Mojo Filter Talks
Mojo Filter – a man, not a Mojo – has conjured up a treat with his recently released album Escape Aid. His healthy 'anything goes' approach means that he's at ease with dubby low-paced house mysticism ("Boom Boom") as he is with wonky basslines and doof doof (the Mighty Boosh sampling "Oakey Timbre" being a banging treat)."In The Fullness Of Time" shows off a line in synth euphoria in an organic, non EDM, way which is balanced out by the kooky loungetronica of "Spell on You".
It's expertly produced, littered with samples (the track "White Rabbit" makes its influences pretty explicit, both musically and in title) while elsewhere it's literally one second of something instantly recognisable (and not to be pointed out in case any lawyers may be reading). If you hear it, it's there.
Coming from the same kind of electronic school of thought of Todd Terje, Leo Zero, Prins Thomas and Psychemagik, “Escape Aid" is a shot of joyous fun, something increasingly missing in the poe-faced world of electronic music. But what about the man behind the filter? Let's see what gets his mojo workin'…
Escape Aid stands out from a lot of electronic long players, mainly due to the fact that even though one ear is pointing at the dancefloor and knowing what's needed to make a track with that intention tick, it's also pretty psychedelic. Sure it's electronic but there's definitely within the 4/4 beat that references psych.
Yeah, I wear the term 'psychedelic' quite loosely really – swinging by the hips in fact – it's more about intention than anything else. I want to try to trip you out, by that I mean using new sounds and unexpected transitions that cannot be referenced – or at least not obviously.
Do you need to get tripped-out, before taking the listener on the same journey?
I find it quite difficult to get tripped-out by music myself as I research so much and understand the recording principles involved intimately (most of the time) but every now and then someone comes along and blows my tiny one.
So do you think because you spend so much time in researching and creating music you're not able to lose your shit as much as if you were an avid grabber of sounds? What do you make of this track?
That track is pretty trippy, yeah. You can hear they want you to drool and stumble across the empty dancefloor as you make your way towards the shape-shifting lizard bar. Again, it's all about intention. When you have someone who really has it in mind to throw your boots you can sense it.
How can you sense when someone has the ability to conjure up a bit of metaphorical/musical boot-throwing?
There are of course many ways to do this – one way is to ensure you are in a scene where everyone takes copious amounts of mind-altering substances and perceive whatever as far-out when in fact it's a steaming, glistening pile of frog shit from Uranus. Not to say my album isn't that but you know, I can only try to trip myself out and if that works that's as high as my bar will be raised. Right?
Escape Aid is complex listen. It's well produced and visits loads of different areas of music which makes it stand out amongst many other electronic long-players released recently. Who are you aiming at with it: druggy dance-heads or retired nightclub chin scratchers?
To be honest it's kind of aimed at me really. Like you might compose a photobook, the purpose is to capture a time period of vibes you were experiencing for future reference so as never to be lost. So long as I'm pleased with it, I know my standards are decent enough to captivate someone somewhere at least. It's a reflection of the kind of gigs I enjoy, I guess. Full-on banging main room, sober yogathons and back-room wig-outs. Oh, and some sun-flecked daytime meandering by the pool with my home made magic chocolate.
There's just a few months until the General Election, are you politicised? Can you filter out anyone amongst that sea of self-serving expenses-avoiding attention grabbers? Caroline Lucas was arrested protesting against fracking, Tom Watson was a major player in getting the phone hacking stuff out in the open. Why are these MPs a total exception to the rule? Anyone catch your eye?
So yeah, politics – fuck dude, you are speaking to the wrong guy. I'm about as far removed from politics as Yoda is from Kermit the Frog (Ed – Yoda was also made by Henson, maybe not so far removed after all…). The Greens are obviously going in the right direction – the entire shit-show is on the brink and for some reason we are not concerned at all that we are wiping out species, destroying the planet and actively enslaving ourselves for the wealthy elites to mock us. Capitalism is a massive nightmare hurtling towards an inconceivably destructive conclusion if we don't stop it RIGHT NOW. Well, in like, 10 years. Seriously.
Don't you think a general air of apathy is damaging though? It's crazy, kids are more engaged with voting for cover version singing gimps on shitty TV shows than for who is best placed to serve the country. It's the kind of apathy that gives strength to far right groups such as Front National in France. The lack of interest from intelligent people in the UK means that idiotic options such as UKIP are given a bigger platform.
I believe in being the change I want to see, not voting for it. We need a fundamental and profound change in the individual to start anything close to revolution. Which is FULLY what we need. This ship has been in free-fall since it was constructed some 10,000 years ago with Cain and his agricultural abominations. This ship does not comply with the natural laws of living in sustainable flight and so cannot, and never has, flown – it just feels like it as we accelerate catastrophically towards the fires of eternal damnation. Obviously.
Deep, so what would be the first fundamental and profound change you would bring in if you could?
For thousands of years we accepted God as the bringer of crops, giver and taker of life but when we took control of who lived and who died we assumed his greatness and thus ate from God's tree of knowledge of good and evil. In so doing we knew he would detest us flouting his natural law. These laws are like the laws of aerodynamics, they apply to all life everywhere except in the ungodly. Now we carry the shame of his abandonment and secretly hate ourselves. We need to bring back that love. By God I mean the great energy of creation, nature, Gaia. That which gives meaning and form to matter.
We already tried to remedy the worlds ailments nearly fifty years ago when Lennon made out all we needed was love – it didn't work, any other suggestions?
Every single person needs a massive fucking dose of DMT to realise their invisible god is the one they are hacking down in pursuit of endless consumption. NATURE IS PROFOUNDLY EPIC EVERY DAY – once we figure that out and let that sacred knowledge re-enter us in a very meaningful way – like witnessing an alien encounter – it can't be denied and will fuel a real change. VOTE YOURSELF, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.
‘Escape Aid’ features a fantastic steel drum laden cover version of Nitro Deluxe's 80’s house classic “Let's Get Brutal”. There aren't enough cover versions of house classics, I LOVE this by Detroit rockers The Dirtbombs though, they released an album of techno and acid classics covered in their garage rock sound, what do you reckon?
Ha! Classic – this is inspired.
Did you know that Nitro Deluxe was in Sun Ra Arkestra before he made “Brutal”? Crazy!
Wow, that's insane as I sampled them on the album – fucking weird! "Doors of the Cosmos" in “Serious Party” is Sun Ra!! MAD ONE! It’s Destiny.
I'd like more of that cross-pollination of genres. Here's a killer rendition of an apocalyptic techno classic in band form.
I'd like to know more about the thought process behind your infamous edits. They stand way above your average edit because the tracks you're re-thinking are totally unexpected, especially within the confines of a 4/4 beat. Why do you concentrate on '60s and '70s music? How long does it take you to complete one and if I suggested a track would you do it?
Yeah, it’s funny. The '60s and '70s stuff has been unintentional – purely the fact I love the vibe of those tunes and grew up with that music. The intention is very clear in the music and comes from heart with the magic of synergistic recording processes. My productions just give them an added 'psychedelic' narrative and a bit more 'donk'. This enables my sets to have lots of possible twists and turns depending on the vibe of the place I'm playing in, be it a cave, a castle or cruise ship.
My edits between them cover a whole range of dancefloor vibes. My Siouxsie edit, for example, gives that female goth moment that works well in a rock club to bridge the gap between rock and disco. It’s all about segues and narrative that enable an engaged dancefloor. Stories man, stories!
Do you play any instruments yourself or are you coming from an angle of not being able to play anything so this is the nearest way of doing a cover version?
I don't play any instruments and, apart from fish and that, I don't really know about scales – plus chords are flared in my world. That works in my favour as I literally make up what goes together based on instinct – which is liberating in many ways.
So why so much of the '70s rock stuff?
I never set out to re-edit vintage stuff – it just seems to lend itself well in a number of ways. Often there is room for a sturdy kick drum and some trippy effects without crowding the tune too much. Also, that era recorded in stem which means I could interfere with otherwise great music from the point of view of the producer 40 or 50 years ago.
Some isolated vocals are very moving and take you back in time to the studios they were recorded in. By doing this I feel like a producer from the future 40 years ago.
The highlight of Escape Aid (for me) is “Boom Boom”, love that Middle-Eastern mystical electronica vibe of it, it’s warm and welcoming too. But the whole album has an uplifting feel good factor to it without having to resort to awful trance riffs or dreadful key changes. Was it as fun to make as it is to listen to, or is it 16 hour sessions and obsessing with hi-hats at 5am? What about the heavy dub atmospherics, did you like things like Transglobal Underground and Banco Di Gaia back in the day? It sounds like it.
Yeah man, loved those back in the day. Making “Boom Boom” was an absolute pleasure – enjoying loops over and over until I OWN them. Trying to trip myself FAR out is the real goal – if I achieve that, the bar is set high enough for me to be happy with it. 16 hours of obsessing is actually very relaxing for me so it's all good. Luckily, there is a point where I am fully happy with the tunes I make. I also very much enjoy listening to them too! Especially with other folk!
What was the point in your life when you got turned onto music? For me, apparently I was really in Siouxsie and The Banshees. I used to lose my shit to the greatest hits tape my mum used to play but the first act that dragged me in that was mine and not something inherited was The Human League. Got the album for Christmas in '81 so was around 8 and my ears were ripped open by this amazingly produced, bizarre electronic pop music sung by this weird man in lipstick. When you're that young you don't understand why this thing is doing what it's doing to you but it left a huge mark because I still totally get off on that album 34 (yikes) years later.
Tell me yours…
I was quite late into music generally – I always seemed to associate music with dancing which made me quite uncomfortable as a kid. All the obvious tracks that people would dance to made me feel like an outsider so it wasn't until 'Higher State of Consciousness' by Josh Wink that I played on my new car sound system that folk thought I was into club music. From there, I kind of said I was. Then a girl asked me to go clubbing with her to Return to the Source, thinking I was already into that. I said yes, took half a pill and that was it.
DUDE! Return to the Source parties were MASSIVE! I loved Mark Allen, Man with No Name and the harder end of the ‘Goa’ trance stuff. I remember one Source New Year’s Eve party, I recall getting there and then next minute I’m outside my house realising I’d lost my coat, bag and a couple of friends. It was immense.
The endless mix tapestry of tracks I did not know was a dark art to me. I immediately knew I had to be a part of that. The freedom to experience people, dancing and strange states of mind were very liberating and sometimes scary but I loved it. It really was the beginning of an amazing journey into music, made with magical intentions. Those intentions would continue to reveal themselves through history, reinvigorating old music as I understood more and more what they were saying back in the day”.
My vintage edits series are testimony to this vibe – I'm revisiting these tracks and saying, YEAH! I'M WITH YOU! But from the future.
Mojo Filter's album Escape Aid is out now.