Mooji is a brilliant talent that we had featured a little while back, regarding his new single "Medley," off of his new record "Double Agent." Based in Spain, Mooji started his roots out as Kramnik, a real respected and highly sought after DJ. Deciding to bring a musical twist to the table, his new music is a complete 360. I had the chance to speak with Mooji regarding his flavorful sound of acid-jazz, dub, funk, down-temp and blues, that is ready to take over the world.
Tell us about the making of "Double Agent" and the concept behind it?
For the most part, 'Double Agent' came to life in Berlin, but also during my travels to Morocco, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. I moved to Berlin after releasing 'Dark Matters' (under the Kramnik name), because I wanted to approach this album with a different mindset. The idea was to try a completely different style of music, more chilled, and definitely more organic. I knew I didn't want to make another electronic album because I had just finished one (with a lot of effort...). I was just looking for a different type of challenge this time, but had no idea where I was going. I did want some improvisation, though, so for this album I hired some studio musicians to play the guitar, trumpet solos, harmonicas, etc. I also play the drums on most of the tracks in the album.
What elements influence your songwriting?
At the time I was listening to a lot of acid-jazz and downtempo, so I think that was a big influence. But you also have some dubby stuff in there (Medley), a soundtrack (Psilo Symphony), something electro (Dont), and even a blues remix. I came across a 1935 song by Leadbelly during my time in Cambodia, and I thought it would be a good candidate for a remix (called How Long in the album). In this album I also introduce spoken voices, by people like John Lee Hooker, Lee 'Scrath' Perry, or Muddy Waters. Just spoken voices, though, not signing. I like the effect it has on the music.
If you could play any venue in the world, which venue would you choose and why?
Probably Albert Hall because it means you pretty much made it. And also because it's a venue that represents quality music. But this album is very chilled and has no band behind it, so I still have to figure out how to perform it...
What is the meaning behind “Medley”? How did you create the track? What was it’s inspiration?
I wrote Medley in Berlin, and it's my first attempt at something dubby (or anywhere near that genre, really!). The name comes from some bagpipes I warped for the track, which is actually two songs joined together. I thought featuring Lee Perry would add a nice Jamaican touch, so he talks about the responsibility of leading other musicians during his college years. I hope to come back to this genre in the future, which in the studio we jokingly called HumStep, because I 'hum' towards the end of the track (LOL...).
In this creative process, would you say you enjoy being in the studio, or performing live on stage more? Explain your reason.
'Double Agent' hasn't been performed yet, because of the challenge in going live with such a chilled album, so for now I'll go for the studio. That's where all the magic takes place, and where you create a special bond with the music. For me it's a very scientific approach of trial and error, where sometimes the errors have the best results
What do you enjoy most about creating music in general?
For me making music is like a pilgrimage. It's more about the process than the finished song. And when it's finished, I normally don't like to hear it again because I want to change everything... So making music is like breaking a relationship. You develop a very strong bond with the song, and then it's very hard to let go.
What made you decide to switch from a producer and DJ background to one focused on jazz, blues and funk?
Growing up I had the dream of making an album-mix, but I think this was a bit too challenging for a debut album... Making 'Dark Matters' with no production skills was not very easy, to say the least (which I released as Kramnik). I just had to learn as I went along, even though some of the early songs ended up later in the tracklist. But because 'Dark Matters' was designed as a mix, the tracks were made for DJs (as opposed to the general public). Plus it was very dark and experimental. So this time, instead of another electronic album, I wanted to make something beyond the dancefloor, something that could be shared with friends. The result is a more chilled, listening album, but touching on different genres. So chilled, in fact, that I've had to release it under a brand new name (Mooji). I was looking for shorter, more organic songs, but also with live instruments (including me on drums). I also introduce human voices in this album, which was lacking in 'Dark Matters'.