Name: Luis Clara Gomes / Moullinex
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Current Release: Moullinex's Requiem for Empathy is out now on Discotexas.
Recommendation: First, I will recommend Sofia Crespo’s work. She’s a generative artist working on speculative biology, connecting multiple dots between Artificial Intelligence, Biology, Philosophy and Ecology.
Lastly, Made in Situ’s Barro Negro pottery collection, sculptural pieces made in black clay through ancient outdoor cooking techniques. I had the immense pleasure of working with artist Noé Douchafour and sonically illustrate the collection.
If you enjoyed this interview with Moullinex and would like to find out more about his personal brand of electronic music, visit his website. Or head over to his Facebook profile and Soundcloud account for current updates and music.
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’ve always liked to learn new things, and music is one of the crafts where the opportunity to learn is limitless. I started making music in my early teens, with a computer only. I had a shareware version of Fruity Loops which didn’t let me save or export, so I’d do little tracks in a day and record them to tape at the end.
As a teen I was listening mostly to punk, metal and some jazz, but when I found Squarepusher, Amon Tobin and Luke Vibert my entire world was changed. Their music sounded simultaneously artificial and infused with emotion and texture. What I was doing sounded nothing like it, though.
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 relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
I would further that comment by saying originality is not a stable state, but more like a wave that ebbs and flows, in many artists’ careers. Several artists I admire had moments where they were humble enough to destroy their egos and clichés in the process, and rebuild themselves from the ashes that triggered a new phase of learning and imitating others, all over again.
I believe originality comes from having modesty and courage in the same proportions. Modesty to know there are always others who can have valuable teachings for your craft, and courage to look past your achievements and permanently set new goals.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
In the beginning I wanted to sound like a band. My struggles were mainly with harmony, as I never had any musical education - I was falling in love with funk, disco and jazz, and emulating those chord progressions was always very difficult to me.
I would devour any piece of information about music theory or production. We’re talking about early internet years, so no YouTube tutorials, so information was scattered everywhere, almost like an oral tradition. This compressor was used in mixing this record, the bass player on that record also recorded with this producer, this is the kick drum they use, etc … finding such a bit of information felt like striking gold.
I believe “my sound” was a happy accident that happened because I failed miserably in the process of trying to sound like a band, but without any music knowledge or instrument proficiency. Over the years I’ve gotten good enough at expressing myself in several instruments, which in turn led me to lose some of those idiosyncratic solutions I was coming up with. They weren’t that bad after all - they were mine. So I consciously attempt to go back to that state of naivety, now by subtraction instead of addition.
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?
I literally started only with a computer and a 2.1 system from LIDL. I mixed my first tracks on those speakers, they’re still working 20 years later. I was still in university, and started to code some websites for money, which I would spend entirely on music gear.
My first synth was a Juno 106, which I loved. I have since amassed a big collection of synths, guitars, outboard effects, stompboxes and drum gear. It’s a lot, but I do sell what I don’t use often. Nowadays my favorite classics are: Roland System 100-m modular, Roland SH-1000 and Korg Mono/Poly. As for modern machines: Soma Lyra-8, Louder than Liftoff Silver Bullet, DSI OB6.
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?
I get deep into many rabbit holes in technology, and my source of creativity often comes from things I discover in the process. Problem-solving is a great source of inspiration, so I completely agree with that feedback mechanism you mention.
However, I don’t see a dichotomy between machines and humans in that sense, but I see technology as a canvas for exploring new possibilities. Technology has democratized music making and music discovery for many. Nowadays, with development in AI we’re offered tools that aid us even further in creating music, but we’re still very far away from sentient machines that could create art. Once they did, wouldn’t it be a little anthropocentric of us to think this music would be made for us to enjoy?
Music is still made by humans for other humans, and so there are traits in it only humans are capable of reaching: emotion, vulnerability, self-awareness.
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?
When you’re making music alone, you’re not truly making music alone. The tools you are using were designed by someone. Decisions were made on what they were created for, their limitations, their interface, their aesthetics.
I’m not minimizing the creator’s role, but the truth is I wouldn’t make the same music on a guitar and a tape deck or a synth and a DAW. So, of course, my creation has had the contribution of all the pieces that were used in the process. I would say the raw materials are human emotions, but the tools shape them into form.
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?
I live for collaboration. I get much more out of it than the actual finished piece of music. Getting a look behind the curtain of how other passionate people approach their craft influences my approach in so many different ways. Sharing vulnerabilities, taking left turns together, just seeing someone doing their thing, all of it profoundly impacts what I do myself.
I like the idea of my studio as a house I’ve built to invite guests over: they’ll come in and my sole job is to create a comfortable environment. The house has a personality of its own, so it’ll shape the conversation, albeit in a soft, non-invasive way.
I’m not the biggest fan of remote collaboration, unless it’s with someone I already know very deeply. There’s a lot of non-verbal communication happening in the studio that you simply can’t replicate over email - so I think that getting-to-know-each-other process is essential prior to working together.