Respect Yourself: Tank and Mary Nine, the First Couple of Industrial Dance

February 13, 2012

Duncan Cooper spends a lot of time on the internet. Every month, he pays tribute to the hours spent with original video and audio a short essay and interview. Today he celebrates his two favorite dancers on YouTube, Tank and Mary.

There's this shot in Tank9's video "Angry Industrial Dancer in Little Saigon" where he dances his way through a grocery checkout line and buys a big jug of V8 Splash. You can think about the whole complicated transition from the harsh politics of early industrial through trance's hedonism into EBM raves and today's vague working definition of "industrial music," but no dance-gesture could care less about all that than buying juice at the grocery store. There's just nothing jaded about it. Tank smiles all the time. They both do, sneaking grins throughout the videos they dance in separately and together (the two are dating and recently moved from LA to Seattle). They really put themselves out there, usually filming their videos in public places, and their irrepressible good humor erases any threat of the condescension so often found in similar exhibitionist videos, industrial or otherwise. Combined with personal philosophy quotes on their YouTube and Facebook pages—"The best use of life is to love… Just don't be unhappy doing the stuff you don't like… My message is: Don't get Bored and Lazy!"—Tank and Mary's videos become internet-age empowering, all about teaching self-confidence, thinking positively and believing in your own unique self, altogether underscored by a great drive to create art that's personal with no pressure to get paid for it. They care, they want to get better, and it's all really inspiring.

Watch their most recent joint video below, followed by our interview.

When did you start dancing? TANK: I first started dancing after sitting in a club for one year. Everyone was urging me to dance but I was like, No, I'll do it when I feel comfortable. Then one day I decided to get up and do it. MARY: I just went to a club with a friend who went all the time, and I danced the first night I went there. I didn't know what I was doing, but I used to go to punk shows and mosh and two-step. I was just dancing around, and I went every week.

How did you meet? MARY: We met at a club in Los Angeles called Perversion, an industrial club. A friend introduced and we just started talking, and he asked me to be in the Centhron video. We made the video a week after we met. TANK: I just wanted to make a video. I was just down to business.

Why do you film your videos in public? TANK: Because it's doing something different. Everything else has been done. We're going to film everywhere until we get every location possible, places music videos don't usually allow. I felt like maybe by filming outside, other people would try to do their own thing too. I was shy in the club for a year but it wore off. I was waiting all this time to dance something and I just didn't. But now, doing it in the street is no different than being in the club where people can see me.

Do you get nervous? MARY: I used to be really shy. I'm still surprised I ever went out there. But I just enjoy making something. To make a video is a big accomplishment. I just do it because it's art. TANK: Whenever we go out and film the first shot and everybody's watching, you get this nervous feeling. But you get over it. MARY: People who are walking by are seeing it in the moment. They see it raw. We might have an earphone fly out or we might trip over something. TANK: And they see it with no music, so we look crazy. MARY: But we're not out there to be obnoxious. We don't blast our music. We don't do it to be seen as aggressive industrial people. If people are trying to get by and they look worried, we'll stop to let them get by. We're respectful of the places we're filming at and the people we're around, so people are supportive. They'll clap, take pictures and say good job.

So you're not just trying to like, be shocking and wake people up? TANK: No, that's totally superficial. As if people aren't being themselves. They're just being what other people want them to be. Every day I have to fight to be myself. Everybody else wants me to look a certain way or act a certain way. I just want to be myself, not somebody else's image. There's support for us because we're just doing our own thing, but some people dislike it because it's not stereotypical industrial, and that's hard. MARY: I love industrial music and I like dancing, but I don't want to fit in perfectly in the scene, because a lot of people there are really negative. There's no reason to always be aggressive and angry. No matter how many times you see people trolling, it always affects you a little, so we're trying to be more positive, to show people you can just go out there and dance. TANK: There's a lot of work that goes into it, but we're not trying to make it perfect. Don't try to be the best; try to be yourself. We just make a video and put it out there. We're trying to add something.

From The Collection:

Respect Yourself
Respect Yourself: Tank and Mary Nine, the First Couple of Industrial Dance