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Manu Delago

Interview

Percussionist Manu Delago, appearing in Time Unwrapped, discusses his approach to performance with Amanda Holloway.

Manu Delago is an Austrian composer, percussionist and hang player based in London who has collaborated with artists from Anoushka Shankar to Björk and tours with the Cinematic Orchestra as electronic percussionist. He formed his band Manu Delago Handmade in 2014. For Time Unwrapped he’s summoned a group of colleagues from all walks of music to experience an hour Inside a Human Clock.

What’s your favourite instrument?

The instrument I play most is the Hang, a melodic percussion instrument from Switzerland which was invented only 16 years ago. My favourite instrument might be the contrabassoon though.

How do you practise?

I’m not a very technical player, so I think a lot of my practising happens in my head, or even while listening to music. Also life on tour doesn’t permit much real practising time, it’s more playing time.

What’s the weirdest object you’ve ever played?

As a percussionist I’ve been creating sound with a wide range of non-instruments, and it doesn’t feel weird at all. In a certain way I find it easier to be creative with a toothbrush than with a piano. Maybe the weirdest thing is my own voice?

‘I find it easier to be creative with a toothbrush than with a piano.’

What clothing or footwear do you wear for your best performance?

At most gigs I wear comfy and dark clothes. There is the odd shiny sparkly exception, though, especially at Trance festivals and that kind of thing.

How important is the concept of time to a percussion player?

I think percussionists are massively important and responsible for the tempo of music, which is measured in beats per minute, so therefore heavily connected to the concept of time. Variations in tempo can create a very different character for a piece of music, not always in a good way.

Tell us about your Human Clock…

My ensemble will perform a human sound installation in the shape of a clock and the audience will experience life inside a clock. We’ll only find out during the performance how precisely the human clock works.

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