Two releases into his new label Not So Much, we speak to the eclectic producer and DJ about getting back into the groove of releasing music, the long-term impact of his Radio 1 residency and his return to hardware-based production techniques.
Attack: NSM002 is your third release of the year. It seems like you’re back into a pretty regular schedule with releases after a quiet couple of years. What were the reasons for that quiet period?
Mosca: I’m getting there. I’ve been saying for years that I’d like to release more, but it’s about being happy – or at least as close as you can get to happy – with the music, and I wasn’t. Other things like two kids, house moves, house moves falling through, building work, etc, take up a lot of time too.
Were you still making as much music as you had been previously?
Yeah. I’ve always had a home studio so I’m here all the time making sounds. The difference is now I have a sound in my head, or at least a vibe – an idea that I’m happy to explore and mangle and stretch and play with. I know what I don’t want – which is actually a big thing – I’ve paid some dues, and I’m still hungry. It honestly feels like square one still, even though I’m a vet in a few people’s eyes.
Does that mean there was a point where you didn’t have a vibe or a sound that you were happy to explore?
Yeah, everything felt so open when I started producing – I’d be making jungle but also 15-minute drone pieces. It was practice, looking back on it. But it was filtering out the sounds and vibes that weren’t right. That was probably the most important thing, like I said. I still love jungle and drone, for example.
I have a sound in my head – an idea that I'm happy to explore and mangle and stretch and play with
Without wanting to push you to boil things down to a soundbite, how would you describe the vibe you’re exploring now that it’s cemented in your mind? You seem to have mentioned words like ‘dark’ and ‘sexy’ a lot lately.
It’s far from cemented! Maybe blu-tacked for now… The trouble with words, as you well know, is that they only relate to music to an extent, and this framework of language, this construct, it’s very rigid and it defines us as a culture and as humans, you know? Sometimes I think it’s useful to just remember that: that we made up language to describe the objects and actions going on around us, but it’s almost been turned on its head, language has become more important than the thing itself… My point is that music can give us feelings that are literally impossible to describe with words. It’s one of the things I like most about music, as opposed to say, poetry.
So yeah, I’ve said ‘dark but sexy’ before, but that means all kinds of things to all kinds of people – that could make some people think black metal, or dirty Dutch electro or whatever. The best thing is to just listen to the music if you have time. Music doesn’t necessarily need words to describe it, least of all from me. People will project their own thoughts and descriptions onto the music. I do it to other artists.
How do you feel about your slow release schedule in retrospect? Do you regret not releasing more?
Nah. No regrets. What’s the point? Everything I’ve done, every shit decision I’ve made or was pushed into making, every bad tune, everything I’ve not done, it’s got me here to where I am today. I’ve learned a lot on the way and want to learn loads more if I can. I’m so lucky to have people that still want to book me or come to a party I’m playing or put out my records – I know not everybody has those luxuries. But that allows me to do stuff in my own time, you know? I’ve got so many ideas bouncing round in my head and it takes time to tell which are the good ones, once everything’s burned away. Hopefully I’ll still be releasing records in years to come. That’s the goal, at least.
Now that a bit of time’s passed since the Radio 1 show, are you able to look back on it and assess what kind of impact it had on your development as a DJ? It’s quite a different challenge playing to a big radio audience as opposed to a club audience.
I always knew it was a temporary thing. I knew I wasn’t going to be a BBC institution and I didn’t want to be, either. I’ve never been big on rock-solid allegiances because I see how things change. So I saw it as happening alongside whatever else was going on: records, raves, other radio. It was great to get the experience of that show, the good and the not so good, but I’m not sure it impacted on my development as a DJ. Like you say, radio and the club are very different spaces and in my heart I’ll always be a club DJ and raver.
Did it make you think about things differently at all?
Yeah, I think so. It’s great to have a chance to play weirder or deeper tracks on radio. No, scratch that – just less danceable music, stuff you rate but that doesn’t always work in the club. When I’m DJing clubs or warehouses or festivals or boat parties or bah mitzvahs or whatever, I always play stuff with energy, whether that energy is slow-building or in-your-face, it’s stuff you can move to, or better yet, can’t not move to. I’ve been guilty of trying to force stuff to work in the past I think, the beyond-trendy vinyl-only obscurer-the-better stuff with not enough oomph, but the bottom line is people want to dance. I want to dance. And people have paid good money to get into the club, so let’s get our money’s worth, let’s have a good time, even if that good time is on the darker, freakier, underground side of things.