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M O N E Y






Discovered through a trail of YouTube clips, a few hard-to-get singles, and florid Facebook and Tumblr accounts, the Salford-based band seem to reject the auspices of modern music's hype machine, and instead look to more intellectual reaches for recognition and subject matter. Yet in spite of this, they are fast becoming a Manchester favourite.

MONEY's work bursts with sexuality, an uncompromising, often arrogant rhetoric, and paints a cold patina on the Britain we know today. Sex and death, god and loss are highly prevalent in MONEY's songs and writings. Desolate falsettos trudge around whispered piano chords as Jamie Lee's vocals weave through intricate allegories on our lives today. Lyrics fixate on a fate that is soon-to-be upon us. 'Goodnight London' laments a city that is no longer habitable, while 'So Long (God is Dead)' shimmers and moans to crescendo in the stark realisation that the world is alone.

True, stylistically, MONEY subscribe to the waves of cyclic pop that Icelandic Indie kids produce so faithfully, but there's something fervently different in their subject matter. This is music that is trying to make a difference, differently; a brazen outpour that discards what these self-coined 'new arts' subscribers feel is wrong with the world, and seeks to explore a new world that is more in touch with individuality. Similarly, their output isn't restricted to the music. Drummer and producer Will puts together films that accompany their shows, while Jamie outpours uppercase reams of vitriolic, cathartic poetry onto their Facebook page. Defiant artistry seems to define them well.

Despite this clear refusal to comply with the saccharine, accessible identity of many bands currently on the up, MONEY's bleak, echoing compositions have garnered praise from The Guardian's music blog, as well as getting notched on the list of bands to watch in 2012 by The NME; though whether this accolade is appreciated, we are yet to see.

In the hope of seeing a gig somewhere soon - likely in Salford - we spoke to Jamie Lee, singer in MONEY the other day.

LF: Hi MONEY, thanks for talking to us. We really love your work at the moment - it feels like we're discovering something completely new.

MONEY: Thank you very much.

LF: We wanted to start by exploring how MONEY came about. You've beenknown by a few other names over the last few years, so tell us a bit about how you've got to where you are now.

MONEY: We met in a gay sauna. I was working there - I was a mopper. It's a family business.

Homosexuality is condoned in Manchester and encouraged. And there is a vibrant homosexual association - (they have their own town). So working in a sauna is like an act of civil service and awards you a kind of unofficial status in the city. I am protected.

LF: Secret shows, or exhibitions, irregular, incomplete and cryptic websites and pages - you seem unforthcoming about who you are, and what you do. Is this because you're still finding where you are, or because you want something more from your listeners?

MONEY: I don't feel like we have been cryptic online or secretive. There is a nasty element in the mainstream music world which expects bands or musicians to look or behave in certain reductive and restrictive ways - such as having your face on everything. This kind of attitude is at odds with the truly artistic spirit of the medium. It was a mixture of amateurism and dislike of the superficial expectations of the mainstream that stopped us from doing these things and this is the way we like it. To work with friends, to play shows in Manchester and little else. With the last single we just put it out - we didn't get it reviewed in magazines or on radio etc. We were happy with what we had done. It seemed false and ridiculous to email these people to get them to talk about our music.

I joke that we have 'anti-ambition'. Which means that we are not prepared to follow the conventional methods of success. In a sense, we want to fail.

LF: Following on from this, given that your Facebook page is peppered with quotes and poetry, and your Tumblr cites Rilke; what role does your music play in this almost academic framework?

MONEY: Its funny to think that in mainstream music it is unusual for individuals or bands to show other sides to their artistic and intellectual impulses. These expressions are normally false attempts to gain the individuals an identity and make them float. Why can't a musician also be a writer or a visual artist? Or an artist in general. This should be encouraged not questioned or suspected as being a marketing ploy. We want our ideas to be communicated in the best way possible because we think they have value - and we hope that they will challenge the infected relationship between the general public and cultural stimuli. Whether these ideas are words that I have written or a film that Will has made or a piece of music that Charlie has it shouldn't matter. We want this band, in all its qualities, to be a living work of art.

The 'artistic' or 'poetic' is definitely something that has a lack of social status in the modern world and I think that this needs to change. To be an individual in modern Britain is very difficult.

LF: We can't get away from a clear feeling that your music looks to channel a bleakness or unhappiness with your surroundings. Consequentially, death, God and freedom constantly appear in your lyrics. Is there some sort of philosophy to your songwriting?

MONEY: This is a difficult question to answer.

There are many things in the modern world that are unsatisfying and in fact distinctly 'unreal' or at odds with a more consistent reality which is obscured by this anti-reality that we have mistaken for the real.

So, to answer your question, God symbolises for me a sort of fulfilment of individuality and of super-human potential. In doing this, as one steps onto new ontological ground you may become something distinctly un-human. And a thing that becomes un-human is a thing that ceases to 'live' like one and therefore enters into a kind of symbolic death. This death - this 'dropping out' of society and convention, this realisation of the isolation of the individual - is something that is essential for all modern artists if they are to reason from a place of impartiality and necessary radicalism.

LF: On this note, you constantly return to religion and existence. Is this something that troubles you, or a frame of mind that you look to put into your music?

MONEY: The religious rhetoric is multi-faceted but I will focus on two aspects.

Firstly, it attempts to establish something sacred (namely language) in a world where nothing is sacred. It is an attack against this reality of generality. Language is constantly reduced and degraded with television and social media where the language of anyone becomes the language of everyone. Modern people are increasingly lazy with how they build their ideas and notions of what is valuable. We wish to challenge how modern people interpret value. In fact, we wish to challenge the modern reality.

Secondly, Manchester is a kind of neo-religious city for many reasons. Due to the size of the city and its character the people seem to have some supernal relevance beyond what they simply 'are'. Religious rhetoric is a poetic language used to describe and define humanitarian questions as well our natural surroundings - I do not see why we cannot see our modern world in these terms. Saying that Manchester is Paradise is saying that symbolically it has qualities that are religious due to its strong poetics. What makes this city different in this sense to another city like London is that in London the isolation of the people and the resulting trivia of everyday life there ceases to be meaning in even the most poignant acts. In Manchester one feels as if the small actions have some effect and therefore you are potent.

I believe that in the coming years a more spiritual movement in mainstream art will emerge as it will in everyday life. The song So Long (God is dead) is a statement on the confused, misunderstood spirituality, and therefore lack of, in the modern western world. But I believe this is set to change. A cultural revival and regeneration is on its way as people become increasingly suspicious of the material world and authority - the new arts will be the voice of this sedition.

LF: Looking to join style and content, your few performances have been referred to as 'multimedia exhibitions', with as much video and installation as music. How do you go about firstly making music, and secondly performing?

MONEY: The writing of the music will change from song to song. Normally we write together but I also bring fully written songs to the band. I have to go home to London to do this. It's quieter there but I have a big family so normally I wait until they are all asleep and drink some gin and sit at the piano. Sometimes I will go for a walk and by the time I feel completely alone, that's when I have a song.

Will our drummer is doing the recording and producing at the moment though in the past these responsibilities have been shared. Will and I have made the films in the past though Will is responsible for the ethereal So Long (God is Dead) video.

LF: If someone had to take one thing away when hearing your music, what would it be? How do you want to be perceived by your listeners?

MONEY: I am not sure how to answer this question. It is up to the listener to decide. We want to encourage the imagination as a supreme soul commodity in the modern world.

LF: So far, we've heard a load of YouTube videos, a double 'A' Side on SWAYS, and a wonderfully lo-fi session with Daytrotter. What are you working on next?

MONEY: We are recording some more singles. One of them is about a friend of ours (a completely sane one) who walked into a field of bluebells during the summer where she is from in Northern Ireland and was so overcome by the power of the scene - the purity of colour, the diligent harmony of the field - that she began speaking in tongues (she is not religious but I am sure you can understand why she may have done this). This is fascinating to me - for an individual to feel some need to express their affinity with an object by using a formless and abstract language that seems to do it justice (with a kind of madness). As if words would always be bound by the arbitrary and suggestive misgivings of their form. I think this is where music can communicate almost in a different palate of colour to that of words and where it is able to communicate nature in abstract feeling rather than in logical explanation - it aims to be a kind of poetry.

LF: Finally, if someone comes to see you, what should they expect?

MONEY: I don't know really how to answer this question, but probably cheap red wine.





Find MONEY on Facebook. Two great sessions can be found at Daytrotter and Amazing Radio.

Oliver Spall
22:26 - 30/07/12

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