MOTZ: DeFeKT Interview

Growing up in Portlaoise in the 90’s, a listless town with a population of 22,000, Matthew Flanagan aka DeFeKT travelled to car shows up and down the country in search of his teenage kicks. But it wasn’t the cars that interested him so much as the CDs played in their stereos. The CDs emitted tonal frequencies tuned to amplify speakers to the point of extreme loudness which, played at full blast, would make the entire vehicle vibrate uncontrollably. Listening to the CDs at home Matt would position himself in front of his speakers, tune his stereo to amplify the bass and just sit there, absorbing the physical soundwaves.

Obsessed with noise and vibration Matt found himself buying a new speaker every time he went to a fair, reaching the point that when he did eventually buy a car, its souped-up sound system was its most impressive feature. “When I was 17 I bought this really really shit car….the car looked like shit but sounded unreal.” Matt traces his affiliation with Miami Bass and love of analogue to this phase of precocious noise experimentation. Although he didn’t know it at the time, a lot of the CDs he’d bought featured Miami Bass artists such as 2livecrew and DJ Salt. “I was just getting CDs. And there was a sound I liked. Which later I learnt was Miami, at that time I didn’t have a clue. And later I worked with a lot of Miami producers which is interesting.” In fact, Matt’s first big break releasing his own tracks in 2008 was for Miami artist Larry McCormick (aka Exzakt).

The opportunity arose when Exzakt performed in Dublin that Matt helped organise and ended up staying with him for a week. Matt made the most of having the ear of one of Miami Bass’s legends and played Exzakt some of his productions when they visited his small studio in Kilester: “He was literally god to me. He said, ‘That’s very like the stuff I like to make, sounds similar.’ So I got a release out of it.”

When Matt reveals the name of that first release, neither of us manage to keep a straight face. ‘K-Oscilate…..What was I thinking, like.” A glitchy, tightly layered electro track interspersing distorted acid progressions, wobbly laser-shaped harmonics and spacy synths, it displayed Matt’s control steering intricate productions. For a first release, its impressive.

The track was positively received and its success had a domino effect. Off the back of the initial collaboration with Exzakt Matt was invited to release an EP with the Irish label ‘Takeover’. The release of the Stimulus EP was a game-changer for Matt, garnering international attention and earning Matt the support of techno heavyweights the likes of Dave Clarke: “I was instantly getting recognition, or people were listening to me. These classic electro guys were like, ‘Oh my god, your track is amazing’”. With enviable ease Matt managed to charm his way past the industry’s notoriously selective gatekeepers and consolidate his industry reputation as a fresh yet sophisticated producer.

As he recounts his ascension Matt is upfront but never arrogant, and his sincerity offers a welcome departure from the faux-modesty usually adopted during artist-interviews. However, he is equally prone to self-derogation, taking pains to remind me throughout the interview that he was a “nerd” growing up, and at one point even apologises for talking about himself so much (I remind him that’s the point!).

A further theme which Matt continuously circles back to is that of identity and acceptance. On one hand, peer recognition came easy for him. “I never felt like I had to break in”, he says, acknowledging the attention he attracted starting out. On the other hand, despite, or more likely because of this early success, he found himself struck by imposter syndrome. “I was a guy from Portlaoise. I was into cars. Why the fuck am I doing this music? I don’t look cool.” Although big industry names were singing his praises, Matt didn’t feel at home in their approval. “At the time I didn’t feel that way, I felt like an outsider”, he continues.

I suspect this identification as ‘outsider’ is long-standing, a designation embraced, if not encouraged, by Matt himself. Reflecting on his time as a ‘heavy metaller’ with long hair growing up, Matt tells me that at weekends he preferred staying at home making music and was the self-professed “nerd of the group”. His affinity with the margins signals creative restlessness and a repudiation of conformity, a desire to never be just one thing.

Prioritizing music over his social life didn’t feel like a sacrifice because producing came to Matt naturally. “Even at an early age I loved doing this, it made me feel good. Not many things make me feel good, so I’m going to keep doing this”, he tells me.” This ease ensured that he was consistently releasing records, which Matt reckons was pivotal to building a fan-base early-on in his career. Nevertheless, his dedication came at a price, most significantly the effacement of his personal life. “I sacrificed my whole twenties for this music….. I’ve thinned out relationships. I’ve thinned out myself. I’ve thinned out friendships, I’ve thinned out family in some degree.”

Due to the physical reprieve he experienced producing tracks growing up (“It would make me physically feel well”) music has always held a healing properties for Matt, the significance of which would only reveal itself in later years. In 2016 Matt noticed he was displaying physical symptoms similar to those experienced by his father (Matt grew up watching his father struggle with MS). One year later Matt himself was diagnosed with MS, an auto-immune disease for which there is currently no cure. Like most people who live with chronic illness, Matt outlook on life bifurcated into ‘before-‘ and ‘after-diagnosis’. “It’s been a crazy journey physically, mentally. It just changed everything in my life.”.

When Matt began taking medication for MS he decided to adopt a clean and salubrious lifestyle, which included giving up alcohol. “And for Irish people, everyone fucking drinks. That was quite difficult”. However, the effects of MS fatigue can manifest in his movements being off-balance and jerky, and on occasion fans have mistaken him for being drunk at gigs.

The physical toll of MS may have forced Matt to slow down his DJing career, but he has made a very deliberate, albeit challenging decision, to find positive creative inspiration in his diagnosis. One of Matt’s latest releases, ‘Magnetic Resonance’ released in September by Winthorpe Electronics is more playful than Matt’s previous releases and provides a subtle nod, deriving its name from MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imagining) machine. The EP’s most popular track ‘Split My Mind’, whose name conjures the damage MS inflicts on the brain, is positively uplifting, and its jagged acid baseline and rapid synth melodies propels the listener forward. The EP’s artwork features Matt as Mr. Potato Head, whose appendages can be dissembled and reassembled, is intended as a juxtaposition: “It’s an opposite position to how serious the tracks are. It’s a piss-take of myself.” It’s also a figurative middle finger to the solemnity and gratuitous violence that has become emblematic of industrial techno, from which he is keen to distance himself.

Matt is only a few years older than me but at times he talks as though there were a generation between us. In spite of the playful artwork, it strikes me that Matt’s vision as a producer has acquired a gravitas usually reserved for the twilight of an artist’s career. Whereas beforehand he was focused on making “bigger tracks, tracks that do well”, Matt now hopes his music will have a positive impact and leave a legacy that shows people facing struggles (physical or mental, he stresses) that they can still thrive.

His avuncular nature becomes most apparent in his diatribe against Instagram, whose instantaneousness, he laments, deprives fans of the pleasure and hard work of proactively following an artist. Sounding more baby boomer than millennial he concedes its popularity amongst younger generations, telling me: “I get it. It’s modern, it’s new, it’s fresh, it’s for young people, it’s happening.” Upon seeing my laughter even he knows he sounds ancient and joins in giggling, “How old is that?”

MOTZ: DeFeKT Interview

MOTZ – Eomac Interview: ‘DJing is an artform’

Eomac is one of Ireland’s most forward-thinking and experimental DJs and when you see him behind the decks you can be guaranteed that zero fucks will be given. His eerie productions have attracted the likes of labels such as Stroboscopic Artefacts, Bedouin Records, Trilogy Tape and Killekill amongst others and he has also gained acclaim as one half of Lakker (with Dara Smith aka Arad). A jack-of-all-trades would be an apt description of Eomac’s many artistic endeavors; label boss of his own Eotrax, radio host, DJ, producer, artist and musician all fit within his job description. In his latest creative foray on Eotrax he has invited a eclectic host of musicians into his studio, ranging from techno maverick Paul Temple to multi-instrumentalist Seán Carpio. In this interview we tried to get into Eomac’s head just like he has gotten under our skin so we could understand what exactly the role of DJ and producer means to him.

1. How did the move from Berlin to Dublin influence your career and what is your diagnosis of clubbing culture in Ireland at the moment?

I left Berlin when I needed to – I had gotten all I could (or all I wanted) from that particular experience and needed some fresh inspiration. So the move back to Dublin gave me the space to reset and reconnect and prepare for the next things. It helped push forward my new projects – like the Eotrax label, collaborations and experimentation in my own music.

To be honest I’m a bit out of touch with Irish club culture at the moment! I’m staying outside the city, in the peaceful countryside and working on new projects and material. I imagine the scene is as it has been for a long time – small yet vibrant with a great energy, but hampered by licensing laws and lack of venues.

2. Where do you position yourself within the DJ as an artist (creates for himself/herself) or DJ as performer (creates for an audience) debate?

I’m on the side of a DJ as an artist. DJing is an artform, and my favourite DJing experiences have been when the DJ has been unconcerned about the dancefloor / audience and simply played music with feeling and honesty. For me, in any artform, if the primary concern is what people think of it then it loses some essential part of itself.

3. When you produce a track do you intend to produce techno, or do you simply produce a track that happens to comprise of techno elements?

Definitely the latter. I have never seen myself as a techno producer. The notion of sticking to one style / tempo / genre / feeling is too restrictive for me. Techno is an influence – particularly in the tracks I was making a few years ago – but it is only one of many influences.

4. Was there a turning point in your early days of DJing and producing when you realised that this was something you could do professionally?

I don’t think there was one particular moment. It was more like a growing feeling that this is what I want to do with my life. Not just DJing, but music in general. Making music, DJing, performing live. I do remember hearing Shed’s ‘Estrange’ (from the ‘Shedding the Past’ album) in 2008 and I had a clear vision of me performing in front of a huge crowd and playing that track. That vision inspired me and helped set me on a path, and it was around that time I decided I would do music full time. That track is still very special for me.

5. How do you cope with writer’s block?

I’m not really sure… I think I cope in different ways depending on how I am feeling. I used to bang my head against the proverbial brick wall and stay in my studio for long unfruitful hours.

And that rarely (if ever!) worked. A pretty bad idea. Now I try to just step away from it and do something else. Something productive like reading an inspiring book or spending time in nature (but too often I waste this time online or on social media). Sometimes if I’m having writer’s block in terms of a track I might just make some sounds and not worry about the track. Or I listen to other music. I suppose I just try not to worry about it and do other things until the inspiration or desire to write comes back. And I trust that it will.

6. We loved the video accompanying your track ‘Temple of Jaguar’ in which you disrobe and perform ritualistic like dancing. Unlike other musicians DJs and producers tend to seek obscurity behind monikers, advertising their music with artwork rather than their own image. In this video you have made yourself the subject and used your body as a form of expression. Can you tell us about your thought process leading to this?

Thank you! I’m happy that you like the video! The thought process behind this was quite simple. I had written the track – which I intended to be quite raw and primal – and when I listened back I had a vision of me dancing like an animal in a dark space. The entire video and choreography formed in my head as I listened. That had never happened me before so I knew I had to do it and make the video. Also around this time I was feeling a bit uninspired making tracks, so making the video and dancing in it was a chance to be creative in a different way, which felt amazing.

7. You perform the dance to ‘Temple of Jaguar’ semi nude and you strip down fully at the end without sexually objectifying yourself. Do you think a female producer would have been able to do the same?

Yes, a female producer would have been able to do the same, but I think the reaction would be different. I think far more would be made of the nudity and people would sexualise and objectify her in the way that they wouldn’t (and didn’t) with me. There would probably be disparaging comments and harsh judgements made (remember Nina Kraviz ‘Between the Beats’?). Women are treated much more harshly than men in pretty much every way, but especially when it comes to their bodies and sexuality. Which is clearly not ok, and needs to change.

8. You collaborated with Paula Temple for you latest release on Eotrax. Tell us more.

Paula is a good friend, we’ve been label mates at R&S (through the Lakker project) and we’re also mutual fans, so it felt very natural to go into the studio together. We had talked about it for a while, and so when the timing was right we got together and things clicked pretty much straight away. The first session we did we basically had the track ‘Kralle’ finished. It was just before this time that I had the idea for the collaboration series on Eotrax, so it made sense for the tracks with Paula to be a part of that.

9. It must have been an amazing experience collaborating with the formidable Paula Temple because you take each other to creatives places you would never explore as individuals. What did working with Paula teach you about your own creative process?

Yes it was! She’s amazing. It was really inspiring to see and hear how she works. One of the things I love about Paula’s music is her sound design, so it was great to get to see how she creates her sounds.

I learned that I often rush things. I’m always in a rush to finish things, to get to an end point, to have a finished track. Then I rush to the next one! But Paula’s focus (and work ethic) really showed me how beneficial it can be to take your time, to extrapolate ideas, search for the right sound, the right melody, rearrange, edit, restructure..

10. What is the weirdest sound bite you’ve ever recorded to include in a track?

Hmmm, good question! I made a noise track out of my family’s cat’s purring once. It’s not that weird a sound, but the track turned out well.

11. Was there any moment in your career that was pivotal to you becoming the DJ and producer you are today?

Another good question… I’m not really sure if there was a single moment, or, like I was saying above, it was a gradual journey comprising many influential moments that grew from a love of rave music as a kid to music becoming all that I wanted to do as a grown up. But the vision that accompanied Shed’s ‘Estrange’, and the whole time of my life from 2008 to 2009 – when I started to take music and DJing really seriously and realised that electronic music that was my main passion – was a definite turning point. It was the time in my life when I was the most clear about what I wanted to do, and once I had decided it, things started falling into place.

MOTZ – Eomac Interview: ‘DJing is an artform’

MOTZ – Denise Rabe Interview: ‘I got full support from my family after I took my Mum to Berghain’

Hailing from small-town Bielefeld in north Germany, Denise Rabe’s experimental musical journey has taken her to the upper echelons of the techno scene in Berlin. The last few years have been formative for Rabe; after some brief dalliances flitting between genres she settled into the inky murkiness of techno, leading to well-received productions on labels including Mutewak and ARTS, collaborations with Rrose and Shxcxchcxsh, and not least, her Berghain debut in 2016.

Rabe tracks are a concoction of eerie melodies, pent-up bass lines and anxiety inducing build-ups. Her self-realization as a DJ/producer was affirmed through the emergence of her own label ‘Rabe’ last year, which saw the release of a technically impressive and frenetic tracklist. But Rabe has yet to reach her apogee as a DJ or producer; as she continues to hone her skills and style she brings us ever closer to the core of her murky greatness. In this reflective interview, Rabe answers our questions about cultural politics, artistic struggles and whether it is necessary to move to Berlin to make it as a DJ.

You can catch Rabe behind the Berghain decks this Saturday August 18th

1. You began your career as part of the Legotek family in Tel Aviv, Israel circa 2012. How did this relationship begin, and what are your thoughts on the cultural boycott currently levied against Israel?

When I moved to Berlin in 2011, after my studies, I met the Legotek guys at a party, then met up and played a few records together and I became a part of their group.

About the BDS I find it terrible and it makes me speechless how humans are treating other humans, animals and nature.

Anywhere where power is oppressing a minority should be boycotted. That’s one way individuals can make their voice heard, be it the Israeli government’s disregard of Palestinians humanity, the AFD in Germany or the US´s war in Iraq or elsewhere.

We do not destroy the planet we destroy ourselves. Pretty stupid and scary!

2. How have your music interests changed over the years?

Lets start with my Hip Hop influence, which is the most important I would say and the most intense and instructive one.

In between there was Dancehall that mixed a bit into the Hip Hop era. After that I had a four year affair with Drum’n Bass & Jungle, which I also tried on the turntables but more briefly. Listing to House and Deep House, which I started playing in Berlin. But the energy that techno provides caught me very quick!

3. You are a resident artist for the Lyon based collective TFIF (The Future is Female), which seeks to break down gender and identity barriers with the techno scene. Can you tell us a bit more about what this movement hopes to achieve, and why this brand of activism is important within the industry?

There was no movement at that time when I began, but I never felt I did not have the same opportunities as any other person. Work ethic and how you relate to other people always seem to be the difference on how you develop as an artist.

That said, being part of a group makes you stronger and movements unite people, so if that helps anyone get into techno, even better.

4. You recently released you second EP on ARTS titled “Oneirology”, which is the discipline of studying dreams. Where did this interest come from and what prompted you to connect it with music?

I find dreaming very fascinating, because I almost remember every dream, even dreams I had years ago. So it’s a big part of my life.

I remember Ricardo Villalobos saying he doesn’t like to sleep because of being confronted of his deepest fears. But that’s’ a big part of yourself and some of the biggest ideas appear in dreams:

John Lennon – “#9 Dream“ – he dreamed about the chorus.

Dali’s and all the surreal movement.

Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity,

Paul McCartney woke up with „Yesterday“ in his head

Richard Linklater’s movie “Waking Life” which is one of my favorite movies (you should watch it)

And so on…

5. Was there any point in your career where you considered giving up? If so, how did you get through it?

I guess everyone comes to a point here and than where you get stuck. I cannot tell when exactly a specific one, the most important thing for me is trying to find a balance.

Listening to guided meditations or hypnosis is one thing that helps me to find my balance. I also ground myself by cooking a lot. I use this as another creative outlet too.

Being an Artist is not always easy but on the other hand it brings also a lot of great moments in to your life.

And there is a saying from bad comes good.  You need „bad“ days/moments otherwise you wouldn’t cheer the good ones or new ideas come up from moments like that. So one thing belongs to the other and that is good in my opinion.

6. According to your RA profile, you moved to Berlin in 2011 “to further feed your [her] need for music”. Do you think its necessary to move to Berlin to build a successful career as a DJ these days?

I think it was the most important step for me. And I do not regret one day. I moved here because of the music not because of becoming an Artist. I need a change after my studies.

And Berlin gave me this kind of feeling of freedom; I just knew I had to move there. And yes the great side effect of what I do now was definitely the thing of being in Berlin.

But the Internet offers you a lot these days, I don’t know if it is still necessary to move here, you can reach everyone online. To move in Berlin is never a bad decision for music and art reasons.

7. Last year you launched your own eponymous record label Rabe releasing two EPs so far, The Fox and the Raven (Rabe001), The Lion’s Share (Rabe002), with Rabe003 on the way. The titles of your premier EPs are borrowed from two of Aesop’s Fables, imparting the moral that one should be wary of excess flattery, cunning and physical strength in others. What is the significance of these stories and the enduring lessons they impart, and are they a reaction to the current global social, political and cultural backdrop?

The stories are very old, mankind believes Aesop lived between 620 and 564 BCE. If you read the tales, you can copy them to 100% to our time, society never changes. There are the rich which take always from the poor even 100 years ago or 1000, it doesn’t matter. Of course you can compare them to political, social or any cultural backdrop.

Let’s say the raven is the society and the fox is the state. The cheese is the money. And there is the opportunity to win a lot of money with playing lotto. Of course you’ll loose your last penny. This is just one example. We also can transfer it to the Israel – Palestinian conflict.

But how I did get there to find this whole idea is my last name „Rabe“ which is translated „raven“. Research led me to the tales and fables and saw a great fit. The paintings are bizarre and gloomy like the stories themselves. Who doesn’t see the bridge to techno here?

8. What are the top five tracks that you are listening to right now?

Hard to decide to just name tracks…

Blawan’s Album – Wet Will Always Dry on Ternesc

Belief Defect’s Album – Decadent Yet Depraved on Raster

Desroi’s EP- Dwell in Motion on Avian

Sstorm Album – Otider on Roesten

Enko – Shape on Hayes

9.  You have collaborated with some impressive artists recently, such as Rrose and SHXCXCHCXSH. Tell us a bit more about these collaborations.

Emmanuel the label director thought Rrose would be a good fit to remix my track and it´s still played today so he was correct.

I always liked SHXCXCHCXSH and when I had the opportunity to choose a remixer they were my first thought. Luckily they were available and liked the music.

10. After debuting in Berghain two years ago you have been invited back behind the decks to play on August 18th. Do you get nervous about a gig like this and how do you prepare in advance?

I think everyone who gets the chance to play there knows how nervous you can really get. It’s THE techno Club and it became crazier in the past years.

It’s the place you wanna play if you play Techno and of course House upstairs – the energy is mind blowing.

I do prepare like for other gigs I just started a bit earlier. Looking up and buying new music old music, spinning and trying stuff on my decks.

11. Was there any moment in your career that has been pivotal to you becoming the DJ and producer you are today?

Well it’s not really about moments it’s more about the people behind you in my case. I guess hearing from your Mom all the time: „When will you get a real job?“ was one thing, I wanted to show I could do it! I got full support from my family after I took my mom to Berghain on my first gig in 2016!

My friends from Bielefeld who were very optimistic they gave me a lot of strength, the ones who crossed my path and so I could learn from them.

I also got asked once: „“What constitutes a good DJ?“ actually my answer was the collection of the music and reacting to the audience. Which apparently was not the right answer.

It is the creating of emotions, that’s what we do as artists – not only in music. And that’s what I love about doing what I do.

Treppe_ganz

MOTZ – Denise Rabe Interview: ‘I got full support from my family after I took my mom to Berghain’ –

MOTZ: ‘Battery Blast’ – DeFeKT’s latest release on Earwiggle

Just in time to glide you into summer, Irish producer DeFeKT has released his latest EP ‘Battery Blast’ on Ireland’s home-grown label Earwiggle. Consistent with DeFeKT’s dynamic style, you can expect dripping acid, moist melodies and thick baselines from the EP’s five tracks.

DeFeKT understands the importance of space, so the layers of his tracks are saturated but not overcrowded. Find yourself brainwashed by Dirty Diesel’s spacey acid waves, then dissolve into Alkaline’s reverbing and melancholic melody. An EP designed equally for intelligent listening as it is for the dance-floor, its soundscape will stimulate you both visually and aurally at full immersion. 

MOTZ: ‘Battery Blast’ – DeFeKT’s latest release on Earwiggle

MOTZ: Sexism, Beauty Standards and Internet Trolls: How are Female DJs Treated on the World Wide Web?

The very first time I had unsupervised access to the Internet I looked up a porn website. I was about seven or eight years old at the time and my Dad had just installed a family computer in our home for the first time. I didn’t really know what the Internet was or how a website worked, but my Dad prompted me to use the Google search engine to find something interesting. Then he left me alone.

I remember very clearly hoping to find a website a girly website for someone my age – in my head I pictured a girly screen decorated with flowers, pinks swirls and love hearts. With that in mind I typed one word into the search bar: “Girls”.

In my state of innocence I clicked on the first website in the list, XXX-something or other, and the naked bodies of three bronzed females flashed before me. Three pairs of ‘come-hither’ eyes stared seductively at me and I ran out the room screaming.

I digress! The point of this saucy vignette is not to shock you with my premature introduction to the world of Internet erotica (or who knows, maybe it is), but rather to show that the Internet is, and always has been, a different place for women than it is for men.

In the nether world of the underground scene we like to pretend that we are untouched by the superficial and vapid bullshit that takes place above the surface. It is easy to turn to the pop world to point out Katy Perry’s cupcake bra, or Robyn Thicke’s absurd Blurred Lines video, to see that the female’s bodies are used as props by men and by women themselves. Attractiveness is important for both genders, but to say that appearance can make or break the career of a female artist is an uncontroversial statement.

Breasts decorated in whipped cream and glazed cherries do not a feature in your average boiler room set, but if you look at the comments section, female DJ’s are treated differently than men.

YouTube comments are like a litmus test for progressiveness; there is no doubt that the industry is undergoing a change and that we are inching our way towards equality, but commentary on the internet reveals the opinions that people harbour secretly but know better than to say out loud.

Looking at the comments section of a female DJ sets you will find that most of the comments are positive, and focused solely about the music. This is a Good Thing. But keep scrolling a smidgen longer and it doesn’t take long to find lurking comments honing in on her appearance and turning her from a professional artist into a sexual object.

This is nothing new.

Since the beginning of time the women we see on our screens have been held to elevated standards of beauty than their male counterparts, and appearing sleek, polished and trim is a non-negotiable part of their job description. While men are allowed to mellow into their old age, women are expected to ward off its sign with needles, or risk being replaced by a younger, more firmer version of themselves. Turn on almost any news channel and you’ll see an attractive young female anchor (usually blonde), sitting beside an avuncular male co-presenter twice her age whose face looks like a teabag that’s been left to sit in the sun.

Artificially vamped up sex appeal and watered down music taste are the bread and butter of the commercial industry, which is why “commercial” is a dirty word in techno scene. In our quest for authenticity, we shun anyone and anything tainted by commerciality. We only want what is real; the dirt and the mess and the ordinariness it implies.

We have become very attached to this identity we have created, fancying ourselves as non-conforming misfits that reserve our judgment for musical virtue alone. There is a certain arrogance to the notion that due counter-culture ethos underpinning niche interests we have purged ourselves of the image obsession that infects the “mainstream” (another dirty word in the techno scene).

But to what extent is this self-perception grounded in fact and to what extent is it fallacy?

Perhaps you’ve noticed, as I have, that most successful female DJs and producers, bar a couple (there’s no need to be petty and name names), are of above average attractiveness. Not just conventionally pretty but often startlingly beautiful, their bodies slender and lithe as they spin wax behind the DJ booth. (They are also all mostly white, although this is a diversity issue facing all genders, which MOTZ will address in another article).

The same limiting beauty standards to not hold true for male population of electronic music industry. Male DJs (like all men) come in different shapes and sizes and with the endearing brand of dishevelled grunge that can be expected of someone living the high-intensity lifestyle of a DJ.

After scouring the comments section of male DJ sets, their irreverence towards fashion and image is treated with a similar disinterest by their fans – it is barely mentioned at all.

With the physical appearance of male DJs irrelevant, I noticed instead, particularly in Boiler Room sets, a tendency to fixate on the appearance and movements of women in the audience.

Is it pure coincidence that most of the female DJs receiving high profile bookings, as well as being technically gifted, are also pleasing to the eye? Is the proliferation of fawning YouTube and Facebook comments nothing more than a benign adoration?

Or does it reveal something deeper?

It seems hard the escape the conclusion that is more important for women in the industry to conform to stereotypical beauty standards than it is for men.

There is no doubt that the increasing number of female DJs and producers that have gained prominence in recent years have earned their places behind the decks, at least as much as the men have. If anything, they’ve probably worked twice as hard to get there.

Commentators on YouTube and Facebook have no difficulty acknowledging their talent, and the majority of comments pay homage to the technical skills and track selection displayed in their set.

But lurking in the not-so-distant background, peppered in-between messages of musical praise, there is a consistent tendency to zero in on her appearance and nothing else.

With the number of slots available for women already limited (look at virtually any line-up ever) the criteria of beauty standards might be just another barrier that women have to break in order to get bookings.

Such a phenomenon can easily go unnoticed, given that it is the traditional blueprint for the inner and outer workings of society. When it comes to selling products to men, semi-naked female bodies have always been used as an advertisement tool. From burgers to cars, when men are your desired customers, perky breasts and long legs can always be relied upon to boost sales. When people say that sex sells, they are usually talking about the female genitalia.

It would be nice to think that the techno industry, despite being largely organised, distributed and consumed by men, had resisted these external pressures. Such a resistance would require a scaly thick skin and the severing of bodily desires from the musical vocation so complete it would be similar to a priest’s vow of chastity.

Have any of us taken this vow, organisers, booking agents, ravers, listeners, male and female alike, all of us embroiled in the “music industry?”

I myself am guilty of a bias, guilty of a pre-conceived notion pitted unfairly against women.

While streaming the set of a female DJ I will subconsciously find myself assessing the clothes she is wearing, the attractiveness of her features, the thickness of her body.

On the surface I am listening to her set, but underneath my socialization kicks into action and I work my way through a built-in checklist. I don’t even realise I am doing it until my expectations are not met, which is rarely.

That is not to say that as red-blooded female I don’t do the same with male DJs – I do – but the expectations are reversed. I anticipate a “cool” t-shirt, stringy hair and straggly facial hair – a regular guy. Anything exceeding normal is a perk.

Through the repetition of attractive female DJs we have come to see this as normal, and an expectation is laid down.

I became disturbed when I noticed this tendency, a different rule for women and a different rule for men. YouTube commentary supported this even further. It would seem absurd to criticise a male DJ for having greasy hair, but for some reason that became a point of discussion during a Cercle set when Charlotte de Witte played for a predominately male crowd.

Negative attention is unfortunately part and parcel of being a public figure on the Internet, but there is no denying its uneven slant towards female DJs.

The Black Madonna has also received negative, fat-shaming comments about her appearance with one commentator recommending that she take drugs to lose weight.

Male DJs do not escape this wrath entirely but comments about their figure are stated more matter-of-fact and lacking a venomous sting. Their weight is observed, but not seen to detract from their performance.

Beauty has always been a double-edged sword for women. Given the right context appreciation of the female form is not problem, but when it (inevitably) worms its way into professional spheres it becomes a barrier of entry and at the same time a means to discredit us.

Beauty adds value, right up until the point where it takes it away.

Women can never win and our appearance can always be used against us depending on the intentions of the beholder. Rather than just commenting on Nina’s mixing skills, her appearance has to be dragged into it. Modvs1 comments that he would like “a morbidly obese drott with the complexion of a paella dish that smells like a seafood market on a hot day, anytime.” His peculiar preoccupation with seafood aside, even if his wish were granted, more people again would be bemoaning the lack of aesthetics.

No one is disputing that women can’t be hot and mix well – the whole point of third-wave feminism after-all is that women can be beautiful and successful – but as soon as female DJs need be attractive to ‘market themselves’ then we are royally fucked.

The underground music industry is still a boys club, and many successful female DJs have spoken about their initial challenge to be taken as serious professionals. For a woman to ‘make it’, she has to prove herself to a lot of male gatekeepers on the way in of her worthiness.

In recent months we have witnessed women, and some men, within the entertainment industry speaking out against the unequal and abusive treatment they have received. This tells us that although things are changing, sexist and prejudicial attitudes towards women are difficult to uproot, particularly when powerful people don’t want them to.

MOTZ: Sexism, Beauty Standards and Internet Trolls: How are Female DJs Treated on the World Wide Web?

The Euroculturer: The Who’s Who of Europe: The Powerful Personalities in the EU

The American Foreign Secretary Henry Kissinger famously once asked “Who do I call when I want to call Europe?” The modern day version coming from Rex Tillerson might be, “Who do I call, email, text, tweet…”, but the premise remains the same – who does one call to get the lowdown on Europe? With certain leadership figures rising above the crowd, the current U.S. Secretary has some pretty good options available.

Emmanuel Macron – The ambitious new kid on the bloc

The poster boy of French politics, Mr Emmanuel Macron has recently joined the ranks of rosy-cheeked nation state leaders on the world stage. After founding his own party En Marche! in early 2016 (a keen observer will note it shares the same initials as his own name), he led his party to victory less than a year later in the French parliamentary elections. His triumph was unprecedented and audacious; the presidential election was his first time running for public office and he won it with apparent ease. Such a rapid rise power is rarely achieved in politics by democratic means, although comparison could be made to a certain head of state across the Atlantic Ocean who also circumvented the typical route in his bid for Presidential office.

When it comes to winning the hearts of your electorate, the public is often more wooed by experience, reputation and charisma than actual politics.

Macron was sorely lacking in the first two categories; he worked as an investment banker at Rothschild & Co. in his formative years and had spent barely two years as Minister for Economy, Industry & Digital Affairs under President Hollande before stepping down to run for President. Charisma on the other hand, he had by the bucket load. His relationship with Francois Hollande was widely described as paternal, and former President Sarkozy likened Macron to himself, stating ‘Its me, but better.’

With his newfound power, Macron hopes to disrupt the political order in the European Union just as he has done at home. Recycling the strategy that accelerated his power-grab in France, his team is currently on the look out for potential political allies with which to found a new political group for the 2019 European Parliament elections. However his hope of creating a Pan-European list of candidates is unlikely to materialise in time, given that it would require an adjustment of electoral law in 27 EU countries. His attempt to guide the EU in an integrationist direction particularly in the areas of trade, defence and budget also faced setbacks, when his proposals were greeted with dissent at the EU leaders’ summit.  For the first time maybe ever, Macron will have to exercise patience before his rise to the top.

Returning to France, the political mandate from his own people has inevitably weakened, with support dropping from 62% to 33% in the six months since Mr. Macron entered office. He has been described as ‘aloof’ and ‘pharaonic’ in the media, hardly a surprising outcome given that his public personality was openly modelled on the Jupiter theory. In light of current backlash he is making an effort to reinvent himself, so expect to see pictures of the dashing French President and his wife out shaking hands and kissing babies. Mr Macron has learnt the hard way that to be a man of the people requires mixing with the hoi polloi.

Angela Merkel – From ‘mein Mädchen’ to the matron of Europe

Angela Merkel has long been the stalwart of liberal politics in Europe, but following the worst result for the CDU in German Federal Elections since 1949 the seemingly immutable reverence she inspires has taken a beating. Although Angela is poised to begin her fourth term as Chancellor of Germany, voices of dissent from within her own party are beginning to catch fire. Critics include openly gay Roman Catholic CDU politician Jens Spahn, who despite being only 37 is waiting in the side-lines ready to pounce for the CDU leadership position. If the trend for younger leader that has been growing in Canada, France, Ireland and most recently Denmark catches on in Germany, Spahn might just stand a chance.

Merkel was born in Hamburg and raised in north Berlin by her father, a Protestant Minister, and her mother, an English teacher. She received her Ph.D. in quantum chemistry and worked for a time as a chemist in the Academy of Sciences until switching to politics in 1989, where her first job consisted of unpacking boxes for the Democratic Awakening party. The phrase, ‘we all have to start somewhere’ rings true for everyone! When the Democratic Awakening merged with CDU a year later, this proved a fortuitous for Merkel. In Germany’s first election since reunification the Minister’s daughter was elected to the Bundestag and in 1991 was appointed Minister for Women and Youth in the cabinet of Helmut Kohl. The reunification Chancellor took upon the role of Angela’s political mentor and referred to her as ‘mein Mädchen’ (my girl).

The once little girl has then grew up to become the leader of the wealthiest European country. She calls the shots in the European Union and the New Yorker has even gone as far as describing her as ‘The most powerful woman in the world.’ Her style of politics is hardly maternal, but she is lovingly beholden as the ‘Mutti’ of Germany by her own people. The term originated from rivals within her own Chrisian Democratic Party, most likely in reference to her dowdy style of dress and bowl haircut at the time. Perhaps matronly would have been a better description, at first glance insulting but upon closer suspection, surpisingly apt. It captures the staid and dignified manner with which Merkel has guided Germany and indeed Europe through its various crises; resulting in an even stronger economy following Germany’s recession and sustaining the EU through the Euro-currency crisis.

And yet, looking at the German Chancellor’s warm and welcoming response to the influx of refugees within Europe’s borders, maternal might be the most suitable description after all. For a short while at least, Merkel had the German population on her side, summarising political policy through the stoic yet uplifting imperative, ‘wir schaffen das’ (we’ll make it).

Merkel’s political brand is frequently described as dull and boring, and compared to the flowery, often laborious language of her world-leader peers, this may be true. But it is her distinct ability to pare convoluted issues down to the rudimentary parts that motivate the human spirit that has lead to her long span of political power.

That is not to say that chemist turned Federal Chancellor is not without her flaws. The conservative party leader’s leanings towards liberal policies reaches its limits on the issue of same-sex marriage, and for ten years her party blocked the passing of legislation for equal marriage. This year political obstacles preventing a Bundestag vote on the issue were eventually removed, with Merkel voting against. Countries such as Greece, Ireland and Spain might also see her as the strict, tough-love kind of Mutti due to her refusal to create mutual debt package during the Euro crisis. Instead a proverbial wooden-spoon was whipped out in the form of austerity policy, the state of which The Guardian has since described as being ‘in tatters’.

With the next political storm on the horizon for Germany, Merkel will have to work hard to resew the fissures that have erupted in her conservative alliance and to win back the voters that she has lost. Angela has braved many storms, she will survive this one too.

The Euroculturer: The Who’s Who of Europe: The Powerful Personalities in the EU

MOTZ: ‘Our lifestyle is the opposite of the rest of the world’ – Regal Interview

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Regal’ is a name that has passed the lips of just about every techno fan worth their salt. Success came quickly for the DJ originally of Italian heritage and he escalated up to the upper echelons of DJ ranks in 2012, releasing on labels such as FigureRekids and of course his own label, Involve Records.

But for the ambitious producer such accolades, while an honour, can obscure DJs from their ultimate mission of producing a quality musical performance. Rather than let the fame and recognition (while considerable) go to his head, Regal maintains a certain distance when appraising the industry. Much like his sound, a relentless, subdued and throbbing pulse, the trajectory of his career has been consistent, forward looking and constantly evolving. 

In this interview Regal discusses the saturation of the music industry, the personal tolls he has incurred due to the lifestyle of a high-flying DJ, and his favourite place to play (spoiler alert: it’s not Berlin).

  1. Regal is an interesting name. Is there a story behind your moniker?

    I took my name from an old bio that a Spanish promoter wrote about me when I used to play under a different name several years ago. He said my sound was “regio” which is the Spanish word for regal.

I was already planning to change my name, so when I read that, i liked it as a word but also the meaning so, I just translated it to English and used it as my new alias.

2. According to your RA biography you are of Italian heritage but currently based in Spain and you spend a lot of time in Berlin. Can you elaborate on this and tell us how each of these places has influenced you as an artist?

Yes, I’m Spanish, borned and grew up in Madrid, but my father is Italian and also my brothers in law. I spent many time in Italy and I’ve studied in an Italian school in Madrid.

Basically I’m influenced by the Spanish sound. I grew up with what we called “Poky” or “Makina” but also with the Italian Minimal sound, and step by step I discovered other styles.

A couple of years ago I moved to Berlin for almost half year. It was a really positive experience for me, I met a lot of friends, learned a lot of things and of course I got many influences. Since then I try to go to Berlin almost once each 3-4 months to see my friends, keep contact but also because my agency is based there.

3. When did you first make the transition from a techno fan to techno DJ and producer and what difficulties did you have to overcome in those early days? Do you have a preference for DJing or producing?

Actually there was no transition for me. I started mixing music at home just for fun since I was 13. Music of every kind: hip hop, electro, techno, house, etc. I never went to clubs or raves before.

I decided I wanted to become a DJ when I started to go to clubs to see how real DJ performances worked. It was on my 18th birthday that I went to a club for the first time and after a short while I started doing my own productions.

I don’t have a preference for Djing or producing, it depends on the moment, on how I feel. There are some periods in which I prefer to be closed in studio working on some ideas and some other periods in which I prefer to just play music for the people trying different ways of mixing.

4. You received the honour of being one of the youngest Spanish DJs to play at Berghain, a benchmark of success for any up-and-coming DJ and producer. How did you cope with the considerable pressure of performing in one of the world’s most infamous techno clubs and, looking back, how do you feel the performance went?

I’m really happy to have the opportunity of playing at Berghain and every time I play there I feel more and more comfortable but I don’t think this is the main point. Nowadays it seems the most important thing to be a notorious Dj is to play in this or that club instead of the music you play or produce. I think the skills on mixing, the music selection and the productions ideas are more important than the fame behind of a club name.

5. On your Facebook page you have called out producers for ripping off the tracks of other artists. In your opinion, what is at the root of such blatant imitation and how can producers protect themselves against this?

Now it’s really easy to produce music, everyone with a computer and internet connection can make music and release it. You don’t need to have great ideas or deal with distributors to place your music in an online store, so that’s why some people just take someone’s track, add some elements on the top and few weeks later the track is on sale online. We need to become more professional in our sector, distributors needs to filter music better and also the stores. On one hand this internet era is really good because makes music more accessible to the people but on the other hand anyone can create a label, send the music to a distributor and have it online without caring about the music quality.

The internet era it’s also the lazy era, everyone wants to be a superstar but not all of them want to work hard or do the sacrifices to reach it.

6. You have made recurring appearances playing at Tbilisi in Georgia, which is going through a political and Cultural Revolution. Techno and rave parties (amongst other influences) are both the fuel and the fire of this movement, particularly amongst young people. Tell us about your experience playing for a Georgian crowd and what are your thoughts on the political activism that is taking place on Georgian dance floors?

Georgia it’s an amazing country and Tbilisi it’s like my second home for me now. I really love the people there and it’s always a pleasure to play for them. The crowd it’s really passionate, I receive a lot of love messages and they also show me their love and energy while I’m playing, which gives me the energy to do 6hrs sets or longer.

I’m resident DJ at Khidi, a fantastic club that has nothing to envy to other famous Europeans clubs, and I highly recommend a visit there at least once.

7. The transition from analogue to digital and the wide-spread reach of the internet has affected every genre of the music industry. How do you think techno has fared this tumultuous upheaval and is good music falling between the cracks as a result?

As I said before, the facilities to release and distribute music on internet nowadays creates a saturated market where it’s really hard to focus on all the music released causing that many great music falls between the cracks and get never discovered.

The market it’s highly saturated, DJ’s are always on the road and we don’t have time to check all the music we receive.

8. Your career went into turbo mode in 2012 and in recent years you’ve been booking gigs in far-reaching corners of the world. What is life like for a DJ on the road and how have you (and your inner circle) coped with this adjustment?

For me it has been quite hard. I’ve lost friends and girlfriends and I’ve been forced to change some inner circles. Our lifestyle is the opposite of the rest of the world. During the week when people work, you’re at home trying to rest and getting ready for the weekend and during the weekend, when they like to party or hanging out, you’re on the road. Sometimes I have a free weekend and the last thing I want to do is go to a club, I prefer to stay at home or work in my studio and this is something that not everybody can understand.

9. What’s going on in your head five minutes before your grace the decks for a set?

I like to observe the crowd and the previous DJ, I try to study the people and their reactions on the music that the previous DJ is playing so that gives me a clue of the direction I should take during my set.

10. You founded your own label ‘Involve Records’ which releases tracks produced by yourself and other techno wizards such as Mark Broom and Boston 168. What lead to the creation of Involve Records and what is your vision for the label’s future?

I created the label to have a free way to publish my music. I was tired of sending demos, deal with A&R’s and be forced to adapt my style to some labels. I also wanted to create something good and professional, not just another label of thousands. Of course every beginning is always difficult (unless you’re rich) so I’m still developing some ideas I had in 2012 when I founded the label and I hope I can reach all my label goals step by step.

For the moment i can say there will be something really special coming out in December with many great artists and friends involved.

MOTZ: ‘Our lifestyle is the opposite of the rest of the world’ – Regal Interview

MOTZ: ‘You don’t want to know how much money I lost on some of my events’ – Bas Mooy Interview

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Bas Mooy has been making waves since he appeared on the techno scene in 1999. The Dutch DJ is known for his distinctly curated tracks with regimented rhythm and insular bass. He has released on a long list of enviable labels such as Perc Trax, Sleaze Records, his own legendary label Audio Assault co-founded with Jeroen Liebregts aka Radial, as well as throwing Rotterdam’s world famous ‘Strictly Techno’ parties.

In 2013 Bas assimilated his many threads of talent and experience and founded his own label MORD (short for Moderstwo, the Polish translation for death). Although still in its nascent years MORD has been lavished with praise, a surprise to no one given that Mooy is its linchpin lending his eyes and ears to every aspect of the label’s input and output.

Speaking with MOTZ, the prodigious DJ, producer and label head talks us through his path to success, and how he manages to do it all while raising two kids with his girlfriend.

With a huge plethora of labels springing up at the moment, MORD achieved the great feat of making vibrations from the get go. To what would you attribute your label’s considerable success in such a short time, and what advice would you give fledgling producers hoping to stick out from the crowd?

In a time where there’s almost as many labels as there are producers/djs it’s quite tough to stand out. I think when I started Mord there was a rising interest in the harder kind of techno, so I guess the timing was pretty good, although I didn’t really plan it to be honest. I actually wanted to start the label two years before already, but just couldn’t find the right first release. I think when I finally decided to get started most things just fell into place. The music, the art, the logo, it all suddenly worked perfectly together. Instead of going for a certain sound, like I did with my previous label Audio Assault, I decided to go with the flow and just follow the bandwidth of my own taste. This made it way more interesting for me to run a label. Instead of looking for a certain sound I could just dig though everything I like. This lead to quite a diverse palette from the start, where I released music from Radial, Charlton, Lag, W.I.R.E, Paul Birken, Ansome, UVB, Shards and myself to name a few. Which if you compare their sound all have a unique own view on techno music.

My advice to producers would be to be original and patient.  Take your time to discover your own sound and way of working. Don’t’ try to get out there as soon as you made some first tunes. First spend a lot of time developing yourself and try to create something unique. Don’t try to copy other artists, I know it sounds quite obvious, but you don’t want to know how many demos I get from people that try to imitate producers that are already on my label. I don’t need another Ansome or UVB, I need fresh blood with a fresh unique sound of their own, that’s what I’m looking for in general. I have to dig to shitloads of demos, but every time I find a diamond in the sand it’s all worth it. I love to present new faces to the scene.

You have a very distinctive sound when playing your DJ sets (in a review I described your set as having “change[d] the very composition of sound waves, distorting them till they were thick and stodgy and settled around my body, trapping us in a sea of beautiful, murky techno.” I’m interested to hear how you would describe your sound in your own words.

Haha, well I could not top that description to be honest. It’s always hard to describe your own sound. I just have a big love for proper banging techno when I play out. I guess it’s a combination of classic nineties techno, bassheavy modern techno, some distorted techno with a pinch of acid flavours here and there. I just play what I like without trying to fit within a certain bandwidth, just like I do when I sign tunes for Mord.

The lifestyle and working hours of a typical DJ do not provide the ideal conditions for parenthood. How have you made it work for you as both a father and a DJ? And more importantly, are your kids die-hard techno fans?

My kids are not really into techno yet (my daughter is 9 and my son is 4), although they do sometimes dance a bit to it when I am checking out some online videos of gig footage etc. I actually almost never play any techno at home, since I prefer other music for those moments, so they don’t get exposed to a lot of techno to be honest. My daughter recently did a presentation about me for her classmates, which of course made me feel honoured. She wrote a piece about me all by herself, there was a lot of focus on Mord stickers and shirts, not so much about the actual music side of my career to be honest, haha, but it was so sweet to see how she sees me and my world.  Being a father and travelling dj is sometimes tough in the weekends, since they do miss me a lot, but because of my job I get to spend so much time with them during the week. I took care of both my children during the week most of the time, since my girlfriend used to work a fulltime job. Now she recently quit that job, so we have a lot of quality time with the family during the week. Most of the time we can take the kids to school together and we pick them up from school every day and spend the afternoons, which is quite a privilege I’d say. They are used to the situation now, of me being away in the weekends, but they definitely appreciate the extra time we got on other moments. I guess like every other family you accept the conditions, the pros and cons of the life you lead and make the best out of it. They both seem very happy, so I am too. Maybe someday they can travel with me 😉

Tell us about the parties in Rotterdam’s underground scene when you were growing up?

When I was growing up raves just started, around the time when I was 14. I went to some parties and clubs in my teens later on, but at that time I was more into concerts and bands etc. I did go to some raves and underground parties every now and then, but it really grabbed me when I visited Strictly Techno at de Vlerk, a local underground club back in the days. The techno that was played by local djs there was so much harder and more underground then the shitty mellow stuff that was played back then in the clubs. That was the moment I realized I wanted to be part of that scene and soon after that I bought my first technics and a mixer. Some years later they asked me to join them, so that worked out pretty well for me. I’ve always been involved in organizing underground events in Rotterdam, also in the time when everybody was into that minimal bullshit. Perry (one of the founders of Strictly Techno) and me kept on pushing techno, even though sometimes we only had 80 people in. You don’t want to know how much money I lost on some of my events. Organizing Techno events was an expensive hobby back then 😉 It’s great to see how techno has developed over the years, although the current jungle of promoters is not an environment I feel comfortable in. I only do 1-2 events a year these days.

They say you shouldn’t mix business and pleasure, but between heading your own label, running parties, producing and DJing every weekend results in a lot of work. Do you ever have a conflict between business and music, and how to you manage to keep the two entities separate?

One of the things I sometimes have issues with is the fact that since things really took off, I basically have way less time to actually make music. Just hang out in my studio, making music without a deadline or thought behind it. These moments are almost gone and pretty rare these days. I miss that sometimes to be honest. A lot of times I’m too tired to actually create something interesting and I’ve learned being in the studio when you are too tired and have no inspiration usually leads to frustration, so I try to avoid that as much as possible. Running the label takes a lot of my time, I’m a control freak, so its hard for me to allow others to help me, even though I need to, but I’m learning…

You’ve professed your love for literature and said that you read up to two books per weekend while travelling. What’s your favourite book?

My favourite book is still ‘Blauwe Maandagen’ (Blue Mondays) by Arnon Grunberg, who is my favourite writer, since I was about fifteen. This book dragged me into literature and made me want to be a writer so bad. I still read it every now and then and it brings me back to my teenage years. Melancholic as I am I enjoy that. I’m forty now, but still feel like a teenager every now and then. Music and literature make it easy for me to time travel, so I often use that. I started to read more biographies recently, since I always had an interest in history too. I studied History at the Erasmus University for almost 5 years. Anyway, reading is something I really enjoy while I’m travelling and it makes the travelling so much more enjoyable. I actually like to sit on a plane and read.

You’ve spoken a lot about importance of respect when it comes to sending demos to label heads and in previous interviews you’ve hinted at being on the receiving end of some less than gracious behaviour. Do you think the industry has an attitude problem?

I think with the current popularity of djs and the use of djs as a tool in advertisements on tv, magazines, the rise of superstar djs etc the music/techno scene attracts some people that are just in it for a certain amount of fame etc. I don’t want to sound like an old whining dude, but it annoys me that people just want to be instantly famous. When I just started music I would never approach people the way they are approaching my label or me sometimes. I guess the time are changing, so I need to get used to this, but I really enjoy it when some of these new kids are being polite, they are still out there 😉 Some people don’t realize the importance of how you present yourself to a label. That first message can make or break you, the people that don’t get this will never be on my label to be honest. Respect is the key for me. In daily life and in doing business.

Describe your ideal environment when you’re working on your music. What conditions do you need to bring out your best?

I guess I need to feel fit, so a proper night of sleep helps and the idea of not having to be somewhere at a certain time, so I guess unlimited time. And also just that certain feeling, that urge you sometimes have, that you know you need to make music and it will be something good. Confidence and no deadlines. I’ve been struggling with serious ear problems for quite some time now and I wish that would go away, that would actually make it perfect already. Feeling fresh and having unlimited time is the bottom line I guess 😉

What goes on in your head when you’re producing and what exactly are you trying to achieve? Do you have an inspiration in mind, perhaps a feeling you’d like to conjure or a particular sound you’re trying to create?

I usually don’t start with a specific concept. I usually just start so to say. During the process of ‘jamming’ I sometimes realize I got this old track somewhere with a certain sound that could work very well with this new loop I just made, I usually go with the flow so to say. I start with a new machine sometimes, or just with a simple kickdrum or synth, I always record loads of loops and sounds when I’m jamming and then sometimes after a while I have the feeling I got something going and start a basic arrangement. Sometimes I finish a track pretty fast after that and sometimes I just leave it. I create a lot of tracks that are 50% done and then after a while I got through all those files and select what stands out for me to finish it. A lot of times this leads to new tunes again. The way I work is a mess actually and I’m always stressed about my music, since I’m never happy. I’m not the most confident producer to be honest, sometimes I need other people’s opinion to realize my tunes are not so bad after all. Haha. I do try to start with an idea I have in my head sometimes, but this usually leads to something different again, but I guess that’s also the fun part of making music, going on a trip to an unknown destination.

What has been a stand out moment in your formidable career so far?

The moment when I realized Mord was going to be a success I think. I’ve been working so crazy hard for many many years and almost gave up after 15 years of struggling. When Mord got such lovely feedback from the start it boosted my confidence and automatically my career. I’m thankful for all the support I’ve been getting and even though there’s a lot of haters out there too, I feel more confident then ever before, because I can finally really enjoy what I do. It’s great running a label and making all these decisions on your own and it’s really rewarding to be able to build this family of artists, who I get to travel and perform with all over the world. I love my job at the moment and I’m enjoying it to the fullest. Massive shout out to all the people that make this possible!

MOTZ: ‘You don’t want to know how much money I lost on some of my events’ – Bas Mooy Interview

MOTZ: ‘My mother infused me with the courage and backbone to persevere in life, to never give up even in the hard times.’ – Time Traveler Interview

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Part of the Time Traveler’s appeal is his obliqueness and mystery – his biography on Resident Advisor simply reads, ‘I’m the Time Traveler’ and his face is obscured in most of his photos. However the man behind the moniker, Michele Pinna, has been bracingly open and forthcoming in our interview. Not shying away from some of our more intruding questions, Pinna reveals how cuttingly personal his musical production has been at various stages in life, and how a personal tragedy transformed his mother into his biggest fan.

Originally from Sardinia, the Italian DJ and producer’s introduction to techno began practically at infancy. Pinna first began releasing under his own name, producing playful percussion tracks such as ‘No Gravity’ under his own label The Triangle Records. 2016 saw the birth of a new identity, with Pinna emerging for the first time under the guise of Time Traveler. This realignment of identity saw Pinna delve deeper into the hauntingly bleak and eerie jaws of techno, while retaining the uncompromising quality that has brought him success throughout his career. His inaugural LP as Time Traveler , ‘I’m Made of Starts’, was released on the Italian label Chronicles, with Brian Sanhaji, Bas Mooy, Black Asteroid and DJ Hyperactive adding their own subversions to some of the tracks. Listening to the tracks, both on this release and his latest production ‘Chapter V: Chronicles from 1957’, one can easily imagine a figure forever lost between the dimensions of time, thudding and dragging clanking chains in his wake.

Your latest release, ‘Chapter V: Chronicles from 1957’ is dedicated to your mother Anna Maria, where you go back to the year that she was born. Why was this important to you and what did your mother think of the final product?

Sometimes in life it is important to turn your attention to what has a real value. I’m not interested in to producing loopy, senseless music. With each production I’m trying to tell the story of parts of my life. My mother and I had a really bumpy relationship. I decided to compose the EP 1957 after she spent more than 2 months looking after me in a private hospital, taking a break from her job, and devoting all her time to me. This difficult time in my life sewed up our relationship. My mother infused me with the courage and backbone to persevere in life, to never give up even in the hard times. As an adult I discovered that I’m more like her than I thought. So in Chronicles from 1957 I stretched back the time to an old Cagliari city where a young baby was making her first moves to become the woman that gave me my best quality: resilience. She never listened to my music before that time, but now she’s my biggest fan.

You vision of techno has been described as dystopian. Have you always implicitly linked techno with dystopia or has this vision been shaped by world events?

I think is a kind of personal attitude to look at the world with gloom. I’m not the kind of person to smile that often. I don’t want to be dystopic I just want give my personal point of view in what I compose, and of course todays world events lead me in this way.

Tell us about your introduction to techno – when did you begin listening and how long did it take you to venture to the production side of things?

I was lucky. My cousin was a DJ, fifteen years older than me, and when I was a really young I looked up to him. From the age of five I started asking him for tapes with his mixes. So I can say that I bought my first record when I was six. From that year I started to buy music and it was at complete random. I remember I went every week with my father to the records store where my cousin also was involved, and picked up random cassettes, CD’s and vinyl from the techno, electronic, house racks. So from seven I started studying music, at fourteen I started clubbing tirelessly and by just twenty three approached production.

Your creative process for you album ‘I’m made of stars’ began while you were ill in a hospital for 90 days, which afforded you the opportunity of intense focus. Tell us about your creative process as a producer, and do you feel that the distractions of the outside world can interfere with this?

I was on the side of the Swiss Alps with no Internet, a bad phone connection and lots and lots of time to think about my whole life. I have to be honest I was a bit down in the dumps, really tired of how I was expressing myself through music that didn’t really represent me at all.  So I decided just to sit down with my laptop and small gears and let the flow of moods melt with the beats and sounds. I decided it was important that I started to tell with my music what I really want to communicate, no compromising with the industry’s rules or the vogue. For the very first time I was producing just for myself. ‘I’m Made Of Stars’ sat in my Hard drive for two years. That was the year 2014. During that time I experimented with what I always thought was my favorite way to find inspiration. I started to write kinds of soundtracks for images or art pieces I like, or just for my “mood pictures” – the theme songs of my memories frames. Whatever was and is in my mind and I want to tell it by the using of sounds language.

Tell us about how you settled on your moniker ‘Time Traveler’ and how you incorporate the meaning into your sets.

You know when you have a hunch, but the mind process is so warped that using just few words isn’t possible? That is the case with TT. Time Traveler is not just music; it is the love for the Art, the Architecture, the Fashion, tbe Poetry, the Research and the Experimentation. So I hope to incorporate in my sets just being my self, and doing what I love to do. It is the simplest way.

In recent years techno as a genre has expanded vastly while remaining within the limits of its own form. Do you think this has caused some techno DJs have prohibitively narrowed their field of vision?

I think everyone has the right to express, but to express something you must know what language to use. If you have a field of vision in techno you are “music illiterate”. But can art have a field of vision? When I hear the “Techno Prudes” lock the techno music in only 4/4 beat loops or locked grooves I prefer to say I’m not classed in the same genre of music as them.

Tell us about your record label ‘The Triangle Records”.

The Triangle Records was my first entry into the industry. It gave me lots of satisfaction and taught me all I know today, but now is the time of a new chapter, Chronicles Diary.

You’ve worked with some DJ legends over the years, including Bas Mooy and Dave Clarke. Has any collaboration in particular stuck with you, and if so, why?

I was a long time fan of Bas Mooy and his records labels through the years. My first record bags were full of ARMS records, Audio Assault and now Mord’s vinyl. Dave is….Dave, so of course for me is an honor that he collaborated with me remixing my music. Brian Sanhaji is one of my favorite producers. All these guys revealed to me how special they are and how music connects people. I have to confess, as you are asking about the one collaboration that stuck with me from the remixes, it was the collaboration with Black Asteroid. It started from a friendship born by the help of our music. Bryan is not only such a great artist, but he is one of the people that believes the most in me and my music.

What are you thinking about when you’re behind the DJ booth?

To not perform any bullshit while mixing and not to be boring. Usually I think to play as if I was in the crowd and wanted to dance.

What machines do you use to produce the submerged static and muffled acid that features in some of your tracks?

Sometime I use lots of gears, from synthesizers such as the likes of Roland vintage machines (Juno 106, TR drums etc ), Korg polysix and Moog’s, including racks of filters and effects. Sometimes just a VST processed in the right way so that it sounds like analog. I’m not a prude as told you before – I look at the result more than the way to achieve it. Anyway I’m sure you are talking about some of synth lines you listened in ‘I’m Made Of Stars’ and ‘1957’. They come from my old Juno 106 but how I processed them is a secret tip, I can just tell honestly, is not reproducible because my one is broken so all the filters and oscillators works in their own way.

MOTZ: ‘My mother infused me with the courage and backbone to persevere in life, to never give up even in the hard times.’ – Time Traveler Interview

District Magazine: Gumshoe discuss how Wicklow’s landscape imprints on their sound

Conor Murphy and Keith Ferguson have been childhood friends since they were ten, and together they make the electronic music duo Gumshoe. Both from Wicklow town, Gumshoe say the landscape they grew up in always found its way into their music, on a subconscious level at least. When it came to putting together their first EP ‘When the Sun Kisses the Moon’ they decided to make the relationship explicit for the first time.

“We went for a walk to clear our head, to step away from making the music, what we were walking into was… Pure tranquillity. That influenced the sound and we wanted to relay those influences,” says Keith.

Listening to Gumshoe’s tracks there is undeniably a cinematic quality to their music, which they attribute to the vast green fields and vibrant colours of Wicklow’s scenery.

Gumshoe have always found that the Irish landscape lends itself to musical storytelling and their track ‘Forgotten Weapons’ features a sample of a female singer Conor once heard on the remote Aran Islands.

“She is one of millions of stories told, of people who grow up in this landscape and have really introspective and unique artistic integrity,” Conor tells me. Their appreciation of Irish music is sincere and in its original conception, the EP was intended to solely feature Irish music. Although they ultimately moved away from this direction, the pull was always there.

“I need to fight every day not to sample Irish music,” jokes Conor. He laughs while saying this but I think he might be serious.

To an outsider it could seem counterintuitive, turning to the synthetic and inert physicality of machinery to transpose a force so abstract and uncontained as man’s feeling of awe and mystery in nature.

Indeed for Gumshoe this proved challenging initially.

“It can be daunting, especially when you have this big creative rush and all of a sudden you’re looking at this mechanical, boring interface. The science is so blatant in it,” describes Conor, his face concentrated as he considers the process carefully. Learning to use technology to their advantage took time, but once Gumshoe became comfortable with their equipment, the very order that had been prohibitive became a guide, helping them to channel and format their ideas.

While conceptualising their EP, Gumshoe felt the need to communicate directly with the listener in order to convey the Wicklow landscape more deliberately.

The decision to introduce an inter-dimensional twist lead to a collaboration with a mutual friend of theirs, artist Andrew Hopkins, whose artwork will be featured as part of Gumshoe’s upcoming EP. All three agree that the assimilation of Andrew’s artwork with Gumshoe’s tracks was entirely natural, a seamless process based on trust, respect, and mutual appreciation of style.

“For me there was no real end product, it was more just buzzing off the two lads and the music and enjoying doing it,” explains Andrew. “What they wanted to do with the pieces at the end was kind of up to them.”

They would converge in Andrew’s art studio, Gumshoe working on their tracks Andrew drawing sketches, feeding off the fusion of artistic energy.

Looking back at their earlier musical influences, Conor and Keith shared a similar taste in music when they were kids. Old-school hip-hop and rap in particular drew them in.

“We liked the attitude of rap music itself,” says Conor by way of explanation. “How it stood out.”

Growing up as part of the generation that witnessed the rise of rap, they became intrigued by the influence of technology on the genre. With music software becoming increasingly accessible, Keith and Conor found themselves absorbed by the technicality that underpinned each track. While most of their friends were forming bands, they ventured towards music production and started making their own beats courtesy of FruityLoops software.

“It was the thing for a few minutes,” smiles Conor. These meetings became a regular occurrence and so Gumshoe was born.

In terms of technical ability Gumshoe has come a long way in the ten years since their first foray into producing, but they confess they were deluded by their own creations when they first started out.

“If you can master a melody you’re under the assumption you’ve got it. We had delusions of this mad soundscape,” continues Conor. By their own admission they describe this period as a cringey, but necessary process in their development as producers, and the repetitive motion of trying and failing allowed them to grasp the fundamentals. Ten years on it has provided that with the technical freedom for the pursuit of more creative ambitions. The potent combination of naivety and an erroneous belief about their own talent shielded Gumshoe from becoming overwhelmed, which in their eyes is the driving factor that kept them going over the years. Keith also attests this to the simplicity of the FruityLoops software, which afforded them the space to learn the basics.

“Drums, bass, synth, piano… That’s all you thought you needed.”

Faced with today’s convoluted systems, it might not have been so easy.

Gumshoe fell in and out of their fraternisation with music production over the years, but seeing a friend of theirs pave the way by releasing EPs and playing the festival circuit motivated them to push the restart button. Knowing that they had established a certain skill level to build upon was crucial to their comeback.

“The fact that we had done it before and the fact that it was bad… We had that as learning curve as opposed to starting off now… It would have been daunting to start from scratch,” says Keith.

Although they laugh about the beats they made in their formative producing years, half-joking they should let them resurface, both Conor and Keith acknowledge that process as being a crucial period, during which their ears became programmed to listen to music as producers.

“You can pull back the curtain if you want to,” says Conor, describing how he began to conceive of music as working on two different levels. With this new ability, Gumshoe gained a newfound respect and appreciation for music of all genres and even during cooling off periods they found themselves inspired by form and composition. Their return to music production, it seems, was always inevitable.

When it comes to defining their own sound Gumshoe say it’s a job they usually leave to other people, but over the years they have found that their distinction lies in obscurity. Inspired heavily by sample-based hip-hop, Gumshoe tracks are usually built around borrowed music, which they toy with until it resembles something entirely different.

“The whole art structured around how you can manipulate a classic song. We had that fused in us,” explains Conor. The starting point of the creative process for Gumshoe usually begins in the depths of YouTube, where they go digging for the most off-the-wall flavours of music and fishing for sample-able. tracks. Keith describes their ventures on YouTube as the digital version of Madlib’s and J Dilla’s trips to far-flung parts of the world, who would fill a room with records they had bought, skimming through each track on the hunt for a melody or beat that spoke to them.

With such a mosaic of musical inspiration I wonder is it hard for Gumshoe to formulate a sound which they can trademark as their own. Both Conor and Keith admit this is a challenge at times, and one that they were particularly aware of when putting together their first EP. Orchestrating a sound is very much contrary to Gumshoe’s freewheeling approach to music production, so instead they submit themselves to the process of production, letting coherence follow naturally.

This state of submission to the transcendent revelations of music, or what Conor refers to as “spare mental vibes”, was met with resistance at the beginning. However once they learnt to relinquish control of the creative process, they saw their tracks transform organically and take a shape of their own.

Turning to the future, Keith and Conor still see Gumshoe as a work in progress. Now that they have fans genuinely invested in their music, they feel a responsibility to continue producing and to work on their technique. Contemplating all they have learnt, Conor ruminates what it means to grow as an artist.

“Once you start understanding your own process, that’s always building. You put all that practise in, that’s when it spikes. On your next venture you’re going off on that peak. I genuinely think there will never be a day we won’t be able to learn something.”

District Magazine: Gumshoe discuss how Wicklow’s landscape imprints on their sound