Efrim Manuel Menuck

Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Efrim Manuel Menuck takes on our quick-fire question machine

Photo: Timothy Herzog

If you were asking the questions, where would you start?

I’ve no idea, there are few things in life more awkward than waiting for someone to ask you a question. The silence of the room, a dry mouth moistening itself, lips smacking, the distant whirr of predator drones.

Is there a question you never get asked, but you wish you did?

Why is it that the petite bourgeoisie the most irritating of all the social classes?

Let’s start with your 2011 solo album ‘Plays “High Gospel”’, that’s you and your son on the cover, right?

We’re sat on a very slow train, painted by my friend Corri-Lynn Tetz.

He appears on the new record too, doesn’t he?

Yeah, he sings on the first song. He demanded many takes, and was fussier about his vocals than any singer I’ve ever recorded. And that’s him on the cover too, in an abandoned parking lot in Pontiac, Michigan. The dark mass in the top right corner is a frisbee aimed from his hand straight at my head.

Do you think having children has changed your music?

It’s definitely changed my material reality, and my engagement in and with the world, but my music? I don’t know, I don’t have enough distance from it.

Why the long wait between solo outings?

It took me a long time to find new words, also those were rough years in between, and so the thin spaces between other work were mostly filled up with the daily task of not fucking sinking.

The new record is called ‘Pissing Stars’, that’s a pretty evocative title…

It came from a dream I had about someone I’m very close to. In the dream, she was crouched in the dark, pissing stars. The stars tumbled out of her and got lifted into the sky like embers.

We like that you describe the album as being “made in dark corners”, have to say we find it rather uplifting…

That’s nice to hear! Once the record was complete, I got gripped by a very deep worry that it was too monochromatic and troubled. That wasn’t the intention, it was really a very focused attempt at transmuting pain into joy.

Tell us a little more about the “obscure memory” you’ve carried around that inspired the record…

The very brief romance of Mary Hart and Muhammed Khashoggi in the late 1980s was a union that I found both repulsive and endearing, which is like all romances. We all find each other somehow in this world. We all try to hang onto each other, in the middle of this whipping wind, holding tight, trying to avoid getting flung.

Anything else troubling you at the moment?

Right now I’m in a hotel room in Hobart, Australia. The jet lag has been punishing and so I’m living in broken time. There are birds that look like baby ostriches here, but they’re fully mature and grown. I’m not 100 per cent sure that the birds aren’t a hallucination.

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