Your radio show In The MOOD has recently been named Best Online Music Show Overall in the Online Radio Awards – Congratulations! That’s a huge achievement and it shows your hard work, tenacity, and willingness to grow. I’ve noticed that the sets you share can be vastly different depending on where you are playing. How does the atmosphere of the location or the country affect the aesthetic of the music? How do you seek to tie the energy from culture to culture into the music to unify us as listeners?
Wow. I think, first of all, with experience you tend to recognize with every country what type of music they are into more than others. However, the essence of telling the story musically is still the same. I am a music lover and I like all kinds of music from chill out all the way up to industrial techno. Having this radio show allows me to express and showcase the music I love. My next show I have on the radio is a reflective, chill out mix… hopefully you like it! Other shows I’ve done are more big room, industrial, techno vibes. It depends. If I am playing an early set I am definitely not going to go crazy just out of respect for the night. Starting out as a promoter taught me a lot about how to build a night musically and so having to play a warm up set, also, allows me to be creative and come up with those records that tell a story. If I am at a festival playing for forty-thousand people I am just going to give them the full energy! When I get to play those different kinds of sets it’s very challenging, and I get excited because I get to do something different. It should be like this every time; otherwise, you just get bored. Well, I’m speaking for myself obviously.
You clearly are an expert at playing the computer as an instrument. How has the new technology PLAYdifferently developed by Richie Hawtin helped you grow as an artist this past year?
Actually, it was my first time using this new gear at Awakenings in mid-October— so not long ago. I have to say it has turned my way of mixing around completely because the mixer encourages a totally different way of DJing. It looks nothing like the traditional mixers we are used to. Obviously, getting used to it takes a bit of time, as with any new set up, but I love what it can do for me. Using all six channels allows me to elaborate and go really wild with my semi-live DJ set. That’s what I would call it now, because there are a lot of live elements coming into play not just straight Djing and playing records in the traditional way. I normally have four decks on the go anyway and now having these additional channels allows me to go even further by firing samples that I’ve gathered, one shot hits of any kind of sound or sample loops I have prepared and being able to be creative on the fly all night long. I am so excited now when I DJ and this is only the beginning. There is so much to learn and so much to do sonically with all the new gear and the software that I have at the moment!
I find that so exciting. I remember at Further Future back in April in Nevada last year we were talking about all the different technology that will be coming out in the future at an afternoon discussion. Things like AI technology that will able to produce it’s own music and how that is going to be something happening soon. It’s interesting because we, as humans, do control computers. We have made instruments out of them and the capabilities these things have is very exciting.
Mhmm… I almost feel like I am remixing something while I’m DJing. I love the studio and I love making music. That is what I did before I became a DJ anyway – made music. Having these tools to create and manipulate during a DJ set is just incredible. I can’t wait to get to the next show just so I am able to do it all again!
You’ve noted that with the new technology it has made playing b2b sets more accessible. You’ve played many b2b sets around the globe with various artists including Carl Cox (your mentor), Dubfire, Chris Liebing, Victor Calderone, and Paco Osuna. The amount of people you have played b2b with is just crazy, and so exciting.
So exciting! It’s also exciting musically because they are all quite different from each other. The challenge is being able to follow the other DJ without breaking the flow of the set, as such. Some people can get together and do a b2b very naturally, but occasionally people have nothing in common musically. It can be hard to compliment your partner if you are not into the whole spectrum of house and techno, so I try to gel and blend as much as possible to make sense out of the collaboration. This is the excitement to me.
How do these b2b sets help you grow as an artist and collaborator?
I think the energy is so intense that you tend to perform better somehow. You take more risks and you are more creative as you get inspired by the person next to you. Then it just turns into magic, it’s crazy. I remember I did one with Carl that was out of the world, my first, wow. We’ve done so many now, me and Carl. One occasion that really stands out for me though was the first B2b set I ever did with Chris Liebing. It was at MoodZONE, EDC New York, last May – at one point he had to come closer to me and look at what was going on with me, on my mixer. He had to check which channel was up, and he couldn’t believe it, he thought it was him coming out of the speaker and it was actually me. Then we were both together and we just got lost in the music. We didn’t know who was playing what because it was just so unified somehow. Those moments are so precious. It’s incredible. The people feel it and they feed off it as well.
That is why I love going to festivals and going to clubs. It’s not about the party, and I have talked to people about this at festivals, it’s about allowing yourself to transcend through the music and forget self. On these special nights we reach that higher consciousness, hive mind, and we join that through the sound. I feel like that is what you are describing. That synchronicity.
It is. It’s magic.
You are involved philanthropically with the Lower East Side Girls Club in New York which helps disadvantaged young women pursue a career in music. I find that electronic music culture embraces powerful female women in a way many other career paths might not. Our culture is one of all inclusivity and passion. How do you think can we bring this energy into the world beyond the dancefloor? How can we grow and unify as humans, not just women or men?
Yes, I am seeing the girls from the LESGC in ten days while I am here in New York, just to have a little visit and check in on them. But I’m not just interested in helping women – I’m involved in several different organizations, for example, the Solving Kids Cancer organization, as well. It is about so much more than just helping girls. There are a lot of boys out there who do need help and I want to extend myself to them as well.
You know, being involved in organizations is a very personal thing. I do it because it rewards me to give myself to people. It’s a personal path. I wasn’t able to do that in the past. Now I am able to for financial reasons, obviously. If I could give everything I have I would. That is just my personality. I would like to do more to highlight social issues that are happening around the world and use my platform to create awareness and give a helping hand to these people. Another subject that is very dear to my heart is FGM, which is female genital mutilation. This is a big issue around the world in certain countries and cultures. If I can use my platform to scream about that and show the world that these people need to stop this slaughtering and murder, as I would call it, that’s a good thing— I mean mutilation of women’s genitals? Come on! So if I can help then, yes… I am aiming to start a mini-campaign for this specific issue. This is appalling and it needs to change.
It is appalling. It’s one of those things that comes back around every few years and I always ask myself: How is this still going on?
I know. I think I am going to do a trip to South Africa and to Sierra Leone where, I think, it is about 80% of women are mutilated. This is an alarming number. I am going to go and see how I can help.
Keep us all informed because there are many of us who follow you who would be willing to give a helping hand with that as well.
Thank you so much.
To change topics again, I recently saw a photo of you on your Facebook in which you were in a boxing gym. Is this another passion of yours? How does boxing and that kinetic energy influence your music?
I have to say I did a session of boxing yesterday and another one today; while I am here in New York I am going to do it every day. I have a trainer that comes in ann busts my ass everytime! I like it. It releases a lot of things. I’m enjoying building my muscles again. I was very athletic all my life, I even won medals. I do all kinds of sports: I used to be a great basketball player and I enjoy skiing. I like anything that has thrills in it and power. I am a professional car racer, as well. I like to go to gun clubs and shoot because it is all about precision and skill. All kinds of sports really. The boxing, I have to say, is so intense! I didn’t know that. I got to love it because it’s a lot of cardio and power at the same time. You are totally dead after half an hour. It’s crazy. I enjoy letting off steam every now and then.
Do you normally listen to music when you box or workout? Or do you just exercise to your own sound?
I work out to my sound. That’s it. Just focus on the program.
One of the things that truly inspires me about you is that you are both an artist and entrepreneur. You are constantly hungry to grow into something greater than what you currently are. First, you were a promoter. Then, a DJ, a producer, and finally head of your own record label Mood Records. What inspired you from each step to the next? What are your plans for growth in 2017?
The love of what I do and the ambition. I have always been very ambitious. There is just so much to do. I am not the kind of person that sits and says “okay, I am done”. There is always something do and perfect and take to the next level. You know: mutate, transform, transcend, transport, and tell a story along the way. I am going to launch my new merchandise this year. That is exciting. I’ve been wearing the shirts and people have been raving about them. Fans have been wanting me to do them for a while now, so let’s see. The cut is great. They are really cool and everyone can wear them. I’ve seen people wearing shirts they have made themselves at my shows with the things I say and whatnot. I guess we will see. I wear them, so I am sure they are good [hearty laughter].
As you continue to grow your label what artists should we be on the lookout for? Who do the think some of the biggest new acts of 2017 could be?
Well, there are lots of new artists that I am trying to push on the label – Lee Van Dowski is next. He is an amazing producer, quite melodic. I have another EP being released soon by an artist named Bleak House, also very deep and melodic. Marino Canal is a staple Mood artist – I released his album last year and he played with me on New Year’s Eve. There is lots going on! I have new music coming, and I’m thinking about re-releasing a very special early release on the label, with a new remix package…. the journey continues.
You’ve described a lot of these new artists as “deep and melodic” is that the sound we should expect from MOOD Records in 2017?
Not necessarily, however, it is one part of the sound that I really enjoy. There are other techno EPs that will be coming out, so no, it will vary from house to techno. You can not expect just one sound at all. I have this one amazing producer called Ben Hoo, who is usually quite chill out, and I am thinking to do an EP with him as well.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us! Happy New Year.
Same to you. I am looking forward to seeing you January 21st at my show!