Posted by AIC • Jul 16, 2009
Late on the Saturday night/Sunday morning at The Magic Waves Festival I had a talk with the creative force that is Mark du Mosch, about some of his influences, his methodology behind making music, his obsession for vinyl collecting, and his thoughts about returning to Slabs of the Tabernacle next month…
(Interview by Joel Shaw)
How are things for you at the moment and what are you doing with your time?
Things are going pretty well for me at the moment. The releasing records part is going quite nice, the performances are going well, and my time is consumed by producing music, mixing records and making paintings.
You mention paintings, what is it you paint?
I paint murals by commission. If people want a large painting, my friend and I are the guys for the job.
How do you find this work?
I love it, for me it is a great way to make a living.
How did your love for music start?
My Dad always used to have records around, he was mainly into Latin music, but also some disco. My sister was a stewardess so she would get the latest tapes from far away countries. But one of the biggest influences was my brother who was collecting records in the mid ‘80s – American R&B sort of thing, Kano, stuff like that. He was also listening to a lot of pirate radio stations and that really interested me from the start.
When I was about 12, I got this Yamaha keyboard and I would fiddle around with that. In the house where we lived there was a tiny room which had a church organ and that was a big influence on me. I couldn’t play for shit but I could get lost in that room for quite some time just fiddling around with it.
The really serious kind of thing came later when a friend of mine called Ragnard introduced me to this guy David Spaans. He (David) was already releasing records and had an enormous studio with many pieces of nice analogue equipment. We visited him and he really was the nicest guy and we ended up jamming for like a few hours and that was it. I remember coming into his studio and he had this track he was working on. There was this great techno music playing, I was like “is this from these machines?!”… that was it basically.
Did he help to show you how to program and work with drum machines?
Definitely, he was one of my biggest mentors, still is to this day. That guy should get major credit because many musicians from my generation were always on the phone with David about how stuff worked, what machine to buy… he’s been a major influence that has to be said. Him and a friend of mine called Ces 53. He’s a really talented guitarist, and he taught me bits and pieces about musical theory. A brilliant guy, I owe quite a lot to him as well.
You mention music theory, how much of this do you apply when you are making music yourself?
Almost too much…
Does it have a significant impact on the music you make?
Sometimes yes and sometimes no, what it does do is allow me to work quicker. For instance, in the beginning when I didn’t know that stuff I would be working two whole nights maybe on one melody, but now I just figure stuff out a lot quicker. But it can also work against you if cannot go past the constraints, sometimes it’s hard to break free from the theory.
Sometimes maybe it is easier to be ignorant?
How do approach making a track?
Ok, the method really varies. Sometimes I try to work from a single melody and build a track around it, sometimes I’m just jamming and something just kind of exists and I work from that. It can be really long like months on and off working on it, or sometimes it can be really quick, for example if I have just worked for one month on one track I have so much almost anger inside that I can make two more tracks in the next two days, and those tend to be better because I have to let it out.
I’m interested to know where the warm jacking sound comes from in your music, clearly the Chicago influence is strong?
I’d have to say, stuff like that originated when my friends and I first discovered house music, it must have been like 1990. Two artists we were starting to follow back then were DJ Dimitri from Amsterdam, and Derrick May from Detroit. And yeah I still love them to this day. The kind of stuff they were mixing was a huge influence from that point on. First we were all really into hip hop but when those tapes landed – after many nights of listening to that stuff – things started to change. I really got captured by that sound so to speak. It was the time before there was segregation between say hardcore House and mellow House, it was all one type of music.
How long were you making music before you put your first record out?
I started making music sometime around 1995, the record (‘Let It Go’) came out in 2006.
photograph courtesy of Paul Langlade
Could you talk a little about the feel of space in your records?
In the place I live, you can hear the neighbours talking and since you don’t want to drive them crazy you resort to these kind of space sounds, sitting at home lighting a little bit of incense. Around that time CBS (Cybernetic Broadcasting System) was growing. Of course I had been following Ferenc (I-f) for quite some time (I started to listen to Ferenc around ‘92-’93) and he has been a huge influence ever since.
Around that time did you go to parties in The Hague?
Yes more like the raves, Blue Attack, stuff like that, again this guy Ragnard who I’d met in school once took me to Blue Attack I think it was, and the minute we walked in it was Unit Moebius performing and that was incredibly inspiring. That was the sound I had been looking for which I couldn’t find in either the Gabber or the mellower stuff. We’re talking about the electronic stuff at the moment, but I love all kinds of music.
Could you mention a few?
Dub music, King Tubby for instance, Jazz, The Doors were a big influence. It sounds odd, but I was hugely into The Carpenters at one point, just anything, Classical, etc.
Anything you would say that you cannot listen to?
No. I’m not too keen on trance but if you listen to The Age of Love its also brilliant, so I love it all really. I think that every genre has its brilliant productions.
What does your set up at home consist of?
Lots of hardware, drum machines and synthesizers and stuff.
Are you buying new gear still?
Not as much as I’d like! I would like to upgrade at the moment. I have quite a few synthesizers but it is mainly budget stuff, which is great but I would like to have one of the serious ones such as the Minimoog or the Jupiter 8, the real bad boys.
The music and the country, what do you think is unique about Holland?
Mainly the state of mind of the country that I live in, easy going, at least it was, things are starting to get a little tense now. The freedom and the open mindedness of the country contributes to the music that comes from Holland.
How have you found the weekend so far (The Magic Waves Festival)?
Great, lovely, enjoying every minute of it, it is an honour to be playing here with all the other acts.
How did that come about?
I played Slabs of the Tabernacle and met this guy Casionova. He came over to Holland and met us again with plans to set up a festival.
We’ve just watched fellow Moustache artist Electrick Dragon, your thoughts?
That guy has been into making music for like since forever, he is like one of the dinosaurs from my city. It is really great to see him over in London doing his stuff, this is a really well deserved gig for him as far as I’m concerned.
How did your friendship with David Vunk and your connection with Moustache Records come about?
Our friendship came about at a New Year’s rave in 1999. He was playing after me and we just immediately became friends since the first second, I don’t know why. And Moustache is something David developed as an idea to make things happen and I think he did just that. He’s doing a great job.
We’re getting yourself and David over to play in August? Are you looking forward to it?
Yes, really looking forward to it.
How did you find it last time you were across?
It was great last time. UK people as opposed to the Dutch people have a more “go for it” spirit. For me it was almost a revelation to see that for the first time. Plus I just love hopping on a plane, watching clouds and landing and doing the nice stuff like that.
Would you call it a passion that you have for buying records?
An obsession is the best description.
I bought my first records when I was about 12, Melba Moore and Tom Browne, it wasn’t anything serious, although things started with the hip hop stuff. I was really keen on getting A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm’ album, I remember really bugging the record dealer for it.
Then as I mentioned before when the house tapes came in about 1990, things really started getting obsessive for me.
In a more recent period, the CBS thing came about. I met this guy Tako, who turned out to be my next door neighbour. We just met outside the record store by chance, went to his house and listened to records for like 5 hours in a row. Then a few months later Loud E came live to in Rotterdam, it was a nice turbo injection for me.
With regards to record hunting, would you care to talk a little about always being on the look out for a new discovery?
It’s almost a sport for my friends and me, gambling on records, looking at the cover, the year, the producer, the label. Basically it can be hit or miss, but if it is a hit it is such a big rush.
Is your energy now different to when you were say, 20?
It is not very different, except I have developed more technical ears from making music myself. When I was younger I would just be blown away by experiencing music, but now I can be blown away by the production side of things now as well.
What are your thoughts on keeping information on records that you have discovered to yourself?
In one way it is a really ugly thing I think, but in another, if you spend lots of time, energy and money just to find a particular special record…I dunno, it’s understandable in that way. I always wanted to be a little bit different when I was playing records, I wanted to distinguish myself from the rest with the type of records. So that’s maybe a reason to keep a low profile, and maybe not spit everything out that you discover.
Could you talk a little about your views on the role of the Internet in relation to music?
I think the main disadvantage is that before there was the Internet you were just doing your own thing, visiting your own shops and discovering your own type of music. The big advantage is that there is a whole world opening up, and music wise it is just convenient that you can send an mp3 to Japan in 10 seconds.
Although I don’t really care too much for it, but it’s convenient. I prefer real life over the internet any time – hand written letters over emails any day – it has more character and more realness for me.
And finally, performing live? Is that something you have ever thought about doing?
Yes in time. I need to get a few pieces of equipment, but I am really mainly a DJ from the start who just started to make some tunes along the way.
Many thanks to Mark du Mosch for his time and cigarettes. He will be playing in Glasgow alongside David Vunk at Slabs of the Tabernacle @ The Twisted Wheel, 01/08/09. Also thanks to Paul Langlade for his photograph above taken from his super series, ‘Portraits of The Electro Scene’.