysis[45]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[46][edit]

Compilations[46][edit]

  • Monsters of Love (1990)
  • Learning to Be Human (1994)
  • Twenty Vodka Jellies (1996)
  • Stop This (1998)
  • 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[46][edit]

  • 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)
  • The Synthy EP (2021)[47]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pubic Intellectual - An Anthology". Rough Trade. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  2. ^ "The official website for independent record label 4AD". 4AD.
  3. ^ "The Quietus | Features | A Quietus Interview | Momus - Where The Art Is: Nick Currie Interviewed". The Quietus.
  4. ^ "One famous Belgian". Newstatesman.com. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ "hairstyle of the devil | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com.
  7. ^ "Live 105 Top 105.3 of 1989". Rocklists.com.
  8. ^ Laurence, Alexander (5 September 2005). "Momus INTERVIEW".
  9. ^ Momus: Man of Letters (Visionary Video, 2003)
  10. ^ Brett Anderson 'Lost Albums', NME, 12 February 2012
  11. ^ "Luke Haines – Bad Vibes: Britpop And My Part In Its Downfall". The Line of Best Fit.
  12. ^ Haines, L. Bad Vibes. (2009).
  13. ^ a b c "The Quietus | Features | Strange World Of... | The Strange World Of... Momus". The Quietus.
  14. ^ a b "Momus aka Nick Currie has written his first novel. Brian Dillon salutes him". the Guardian. 18 September 2009.
  15. ^ "Momus writing an album inspired by Covid-19". BBC News. 18 April 2020. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  16. ^ "Momus Man of Letters (1994)" – via letterboxd.com.
  17. ^ "Lyrics". imomus.com.
  18. ^ "Momus: Niche: A Memoir in Pastiche | Surviving the Golden Age". 17 July 2020.
  19. ^ "'The Book of Jokes' by Momus". Los Angeles Times. 20 September 2009.
  20. ^ "Solution 214–238".
  21. ^ "UnAmerica by Momus review – Europe's psychic fear of the US". the Guardian. 6 September 2014.
  22. ^ "NICHE | Kirkus Reviews" – via www.kirkusreviews.com.
  23. ^ Momus (1991). "POP STARS? NEIN DANKE! In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people..." Grimsby Fishmarket. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  24. ^ "click opera". Imomus.livejournal.com. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  25. ^ a b "Clickswansong". Imomus.livejournal.com. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  26. ^ "Ultimate Blogs by Sarah Boxer: 9780307278067". PenguinRandomhouse.com. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  27. ^ Open Universities in Chronological Order.
  28. ^ Willmsen, Richard (4 June 2017). ""Neoliberalism had some good points": An interview with Nick Currie aka Momus about Europe, politics, identity and Japan".
  29. ^ a b Anthony Reynolds (2018) Sons of Pioneers Cherry Red pp.9-10
  30. ^ 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 Research.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ "Momus: Stars Forever". Pitchfork.
  33. ^ "Momus". The A.V. Club. 8 September 1999.
  34. ^ Wringham, Robert. "Pants on fire: eleven crises witnessed by Momus".
  35. ^ "3. Momus. Vivid. - John Robinson says Vivid is the record of the year. Jay Lewis slots it in, towards the top... ...the latest story in Outsideleft". outsideleft.com.
  36. ^ Thompson, Stephen (6 September 2000). "Is there a God?". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  37. ^ Visco, Gerry (13 October 2007). "Momus Revisited". New York Press. Archived from the original on 22 October 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2008.
  38. ^ Momus (April 1998). "Story of an Eye". Retrieved 29 May 2008.
  39. ^ "Momus | Encyclopedia.com". Encyclopedia.com.
  40. ^ "All I want for Christmas is six Momus albums, says Andrew Eaton". www.scotsman.com. 11 December 2008.
  41. ^ "Fiktion". Fiktion.cc. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  42. ^ "Momus Black Letts Diary 1979" (PDF). Imomus.com. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  43. ^ "Momus Black Letts Diary 1980" (PDF). Imomus.com. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  44. ^ "Momus Black Letts Diary 1981-2" (PDF). Imomus.com. Retrieved 29 September 2020.
  45. ^ "Famous for Fifteen People from Zer0 Books". Zer0 Books.
  46. ^ a b c "Momus". Discogs.
  47. ^ "Open University: The Synthy EP" – via www.youtube.com.

External links[edit]