AV Dummy: "Man Burns Self Online"

For so long, people have perceived computer music as an icy, heartless source of melodic expression. But through BUCHANAN and Christy Carey’s musical project, AV Dummy, the Birmingham- London collective gives us a new take on sound and culture.

Formed in 2016, the pair met in a Facebook group chat. Their bond kindled a source of electric creativity, and since then, they’ve consistently worked to build worlds that open new ideas and communities. They have a plethora of songs that have already been released, such as their gut-wrenching tracks, “Commercial Street” and “Brave New World.”

Now, they add “Man Burns Self Online” to their roster of singles, preparing to release a new project that embodies their multifaceted point of view. The single carries themes that speak on “racism, censorship, and moral outrage.” Opening up with a jarring sound, their latest music video induces the listener, drawing us closer to the messages they want to project onto us.

Interviewer: How was AV Dummy created?

BUCHANAN: We just gradually came into being. Christy and I worked here and there on little things together ever since we were first introduced back in 2016. We met virtually on a Facebook group chat with a few other producers and just clicked.

Christy: After hundreds of texts, exchanging our favorite songs and films, we quickly realized we were speaking the same language, and it felt like a natural progression to try our own thing.

Interviewer: How did y'all develop y'all's sound?


Christy: Working over the internet in our formative years played a big part; internet collaborations are usually quite detached, but this felt different. It becomes an addiction when something works so well, especially when nothing is off-limits creatively. We tend to grow past our mutual likes and dislikes with every new song, so it's an ever-evolving process. Creative development is a by-product of that.

Interviewer: What does rave culture look like in London?

BUCHANAN: I used to like going to squat raves. Lots of Drum n Bass, ketamine, stuff like that. I even used to occasionally MC the odd event. For a lot of people, raves will always beat going to the club. It's a lifestyle. I remember some days you'd spend more time finding the location with a group of 30 other people than actually being at the event. Sometimes you'd get there about half an hour before the police showed up anyway, at which point everyone would head over to the Southbank, hanging out at the skatepark till 9 am, drinking.

Interviewer: How do you both find healing through challenging conventionalism?

BUCHANAN: I wouldn't say it heals me. It's just me. A lot of stuff just bores me. I'm not a contrarian or anything like that; I just don't want to play along with things I'm not into. That's what our music's about.

Christy: I think we're just honest with ourselves. That can be pretty cathartic when it's channeled through a creative medium, though.

The song "Man Burns Self Online" talks about status. Why do you think humans are obsessed with our social standing?

BUCHANAN: It all stems down to us being social animals. Even dogs form social hierarchies. When I wrote the lyrics to 'Man Burns Self,’ I was mainly thinking about social media, Twitter especially. A kind of void filled with people shouting over each other. It's just another way for people to elevate themselves.

Christy: The internet definitely hasn't helped. Likes and retweets are a social currency for the self-absorbed and have only inflated egos to new extremes. I'm not anti-Twitter or anything; I just find online discourse a bit silly sometimes.

Tell me about the themes that you both are exploring through "Man Burns Self Online."

BUCHANAN: There's always a lot going on thematically. A big part of our stuff for me is excess. There's too much going on at once. Moral outrage, collective identity, censorship, and corporate opportunism; All big themes in the song. It took me a while to write, a really long time, actually. I ended up having a crisis. [The] team called on me at some point in 2019, and that ended up giving me a lot more of an idea of where I was going with it. I'd read stories about people self-immolating on Facebook Live for quite a while and couldn't help but think of monks' protesting in Tibet and Vietnam. Yet there was no heroic sacrifice, no martyrdom. Just rage and desperation. So that's how I approached it. A man literally burning himself alive for attention.

Christy: It's a lot to fit into a 4-minute song. You can get a sense of where someone's head is at through conversation, so I was only ever trying to reflect our discussions in a sonic form. A lot of what we make is a brand of organized chaos, and the back end of the song certainly encapsulates excess.

Any projects we should be on the lookout for?

BUCHANAN: We're working on an album right now. It's been a long time in the making. Our main goal has been to make something that speaks to the moment. We also have another single coming out soon.

Christy: We've just made our drummer Jerome an official third member of the band. He's all over the first record, but we've been ready to expand upon our laptop-centered sound for ages, and a drummer is the most exciting way to achieve that. We're also in the process of refining our live set too, so watch this space.