NNHMN (Non Human) is a Polish duo featuring Lee -who was active as an actress in city theatre, and Michal -who was a techno DJ. After a while they started to live- and collaborate together, which artistic wise resulted in strange projects. NNHMN is one among them and the least I can say is that I discovered a minimal-, sexy electro-wave sound. The album “Church Of No Religion” and the mini-album “Shadow In The Dark” (both available via Zoharum) both are masterpieces if you like this kind of music, but especially if you’re in search of a creative electronic exposure. I talked about it with both protagonists.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: You’re based in Berlin, which for numerous artists remains a kind of ‘sonic Mecca’. What makes this city, his clubs and nightlife, but still his scene and all the artists maybe special for you? And do you feel a kind of impact from the place you live upon your music?
Lee: Well, yeah at the beginning it was very overwhelming actually, we moved out from Poland running away from growing religious and political estrangement and Berlin was a natural choice. When we landed here I felt overwhelmed being suddenly surrounded by all the freedom, creativity, variety and richness of culture. It took me quite a few years to be back myself. I took it and ate it and now I am free again to do something because it kinda trapped me in.
Michal: The previous mayor of the city used to say: ‘Berlin is poor but sexy’. Poor because in comparison to other cities, especially of West-Germany it is rather a poor city but yep it is sexy. There are so many creative people from around the world, so many interesting musicians. I think it is rather difficult not to be impacted by this city, but it is true you need time to understand what is going on around.
Q: You last year released your official debut album “Church Of No Religion”. What kind of album did you try to compose and how did the writing- and recording process happen?
Lee: Ha, the official debut was actually ‘’Second Castle’, which took its name as a sign of -let’s say a rebirth of creativity, an intro to other releases. ‘’Church Of No Religion’’ has been like translating all of that inspiration of experiencing other states of consciousness during just losing yourself in Berlin days, nights, flashbacks into the body of musical work. It’s true that you can feel this transcendent feeling in the club when the DJ knows what he/she is doing, music and atmosphere is proper.. this -and on the other hand, I have always been thinking about this whole thing with the Old Testament -this cruel world, there is this ‘’Song Of Songs’’ poem in there -the huge one, very controversial one -I used characters of this poem to create living embodiments. I wanted to recreate the stories; wanted it to be the garden of delights. This album to me is a techno-ish Bosch.
Q: I think it’s really interesting analyzing your sound, which covers multiple influences. Where does this eclecticism come from and what does it say about your sources of inspiration?
Lee: I am aware it sounds very, very simple, but I love music -the divinity of it. I am not very interested in genres I must say, but in musical personas behind it and in the music itself. As a vocalist and some kind of a writer, I admire (mostly) female vocalists. I have a great sentiment to discover vocal pearls of hippie music, I really like middle ages music, sacral music of all kind, I adore the cold-wave scene, sexy electro does something to me, strong minimal-techno is the best music for your living body, industrial-folk for your poetic mind to swim in… Bach always works for me.
Michal: Thinking about music is always thinking about emotions. I started with punk and hardcore, being involved in a band, loving D.R.I. etc etc. These are my roots -and maybe that’s where I come from actually. But then the time has come for electronic music. Mostly techno but also disco, electro… As a DJ I played a lot of it, like Listen To The Hiss, DJ HELL Feat Alan Vega (this one I love especially), Vitalic, Umek and all that stuff. Musically we have a bit different souls, but we meet each other in emotional space.
Q: The title of the album is an intriguing title and appears to me as a metaphor, but what can you tell us about the lyrical content?
Lee: It’s just pure improvisation, the method is called glossolalia -singing without words! F.ex., old stars of nowadays strange 4AD were singing this way.
Q: You recently re-released the mini-album “Shadow In the Dark” on CD format. What are the main changes/evolution compared to the album “Church Of No Religion”?
Lee: We recorded ‘’Shadow In The Dark’’ after ‘’Church”; it was a conscious decision to develop the sound toward cold-wave electronic, we wanted to play in clubs for people, so we moved the music denominator toward more dancey sound while maintaining the poetry (I hope so).
Q: And you also released a totally new EP entitled “Deception Island I”, which again sounds pretty minimal, but still your most elaborated work to date. What can say about the writing of this work and how do you see this EP in the band’s evolution?
Lee: I am an adult finally and I have the feeling that my audience is also mature enough to feel and listen. I feel like I don’t have any choice, but to take these disappointing, embarrassing, frustrating, frightening, touching or painful life lessons and spin them into something simple yet meaningful. Shortly I know that the writing/edit (of the lyrics) needs to get to the point.
Michal: it’s a good question. Thanks. We are always on this path of searching for the ideal sound and expression and this is the next step on this endless road.
Q: It seems you guys are actually going through a very personal tragedy. Does music bring some cure and/or relief to go through this period? And what brings the future?
Lee: Music definitely has been a purgatory during this time, without it, we would fell into the void of infinite pain. About the future… I want to get all the sophisticated layers, I want beautiful music.
Michal: Yes, music is a bright light in this dark tunnel, it is the invisible lovely friend. And the future, unfortunately, depends on Corona’s plans. If this little, not even living creature, will be tired of harrowing humans, then maybe we are back on the track and play shows again. You know I miss that feeling to play live and also to be in the club, seeing other people, other bands. Those restrictions are totally understandable, but they hit us so much. Maybe better times will come.