For anyone who attended the inaugural Alpha-ville festival back in 2009, Eleni Adamopoulou should need no introduction – she’s the mother of two projects showcased there, Manekinekod and Magnitophono.
The second edition of Alpha-ville’s podcast series, which you can listen to below, sees the Greek musician appear under her Manekinekod guise. While the artist has taken in a variety of genres over the course of her career, it’s a basic fascination with the noises that surround us, the ways in which they can be manipulated to form fresh narratives when shorn of their original context, that informs her take on digital sound. The podcast sees her select a diverse range of artists who share in this musical sensibility, building something inspired by concrète but also imbued with an accessible musicality and ranging from the glitchy instrumentals of Flying Lotus to the gauzy analogue throb of Atom TM, via her own fluid soundscapes.
Listen: Alpha-podcast presents Manekinekod
We got in touch with Eleni to tell us about approach to production, her musical background and to give us the lowdown on the podcast.
Can you give us some background on your Manekinekod project, how would you describe the music you make?
“Manekinekod was my second music project and has existed since 2007. I created this project to make it a little different than my first one – that was called Magnitophono. I use more industrial beats, narration, and mix it with classical samples. The sound stories are mostly about “digital creatures, machines and futuristic landscapes.”
“I am always fond of things that I don’t really know.”
Can you talk about your evolution as an artist? You began with classical before moving into other areas such as jazz and you’ve even played keyboards in alternative indie bands…
“Knowing not so many things about music at a young age, I started playing classical music first and then tried to explore different ways of thinking through other styles. For me there is always something interesting to explore in all genres of music. Yet I always wanted to create my own sound by mixing elements from everything. Jazz helped me a lot to discover improvisation.
“I also studied music for cinema and did my practice school as a music teacher. I am always fond of things that I don’t really know. And that’s why I find excitement in music, because you never know enough.”
Let’s talk about your podcast. Why did you choose these records, did you have a particular goal in mind?
“Choosing the songs for the podcast isn’t really because I know these musicians. I just have an affinity with them and the feelings they share. This podcast works like a dream machine and transports me to most of the places I want to go. It is a map of feelings, using my favourite ones.”
You play with a lot of moods and textures on the podcast, what attracts you to this broad palette of sound?
“The moments passing by and changing mood and scenery. It is like moving from one place to a new one.”
The podcast is evocative of a dreamlike state; it seems quite unanchored and freeform. How does this relate to your own productions?
“This has a lot in common with the way I produce and relate to music. I’m not a huge fan of reality and I feel safe, calm and happy in the music world I create. Sometimes I feel like this “other” planet is a home for my imagination.”
“It would be boring to have everything, perfection is boring. Artists get inspired by this mess we’re all in.”
There’s also a lot of field recordings and snatches of dialogue, your own record Toyland for example contains a spoken word monologue. What is it about these kind of sounds that interest you?
“Field recordings come from old tapes from my childhood and video tapes but since I don’t have that much material left I use a lot of digital recordings that I make while travelling. What interests me the most is when I get excited by trying to listen to the sounds of objects, and that I can mix the sounds of different moments. It’s like a collage of time that I feel really attached to. For example, while playing and recording one time, a friend came by and rang my bell and this bell was recorded, like it wanted to be part of my song. I really love these unexpected moments where I’m the only one who knows what really happened.”
What is the biggest challenge for emerging artists in music?
“The biggest challenge for emerging musicians is time. Time goes too fast and it’s not easy to really get into the mood you want and stay as long as desired. If there was no time limit I think we could discover more things about sound, the world and ourselves. It’s not easy to concentrate with so much happening around you. But my positive view is when it’s the opposite of what you expect it can take you one step further. It would be boring to have everything, perfection is boring. Artists get inspired by this mess we’re all in.”
What inspires you?
“Good things, bad things, precious stupid moments, lonely nothing, imaginary stories, the stars, a dot, machines, robots, the future, walking in the city and observing people, trying to think what they’re thinking, looking closer at objects, repetitive movement, looping unsolved problems, empty spaces, watering the plants with music, children asking and answering without thinking, waiting, sleeping, life staring at me, listening to my heartbeat, a rainbow of screams.”
“I’m not a huge fan of reality and I feel safe, calm and happy in the music world I create.”
You also have another project, Magnitophono; how does it differ to Manekinekod?
“The difference between my two music projects is that “Magnitophono” is the dreamy melancholic hopeful side, while “Manekinekod” is the side of fear. It is my two different sides, yin vs yang. In Magnitophono I use more dreamy landscapes, while in Manekinekod the sound is more industrial mixed with classical music. I use the flute only for Manekinekod. Also the stories are different, Manekinekod uses more futuristic scary stories, while Magnitophono is still dreaming. Both projects use electronic digital sound.”
Who influences you as a producer?
“I’m really fan of Japanese artists for their different perception about sound and structure. Ryuichi Sakamoto is one of my favourite artists, but there are so many artists whose work I admire.”
You’re based in Athens, how does that city have an effect on the music you make?
“All the things that I miss in Athens inspire me and I try to recreate it in my music. I can’t say it’s a beautiful city, but it’s real. You can see all the imperfections around you but this is the beauty I find. It is my safe cage and I need to paint it again sometimes. I live near the sea, and I love to open the windows and smell it. it is also very easy to meet friends while walking in the centre, as it’s a small city I know almost all the musicians there as we are quite few. We gather to share our excitement and dissappointment, too.”
What other artists are you currently enjoying at the moment?
“Lukid, Teebs, Kammerflimmer Kollektief, Aoki Takamasa, Greg Haines, Niobe, Lullatone.”
Have you any interesting projects in the pipeline that you can tell us about..?
“As Manekinekod my new album Data is completed and it’s about to be released.
“I gathered all the data of my life these two years and mixed it with abstract cut samples and classical sound melodies. It’s my favorite imaginary stories, turned into sound: a newborn toy in a factory, cyborg pets, my speechless mood, a train travelling to space, meeting the shark and some sound definitions about what is output, what is my sound and why monsters are misunderstood creatures. Data is my search engine. The output of my thoughts.
“Also, at the moment I’m working as a radio producer for an internet radio in Athens. Soon I’ll start recording the next album which is going to be quite different in sound. I’m planning to travel much around Europe this year, to get in contact with other musicians and record more things. This month I am in Berlin working with a video artist, recording samples and playing music with a Japanese friend.”