This has been an odd year for releases, with many projects being delayed and still others lying dormant and unfinished on hard drives across the land. While some find themselves listless and half-drowned by the chaos of the modern world, others find in it new inspiration and purpose in speaking out about the suffering they endure. One such artist, it the masked menace, Manikineter.

Manikineter is an avant-garde hip hop artist and enigmatic figure in the Philly underground. It is no secret that the man behind the mask is the mad genius Carl Kavorkian. While Carl is responsbile for some wild antics in his solo project, familiarity with his work will do nothing to prepare you for the fever-inducing quality of the dark and bizarre places that Manikineter will take you once Carl’s donned his signature leather hood.

Best known for splits and more ephemeral releases, Manikineter has emerged from the seclusion of quarantine with his first full-length LP, Copper Fields. This stellar release, combined with a hypnotic live-streamed set for Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio, has left Manikineter poised to assault ever more ears with his scaring sonic sculptures in the second half of 2020.

In the wake of Copper Fields‘s release, we were able to catch up with Carl of Manikineter via email and below is the transcript of the exchange, edited slightly for clarity.

Where does the title of your new record Copper Fields come from? 

Copper Fields came from the concept of Side A. Corporations out there snatching up every penny from you that they can get. The world is like a field of money that they can always pick from. Or we’re out there in the fields picking pennies for them. It’s also a hidden reference to David Copperfield, as in making your money disappear. It’s just sad that there are things that people need to survive like certain services, medicine, or whatever it may be (outside of luxuries), and companies take advantage of that. 

You’re mostly known for splits and EPs, why did this feel like now was the right time to release an LP? 

I wanted to set a precedent for a proper LP. It’s technically a double EP but I wanted it to have an LP flow to it. The music is more developed and different than the previous EPs, I’ve introduced straight-up noise into the picture, giving a glimpse of how my live show is conducted and flows together. It’s more advanced but not as advanced as the next project is shaping up to be. I’ve made sure to do 2 things a year since Manikineter began, whether it be a single, split or EP, and felt like people could handle more than a few bites for this project.

Even though it’s just you sitting in front of a camera, the single video for “Your Account is Past Due” is very unnerving. Can you give us some insight into the mindset of this video and what inspired it?

I have no budget so I film and edit most of my own videos. I use my phone, backdrops, makeshift lighting, and some imagination. Since none of the filming equipment is professional I always at least try to make it look cool to compensate. I’ll work with the flaws in the equipment and make them part of the look. This video was done in a weekend from brainstorm to final edit. I remembered some layering I did sparingly in a previous Carl Kavorkian video and thought it’d be cool to expand upon it. I had an idea of what I was doing, so was able to brainstorm and shoot everything pretty quickly and spend more time on editing and effects. The mindset was to create something quick and simple, but cool. 

Why is it that so many Americans are struggling with debt right now? 

I’m no economist but I’d say it could be a number of things. People’s eyes being bigger than their stomachs, pay rates not matching up with the growing costs of living, corporations and their small print, and making changes that customers have no choice but to submit to.

People are buying into illusions and somewhere along the way things change for the worse, and people are unable to adapt. Some people just can’t catch that break and get a foothold on their money situation, so things just keep spiraling.

Companies are changing their business models and strategies to make things appear more affordable but in the end they are making out better than they previously were (ex. subscription pricing vs buying thing outright). Everyone’s situation can be different, so it’s a number of things. 

The second half of your LP Copper Fields deals directly with the protests and mass actions occurring this past summer organized by BLM. Your take doesn’t seem to be entirely hopeful though. Why is it that these images of protests can become so suffice throughout the culture’s media and yet nothing really changes? 

Side B stems from a climate dating long before the start of BLM. For some people this is new or finally “enough.” For some it’s just another hashtag for 2020. For many minorities and people in certain neighborhoods this is far beyond “enough” and is just happening…again…and again.

I think it’s great that more people have become aware of what has been going on, but it should be evident that it’s going to take much more than protests to solve these problems. I feel like the longer protests continue, the more confusion and misinformation spreads surrounding BLM as a movement and/or organization. With the internet and people’s short attention spans, combined with lack of research and details just makes distraction that much easier.

I also feel like organization is kind of lacking, which adds to the confusion. IMO it seems like there is no real black leadership, which is totally understandable because look at what has happened to black leaders in the past. Nothing changes because no rules with a backbone are being set and reinforced.

Like the whole body cam thing years ago. Yeah, cops have to wear body cams but what’s the use if they can turn them off or suppress footage from the public for long periods of time after the incidents, investigations…excuse me, “investigations” and trials have occurred. And even still, there don’t seem to be any repercussions for these things occurring.

It all seems to be done to pacify people for as long as they possibly can and hope they forget about it in the long run. So far it’s been pretty effective.

Our lawmakers and people who are supposed to be representing the people seem to be more wrapped up in playing their little government games and soap operas than addressing the peoples’ concerns.  

I saw that you did a set for the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago. I’m stoked that you got to do one of their Quantenine Concerts.  How did that come about and do you think you’ll be doing more things like it the year and next? 

The homie Gladys aka Street Rat hit me up for that one. That was a lot of fun. Since I rehearse in my basement, it just seemed like a polished rehearsal session so it wasn’t really awkward or anything. The most awkward part was just hitting stop on the camera. I actually just picked up a streaming show for 9/27, and I’m sure I’ll do more in the future. Especially since there’s currently no timeline for physical shows becoming a reality again. I just don’t feel the need to overwhelm people with streams (or anything really) when there are more important things to worry about. I just like to check in every so often and let y’all know things are still kicking on my end. 

What are your future plans for Manikineter and Copper Feilds?  

For now I just plan on continuing doing what I am doing. I have plans for 2 more videos from Copper Fields and have been working on the next project for the past 1.5-2 years. I feel like I’m finally making and seeing progress, and everyone on both sides of the equation is enjoying Manikineter, so if it ain’t broke, then…

Check out our review of Copper Fields here.

Get a copy of Copper Fields from Cult Member Music here.


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