Interview: Momus

Nick Currie, also known as the Momus (after the Greek god of mockery), is a songwriter, former blogger, journalist, performance artists, critic, novelist, all around creative…

He’s currently working on Far-Flung Japan, a book about Japan for Sternberg’s Solution series.

The Book of Jokes, Momus’ first novel is a dark comedy centering on taboo topics

Momus chats about life, fashion, Japan and more. (All photos from and Click Opera blogs).

Q:You’ve written books, cut albums, performed art and more – what creation do consider your opus?

Well, since “opus” just means “work”, all of it. Do you mean “magnum opus”? I couldn’t choose one. I remember Ian McCullough once distinguished between the “big tape recorders” of the studio and the “small tape recorders” brought by journalists to interviews. The big tape recorders were the ones that mattered. I agree, I suppose. I tend to treat blog chaff and other ephemera as a laboratory or quarry. That material is a service industry to the production of books and records.

Much of your writing, work, life revolves around Japan – why the draw?

I’ve never found a good answer to this question. I’ll just say that if an introvert with strong aesthetic interests and a pervy streak were to seek a nation with the same personality profile, Japan would be the best fit.

You influence a lot of people and seem to work in the shadows of many people – do you have a particular influence or influences?

David Bowie got deeper inside my early self-identity than anyone else. Aside from that, I basically let anyone who’s impressing me at the time become an influence. I’m an “influence slut”!

You have various loyal fan base – How would you define your following or maybe relationship with them?

I actually don’t like being venerated. My deepest inner wish is to let people down. Not by being bad, but by being too good! I want to bamboozle.

What you are listening to now?

I was just listening to The Fall’s Hex Enduction Hour and thinking how great it is.

What you are wearing now?

I’m writing this on an iPod Touch in my bath, naked. True.

You’re attracted particularly to Japanese “work wear” “farmer wear” – what is it about that aesthetic that appeals to you?

I’d like to say “It’s not jeans!” but it very much is from the same lexicon as jeans; reappropriated workwear. So I’ll say instead “It comes from the same demotic lexicon as jeans, while avoiding the imperialistic, monocultural associations jeans have acquired by becoming the empire’s garment of choice (the “burka of the leg”).

What comes first for you – function or design?

This is design’s version of the mind-body split, and I don’t think, in either case, it gets us very far to separate them.

Do you think you are more fascinated by the japanese or the japanese are more fascinated by you?

It began as the latter, but evolved into the former. The more the Japanese ignore me, the closer I get! I don’t want to be a member of any club that’ll have me as a member!

Where do you see fashion going now (in Japan, in the West, elsewhere?)

Blander, and Gaga. I’m really only inspired by trad and ethnic dress these days. For instance, yesterday I admired headscarved Turks at my local market, and then the sleeves Robert Louis Stevenson was wearing on his Pacific Island a century ago.

We read that you live in a particularly muslim section of Berlin – do you have any thoughts on traditional islamic clothing?

It’s great. Comfortable, understated, cool. I wear it myself around the house. I particularly like white salwar kameez trousers, tied with a drawstring. So subtly, naturally sexy.

Lastly – your eye patch must draw attention both positive and challenging attention – what do you do to embrace it, if you do?

I tend to judge cultures very much on how they react to the patch. I like places (Berlin, Tokyo) where I can forget I’m wearing it. These places give me a sense of freedom.


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