Why Manchester is the new creative epicentre of neo-soul and hip-hop
A lot can happen in a year. When we last spoke in February 2010, Mike Hadreas aka Seattle’s Perfume Genius, was getting ready to release Mr Petersen, his first single on Transparent, having never played a gig in his life. His beautifully titled, tenderly moving debut album ‘Learning’ (listen to the title track on the right) followed on Turnstile that summer, and with it touring and a whole new world to get used it. He’s currently back on tour, playing a few dates in the UK and Europe (details below). I dropped him a few interview questions last week.
Hey Mike, long time. How are you?
Perfume Genius: Hello Ruth! I am OK!
It’s been almost a year since ‘Learning’ was released. It’s not easy to sum up a year – but what’s your overriding feeling about life since it came out?
Perfume Genius: About life? I still feel like I’m doing it wrong most of the time. But when I stop trying so hard and look around, there are a ton of wonderful things happening all over the place.
When we last spoke, you were just getting used to performing live. Now you’re a well-travelled tourer. Any shows that stick out in particular?
Perfume Genius: We played a show in Belgium that I think I will always remember. It was at La Botanique? It is a beautiful venue. People in the crowd were smiling and excited and nice eyed – it was just really soothing and made me remember that I really enjoy singing for other people. A lot of times I am thinking so seriously of myself, which is such a gross chore.
What do you do to while away the travelling hours on tour? Got any good books, films or music you could recommend?
Perfume Genius: I watch a ton of horror movies. The French are winning at horror movies right now, totally fucked. I am also on the final season of Xena, which is getting pretty intense.
I’ve heard that you’re working on new material and that it’s pretty special. Can you tell me a bit about it? Will we get to hear it soon?
Perfume Genius: Who told you? Did my mom call? She is super pumped. I just finished recording an album in Bristol, I am not sure when it will be released. Most of the songs are about healing or dying or both. I tried to write kind of against my normal temperament – which isn’t always very positive – and write about what I believe in, which is that nobody is ever too fucked to look the world in the eye. Even though I don’t always feel that way about myself I know it to be true. There is a trombone on one song and even some drums! And you can actually hear my voice, that is probably the biggest step up soundwise.
Will you be making films to go with the new music or are you more focused on developing your sound?
Perfume Genius: Have already started trolling youtube for that special video that is both creepy and comforting. I would like to do something more official too because I have some weird ideas.
And last but not least, it’s nearly summer. Are you a summer person? What is this summer going to be all about for you?
Perfume Genius: Of course i would like to think that I’m a “winter” or some bullshit but I like the nice weather. I never know what to wear though because it is shitty the other ten months of the year in Seattle. I bought a ladies pajama top that is pretty cool with faded roses and neon blue paisley, maybe I will pair it with….nothing. Maybe I will go completely bottomless this summer. We are playing some shows through the end of May, then I think it will be all about planning and creating things around the new music which I am excited about! See you soon Ruth and thanks for writing! xo MIKE
14th May – Sheffield Sheffield City Hall (Grand Ballroom)
15th May – Nottingham Bodega
16th May – London Bush Hall
17th May – Manchester The Kings Arms / tickets
18th May – Dublin The Sugar Club / tickets
20th May – Brussels Les Nuits Botanique / tickets
21th May – Amsterdam De Duif Church / tickets
28th May – Barcelona Primavera Sound Festival
Ruth Saxelby interviewed Perfume Genius over email in May 2011