Marc – Emmanuel Ackermann is a Swiss multitasking artist behind The Merricks. Since 2009, he has been overproductive having released 185(!) albums within the period 2010-2015.
If you are not familiar with The Merricks, it’s high time you got to know them (basically, him). And the best way to begin? The following interview…
So Marc, feel free to introduce The Merricks to our readers. What was the origin of this project?
I’ve been playing and composing music since I was a very young child. After a lot of different experiences, in bands, duets and solos I came to this project in the fall of 2009. I didn’t know precisely what I was expecting, but I wanted to change direction to a more experimental vision of my work.
Correct me if I am wrong. You have self-released well over 150 releases only on bandcamp. How would you explain this overproductivity?
Actually, I released exactly 185 albums from 2010 to 2015 and this year I am taking a break. Bandcamp is a kind of “laboratory” for me. Some albums have also been published by different netlabels around the world. Creating is my food; I can’t live without it! So I don’t feel I’m overproductive, I just do what I feel.
Could you tell us about your musical background? From what I have read about you, you were a member of some new wave punk bands during the 90’s. What are the main differences between working on your own to collaborating in a band?
Yes, punk, new wave and electronica bands … well, each experience has its good and bad sides. It’s really a great pleasure to play with other people; it brings a deep feeling of sharing and understanding that seems to encompass everything around you, but it means also a lot of conflicts, a lot of egos and a lot of lost time. Composing and playing by myself gives me absolute freedom, and I love it! But the chapter is not definitely closed, I may work again in such structures in the future, and I have already released some collaboration albums with musicians from all around the world.
Do you use any traditional instruments for your compositions, or is everything we hear a product of technology and ‘digitalism’?
It really depends on the album I focus on. But most of the time, I mix traditional instruments and digital methods. I use electric guitars, synthesizers, drum-boxes and I’m fond of recording sounds around me to insert into my works.
Apart from musical influences, what inspires you most when writing music?
I’m a sensual, sensitive and spiritual person, so I hook up all the emotions inside and outside myself to create something which I hope is interesting, and above all, not boring!
‘Shave My Spirit 2’ is one of your latest releases. A 46-minute electro-experimental magnum opus which provokes interest from its initial seconds. Could you share with us the story behind this release?
Actually, it had a ‘Shave My Spirit 1’ before, and I guess there will be at least 2 more opuses. In this work, I try to evoke the feelings I get when practicing Zen meditation, for I’m a kind of industrial monk, lol!
If you had to name 3 current Swiss bands/acts/artists we should pay attention to, who would they be and why? Are you fond of Darkspace, a magnificent, space, black-metal band from Bern?
I’m not very aware of what’s being done musically in Switzerland nowadays. Essentials bands from here are, to me, The Young Gods, Yello and Swamp Terrorists.
Apart from music, you are also involved in writing books. Could you explain to us how you can combine music with writing? Are there any other forms of art you’ve been involved in?
Yes, I’m a composer, multi-instrumentalist, writer and plasticist. To me, music has nothing, or very little to do with writing. To make music, in my opinion, you just have to be open, generous and have a lot of ideas. Writing isn’t more “difficult” but it works differently. A lot of discipline (in my case) is needed, and concentration too. The only comparison I would find between these two media is rhythm and fluency. In both cases, it must “sound” easily-made; even if we all know that it’s not easy at all to produce.
Are you performing live as The Merricks? If so, how would you describe the experience?
I have awful memories of my first and only concert with a band I was in, over 30 years ago. The audience didn’t care at all, lol! But I plan to program new gigs in the near future, perhaps in 2017 or 2018. I’m quite excited about it!
What are your plans regarding The Merricks?
2016 is a year of pause for The Merricks. I have worked really hard these last 5 years, so I need some rest to come back again stronger next year. For now, as I have decided not to release digital albums anymore, I’m searching for financial backing to release CDs. 4 albums have already been made. I just have to press and distribute them, but as I live on a very low invalidity supplement I can’t afford to do so, even though costs aren’t so high nowadays. May luck be with me!
Photo credits: Marc – Emmanuel Ackermann