A Vessel Of Creation: Mgun Talks
With a new album just around the corner and a show upcoming in London it felt just about the right time to converse with Manuel Gonzales a.k.a. MGUN about his latest release ‘Gentium’. Since 2012 Manuel has adorned some of the finest record labels out there and the prospect of fresh material is certain to have a sizeable portion of techno fans eager to get their beaks wet. Manuel’s talent is easily attested by the revered list of people he has already worked with. Kyle Hall, Will Bankhead and Semtek of Don’t Be Afraid have all held MGUN to their bosom over the past four years and it is the latter which will be home to ‘Gentium’: building further on a strong relationship fostered over the period aforementioned.
Consistently Manuel has produced some of the most salient contemporary music coming out of his native Detroit. His unique style is born out of a capturing process that favours the creative spark over the precision studio practice. Laying things down with hardware and recording on spot lends Manuel’s music to a punk or garage rock aesthetic maybe more so than the electro (real electro) tinted house and techno that spawns from him. The DIY nature of his art suffers none when it comes to the final product. In fact, MGUN’s aural architecture has become the interest and inspiration to many of his inquisitive and often envious peers. Without a clear blueprint to follow, it’s impossible to identify exactly where one piece has begun or where it’s logical conclusion might be and this is an attractive aspect of many of his songs. Finding forms that are not sequential or immediately obvious is what art is truly all about.
That enduring, MGUN and his innovative sound have found their way onto dance-floors everywhere giving Manuel ample opportunity to showcase the DJ talents that have landed him top billings and touring slots with Underground Resistance. Feeling that ‘Gentium’ is flavour enough for everyone, there’s no doubt that Manuel is continuing his ascendency and feeling comfortable in doing it. Now a family man, we hit upon life at home, the balancing act of working hard and being creative.
Your new album “Gentium” is soon to be released. Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it?
I recently got married, bought a home and had my first child. I felt it was time for a full length album. When Semtek mentioned the idea of releasing an LP, that got the ball rolling and everything fell into place.
Can you explain a little about the title?
The album really shows a wide gamut of my productions skills and that's what I was trying to capture with the title, Gentium. It is a universal language/font. I feel there is something for everyone on this album, no matter what walk of life you might be on.
How did the recording process for this record differ from your previous releases?
My process hasn't changed much from how I've always done it. All of the tracks are from the last several years and came together eventually to create this LP.
I’ve read in interviews that you like to record in single takes without overdubbing and very little post production. What are you trying to capture in recording like that and how better can that be achieved by you in not using recording software?
Recording like this enables me to work quickly to capture a moment in time. It's a very alive process. I feel that with using software and sitting in front of a computer screen, your energy sometimes becomes stagnant and slow. Overthinking a track can be detrimental to constant creating. It's also how I've always been doing it and it works for me.
Is there any piece of studio equipment or instrument that will never be absent from your setup?
You'll never catch me without my DX200.
This will be your fourth link up with UK label, Don’t Be Afraid. Can you describe your relationship with the label and its owner Semtek?
I feel like out of all the people that have reached out to me, he shared and understood my vision. He also ended up becoming a good friend of mine. He's really an awesome, good-hearted person.
You’re a well established DJ as well as producer. The natural focus of a DJ would usually be the audience and the dance-floor. How influential on your music are the club and your audience?
It depends on the track. Sometimes it's intended for the dance floor, but sometimes it not. I like to make tracks that fall all over the spectrum. Some tracks are meant simply to be listened to and thoughtfully absorbed- which is more of an inward experience, where my dance tracks are more of an outward expression to move your body to. It really depends on how I'm feeling when I get in the studio.
Detroit is your home. Can you tell us which local DJs have inspired or maybe even helped you the most on your journey so far?
When I was a kid, it was definitely the cats on the radio that inspired me initially. To name a few, Gary Chandler, Earl McKinney and DJ Zap. I grew up in turbulent times in Southwest Detroit and it brought me great comfort to be able to listen to the radio and escape.
With albums and releases, comes touring usually. I believe you have a job in a local record store too. Do you find it difficult to balance everything and where are the areas that suffer when you’re at your busiest?
I've been very fortunate to have been working at the record store for close to 10 years. My boss, Brad Hales, is a good friend of mine and is also a DJ so he understands when it's time for touring. My wife and I also just had our first child, and this will be my first tour since she was born. Luckily my wife is amazing and fully supportive of my career. So I'd say, now, the thing that will hardest while I'm touring will be not seeing my family. My hope is to one day soon be able to bring them with me on my tours.
For me ’Producer’ is a label that doesn’t fully capture the magic in creating music. Your music is your art and as an expression, how does “Gentium’ fit in with your own artistic vision and your sense of where the art is taking you?
I don't create music with any intention other than the act of creating. Like I said before, it's a very alive and active process. I feel like I am merely a vessel of creation and it just happens that some people enjoy what I put out there. It's very cool that it has allowed me to travel and do what I love. The only vision I have is to continue to produce and DJ and enjoy the journey.
MGUN is set to play at Dance Tunnel this Friday HERE.