There's only one Michael Muska.
As we gear up for White Noise pres. Thankyou City, Sunshine and Muska on the 19th of May, we sat down with the Melbourne-based techno icon responsible for Organic Audio to talk about the art of production, and why working with local artists is so important.
What sort of style, or genre, would you say defines your DJ sets?
I like to incorporate as many styles as I can into a set, but for the most part I like it to have an authentic ‘Aussie’ feel which is why I call it bushtechno. In saying that, I keep that sound mostly for my festival sets whereas in a nightclub I like to mix things up, and really froth for that 'dirtybird' flavor too.
What, or who, are you listening to at the moment?
P.H. Fat is getting thrashed in my car the most at the moment. They’re like a South African hip-hop act with filthy trap and dubstep style production behind their tracks. Absolutely love them… I’m going to tour them if someone doesn’t do it soon!
You’ve been an electronic music producer for some time… what inspires you the most to produce? And tell us a bit about your process?
I don’t know if things really inspire me to do it, I just do it because I love writing music and it's been my hobby since I was 18. I never really wrote music with the intention of being a producer or releasing it till very recently, and that’s only because Kasey Taylor listened to my tracks and really drilled it into my head that the music has potential. Any release before that happened because the label encouraged me to do so, otherwise I don’t think I ever would have done it. It's weird, because at any stage in which I've had the thought of taking it seriously and writing music professionally, I then have writer's block and can’t write a tune for the life of me. It’s like the less I think about it and keep it fun, the easier it is to write and that’s the process I take to the studio. If I start thinking about how to write a tune or what I want to write, or how to write it, I can't. The less I think the better the result. Writing music is more about ideas for me than anything, and ideas can only flow when I'm in the zone naturally doing it..
To get in the zone and think as little as possible, I set up my templates and load all my sounds first. So when I’m not in the mood to write, I take that time to jam, EQ and set up basic loops and ideas… then when I do sit down to write the track, the sounds are pretty much ready to go. This allows me to get into that zone, if I was trying to make or pick patches and samples whilst trying to make a tune I'd just lose the creative flow, so I try to avoid that at all costs.
Any advice I would give is don’t tweak your sounds to try to make them all fit while writing your tune, do it all pre-session. Then, when you sit down to compose, just write and don’t get caught up in the details... and don’t over-think what you're doing. As soon as it sounds right, move on to the next sound. Jam as much as you can, get down as much as you can, then come back and pick out the best parts do final editing and extra mixing until you take it to the final mastering process.
I do have lots of almost-finished tracks, and I find it hard to come back to them but with releases coming out this year on Lo Fi / Recovery Collective and Subsonic, I'm going to sit down this winter and finish a lot of tracks. I guess it’s the fact that I have releases coming out that has motivated me - so I'm experiencing that for the first time. It’s a new motivation to get shit done.
What’s your favorite movie soundtrack? Why?
WALL–E was pretty good. I like all the glitchy robotic sounds.
What did you listen to when you were growing up?
I remember my teenage years the most. I was listening to The Doors, Limp Bizkit, Tool, Prodigy, Infusion… a lot of hip-hop and punk rock until I was 18. Then it was trance, drum & bass, break-beat and techno, and nothing else for a while. Today I listen to everything.
Your contribution to the Melbourne underground scene has been enormous. What's the most enjoyable aspect of being involved in this industry?
Helping people for sure. I really get a kick out of passing on experience or even connecting people together.
I made a lot of mistakes starting out, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because it taught me everything I know. If I can help someone I see who has the same drive, passion and determination to NOT make those same mistakes, and fast-track their careers to where they want to be a lot quicker, then I want to be able to help them do that. This is why in the last few years I’ve really focused on being an industry consultant.
Your name is synonymous with Organic Audio. Tell us a bit about the brand and where you see it going in the future?
That was inspired by local art really. I just wanted to focus on local events, and taking some of those festival ideas to a local club show and festival stage.
The local scene is what gets me most excited so I wanted an event that met the quality of the artists involved, and instead of wasting money on internationals acts just to pull a crowd, I wanted to show what a community of rad locals could do! They very rarely get the love they deserve and I just want to improve that.
What’s next for Muska?
What’s next for ALL of us is the question that gets a much more exciting answer. It’s all pretty rad: from iPhone apps to a new concept festival. I don’t get social media trigger-happy, but I’m going to start sharing it all with you very soon.
Oh and expect music releases from May onwards ☺