Last year German electronic duo Mouse on Mars (Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma) released their 11th studio album, Dimensional People. This collaborative album marked their first full length since 2012 and features appearances by Spank Rock, Beirut’s Zack Condon, the Dessner brothers and Justin Vernon. mxdwn spoke with the Toma about the new album and its many collaborations.
mxdwn: First off congrats on the album.
Andi Toma: Yeah thank you. We had a birthday party with a cake and people singing happy birthday. It’s a new trend. I’ve never gotten so many phone calls after a release. So people congratulate us like it’s our birthday.
mxdwn: It seems from your earlier music versus now, there is an increasing amount of vocals – why this trend?
AT: It’s because there were vocalists who wanted to do vocals. We had all of these guests who came and wanted to sing. There was a festival and all of these musicians were staying at the house. One night Justin said “Ok I wanna do some vocals” and then they were curated throughout the track. He was doing his vocals and improvising. We didn’t know what to expect but that’s how the vocal tracks came up. Actually you’re right almost every song has vocals. It’s not about telling a story though, the vocals are more for the sound.
mxdwn: What was your inspiration for “Dimensional People”?
AT: My personal inspiration, for every record I want to do is the Beach Boys, like Smile Sessions. I really love the end of the record. I really love that style. If you ever have a conceptual album, it’s those kind of songs. We want it to be like a journey. We love sleeping in the studio jet lagged, then waking up at four in the morning and working in the morning at that early time. That’s why the elements of the songs melt together. The inspiration is there all of the time and it changes every day.
mxdwn: “Dimensional People” has been called your “most inventive album to date”, why do you think that is?
AT: Well we’ve been very relaxed. We let things happen. The chemistry in between the performers worked so well. I think it’s the result of the moment. I worked on this album for almost one year. It’s good if other people say that. But I like the album too. It’s the first time I’m satisfied with the result. It doesn’t seem like this album is finished, it could go on.
mxdwn: How does this album compare to “21 Again”?
AT: “21 Again” was totally different, this was more conceptual. We invited friends and recorded songs. It’s a moment taken out of a song. “21 Again” was not really an album. It was more like a celebration with people we’ve been on the road with.
mxdwn: How did your collaboration with Bon Iver come about?
AT: It was a friend of ours. We work on our orchestral compositions with him, he’s a conductor. They came to our studio as a spontaneous visit because they were checking out this place for a festival. We didn’t know them. We showed them some stuff. They were nice people. They invited us to be part of the festival. We did the performance together. We performed it together live. It was more like a musical piece we did together. They were so helpful. To work in a different way was very inspiring for us, I think for them too.
mxdwn: You’ve also done some other collaborations with Stereolab and Mark Smith. Do you have any other fun collabs in store for the future?
AT: No we’re not really thinking about collaborations. We’re friends with Stereolab, we’re on the same label and they’ve been taking care of us because we’re greenhorns. They took us on tour. It’s more like a family kind of thing. Same with Mark Smith he was married to an old friend of us. We met in London and he really liked our concert even though he doesn’t like electronic. He was telling us like “Hey maybe we can do something”, then one month later they showed up.
mxdwn: What else do you have in store for 2018?
AT: We want to do an installation. Taking just a few tracks and create a different composition. We want to rebuild as an installation, maybe in a museum. The other idea is to have a theatre piece and have people performing and tell a story. The installation would be mainly dark in a dark room.
mxdwn: Would that be in Berlin or would you travel with that?
AT: There’s nothing really planned. We’re busy with the album. We did something already in a gallery in Berlin. We can do it in different places.