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Mu interview: Absurdist Pop-

Author: Guido Farnell
Thursday, 9 February 2006
FROM JAPAN VIA SHEFFIELD WITH LOVE, PERFORMANCE ARTIST MU HAS TURNED HEADS WITH HER BIZARRE MIX OF SHOUTS, SQUAWKS AND SCREAMS OVER BLEEPS AND BEATS. BUT SHE HITS ALL THE RIGHT NOTES ON STAGE.

Mu is Mutsumi Kanamori and she's getting ready to unleash her rather idiosyncratic brand of anarchic disco punk on unsuspecting Australian audiences when she tours this week for the Big Day Out. Many may describe Mu as a Yoko Ono for the new millennium but she's quick to point out that, "Yoko Ono is not an influence at all, because I didn't even know that she released records until a few years ago. Animals are the influence on my vocals."

This might in part explain the crazed chicken squawks on Mu's destined-to-be-classic single Paris Hilton, which was pulled off last year's wonderful 'Out Of Breach (Manchester's Revenge)' album. While 2003's 'Afro Finger and Gel' was reportedly about masturbation, 'Out of Breach (Manchester's Revenge)' captures Mu in a much nastier and angry mood. "Another shout out to bitches who hid my tampon in backstage, and especially all the haters. I'm about to King Fu you!" she screams to hilarious effect at the start of the album. The violence of 'Out of Breach (Manchester's Revenge)' is cartoonish and very occasionally confrontational. Mu comes off sounding like a crazed punk diva. She is at once the frustrated aggressor, at times becoming the victim.

As Mu rips into the politics of dancing she reveals that "'Out of Breach (Manchester's Revenge)' exists to let people know how much dick head Charles Hagelsteen is." Even the title of the album reflects Mu's bad feelings towards Hagelsteen. "When we are supposed to get somebody to remix my single, I wanted to ask my friend in Manchester. But Tigersushi manager Charles spoke ill of my friend's production in a really bad way."

I wondered what could have prompted such a fallout. Mu explains, "First, I still haven't got a statement of total sales of my first album. Although I released that three years ago. Plus he tells lies too much. Also, we wanted Tigerbastard for first single on Output, but he found out that we were planning to release it as single. So he called his friend who works for former Output's distributor and forced them to stop it from releasing. Very childish act."

Amongst many other musicians Mu cites Michael Jackson as one of her favourite artists. Stop Bothering Michael Jackson was Mu's response to Jackson's trial turned media circus last year. Yet given Jackson's profile I wondered if it was at all possible for Jackson to be left alone, especially given the gravity of the charges he faced. "I don't like that people sometimes make up things to make it interesting even it's not true. He is definitely innocent," says Mu in Jackson's defence.

On the other hand, I was curious to know what Mu thinks of the type of celebrity that Paris Hilton commands. "I don't know because I'm non-celebrity," she advises. Can we all be famous for just 15 minutes- "Andy Warhol is always very right," Mu observes. Mischievous and madcap Mu ridicules and celebrates modern culture. She identifies its absurdity but also thrives on it. 'Out of Breach (Manchester's Revenge)' suggests a highly developed sense of absurdist humour, which Mu acknowledges, "humour is the most important for me to write". I wonder if her message is ever to be taken seriously. "Serious for myself," she advises without any further explanation.

Mu's brief broken English responses to my questions suggest that although she has lived in the UK since '97 she is still coming to terms with the English language. This is also evident in Mu's lyrics and performance of them but oddly enough she uses this to her advantage to maintain a strong but amusing presence on her records. I started to realise that the heavily Japanese accented broken English on tracks like Hello Bored Biz Man is no act. "Hello Bored Biz Man is just about one of my experiences. I was a prost
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