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Better Living Through Machinery

Britain's Add N To (X) are the musical and sexual equivalent of the Italian Futurists. The same way the Futurists fought to reinvent the way people perceived art in the early 1900s, Barry 7, Steve Claydon and Anne Shenton are reinventing the way people...
Κείμενο Genevieve Paiment

BRITAIN’S ADD N TO (X) ARE THE MUSICAL AND SEXUAL equivalent of the Italian Futurists. The same way the Futurists fought to reinvent the way people perceived art in the early 1900s, Barry 7, Steve Claydon and Anne Shenton are reinventing the way people see computer music and sex toys. The band’s strict aesthetic of red leather hot pants and berserk electronics is pushed up hard against their pasty Brit art school drop-out/punk/experimentalist ethos. This raunchy combination of sleaze and high art is hot enough to change the way people masturbate so the band got some cameras and now it’s on film. First there was the 1999 video for "Metal Fingers in my Body," which featured a scratchy cartoon of a woman 69ing a robot. Then the video for their new single "Plug Me In" came along, and now Barry 7 is making the video into a full-length "good" porn. The video shows tastefully hot women getting off with vibrators, hand-held cameras, pearl rabbits, rotating wands, double dongs and, albeit very sarcastically, a forty pound fully manual fucking machine. Discerning porn connoisseurs accustomed to hardcore explicitness can complain all they want. This is porn on a more playful, softer tip than your average slamfest. VICE called Barry up in his Zurich hotel room where he talked a blue streak about robots, subverting the porno phalocracy, and the white definition of soul. VICE: So, how did the video for "Plug me in" mushroom into a full-length lesbian porno? Barry 7: We’ve become known as the "porno rockers" because of it, which is a bit sad, really. Officially, up until about six months ago, it was illegal to film any sexual activity in Britain. The police even deemed some sex education video for school kids "obscene" because it showed a male erection, but then the Board of Films said it was OK and that changed everything. "Plug Me In" is a comment on that very particularly English hypocrisy, and also about the porn industry in general. We let the girls use surveillance cameras to film each other to make it more fun – less patriarchal. Why use vibrators instead of men? I met a lot of men who work in porno and they all seemed to be these hideous, horrible, fascist body types, like overgrown pimps or something. These blokes were fucking horrendous. I’ve never met a stupider bunch of people in my life, whereas the women we worked with were hilarious, very smart and astute businesswomen, very well adjusted psychologically. Nadia (the brunette) has an MA in psychology and she skydives naked for charity. Leyla (the lighter-haired one) has been in 150 American hardcore movies and is a lovely person. So it’s not directed at men necessarily. Men could look at a banana fucking a fish and get turned on. Women look at the details. It’s like the perfect marriage between substance and style. We wanted to spark a debate among intellectuals who argue that there are no pornos for "normal people," like nothing beyond the bad interiors captured on cheap video cameras. The architecture of porn – where the sex takes place – is very important. I’m giving a talk at The Royal Academy of Art in two weeks, about the history of porn and what it’s evolved into today. I’ve got a lot of two-second clips of some very bad 80s stuff. How would you say this relates to your music? By extension. Our music is based in the live energy of people like the MC5 – it’s about sound creating a mental image. It locates you in a certain place. It’s not about soul; it’s just about feeling, and I guess if it’s extreme enough, it is about soul. That’s maybe a really white interpretation of soul but that’s what I mean. GENEVIEVE PAIEMENT
Add N to (X)’s album Add Insult To Injury, is out now on Mute.