MNNQNS: ‘We almost rock, if we had to stick a label’

MNNQNS is Adrian d’Epinay (vocals, guitar), Grégoire Mainot (drums), Félix Ramaën (bass) and Hugo Van Leene (guitar). © Theo Bee

It all started in Cardiff, Wales, ‘where I got part of my musicology degree. Adrian d’Epinay remembers it was there where I got a flick for this new project. I was making music before, but something happened when I saw all the concerts that I attended there, with music that I discovered while out in Cardiff. That was the starting point for MNNQNS.” The other key moment can be found even earlier, the day he decided to make music his career. “He came to me around the age of 11, something of a like that. There was a very specific motive. A friend introduced me to Nirvana. As with many, there was a before and after Nirvana. I don’t know if it’s about Jill, but there really is something with this group. He does not fall in love with the famous guitarist and singer Kurt Cobain, as one might expect, but for the drummer. “The thing that struck me was seeing Dave Grohl, with his long hair, hitting hard on the drums. When you’re 11 and you know nothing about all that, there’s a little bit impressive and I said to myself, ‘This is what I want to do!’ So drums were my first instrument. After that, I learned a lot of other musical instruments: guitar, keyboard, etc. »

The thing that surprised me was seeing Dave Grohl, with long hair, hitting hard on a drum set. »

Adrien Debinay

In a 2018 interview with, Adrian first reviewed his early musical memories: “Something from George Duke, a jazz fusion, my dad made me listen to.” His first song wrote: “A song with my first band we recorded on tape. Great thing with three chords that sounded like nothing. I was playing drums at the time, I would do anything. I must have been thirteen. The first album that was done Buy It: “Mudhoney’s double album, Superfuzz Bigmuff with Bonus Live CD. It was in Fnac. His first festival: “Rock in all its forms,” adding, “When you live in Rouen, this is one of the first things you have to do. A must after the bac. We ask him to come back to this memory. He confirms: “I think this is the first festival.” Me where I went alone, when I was a teenager. I must be 14 or 15 or something. By the way, I’ve done this many times. I saw a lot of great bands there. I remember Converge, Interpol, Kurt Weil [& The Violators]. Many, many artists who have distinguished me.”

If the case is heard, he will make music, and he will still have to negotiate with his parents. “At first, they didn’t really agree. I admit it took a while. It’s been a few years now until they realize that this is what I wanted to do with my life and that it wasn’t just a fad or something unsustainable. Because today we live from it. For four or more Five years. I can’t say it’s permanent either. But it’s not a small business, or a passing thing; that, at least, I’m sure of.” Back in Cardiff, Adrian has his vision. We are surprised: why did he not stay there and why did he return to France? Good question. I always wondered, he admits, with a laugh. In fact, I came back for practical reasons. It was the end of my stay. I had friends in France with whom I wanted to compose music. , but I wondered a few times if I couldn’t try this project there instead of here. After that, we did a lot of things with England – a little less at the moment. [Body Negative] Signed poster in English [FatCat Records]. It’s not something that gets thrown away. There is always some kind of connection with England. »

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Back in Normandy, “I pretty much saw where I wanted to go musically. We’re talking about something that’s been around for a while now. Coming back from Cardiff in 2014. MNNQNS is about ten years old. It’s taken different directions over time, with changes The members too, and the different music we’ve discovered. We all listen to lots and lots of different music. We love to challenge each other, to find new things that are weirder and weirder, and if we can incorporate them into our music. From Body Negative, Les Inrocks – from the pen of Juliette Poulain – talks about An explosive first disc with gradual ignition, the kind that wants to sweep everything up with the back of a hand while leaving a certain creative field of view.” “We’re in a somewhat post-punk vein, second principle,” Exorcist’s second album appears as much as an intergalactic epic as a laboratory under ooze. Electric & Ambient »—still according to the same Inrocks—maybe it tends to be more toward post-pop, we judge.” That could be. Me, I find it more psychedelic too in a way. After that, the labels remain. I don’t know what the meaning really is. I know the compositional aspect, now, is really a part of our music. We almost rock, if we had to stick a label. Synth-pop is something else again, it’s a term referring to the ’80s genre, like the Cocteau Twins. Yes, rock, it could be more sticky. I don’t know.” (laughs)

Then Covid arrived. “By necessity, it’s a kind of containment album, like all the albums that came out this year, I think. During this time, we worked differently, sent out a lot of music. We exchanged differently, we didn’t particularly work in the studio. Our angle. Then we compared what we were doing. They took a new route. There’s a more electronic direction. There are many synths. We’re totally obsessed with modular syntax. In particular, modular synth, analog. Very special kinds of synthesizers. We’re lucky to have us, Robin and Ho. Our sound engineer and tour manager, he’s a bit of an electronic genius. He builds modular synthesizer units point by point. To get this guy, with those skills, allowed us to create completely unique equipment, we used on this album. We’re really trying to find things that are more exotic and unique than Its kind in some way. I also had an 18-string guitar designed for this album. And it’s, as far as I know, almost unique. I think there are one or two others out there in the world. No more. This is really something we’re trying to do: create material that meets our needs to make music. The most unique possible.”

Since The Second Principle songs were created during lockdown, they cannot be performed live. “We were able to get them auditioned on stage at the end of the back-to-back confinement. The shot was fair.” Then, there are systematic revisions when we bring songs straight from the album. We like to change a lot of things. Anyway, if people came to see us, they wouldn’t listen to an exact copy of the album. Either way, it’s something I really care about. Especially with this. Because on this second album there are so many different sounds and different parts which means we can’t honestly reproduce everything with four on stage with gear that fits in the trunk of a truck. So we have to pick and rearrange certain parts, certain sounds, etc. This isn’t necessarily worse, as it can give coherence to the old songs from the previous album, from the different EPs we’ve done in between. Especially since we’re trying to do this synthesis work of living, to come up with something a little more homogeneous. We do transitions that aren’t really tracks, which allow you to go from one track on the first album to another on the second, etc., without being shocking, without being day and night. »

We no longer necessarily have this need to jump in all directions.

Adrien Debinay

On stage, the group developed. “Before, it was a lot about raw energy. Today, that’s not the case anymore. It’s not that we’re no longer involved in this energy-giving thing, but rather that we’re creating ambiance with sounds, and song combinations. We’ll allow ourselves to expand existing song structures. On the album to make a last thought, to take an idea further than we can do on the album. This changes our way of being on stage. Inevitably, we have gained more confidence in our relationship with the audience, and the space as well. But we no longer necessarily have this need to jump in all directions, as We could have done 6 years ago. It’s more accurate.” We return to Normandy, which in recent years has given birth to a whole series of groups whose winds blow in their sails, such as You Said Strange or We Hate You Please Die. However, as noted, MNNQNS appears to be one step ahead. “You said Strange started around the same time as us. We hate you please die a little bit newer. I’m not sure how to respond to that comment. The thing that was an accelerator for us was being a winner. [parmi les 1500 candidats inscrits] From the Ricard Society Award [le Prix Société Pernod Ricard France Live Music 2018, ndlr]. This is something that doubled. We changed the cutouts right away. We signed with this English company FatCat Records, where we made the first album. There was a chain of events. True, it suddenly accelerated at that time.

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We’ve since seen her at major festivals, on prestigious dates. Without losing sight of, as Elliot Carrier of U Said Strange said not long ago, rock is no longer the dominant music, this music is listened to by the greatest number, but a niche genre, now almost underground. “Yeah, yeah,” he admits, as he polishes his post. It’s a little weird, because with MNNQNS, we have our ass between two chairs. In the tracks, we’re deliberately trying to keep the songwriting aspect of it, which is a little thing that can be universal. Then, We don’t kid ourselves either. We know very well that from the moment you make guitar music, and that in addition to that, one of the main aspects of your group is doing experiments and acoustic research, in general, not many people care. But yes, we are aware of this The thing is. Having said that, we believe in what we’re doing. It has to be done.”

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