I regard lyrics as spells, that start working when you forget their meaning.
Last year at Incubate Incendiary was lucky to catch a tremendous, almost revelatory performance by a band that we'd never ever heard of, Argentina's Mueran Humanos. I think it's safe to say that it caught a couople of us on the hop; and we weren't long in snapping up their LP which is a classic of it's kind; gothic, brooding and possessing an epic sweep and a clear sighted vision that's all too rare. Anyway we got talking and after a little while we got Tomas and Carmen to answer a number of questions...
IN: You have a very confident, direct style. When we saw you last year at Incubate you seemed a mix of nonchalance and anger. Very confrontational. Is that fair?
Carmen: It depends on the humour of each one of us. On that day I was pissed off, what you perceived is correct. But it's not like that always, sometimes I'm happy and smiling and Tomas the other way around. Its real feelings, not an act so it´s different every time.
Tomas: I dont function well in society, sometimes that makes me mad. In any case, a gig for me must be a real experience, I expect that when I go to see a band and I give that when we play.
IN: Your lyrics conjure up very strong imagery, a lot of death and sex and despair...
C: I don't really think about sex when I work on a lyric. For the rest items you said, yes.
T: If you stripped down everything anyway, that's what you get: love, sex, death, God. It appears in our lyrics because that's how we see the world, I don´t see nothing particular on it, it's just normal. What people usually don't see on our work is its humour, starting with the name of the band, which is not literal! It's a special kind of humour, though, close to Andre Breton's definition of black humour, also drawing on Saki, Lewis Carroll and Max Ernst. It don´t make you laugh but attacks your conscience in a playful way.
Lyrics are important mainly for ourselves, we work a lot with them, we need to believe in what we are singing and it has to sound right. But I don´t think it's essential for the listener, I think you can get into our music without understanding the lyrics.
For that reason we stick to Spanish, even if the majority of our audience can't understand any. They dont need to understand, but it has to be real for us. If it's real for us the emotion can go through the language barrier. I regard lyrics as spells, that start working when you forget their meaning.
IN: Tell us about the lyrics in Lions in China, they are very striking in their visual content
C: It's the way my mind works, in images. One night we were on our room and I started to say those things about China, out of the blue, Tomas started to take notes, then we put music over it. The song is not really about China, or maybe yes it is.
IN: And there is a lot of religious elements and references in the lyrics. Why do you feel what is it in your background or personal circumstances that makes you want to mention this?
T: I was raised an atheist in a mainly Catholic country. My fathers were of the Argentinian 70s intelectual youth, all Marx, Foucalt and Freud, anti religion. In my house religion wasnt allowed or discussed, but I was always fascinated with it. I saw churches from the outside and dreamt about what was inside, I made my own religion, as a game, I made my own rituals, having hallucinations for a very early age, a DIY religion if you want. I was lucky, because in that way religion wasn´t related in my mind to social control, it wasn't mediated by priests or gurus.
It was a direct experience, something you develop yourself. And for me is still the same, pretty much. We are not religious but we believe in the reality of many things that are usually considered "superstition". And mysticism, myth, the occult, the supernatural are all parts of our work.
C: When my brother and me when we were children we used to talk to a black hole that we drew and hung on the wall of our room... I feel my self as a heavenly creature sometimes. What I like from religion is that it gives mystery the attention and importance that mystery deserves. People that believe in invisible things like God. In my own way I feel close to that.
IN: I don't see you as a particularly Gothic band but there is an element of Gothic grandeur there, like Young Gods maybe. Know them?
T: I like some of their earlier stuff but they are a really masculine band, we are way more feminine. The thing I like about those bands, the Wax Trax stuff, EBM, etc., it's the strong beats, I like strong beats in general: hip hop, dub, techno, whatever, but usually I dislike everything else about that music. I prefer Swans or Neubauten any day. To know what music we like you can check our mixtape here http://www.20jazzfunkgreats.co.uk/wordpress/2011/04/20jfg-podcast-mueran-humanos/
Anyway our starting point wasn't any scene or band, it was us alone locked in a house making sounds to trip ourselves, for 2 years we were isolated doing our thing, experimenting. Then we gone out, started to play live, made a record and release it, but the essence is the same.
I don't understand genres. All music is the same for me. I like the sound of my washing machine, I sit down and consume it as if it is psychedelic music.
IN: You live in Berlin now is that right? Why did you feel the need to move from Argentina to there?
C: We knew each other in Buenos Aires but we left Argentina separately, I think both of us wanted to go out of the planet really. So, that's exactly what we made when we started the band, when we met in Europe in 2006.
T: In 2008 we got here to play a couple of gigs and decided to stay. I just like it. Lots of trees, that's good. People are quiet and I like that. Food is bad but music is good. And I prefer music than food. And Berlin treats us great, it's been really supportive and really helpful for the band. The Berlin underground, I mean. That underground developed when Berlin was out of the radar of yuppies, trendsetters and trend followers, real estate speculators, etc. Now they are killing the underground.
Anyway, I didn´t feel the need to leave Buenos Aires, I love Buenos Aires.
IN: I'm sure everyone has asked you this but you bring it on yourselves by sticking such a striking image on your cover. Why the face with the vagina what does that symbolise for you?
C: The image is part of a series of collages called Seventeen, I made it in 2007. Its the number 4 of 17 modified covers of the American magazine for teens "Seventeen". It was published as a book recently in Argentina.
T: We decided that it will be the cover of our first album before even recorded it, we both felt it was perfect for it immediately. Maybe because it encapsulates a balance between beauty and horror, natural and unnatural, normality and mystery that fits with our music. Everything in our work is dual and I think that image its dual too, it's a tension that never resolve.
IN: What else. what other, non musical things inspire you?
T: We seek the unconscious, therefore we are not very conscious of what inspires us. To reach that we sometimes use techniques like collage, or cut-ups which make everything even more confusing so I honestly can't tell where our work REALLY is coming from or what REALLY means. It means everything to me, but I can't fully explain it. Actually, if you can explain it, why do it?