Truancy Volume 215: Mosca

“I’m still getting to grips with what I want from my music” Mosca told Attack Magazine back in 2014. By then he’d already released a number of records on Fat City, Numbers, Night Slugs, 3024, Rinse, Hypercolour, Ann Amiee and his own label Not So Much. A discography many would look on from the outside and declare him a veteran producer, Mosca’s versatility as an artist has been described by himself as “always just being a case of balance”. Reaching into a massive pool of influences that range from dub reggae, afro house, latin music, soul, jazz, techno and house his path as a London-based producer seems understandable.

We caught up with Mosca to discuss his recent releases on LavaLava and Livity Sound, the rule of knowing what not to make, the impact of radio, info on forthcoming music and how his label Not So Much looks set to live again this year. His Truancy Volume, a four-deck mix that he’s described as an experiment of sorts, plays on structure by matching a series of locked grooves with years on years of collected loops, most he’s either made, edited or cut up himself. (The tracklist requires a bit of a scroll through for a mix just under an hour.) It’s a fast-paced mix with energy, that’s both multi-tempo and multi-genre, pairing the likes of Childish Gambino with DJ Lilocox, Max ​L​e Daron with Skee Mask and Wbeeza with Batu for a celebratory mix rife with hot transitions.

Hey man, so I thought we’d start with some of your most recent achievements and more recent releases. Let’s talk about the “Prento” and “Fever Version” record that came out on LavaLava Records in November. You’ve always mentioned in past interviews about coming up on a healthy dose of dub reggae and dancehall yet it’s the first time you’ve (publicly dabbled) in dancehall production (I think). Can you tell us a little bit about how this record came about? Where you introduced to anyone from the label? “Thanks for having me! Long time coming. You’re right, first proper thing yeah. (I did a dub for Spooky once on a 10” but not many people know about it.) But yeah I’m happy with the Prento / Fever versions, I had a nice FX chain set up at the time which brought a load of character to the tracks, really got the basslines talking. And played everything live, which helped the feel of them. I’m working with a certain vocalist to voice them so you’ll hear more about that soon. Really want to tell you who it is but I can’t yet. Link-up wise I feel Dan (Ossia) and I share a lot of the same influences and outlook so we hit it off, it was my sister who introduced us though through her night Roads at Rye Wax in Peckham.”

Any records you were listening to at the time that possibly formed it? Also going off this question how much of what you listen to influences what you make in the studio? “Nothing specific at the time, but like you mention for a long time I’ve played and listened to riddims like Redrose’s “Now Thing”, that darker, stripped down, bass-driven sound. Although Fever / Prento are more late-80s influenced than the 90s, stuff that King Kong, Nitty Gritty, John Wayne, Carl Meeks, Banana Man, Conroy Smith, Leroy Brown, Little John etc were performing on. As for listening, how can it not influence my music? Even in minor ways. The space in a soul tune’s snare or clap, the structure of an early 8bar thing, the musicality of a Syrian dabke track. Everything goes in, in its own way.”

Slightly before that you had a record out on Bristol based Livity Sound. Can you tell us about that one too? Had the tunes already been made before and you pitched to Livity Sound or was it the other way round? If latter did you go in with any thought out context of what a Mosca record might sound like on Livity? “No I made them especially for Livity. Better that way. I always thought I’d fit alright on that label and we’ve known each other for ages so didn’t really have to overthink it – I thought I brought a slightly rougher vibe to it, a lot of the stuff on Livity is nice clean soundsystem music, I wanted to bring in some of the smudgy, dubby influences you mentioned, and my own sense of rhythm. More a sense of what to leave out really, Tom (Peverelist) and Joe (Kowton) are open-minded people.”

From speaking with Will (Dispersion) it sounds like you might have a few special appearances on a few new labels for you, and even a special tape possibly. Is there anything you can mention yet? I know there’s that 10-minute track that seems to be wandering round the airwaves at the moment. “Yes yes! Lots I’m excited about and nothing I can really tell you about haha. Lots of snippets here and there if you’re prepared to play Sherlock for a bit. Let’s see, next thing will be with a very well respected London label, two tracker (with the sound of a baby crying in one), I’ve got a couple of one-offs for labels in Berlin and the States, some more dancehall-flavoured stuff to check if you liked the LavaLava release, a split EP with an absolute hero of mine, and a couple of possible records with some more electronic labels, plus some really pacy stuff on another very cool label from Holland.”

Same goes for Not So Much? There was a tweet from a few months back with a pretty nifty gif saying ‘Not So Much’ will live again. “It wasn’t planned this way but I’m now sitting on a bunch of fresh tracks that all came at once from different artists, so I’m taking a quick break, finish and last tweaks and going to release them nice and steady, I’ve suffered from a lack of momentum schedule-wise before and don’t want to do that again. People have short memories of course. But yeah loads of stuff I’m really happy with, six releases actually – some new artists, and stuff from me too, fresh artwork as well. The whole ethos of the those first (intentionally) super-boring grey sleeves, NSM001-006, was to highlight the music and nothing else. No fancy gimmicks with the artwork, no shouty PR, no industry bullshit, no payola, no marketing schemes. But unless you knew about that (which most people didn’t because of course I wasn’t shouting about MY ETHOS over social media), then I think the concept went over people’s heads a bit. I think the boring artwork influenced the music a little. And now I have more artists on the label, I want to do right by them, get them out there more, sell their records, get them some more gigs and all that. The music is dynamic and colourful and despite still feeling very anti about most of the music industry, it’s time to stop putting a concept before real life.”

Tell me about your record collection. If you were to sift through all the records or tracks you bought this year what sort of story would it tell? “This year I’ve probably spent more time exploring and re-discovering non-club stuff. I feel the techno scene in particular is really weak at the moment and I don’t have high hopes for that changing any time soon. I still make techno, but all this droney synthy Mills ripoff stuff with all the cosmic references, Jesus. Not for me. There’s still loads of good club music around, and people are definitely experimenting more, but not always to the benefit of the dancers you know? A lot of deconstructed stuff which is fine in certain environments at certain times but when I go to a club I’m there to dance. Make the groove weird but don’t lose that groove people!”

There was an old interview where you stated that if your whole discography got wiped pre-2013 you wouldn’t be that bothered. Have you found stuff to be moving again at this point? “I’m happy with all my stuff from 2013-14 I would say yes – a few things before then too, good memories of the Night Slugs release, and “Tilt Shift”, although I don’t love the sound of it, had (or is having) a nice life of its own, being a bit of a pop and lock anthem now.” Do you find your making more music than ever then or has it always been a pretty level output over the years? I read somewhere that the difference in maybe younger years is now you know what you don’t want to make. “Definitely starting more music, but I guess people are more interested in what I finish :) Yeah, the knowledge of what I don’t like (and what might still change) is really valuable. I’m always changing workflows and work with a lot of different ideas and approaches, some are really concept-driven and labour intensive, some just flow and seem to birth themselves. But in general yes I’m definitely making more music now. I’m a dad of two so when the kids were young I didn’t have as much studio time. Now they’re at school and my wife is also self employed, I have a good working week and am finally getting to the point where I can think a few releases into the future.”

With the Radio 1 show and now the regular NTS show, it seems like you’ve fully found your feet being able to be a radio DJ alongside a club DJ and take pride in some of your shows. You seem to be fond of that 3rd February 2016 one and I love the ‘Outro’ show you did with tracks just named ‘Outro’. Can you tell me about those two shows. Also, I asked Martyn this a few weeks back but do you find there’s a role for radio more than ever now? “Thanks. I think the concept idea is a dangerous one to be honest – fun when it goes well but I don’t like the pressure to repeat a success like that STL locked groove mix, and I feel people are too involved with the story behind music sometimes. The X-Factor sob story you know? A poor bin man who sings opera or whatever. The music is generally enough for me. One on one. I like to know a little context of course but these massive press releases about how a certain track was written about changes in 1830s Hungarian carpentry technology or whatever. Drop me out mate. Let me hear what I want to hear. That’s part of the reason I started Not So Much, as I said earlier. But with mixes it can be a good framework to work within. That Outro mixtape was fun, a puzzle really, sliding pieces around to get the whole picture to appear. And sometimes it’s cool to focus on another level of programming, like Actress does, putting similar or identical track titles next to each other, or playing with alphabetical order or whatever.”

What can you tell us about the mix you’ve done for us today? Was there any particular theme you went for this one and any tracks or artists you may want to shout out on this? “OK well this probably needs some explaining, having just said all that! This was, if not quite a concept, then an experiment. I’ve been making, cutting, collecting loops for years now, sometimes if I can get access to 4 CDJs at a show then I play all of them, layer stuff up, have a melody on one channel or a kick pattern on another, a couple of locked groove records on the turntables (I love the Poly Kicks packs), it can get a bit messy beat matching 6 moving things at once obviously but the energy is there and it really takes it to another level. You can keep the whole thing flowing like a DJ set but you have the control, or sometimes lack of control of a live set, and you can really play with structure and context a lot more. Simply playing two finished tracks together can open up new possibilities – DJs like Ben UFO do this really well of course – but when you have more than two, and potentially never-ending loops, then your sense of time changes. You could keep a vocal or melody line in for 20 minutes, swap everything else out beneath it, and still keep it fresh.

“It’s a bit like Theseus’s paradox – if you start with an original ship but one of the boards becomes rotten and needs replacing, it’s still the same ship, right? But over time, say you replace every board, every mast, everything. Is it still the ship of Theseus? Granted, me banging away with four channels isn’t much like Theseus’s paradox but hopefully you get what I’m saying – it changes how you think. I played a jungle techno party with Ray Keith last week, and because there isn’t actually that much 4×4 jungle techno I was playing a lot of jungle with a lone kick underneath which brought a lot of these old tunes to the next level, and created more of a Berlin techno sense of long groove despite the start/stop sound of jungle. So it opens it up.

“For this mix, I wasn’t so bothered about artists or specific tracks, I wanted to play with structure. There’s loops in there from tracks I don’t even like, I would just have heard a little FX sound or something at the end of a track promo and downloaded it just to chop up the end of it. Or say the Gambino track that everyone will have heard a thousand times by now, I took it and looped it and edited it myself, ran it through a notch filter and some reverb units and made something different, something with an altered context. Donald Glover is talking about black America of course, the myriad of influences, the distraction, the energy and history and confusion, and then you’ve got that African track over the top, and the Baltimore beats, and the Coming To America sample used by MAW, it brings a whole new angle to it. Or some Christian organ stuff and Arabic music mixed together in beautiful not-quite-harmony you know? Don’t worry though, it’s not all that thought out ;) Think of it as Richie Hawtin’s DE9 – Closer To The Edit, but multi-genre, multi-tempo, with some full tracks in there, not all loops.”

What’s the plan after May? You going to be busy over the summer period this year? “Yeah club shows, I’m not much of a festival guy. One festival I’m really looking forward to is No Bounds in Sheffield, line up is crazy. Errorsmith, Giant Swan, Rian Treanor, Demdike, Machine Woman, Sounds Of Sissio, Paula Temple, Minor Science, Mark Fell, Batu, rRoxymore, Jensen Interceptor etc. And lots of records, hopefully you’ll be tired at the mention of my name soon ;)”

When was the last time you danced and what was the last thing to put a big smile on your face? “Oh dancing isn’t much of a big event for me. I’m trying not to dance as I write this. Probably not smiling enough though, I’m a mardy looking bastard, but very happy inside.”

Tracklist:

Childish Gambino – This Is America [mcDJ]
O$VMV$M – Dill [Idle Hands]
DJ Lilocox – Vozes Ricas [Príncipe Discos]
Old Bay – Bojangles [T&A]
Masters At Work – The Ha Dance (Ken/Lou Mixx) [Cutting Records]
Dopplereffekt – Gesamtkunstwerk [International Deejay Gigolo Records]
dBRm – Hornsey Rise [The Nothing Special]
Neuroshima – Scanner [All Caps]
BNJMN – Hydrofoil [Jericho One]
The Maghreban – Mbira [R&S]
Kowton – Jam01 [Livity Sound]
Duckett​ – Flex ​[Solar Phenomena]
Emika​ – Count Backwards (Marcel Dettmann Vocal Edit)​ [Ninja Tune]
Mosca​ – All Very Hush Hush [​Unreleased]
Rocco​ – Saharien Child (Lars Behrenroth Reprise) ​[Deeper Shades]
Lucy Railton​ – For JR ​[Modern Love]
Unknown – Unknown [Unknown]
Peder Mannerfelt​ – Every Day Had A Number ​[Lazy Tapes]
Emptyset​ – Beyond ​[Caravan]
Hagan​ – Roots ​[Push And Run]
Max ​L​e Daron​ – Monin’ Guetin feat. Joey le Soldat ​[Akwaaba]
NKC​ – HD Anthem ​[Even The Strong]
Skee Mask​ – ​Dial 274 ​[Ilian Tape]
BNJMN​ – Rattled ​[Brack]
STL​ – Air Raid Sirens ​[Something]
Brian Bristol​ – Ear Candy (Brown Sugar Mix) ​[Maxi Records]
Chevel​ – Arp 2600 ​[Different Circles]
Sstrom​ – I Huvudet ​[Rösten]
Ploy​ – Sala One Five ​[Hessle Audio]
Lakker​ – One Note ​[Blueprint]
Dale Cornish​ – Ulex Pattern 5 ​[Entr’acte]
Gaunt​ – Spacebirds ​[Unreleased]
African Head Charge​ – No, Don’t Follow Fashion​ ​[On-U Sound]
Wbeeza​ – Like Butta ​[secretsundaze]
Phil Kieran​ – Snakes Crawl (PK Techno Mix) ​[PKR]
Batu​ – Void [Timedance]
Roll The Dice – The Suck [The Leaf Label]
Emptyset – Episteme [Caravan]
Lokiboi​ – Let Me See That (Manare Remix) ​[Loveless]

Mosca: Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Resident Advisor, Discogs

Photo by Kenneth Shaw

Riccardo Villella
Riccardo Villella

OG at Truants / Graphic Designer / DJ as Melmoth Twitter Soundcloud

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