Mosca is an anomaly. International DJ, BBC Radio 1 resident, multi-genre producer. Since 2010 hes managed to keep his profile afloat where others have sunk and yet you can count the number of EPs Mosca has released on one hand. Ahead of his performance at mulletovers Halloween party and with a new release on the Ann Aimee label imminent after an achingly long wait (his last release came out in June 2012) now was the perfect time to get under the skin and inside the head of this enigmatic producer….
Im interested to find out what youve been focussing on these last few months, so this is a serious question what took so long to release another EP since Eva Mendez?
It was a whole load of things. Ive always been a perfectionist, that whole story youve heard. X amount of artists say the same things about themselves, and thats why they dont release every month or whatever. I am producing loads, Ive got a home studio Im up at 7 every morning I get in the studio and Im there all day. Sometimes I have lunch, sometimes I dont eat the whole day. I was finishing tracks and playing them out and not really feeling anything. Its only in the last few months that Ive actually started to like my own shit again!
Its that, plus personal bits; I had a daughter, and been moving house and doing extensions all that kind of family stuff as well. But yeah, basically just wasnt happy with stuff and now I am.
In the past you’ve talked about your vibe, youve said its “something moody, but sexy at the same time. Nothing overly moody like industrial – not that kinda moody.” Now I think your new release does sound pretty industrial! The Its not what it looks like track sounds like Industrial Funky, and Press Up which is my favourite off the new EP, wouldnt sound out of place in Berghain.
Maybe we have different opinion on what Industrial means. I meant Industrial like the Genre Industrial. That kind of, wearing big doc martin boots to the rave, more like Goth industrial, or band-y, super dark D&B, noisy Dubstep – that real full-on stuff. Yeah a little bit of that clanky industrial bit its all good! But you got to temper it with some soul. With Its not what it looks like yeah its quite industrial, monotonous or whatever. But its balanced out by the pads and its got a little dash of soul in there, still.
Youre in a position where you get sent lots of promos, have a keen ear to the ground and have managed to keep relevant within the music industry – where do you think musical trends might be heading in the next few years considering how well House & Techno is doing right now?
Ive been thinking Techno was gonna pop off since about 2005, but it just hasnt! House you can get in the charts. Techno is almost by definition the most underground music there is. Fearne Cotton is going to be playing some various house stuff Im sure, Technos never gonna do that I dont think.
Right now, theres confusion. Thats why the UK isnt quite so hot at the moment thats why everyones banging on about Berlin and Paris and reh-teh-teh. With what you were saying with the resurgence of House & Techno, because House & Techno is not a new thing, I dont know, its not exciting really. People are doing Bass House stuff, but I dont see that as a genre in itself. Wheres the big explosions, you know what I mean? 1988 – Acid House. 92 Rave. 94 Jungle. Garage to a lesser extent, Grime. Proper UK stuff stuff we can really call our own. Stuff that could only happen in the UK kind of thing. House is happening now, but it could happen anywhere. It could be the sound from Belgium, UK, Australia, it doesnt matter. I think everyone is waiting for something to come round.
Its just cross-pollination right now. Footwork mixed with Jungle, fair enough but Jungle isnt new, Footworks not ours. I know people are doing things new with it, but its not the next big genre that has really popped off and that is ours.
Are you trying to feel out that sound? Youve been able to keep current, to keep relevant by releasing different genres, a route a lot of producers dont go down.
Would you say that more producers should be producing different genres, a variety of styles?
Ive always said produce what you want to produce! Its irrelevant what I think, really. You make of it what you want. Theres exciting house and techno music out there, Im fine with that.
What I was saying before that the UK doesnt have its own sound really at the moment – I dont actually care. I dont need the next Grime, or the next Funky or whatever to make me happy. I feel Ive arrived now, I know what the Mosca sound is now. Its taken a long time, but Im happy doing underground house and techno and the rest. Few bits of old school electro, garage bits or whatever. Im not waiting for something new to come along, Im happy where I am right now.
Youve said in the past you dont feel that people know what Moscas about yet. Since the radio show, do you think people do know what Mosca is about? Has that changed? You keep evolving like you say you know your sound now.
I think the radio has helped, like you say, but its also a matter of time. Ive always played House & Techno bits, mainly afro-house, I bought a lot more kind of minimal techno records back in 04, 05. Not minimal as in genre, minimal as in the sound. It was mixed up with everything else. Mixing it with Bassline and shit like that. 2 or 3 years ago when I was playing just house and techno for half an hour in my sets – I was getting a lot of confused looks. And now, Im not getting those looks. I understand though yknow, in 2013 if youre paying 15 sometimes for a ticket you want to know roughly what youre getting.
How do the radio show sets differ from the club sets? For example, with your radio show, youre not playing to an audience directly, but a potential audience of many thousands that are listening all over the world.
I try not to think about the numbers too much. Zane Lowe gets 2 million, did you know that? I used to be on straight after Zane. 2 million people! Ive got a later slot now, its more people who want to be listening to it. Before itd be people who would text in and itd be shout out to Angela, shes baking a cake in the kitchen! or whatever. People who listen to Radio 1 rather than listen to a certain DJ.
Do you see your radio shows as an opportunity for you to go very deep within your tastes, to go places where perhaps you couldnt go with your club sets?
I kind of goes both ways. I play deeper stuff on the radio than I would in the club stuff thats a bit more home listening that might not move the dancefloor exactly, but Im still feeling the vibe of it. But Im also playing a lot more Techno on the show. Probably more techno than I do in the club or at the festival or whatnot. I play at techno nights and thats different. I feel I am passionate about Techno. Theres no-one else on the whole of Radio 1 whos playing techno. No one! Not even Benji B. In the back of my mind Im probably playing more Techno than necessary.
Youve talked about this concept of its not what you play, its what you dont play. With the breadth of the internet and House & Techno, is there now no excuse for a DJ to not have their own signature style? Same goes for producing – Its not what you include in your productions, its what you dont include
I wouldnt go so far as to say theres no excuse for a DJ or producer to not have their own signature style, because 9 months ago, that was me. Im jealous of some of these guys who come through and their first release is just absolutely on it. And they stay in that vein, and from their first release onwards – they are just on it. And I just think cunt! Haha! And these guys are 19 or 20 or whatever. Im 27 now, and I feel like my sound is only just coming. With this new release, it feels like, Day 1 almost. If my whole back catalogue got wiped out and I started again, I wouldnt even be that bothered. It feels like stuff is moving again and I know what I want to do and how to play the game and whatnot.
You’ve always given the impression that you’re simply just doing ‘you’, and there hasnt been some grand master plan – but it has to be said that if the music industry was a chess game, you’ve played it very well.
Luck bruv, luck! Im not stupid so theres certain mistakes I havent made Ive seen other people make. I think about music a lot, not necessarily music industry or whatever but I think about the quality of music. The stuff Im making now, am I really going to love it in 10 years? If they play this at my funeral would I be cringing, or would I be alright, sound! This wasnt that bad for 20 years ago or whatever. When you break it down, its very simple. My names Tom Reid. Theres no difference between Tom Reid and Mosca. I have a radio voice, thats about the only difference, haha!
Youre known for your quality control. How do you know when a track is ‘ready’? When do you stop changing and adjusting it? When does it feel right?
Its different on every tune. Its just something you learn. Ive been producing since I was 14, so thats 13 years now. Some tracks youre working them out and got a good feeling about yeah cool, dont touch that. Other tracks I literally had to drag my hand off the thing and be stop touching it!. Youre just trying to change it because youre bored of it cause youve been listening to it for 11 straight hours. But actually if you heard it the first time in the club, its fine as it is. Sometimes you need to take a break, otherwise some stuff doesnt ever get finished. Thats why Ive done VIPs of tunes not because of exclusives or whatever, its just because Im not happy with it, I change it and then its something I can play in the club.
Youve said youve made some of your best beats in an airport, why is that?
Recently Ive not been doing much beats at airports. It used to be, fuck paying for WIFI at the airport. So you do anything you can do waiting around in an airport, so you just open up your laptop and make beats. I get sketches down nowadays. If Ive got a little idea in my head, Ill work something out at airports or trains or whatever.
But, when you get back and you listen to it in the studio it takes longer to sort them out because of the space in the headphones is different to the space in the actual room of the studio. Basically you cant produce good club music on headphones, long story short. Ive stopped doing that.
If youre working more at home, not making so many beats on a laptop on a move, is that a clue that youre moving towards a more hardware based workflow, or are you still reasonably happy with Reason and things being in-the-box? I ask this as it wasnt too long ago that you were producing your tunes with no midi keyboard and only headphones.
Ive got some more bits, some outboard delays, drum machines, you know I started on hardware so Ive brought some bits back. Mostly its software still. When you start slowing stuff down, patching stuff around, when youre workflow and your whole vibe gets interrupted, youre doing multiple takes and all of that – it becomes work, really. I like the quickness of software, you can get stuff done and be excited and stay excited.
If you werent a producer and DJ, what would you be doing?
Id probably be a journalist. I went to Uni and did a degree, then did a masters in Magazine Journalism, ran my own music magazine for a little bit. Got a job being a Finance journalist and it was looking downhill from there, that was dry! Id be a miserable hack!
You’ve said in the past the people you’d most like to collaborate with are Mavado or Vybz Kartel, or someone like Kerri Chandler. Has that changed?
It wasnt so much the fact I loved Movado or Kartel that much I actually did a remix for Kartel since that interview! Its funny how stuff gets hooked up. They were just people that were out of my scene and out of my reach, basically. People that Im not going to run into in the rave. Im not going to be bouncing around and bump into Vybz Kartel you know what I mean. Those people dont apply anymore. Something with Kerri would be cool, but thats changed too. Ive met Kerri now, in New York and speak with him on email and what not. Its funny looking back and how your outlook changes from a few years experience.
Has the bar been set higher for your dream collaboration?
When I go to bed I dont dream about collaborating, I just dream about putting out some more music by me because theres not much of it! Ive started a few collaborations but most of it kind of petered out really. I have something in the pipeline but best not to talk about it right now in case 6 months down the line it doesnt happen!
Do you like working with someone in the studio or are you more of a lone wolf?
Im gonna have to go with the lone wolf. I started working in a band, it was me who wrote the songs. I couldnt drum, but I was telling the drummer how to drum, that kind of stuff! It wasnt comfortable. Music made by two people or more is a very different thing. Music is such a personal thing for me. If you cant get exactly whats making you move and translate it into sound, its I dont know. I dont like compromise, basically. Whats the point? Nobodys forcing me into doing any collaborations so I probably wont really do any.
I get two vibes from you. One is a kind of laid back persona, where its Im just doing me, things have turned out the way they have. Then theres this other side thats almost obsessive, listening to the same loop for 11 hours, tweaking everything, not releasing vast swathes of material because its not right, you dont feel its you. Is there a schism in your personality?
When you put it like that there is, but on the other hand That Im just doing me thing, that perfectionism is just me! It was the same at school. If it wasnt something I didnt care about, then rags. Hand in anything to the teacher, didnt care, was getting Ds in certain subjects. If it was something like Art, Id be staying up all night, staying in at lunch, doing mad stuff and really putting everything into it. Because when I love something, I really get a bit deep I guess.
Are you a kick drum, hi hat or a snare? And why?
Kick drum, because then at least you can listen to that by itself.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
Music, always have been. Nothing else.
What’s your answer to everything?
If your sound was a visual thing, what would it look like?
Black, grey, white and dark green.
What was the music of your teenage rebellion?
First and last record bought?
KERN volume 1 mixed by DJ Deep rarities. Bought it for one tune by Deepside, called 111. It came out on Tresor.
First record is Hella Nasty Beastie Boys.
Whats your favourite place on earth?
Complete the sentence: I’m proper techno because…..
Qs by Dash Gettings.