We quiz Manni Dee about the compilation he’s curated that revolves around ambient and noise music and features tracks from WANDA GROUP, BNJMN, Lotide, Shelley Parker and more.
WotNot Music have been operating at the fringes of experimental club sounds since 2011, putting out a diverse selection of releases from the likes of boogie-inflected house producer K15, futuristic bass producer Deft and London beatsmith JJ Mumbles. The label’s next project however sees it expanding its horizons into the world of ambient and noise music on a compilation called Life Between Screens. Collecting 16 tracks from notable producers in the field including WANDA GROUP, Lotide, Fuewa, Shelley Parker and Memotone, label regular Deft and Rush Hour producer BNJMN also appear with some less beat-focused material.
The compilation is due to be released on cassette and digital formats on September 22, and has been curated by techno producer Manni Dee, responsible for bracing productions on Candela Rising, Black Sun and 2nd Drop in recent years. Aiming to encourage listeners to “engage with music on a visceral level, liberating sound from its potentially functional shackles”, the compilation also features newcomers like Trinkkets and MockSun. The compilation will be launched on September 20 with an evening in the intimate surrounds of South London’s Whirled Cinema, featuring live sets from WANDA GROUP, Memotone, Fuewa, U and Shelley Parker. Attendees are encouraged to sit or lie down to better absorb themselves in the performances, which will be accompanied by a light-based installation by art production team WeAreYes.
As well as offering a premiere of WANDA GROUP’s brilliantly titled “ENCLAVE, DOME AND EVERY HUMAN SHOULD SHUT THEIR MOUTH”, which can be streamed below, we contacted Manni Dee to ask him a few questions about his involvement in the project.
You’re known primarily as a techno producer, so how did you come to be asked to curate a compilation focusing on ambient and noise music?
Jed and Arun who run WotNot are good friends of mine. They have a themed compilation called Dancefloor Sweets and they asked if I would like to compile one about a year ago. I gave the project some thought and decided to utilise the opportunity to express a musical interest of mine independent from the dancefloor, which completely goes against the proposed idea now I think about it. Me and Arun had discussed curating conceptual and installation-based projects prior to the inception of Life Between Screens, we agreed that this was the perfect starting point. I’m very grateful towards the guys for trusting me with this, it’s become a project I’m very proud of.
Why did you select cassette as the primary medium for the compilation?
We believed such an ambitious project warranted some sort of physical manifestation. I understand that the majority of people don’t own cassette players, those of you who don’t should immediately purchase one now as you’ll bypass five bonus tracks on the cassette. For those not taking to my rhetoric, let the cassette serve as a cherished ornamental monument.
It feels as if the noisier material on the compilation has a more fragile side to it that fits in with the ambient tracks. Was this balance a consideration when selecting the artists, and if not, what kind of aesthetic were you going for across the compilation as a whole?
I wouldn’t say there were any concerns in regards to ensuring the noisier stuff was fragile enough to compliment the release. A balance however was considered when approaching artists. To me everyone on the release has either a similar relationship with sound or thought process towards composition.
Life Between Screens is an interesting title. It suggests a fatigue with the intrusion of electronic devices into modern life. Is this accurate, or is there another explanation behind the name?
That’s an accurate assessment. It’s common knowledge that the intrusion of electronic devices has impacted the way we digest and consume music. You’ve heard it all before though. I don’t necessarily think the message needs to be reinforced, as many, well…some seem aware, but it is important for us to align ourselves with that ethos, particularly for this project.
All the music I love has stayed with me since I first fell for it. If any of the tracks on this release do the same for any one listener, then my mission is accomplished.
The press release says that the compilation “encourages listeners to engage with music on a visceral level”. Can you expand on that? Do you feel that people aren’t really engaging properly with music at home or in the live setting?
Are people engaging properly? I dunno. I hope so. Yes and no. Who am I to say? You can’t really encourage a visceral response can you? I dunno. I guess the statement serves as a precursor to convey where we’re coming from with this project.
There’s going to be a live launch event – how are you hoping to reflect the ethos of the record in a performance space? It isn’t always the easiest thing to achieve with ambient gigs…
I think that’s why we enlisted WeAreYes to implement light-based installations. They’re an art production team who I’ve worked with in the past, and who have recently been exhibiting at the V&A. We’re aware that in order to create the desired atmosphere we need a strong visual aesthetic. The release encourages people to engage actively and listeners are reminded that music is an art form to create emotional connections to, rather than a disposable commodity.
Collective and emotive experiences can be mutual in spaces that don’t necessarily encourage dancing. The performance setting will attempt to facilitate those principles, providing attendees with a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere. Just get high as fuck before you come and it’ll be fine.
I was actually making a documentary to assist this release, featuring interviews and conversations with some of the artists. Unfortunately due to hard drive failures and time constraints it won’t see the light of day. I might upload the raw footage of the conversation me and WANDA GROUP had to my YouTube page at some point. I think it’s quite interesting.
You also have a track on the compilation from your Nuances alias, which is pretty under the radar. When did you start making ambient stuff, how often do you makes tracks under that name and what kind of stuff influences it?
Ahhh, Nuances. I started making ambient and noise music just over a year ago. I launched the project in order to accommodate experimental and non-techno compositions. How often is hard to say as it’s never predetermined and It’s always an intuitive, highly cathartic and emotive process. Influences include dreams, love and death. There’ll be some Nuances material getting released very soon.
WotNot Music will release Life Between Screens on cassette and digital formats on September 22. The launch party will take place at the Whirled Cinema in London on September 20 – full information and tickets for that can be found here.
1. Fuewa – Body In Earth
2. Deft – Every Single Thing
3. Memotone – Abbots Bromley Horn Dance
4. U – Over
5. Alphabets Heaven – Mujo
6. BNJMN – The Unseen
7. Lotide – In The Deserted Bazaars
8. MockSun – Without Instinct
9. Trinkkets – Taint
10. Shelley Parker – Restrictions
11. WANDA GROUP – ENCLAVE, DOME AND EVERY HUMAN SHOULD SHUT THEIR MOUTH
Cassette-only bonus tracks:
12. Ekca Liena – Mersend
13. Lost Twin – De Donde Viene
14. Nuances – A Nod Was The First Step
15. Charo – Robben Island
16. Danalogue – Dimension Glimpse