For the good part of seven years, Berlin-based producer Mor Elian has been dissolving house and techno’s core sounds into unpredictable, percussive patterns, often riding the fine line between subtle loopy drum work explorations and punching low-end floor movers. She seems more confident in her process than ever before, with the last three sets of releases being some of her very best, and a sound she describes herself as now feeling completely comfortable with. With two of those records released on her own label Fever AM (co-ran with Rhyw), it’s a natural inclination of a producer trusting their own creative process and reaching new levels with their music. We caught up with Mor to talk about the co-cultivation of her label Fever AM, the creative stepping stones in all her releases, and how she’ll be relying on a more introspective approach to her sets once gigs start to line up again. Describing her Truancy Volume as a collage of music from friends, older treasures and current digs, it’s an ecstatic, headlong experience of fractured rhythms and unbridled energy. A jagged ride across varied sonic territories, it’s very much a dance-floor techno mix at its most idiosyncratic, curve-balling throughout in deliriously strong, off-axis like manner. With the likes of Rhyw, TSVI, Gramrcy, and Stenny all making an appearance in this 70-minute mix, this is Mor Elian taking this exciting part of her musical career in her stride.
Hey Mor, thanks for taking out time to answer these questions and do this mix for us! So just to start, how have things been the last year? Have you managed to focus on music at all or has it been a very introspective sort year for you? “Thanks for having me! I actually have managed to focus on music in a way that actually felt a lot more natural to me. With a lot of the outside “noise” being shut out, I was able to listen to myself more and let go of a lot what was holding me back. It’s been a very freeing experience, I have let myself explore myself more, but it has also been bumpy at times, like all things that are part of growth – when you challenge yourself more it can be uncomfortable at times.”
I was reading an interview where you mentioned that you felt like you really found your sound after the release of ‘Move Like Atoms’. Three years on from that record what sort of position are you in with your creative process? Did Covid stifle anything in terms of productivity? “I think you learn more and more about yourself and what your voice is as you go along, and I think Move Like Atoms was a huge stepping stone for me. There has been more of that since then in my process, more things I discovered that I like doing, and maybe have a natural inclination of doing and enjoy doing, so I’m following those paths as well. I like the idea of evolving as an artist and allowing others to evolve around me as well.”
How’s things been going with Fever AM? I imagine it’s good to run it with someone (Rhyw) and be able to constantly be able to bounce ideas and plans for the future. Has the way you two have approached the label changed at all since you’ve started? What are some of your long term goals? “Fever AM started as a home for me and Rhyw to be able to share our voices the way we wanted to freely, as we found that can be a bit more challenging with having your music released always through other peoples visions (even though those are very important as well). We have a strong idea of what music fits there, it is almost like picking music with tweezers, a very intricate process, and a slow one as well. We let it evolve naturally without forcing it to much, but we are also very much on it. I believe it will grow more and more, it’s here to stay and not going anywhere. It’s so exciting to cultivate something like that.”
What can you tell us about that recent record from Xen Chron too? With both of you in Berlin, how did the international Weymouth, Massachusetts crossover come about? I actually saw a tweet from a while back saying you love discovering techno producers from small towns and cities in the USA so it’s nice to see a record formed out of that! “I have a deep connection for the US techno scene, I was privileged enough to play and visit alot of the smaller scenes in these cities and get to know the people involved and see their passion- it is really special what they are all trying to achieve there and what they are trying to create, it’s a grassroot movement and they are all building beautiful communities from almost nothing- I’m here for it. We had been in touch with Xen Chron for a few months and found his music to be really forward thinking and exactly what we wanted to connect with.”
You did a talk on A&R late last year for Tech Dissect as well right? How did that go? “It was great! So many talented people there. It is amazing to see how much talent is blossoming these days, especially from women and non binary individuals. I tried to offer my best advice and support, basically telling them what I have learned myself along the way that I wish someone told me when I was in earlier stages as well.”
I was reading a past interview where you talked about LA and how you had a small group of people you could rely on for help, be it as mentors or just bouncing ideas off each other. Now that you’re an established artist with a big following it feels like you want to give back in a similar way? “Yes I have always said how important it is to have community and ask for help when you are starting, it is such a vital part of it all, you share ideas, you learn about yourself as an artist and you grow. It helps feel like you are part of something.”
What can you tell us about putting together the “I Hope You Are Well During These Strange Times’ compilation? A lot of the tracks were by artists who had put very minimal music out before. “Giving a platform to artists that are starting is something that is important for us. We receive a lot of really great music and we wanted to curate something that would help amplify and support those artists. We did the same thing with our last VA mini-comp In Clusters that came out in April.”
With us slowly coming round to the possibility of things going back to normal have you given much thought about what you would like to do next? Are throwing parties again at the top of your agenda? Will Fluid make a return? “We had so many exciting plans for Fluid for 2020 , it was set to do really great things last year. Sadly, Covid completely shelved those plans for us. We are still working together and planning ahead, but without any solid idea of what is happening in Berlin it’s hard to make new concrete plans at the moment. Fluid is a non profit event and is our way to use our platform and privilege to give back to any communities that have less access, that was the agenda the whole project started from. So we need to have a bit more stability around us to be able to kick things back up again.”
You’ve got a nice festival booking abroad in Minnesota at the end of July as one of your first gigs back. Have you given much thought over how you’re going to approach a set after being out for such a long time? I imagine loads of DJs right now just piling in as many tunes as possible into a playlist called ‘First set back’. Where do you think you want to take your sets in the first few months? “Oh dear, I’ll be honest, being out of the cycle of touring does require some “re-tuning” into things. I have obviously kept digging and playing sets for streams, but it’s not the same as having the momentum going like when you play every weekend for a crowd, theres is a zeitgeist you are connected to. I do feel like I was still able to evolve in lockdown, and I doubt I’ll be playing from the same playlists from March 2020. I guess the approach for the sets I will be playing at least when I get back to it, will come from a more introspective place, at least at the beginning, if that makes any sense. I’m actually also super excited about the Minnesota campout, I think it will be lit.”
Can you give us a selection of current DJs that influence you at the moment and why? “My current faves are my friends actually, but I do find that a good DJ can play any music, it’s more the way they would be playing it, as in the flow and programming that would create the magic, so in lockdown whilst DJing, I was trying to tune in to different parts of myself to kind of strip off any “logics” (not the technical part so much, but more the flow) so I can DJ from a more initiative place. I know maybe it sounds forced or pretentious , but I kinda mean it in the opposite way, like less over thinking more feeling it. At the end of the day the best type of connection is the less logical one. It’s kinda nice because I feel like I give less of a fuck almost but in the best way ever.”
What have been some of your favourite ever gigs, the ones where everything just seems to fall into place and you’ve found your rhythm for hours? “It is actually hard for me to remember many spots off the top of my head, but Panorama Bar definitely stands out. La Cheetah in Glasgow is also such a great club. I also really enjoyed playing the last Dimensions. Playing in small US cities also rules, they are so up for it and so happy to have you.”
What sort of other hobbies or interests do you have outside of electronic music? Are there any books, films, art pieces or other things you’ve seen or been reading/watching over the lockdowns that you might want to share? I actually don’t have a lot of ‘hobbies’ per se, my work is my hobby, because I like doing it (lol) but I obviously try to stay active and take long walks, go on bike rides, cook and do all that good stuff that capitalism tells you that is supposed to make you more happy and relaxed and a more functioning human being, and it actually does help so everyone wins I guess. I also like to invest time in things that make my life easier to live, like focusing on my mental health. I tried to take care of myself more this year in a more real way, because a lot of things in my life didn’t serve me anymore, it was like “Mor, what do you actually wanna do right now?” kinda moment. I obviously watched a lot more TV naturally, I thought ” I May Destroy You” was absolutely brilliant.”
What can you tell us about the mix you’ve recorded for us? Any particular theme you went for this or any particular tracks you want to shout out? “Studio mixes are so different to playing live because you have to try to create a collage that is solely driven from your own creativity vs feeding off a vibe from a room full of dancers or listeners, so the story, the energy, the motivation are all different. There’s no room to read but your own so it becomes this really personal process. I love playing current music that I dig and find, and also love to combine them with older treasures I found along my journeys, and I do have some new music from friends and artists that I love like Rhyw, Gramrcy, Xen Chron.
Last usual question for us, what was the last thing to put a big smile on your face? “Hummus. I really love a real good plate of hummus.”
Photos by CCL
You can download Truancy Volume 280: Mor Elian in 320 kbps and view the full tracklist by supporting Truants on Patreon here. Your support allows Truants to continue running as a non-profit and ad-free platform. Members will receive exclusive access to mixes, tracklistings, and merchandise. We urge you to support the future of independent music journalism – a little support would go a long way.