Name: Joyce Muniz
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Current Release: Joyce Muniz's remix for Demetrius's "Keep Going" is out now on Black Diamonds
Recommendations: Waste Land, by Vik Muniz
It’s a movie about the world’s largest garbage dump on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. The films incredible cinematography captures the endless toil of the catadores, a small band of garbage collectors who separate recyclable materials. These low-paid collectors are found working in dangerous conditions, overwhelmed in oceans of trash.
The Wind Rises, by Hayao Miyazaki
This is an inspiring, tragic and beautifully humble film about staying true to yourself and following your dreams. It really impressed me about how it shows the journey towards achieving your dreams in a really honest way. There will be happy moments, hard times, love, difficult people, etc. But it is important to stay true to yourself through everything and don’t give up.
If you enjoyed this interview with Joyce Muniz, her facebook page and Soundcloud profile are ideal gateways into her world.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What what is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I have many different influences before I started to make my own productions. I was a DJ for a few years before I made my own beats and had a residency at Flex club in the beginning of 2000. At that time I was mostly playing drum & bass, break beats, dope beats, UK bass, hip hop, trip hop. House music came a few years later. Back in the days, some of the DJs brought their MC. One day I just grabbed the microphone and started to MC in Brazilian Portuguese over my set. This is how I became a singer.
One day I got an invitation from the Austrian producer Stereotyp to visit him in his studio. We made a few cool productions together which came out on Daniel Haaksman’s imprint Man Recordings. We got really good support from great artists like Diplo, Sinden, Switch … With this project, I started basically my international career. Being a singer on that project for me was cool but I wanted to develop myself a little bit more, also because DJing was my big passion and I always had a big bright record collection. I felt it was time to focus on my own ideas. So, I got my little studio setup at home and with help from some really talented friends I started to produce my own beats.
For whatever reason, because I am a person that likes to go with the flow, house music was the rhythm that made me feel comfortable as producer. House music is such an amazing style - you go deep, techy, soulful, acid, afro - I love the diversity.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
I’m very happy that I could go through so many different phases before I became what I am. I think it never will stop. There is always something new to discover. I was a vinyl collector for many years and every city I visited I want to check the local record stores. The years doing warm up for different acts gave me the chance to develop my musical taste. Then singing for different projects till I started to make own beats. And don’t forget I grow up in a family of percussionist so of course my first instrument was percussion.
Every experience helped me to grow and helped me to find my own style - which I still can’t describe exactly what it is but I know it's me. I feel it. Of course, there is a bunch of music that influences me. But I always try to create some new ideas out of the influences. I am not the kind of producer that takes the time to copy what already exists. Time is precious and I always try to to make something new.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
In the beginning, the most challenging part was finding the right sound since I didn’t have the best gear and studio equipment at my disposal. Developing my own style has been a process that evolved over the years and came to fruition with my first single on Exploited Records "Party over here, Party over there".
What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
It was super basic. I only had my laptop, an interface and monitors. Since the beginning, I have been using Ableton and Komplete by Native Instruments. Over the years, I slowly started to try out different synthesizers and integrate the gear that fit my style. Since the equipment is very expensive, it has been necessary to make choices accordingly. My first synthesizer was the Elektron Analog Keys. It was one of the best choices I have ever made since I’m still using it a lot. My second gear was the Moog Sub37 and my latest acquisition is the Minibrute 2S by Arturia, which is a semi-modular analog synthesizer. Those three synths combined culminate in the perfect sound. Since a couple of years I have been using the UAD Interface which is amazing. It really helped to upgrade the quality of my sound. They constantly provide you with new Plug-Ins.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
Technology pretty much helps to manifest what an artist carries inside, which is the creative vision, the desire and inspiration.
Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
I use a lot of plugins and software but analog synths are key to my process. I have a very visceral connection to the music I produce and it’s important to have the analog synths to make my beats.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
It really depends on the situation and the vibes. I have done collaborations that happened on the spot or I just sent an idea to a singer by files. I have been collaborating with so many different people over the years. If the musical connection is there, then things happen automatically, especially with current technology.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
It’s hard to have a routine since I’m based in two different cities and travel a lot. My standard routine is spending most of the time in the studio. I have a studio in Vienna and a work space in Berlin. So my life is mostly connected to my work also because most of my friends are also working in the music business.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
It’s always different. I don’t really follow a rule and that’s why I call what I’m doing art. I go with the flow, always. My taste in music is so broad. I don’t try to push myself into something that is not me. That’s why it’s hard to define my style, because I don’t follow any genres.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Since we are all humans, I’d say distractions derive from not feeling centered at times, emotionally or physically. But since I’m a person that is connected to myself, I find myself most often in a flow state.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
Every time I write a song I can’t wait to play it in the club. This has definitely changed since I’m producing my own music. I always try to incorporate as much of my own music into my DJ sets. The reason why is that playing them live it gives me the feedback I need back in the studio. I try out all my dance music tracks in the club first before I release them.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
Is it too simple to say that if it sounds good it is good? Seriously though, I start writing my tracks with the drums and bass. Then build everything on top with the synths and sound design. But sometimes there is a cool vocal idea or something that the track can be built around. It really depends on my mood and who I am working with at the time.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
I’d say that music connects me with almost all senses, since one connects songs to memories (good and bad) and gives one an overall, visceral sensation.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
I believe there can always be found a message in every piece of art. Sometimes it’s more obvious than at other times. There is so much to be talked about and even in the music industry there is still a lot to be done
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
Fundamentally, DJ music is about making people move. Musicians will always find new ways to make beats but that fundamental principle will never change.