In the business world, one of the most important things a person can do is be able to sum up their skills and ideas in a succinct and concise way. Forget Powerpoint presentations, laser pointers, or fresh-pressed business wear: if you can not sell yourself in a quick conversation, and stand out amongst "the others," you've lost the attention of your client or superior almost indefinitely. The same concept applies directly to those in the music world. On the daily we are inundated with new music coming at us through our email inboxes, Twitter feeds and Facebook news streams. Particularly with DJs and producers, the brand of music artists who remain relatively anonymous in comparison to their work, the need to make sure their first impression is their best impression is crucial or else it may be their last. Without completely eliminating the dirty work, we have found several DJs and producers from around the world who we believe are worthy of your time. But you can't take them for granted as they are people with views about the music they create. We have interviewed them to see how they got into this trade, what inspires them, what pisses them off, and what they have learned over the duration of their individual careers. Once you have read a bit about them, you can hear their elevator speech, an EARMILK exclusive mix they have made to succinctly represent their style. We are certain they will not fail to impress.
Where exactly does a 18-year old from Newbridge, Ireland get off making music from his bedroom one day, to touching down at LAX to meet with music label heads the next? Apparently when the musician proves himself capable of making music worth signing, that's where. So the stories we've heard about bedroom producers are true: you can in fact hole yourself up in your bedroom on a snowy day with an Ableton, tinker around with the instrument, throw the tracks up on the Internet, think nothing of it and receive phone calls and emails from international record labels the very next day. It's completely plausible, though your parents will never buy it. But when met with doubt, refer to MMOTHS, the youth in question, as proof. Being just a year into his full-fledged career as a bedroom producer, the musician's overnight success continues to allude him. No matter, the effervescent musician continues to plug along, taking in everything with an even-keeled sense of appreciation and awe at how quickly the events around him are happening. Having heard him splice and dice Passion Pit, Bon Iver and Interpol so decently, we could not help but continually replay them. Just over a month ago, we featured the quivering track, "Heart", reworked to feature lucid vocals by Keep Shelly In Athens only to be met with yet another release entitled "Summer", a sprightly track featuring Superhumanoids. As he prepares to fly out to Austin for multiple performances at this year's SXSW, we first connected with the musician just after he got out of watching "The Troll Hunter" with some of his best mates. MMOTHS' self-titled, five-track EP was released just today and is already sitting pretty at number one on the iTunes Ireland electronic albums list.
EARMILK: Where do you get inspiration for the way your music sounds?
MMOTHS: I don't take inspiration from experiences or people or things; I just write something and build upon that. It's an idea or something. I might have something in my head but it's never really writing a song about an event, it's weird. I don't really think about it. I don't have a proper answer.
EM: What's the thought process behind your remixes?
MM: With Passion Pit, I had already written a song and saw that it worked with the Passion Pit song. Bon Iver was a favorite song. Different songs have been different. I'm getting requests for remixes so I'm not getting a choice, really.
EM: Who are your top favorite artists or songs?
MM: Three favorite artists? Mm, that is hard. Aw fuck. Okay, Kelis. "Milkshake" is the best song ever! She was sitting on a milkshake thing, it was hilarious but amazing. Oh fuck, I don't know.
EM: That's okay, who are you listening to at the moment?
MM: Oh lots of King Cruel and Doubt and Shlohmo.
EM: So you are literally in your bedroom, making music. How does that work? What do you use to make your music?
MM: I just write songs in my room. I don't get why people spend so much money on shit like that. No one is going to listen to your shit — well maybe some will — off your expensive equipment. Music is about capturing emotion, not perfection. I think that is the truest fucking thing anyone ever said. I know someone who will work on hours and hours on a kick drum and I think, "What the fuck is the big deal about the kick drum?" But I'm also am pretty lazy. I think I've made good decisions with my kicks. I just use my laptop and play notes off the typing keyboard. I don't know what keys I'm playing but I don't want to get stuck in to the same melodic shit. What I do is play the same chords, all the time on the piano, but I don't want do that on my computer. Everything is on Ableton. Ableton is the best, I think. It's the easiest, I definitely think. If anyone is wondering what is good to use when you're just starting out producing, I say Ableton.
EM: Are you sure you want to tell everyone that? Aren't you giving away your secret? Creating competition for yourself?
MM: Secret? No, fuck no. No, maybe… (Laughs) I don't know.
EM: You've traveled to a few countries in a relatively short amount of time. Where have you traveled to so far?
MM: (Continues) A producer just makes music and is not looking to be in the limelight — I don't want people to look to me when they're listening to the music. Everyone can't think whatever they want. It should be interpreted in whatever way they want and I don't like when I listen to a song you are thinking, "You should feel or think or do this." It's just interpreted in whatever way you want. Whatever makes you happy just do that.
EM: How long have you been DJing or producing?
MM: I've always been in bands, real shit bands, when I was 13 and 15 and 16 and I sort of just like sort of started making music but I never recorded it and then when I got software and shit on my computer, I started writing I started writing electronic music. It started happening when it snowed last year here and I got sick of being in it and I wrote a song and started writing. That's when MMOTHS started. I never saw it as being a job or occupation or a project. I never thought that I would I would be sitting here being interviewed by a girl from EARMILK. Never ever. I've noticed people who want to get to a certain place where they can pay the bills but I've sort of dropped into it.
It's completely surreal to me everyday. I went over to LA a few months ago; the plane over, I was by myself and it was fucking unreal: someone was flying me over. That was pretty eerie and weird but I fucking love that so much. I can't do anything else. I was shit in school. All my friends are in college and sometimes I miss not being in college with them but I definitely would have dropped out because I would have been failing and shit. But I'm really really grateful for all of this.
EM: If your friends are in college, this makes you under 21?
MM: 18. The guy from the label gave me his English driver's license and he's 26. We went to loads of shows, they just let me in, they were like, "Just go."
EM: Has being from Ireland influence your work? Do you know what types of music or sounds are coming from there?
MM: Now it does. There's so many amazing electronic amazing artists coming from here and now that I'm part of that scene, it's easier to see. When I wasn't a part of it, it wasn't as easy to see. But things have changed in the past 12 months.
EM: What has surprised you about the music industry? What are some important lessons you've learned?
MM: Everyone says there's loads of sharks and stuff and my mom said she didn't want me she do this because she didn't want me to get fucked over and steal my money and leave me to die. But everyone I've met has been fucking amazing and so, so, so nice and I haven't found [the sharks] to be true. But, in certain in cases I can see that being true but I've met the best people and everyone is fucking cool. It's just a pleasure to meet these people.
EM: I'm going to ask you the Flying Lotus question. I know everyone has but how did it feel to have him send you a message?
MM: I freaked and rang all my friends. (Since this interview, Gold Panda has also shown MMOTHS some love)
EM: What's coming up next for you?
MM: I'm working on a second EP and a new live set which will be done while I'm on tour. It's going to be great, there's going to be visuals. We're doing a show in Dublin, we're going to wallpaper the stage and put chairs and tables and vases and lamps and a 3D map with the visuals projected onto them and there's going to be a disco ball. It's going to be sweet. It's going to be really intimate as well, only 200-300 people. (MMOTHS will also be performing at SXSW; see dates below)
I don't think I ever answered your question (laughs). Fuck, the one about where I've traveled. I am all over the place, you are probably very annoyed. I'm the worst at these things, interviews. I played in Manchester after Los Angeles, where I played with Hudson Mowhawke, Zomby and Aphex Twin. That was fun. I've always tried to cut down and keep the shows at a minimum so no one gets sick of it. But yea, it's been good. I know this could all end in a few months time and then what? I'm going to have to produce with really shitty people. So I'm not going to be a dickhead about it. I'm actually a nice guy even though I am doing a fucking bad job of answering these questions. (Laughs)
EM: How was it working with with Sarah P and Superhumanoids? Do you work with them in person?
MM: One of my friends, John, was in Solar Bears. They just did a track with Sarah and Pitchfork premiered it. [John] was like, "You should definitely do a track with [Sarah]." When I heard her voice, I hit her up and was like, "Yea, let's do this." So then we did a track. With Superhumanoids, we were trying to figure it out and Jimmy [MMOTHS' manager] was like, "I know this band" and showed me and hooked it up.
EM: Did you write lyrics for the vocal parts? How does that collaboration work?
MM: I don't write lyrics so I just said, "I know you're going to do a good job," because I knew they were. They sent me lyrics and said, "Listen to it," but I said, "Whatever you feel, just do your thing. Whatever your format is, that's fine." I don't think I could write lyrics for someone else's song, it's such a personal thing. So they sent me their music and I sent them mine. They just recorded the vocals over them.
EM: What does your mom think of all of this? Has she seen you perform live?
MM: My mom and my dad are supportive as fuck. They are so, so supportive. It's amazing. They know I love doing it. It's so fucking personal, you wrote this shit and now you're playing it for all these people and if they boo you, that's fucking heartbreaking shit. I just didn't want to fuck up in front of people that I know. I don't care about people that I don't know, I don't have to look at them again… but people that I know, I felt like I had to impress them or live up to them. With the first show, it was at this festival with a big tent and I told [my parents], "You can't go, it's my first show." I was so fucking nervous. I just didn't want them to go because I wasn't ready but then they rang the festival organizers and some how got tickets and I was shaking so bad and when I got off stage, I smoked a million smokes. Then one of my best mates came up to me and said, "Your parents are in the back with your little sister," and I said, "Oh no, fuck!" and I realized they trekked the whole way to get there and somehow schemed their tickets and I said, "How did you get in? If you paid for tickets, I'd be so pissed," but they said, "No, no we didn't." They just said they went in and said, "I'm MMOTHS' mother."
EM: When you perform live, do you feel it's hard to keep the crowd interested? What do you do to maintain their attention?
MM: The live show, it's just going to be new: a new routine and starting fresh and the first time I'm playing these songs. It's hard going from knowing the last one worked to not know how this one will be and mixing everything up with this new set. It's going to have all this new stuff but I'm not sure about it because I don't know how people feel will about messing with a good thing. I try not to talk a lot though, I don't think I'm very funny. I don't want them to be like, "What the fuck is he talking about?" I just play my music and hope they like it.
EM: So once you're making loads of cash as MMOTHS, do you think you'll still prefer to make music in your room?
MM: I would love to own a full on studio and be like, "Oh, look at that shit ahhhh," but I think I would still opt to make my music in my bedroom. I am still going to buy some shit after this tour and all these shows and this EP but I think it will sort of expand the sound.
SXSW Performance Dates:
Full Irish Breakfast – Friday, March 16
MFG x Guns In The Sun x Hit City USA – Friday, March 16
HypeM Hotel – Saturday, March 16
DubFrequency – Saturday, March 17