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Mary Ocher + Your Government release new album

Before her Jan. 10 show at Roter Salon, Berlin's weirdo pop queen tells us about her dislike for name-dropping and strict genres

Mary Ocher © Frank Nagel / Orange 'Ear

Jan. 8 – Since the 2013 release of her last solo album, Eden, Berliner singer-songwriter Mary Ocher has been performing more and more with drumming duo Your Goverment. The self-titled album from this new configuration dropped yesterday, showing a more tribal and no-wave direction rather than the guitar-based work that gained her international recognition. From the ticklish witchiness of "#&*" to the Gary Numanesque "Now (Fear)" to the digital helium operatics of "I am a Tree", Mary Ocher + Your Government is another endearingly deranged entry into Ocher's sprawling creative output. The band will celebrate the album's release this Sunday, January 10, at the Roter Salon at the Volksbühne, along with King Khan presenting a performance art piece. Mary took the time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.

Mary, your album's press release has gushing enthusiasm from the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs' singer Karen O and The Strokes' producer Gordon Raphael. How did your music get into their ears?

Mostly through other people. When you find out the bands you were listening to in high school suddenly are aware of your existence, it's weird. It's flattering, but awkward. The more famous they are, the more intimidated I feel. But I'd rather not talk about quotes from other people about my work – I'd rather talk about my work. It's a shame that artists need to name-drop in today's music industry, but that's the reality.

This is the first Mary Ocher + Your Government album, but your third overall...

Fourth. Last year I released a two-volume album of home recordings. But no one knew about it because there was no PR.

It has a new version of “The Sound of War”, originally from your first album. What's the significance of revisiting past work in your new project?

Remembering the past is essential. It's fascinating to see how a song develops and changes with new ingredients being thrown into the mix, as well as the passing of time itself. Of course, in the live shows as well, revisiting past material is extremely important, to re-evaluate, to look at it anew, to question yourself. Perhaps one day you'd wake up and realize that you no longer feel any connection to the person who wrote these words 10 years earlier, but certain lines have survived all these years. Of course, the way you feel as the writer has nothing at all to do with how a listener might feel about the same thing.

On the new album, I think there were only a couple songs with recognizable guitar. Was that also throwing a bone to your fans of your past music, which was often described as “freak-folk” and “garage”?

Seems like genres today are so incredibly rigid and clearly defined. I can't devote a lifetime to one aesthetic and instrument. It's dull. It might be more difficult to reach people whose idea of music is more broad, but it's definitely worth it. There are a lot of crossovers and in-betweens. As a kid, I'd always wanted to invent an entirely new musical genre, but of course you can't invent one on your own – a genre only comes into existence when an entire movement emerges! The new show is a lot different too, much less intimate, more of a show. There's so much more going on.

What is there, besides you and two drummers?

Stage costumes, video projections, smoke, lights. It's very body-movement-oriented. I play the synth mostly, but also guitar and some other things, like tambourine, and the Tempest, an analog drum machine.

The album's last song repeats the lyric “government”, and there's your band's name. What significance does this word have to you?

It's an extension of my anarchist worldview. The music is almost always serious, but if you look a little further you'll find the elements that are tongue-in-cheek.

Interview: Joey Hansom

Mary Ocher + Your Goverment, King Khan
Dec. 10, 19:00, Roter Salon



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