We chat to the Moda dons about the challenge of juggling different musical roles, the importance of trying to stay positive on Twitter and why the future belongs to oboe music.
Attack: It’s nearly a year since the release of the first Moda Black compilation. Around that time your In New DJs We Trust run at Radio 1 came to an end, but you’ve continued to have your fingers in all sorts of different pies: DJing, events, the label, radio, remixing, producing. That seems to be the common trend these days. How have you managed to strike a balance between all the different things that you do?
Jaymo: The handy thing is that there are two of us. You’re absolutely right that it does seem to help to be quite prolific these days, doing different kinds of work, but because there’s two of us it allows us to go off in different directions. It does mean that there’s more of a process when it comes to agreeing on a final product, but having the two of us probably makes it doable, basically.
Do you split the roles up? Does each one of you take responsibility for certain aspects of your output?
Jaymo: Sometimes. It depends what it is. Everything is basically done collectively in one sense or another but there are roles that each of us enjoy. It could be event-orientated or putting an interview together or studio stuff. Whatever happens to take someone’s fancy, if you think, ‘Yeah, I want to work on this today!’ that’s your moment of creativity. Sometimes you wake up and you’re just not in the zone. We’re not necessarily constantly in the same mindset, so each day can vary depending on how you’re feeling.
I’m always quite fascinated by that idea of the compromise in a creative process when people work together. Obviously it’s less important when it’s something like picking a track to play when you’re DJing, but if it’s something like picking a track to sign to your label it’s quite permanent. How important is it that you both have to completely agree on everything?
Andy: It’s not often that we find something which is so far off the mark that the other person doesn’t really agree or think we should sign it. We always make sure we’re just on the same page from an A&R point of view, in terms of what we think the end product should be and how we want the label to sound. That was very key from the start. We’ve been lucky because before the label was even born we sort of harvested lots of music that we thought fit in this new zone of Moda. We had a little family there already. Now the label’s got some real traction and people are noticing it we’re getting sent a lot of demos, but often the music we’re most into comes from that kind of extended family or a friend of a friend. It not often that only one of us really loves something.
Jaymo: It’s usually one person who’s really behind something and you’re selling your passion to other people. Our label manager Craig is part of the process too. There’ve been times in the past where I haven’t been totally sure but then after a while you realise something’s big. Thankfully you’ve got the other people as part of the process. There’s a strength in numbers scenario there.
Sometimes you wake up and you’re just not in the zone.
That idea of having a distinctive sound or a definable feel to the label is really important these days, especially with so many people making and releasing music. How would you define it? Can you sum up the Moda ethos in a sentence?
Jaymo: It’s a feeling, man! Haha, no, it is difficult. I think production values are really important. Other labels we respect and that have lasted a long time – because we want to be doing this for a long time – are people like Damian Lazarus and what he’s done with City Rockers and Crosstown, obviously Dirtybird’s a great example, Catz N Dogz’ label is a more recent one… The common thread there is that the filtering process is so high, so they never release anything unless it’s in that top 10%. There are so many labels now that if you don’t exist in that top tier then you’re just one of a thousand million bedroom labels. No disrespect to them, but obviously we want to try and get in the premium top level bit. There might be people who think some of the stuff we release isn’t as good as that, but we like to think it is!
Other than that it’s just about interesting ideas. Like you say, there are so many people who produce these days. This sends me personally quite mental in the studio: you’re constantly trying to make something that doesn’t sound like other stuff and that’s really hard when there are so many people making things. Every synth’s available to everyone who wants to download it. Getting a unique sound is really really hard. When people do come up with something different which sits away from the pack it really appeals to us.
What’s your own solution to coming up with something fresh?
Jaymo: The solution is that for every fifty projects only one of them should turn into a finished track.
For every fifty projects only one of them should turn into a finished track.
So it’s about personal quality control, not just wanting to release everything you make?
Jaymo: Yeah, exactly. And to be fair that’s what we were doing at one point. We hadn’t dedicated enough studio time to trying different ideas.
Andy: Yeah, we weren’t able to focus on one thing. We were being tugged in eight million directions. Often it’s about being in the right mind frame and having enough time to try stuff out rather than having a day when you’re like, ‘Shit, we’ve got to finish this remix!’ You’d get to the end of the day and be like, ‘Well, that’s cool, but it’s not necessarily what we would have done if we’d had five days.’
Jaymo: I don’t think we were really fully fledged producers at that time. We’d have a day to do a remix then it was straight onto the next thing. We made a decision to stop doing that because from an artist point of view you’re just going to end up making songs that sound like other things and it wasn’t very satisfying. We weren’t really passionate about it.
Andy: It’s as much about us being happy and each project taking a step on from the previous one.