Man Mantis on how his mom helped him craft his first mask and how he connected with Sole
How did the "Hear the Noise" project come about?
I was trying to get away from sampling, but I still knew that sampling was what I was best at. So I knew if I was going to keep sampling, I'd need to find some unusual source material that's not just vinyl. I had the idea: What if I got people to send noises and did whatever I could with them. One day I was sitting at work and it was a slow day. I was bored and I decided to try to it out and see if I got any response from anybody.
I put it out there and started getting a lot of noises back. It worked out. The people who submitted them were into it and thought it was cool. It was one of the better received tracks I did. I figured if people had a part in the song then they would be invested in showing other people and saying they had a role in it. I thought it was a solid idea, and then one day I had the balls to go through with it. It worked out.
What was the nature of the sounds you were getting from people? Did they require a lot of work on your end to get them sounding like they do in the song?
I actually got lucky because some of the sounds, people would send something with a nice kick in it, so I wouldn't have to manufacture a kick in some weird way. Some guy sent me a sound that was supposedly a recording of the aurora borealis; it's a loud clapping sound. People sent in them jamming on a guitar. It became a challenge because I told myself, "You are gonna use at least part of everything everyone sends you." People would send a file of some guy saying, "I'm hungry. Let's go get some tacos." I took the 'T' from tacos and made it into a hi-hat. That guy isn't going to be able to listen to the song and be like, "that's my contribution," but I used a piece of everything.
What are you working on now?
I'm trying to wrestle with a follow up to Cities Without Houses. I was really proud of that. I worked really hard on it, and it took me a long time to finish. As soon as I got it out, I realized, "Shit, I have to do something else," because now people are starting to pay attention. Now I have to get inspired again. For that one, I found a sound that I knew I could run with album length. Right now, it's been a period of trying to step up the game and learn some new tricks, not do the same thing over again.
I'm waiting for that sound to click, where I know I can ride it out for twelve or fourteen songs. I'm trying to do as many remixes as I can, work with as many artists as I can. I'm trying to say "yes" as much as possible, so I can challenge myself; but the result is I've got a lot of material I've made, and none of it really fits together. My goal is to make a follow up full length, but it hasn't really happened that way yet. I'm not gonna force it, as much I'd like to.
Is the show on the seventh a DJ set for you, or are you performing live?
It's a live performance. I really don't DJ other people's music very much because I had so many bad experiences with people being like, "You're a DJ, play [unintelligible whining sound]." I'll be playing all my own original material. I played with a live hip-hop band in Madison, and that's how I sort of got into it. The Man Mantis persona was born during that time...
When I decided I'm gonna do my own stuff, I told myself I'd make it as performance-based as possible. I didn't want to be just up there pressing a button and dancing around. That has to be part of it because no one wants to watch somebody check their email on stage. I'm performing. I could fuck up. But at the same time I'm trying to give people a good time.