Occupation: Producer, DJ
Current release: møziz's E-møtion: Time Machine + Cycles is out now on Collection Disques Durs.
Recommendations: Recto Verso - Paradis (French electronic music group); Noces - Albert Camus.
If you enjoyed this interview with møziz and would like to find out more about his work, visit him on Facebook.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started producing music at the age of 18. I started by producing R&B and Experimental Pop Music.
Stromae is the 1st influence who gave me this love for music. I went to his first concert in Ivory Coast, my home country, when he came with a whole band and adapt his released songs to local songs (changing rhythms ...). I fell in love with music that day.
For most artists, originality is 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?
As I said, I started by producing music. I was producing for my cousin. We wanted to start an indie experiment pop group.
When I listen to my first beats, cause I was doing beats more often, the sounds, musicality and research were already there. But the more I dig, the more I found a special way, my way of expressing my emotions. I always saw my music as a painting on its own but for me a music was 'completed' when someone is singing on it.
Then I started to listen a lot of electronic music, Aphex Twin, Daft Punk, Jean-Michel Jarre, etc ... starting to understand that art of sound design and that independent song that speaks for itself. With this mix of cultures that I’ve been part of, growing up in the Middle East, West Africa , and North America, I had this ‘panoramic’ way of approaching music. Rhythms, texture, climaxed moods. I think I had the sounds already in shape back then, I had to work on the sound design, and the full identity. Materializing my vision until it became a reality. Which I did during the first lockdown. The rest is a story in its own right.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
I think we create sounds with what we are surrounded with. I think we are the consequences of what we live and vice-versa. There is no existence without life and there no life without existence. My favorite quote is ‘be and it is'. We just have to listen to the surrounding sounds and translate/express in our own medium. I feel like my music reflects what I experienced and lived since my first breath.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
My creative challenge was always to surpass myself and have no opposition but myself: to design an identity and make it evolve through time.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
My first instrument was and is my computer. You can figure out how I mastered this equipment with the song ‘Computerismypiano’. Fully written and edited on my computer, this is, for me, my masterpiece of electronic music. Recreated at the finest touch the classical instrument on my computer. Master and understand every single principal of instruments (attack, release, decay, note strength…) to materialize exactly what emotions, texture and mood you're feeling. I learned to express with what I have. Year after year I learned how to play synthesizer piano through my experience with my MacBook keyboard. Now I can say that the piano is the first instrument I can play. But first of all, my computer is my best skill in music.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
I think Ozone 8 and some effects like the bitcrusher definitely changed my music. On top of that, the comprehension of how to use buses, binaural beats and learning about the different vibrations of this world.
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?
Up until now, I haven’t worked with that many artists. As I said, I worked with my cousins throughout the years and it shaped me on how mixing two worlds can work, how the communication and understanding of one other in order to find the right balance is important.
After understanding how humans work, you can see some patterns in others. We’re all different, but we’re all humans too. That helped me in a few collaborations. I’m looking forward to exploring new horizons with others.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. 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?
I can bring you back to when you asked me 'How would you describe your own development as an artist' to answer to this question. I only make music when I feel like it. I experienced forcing myself to make music, and felt pressured. Unnatural. The only routine I have that works for sure when I want to ‘force' myself to create, is listening to a 10 hour playlist on YouTube and just try to make a resume of what I’ve learned and felt about this playlist.
But, most of the time, life gives me the inspiration. Listening to my friends, discussing with my siblings/friends about how to be a better human every single day. Getting my motivation on my day to day love life with my environment. Then comes the time when I’m alone, usually at night (from 2 to 6 and more) because I feel like when everyone is sleeping, I get more 'creativity data' lol. Similar to Wi-Fi, the less users, the more data. It’s the same for my creativity.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
I started to perform live because we started a creative collective with my brother and some friends. We wanted to bring something new to the Montreal artistic scene because we knew that we had something to bring to the table. From fashion to entertainment to art.
Then came the ideas of doing a pop up/ event doing the famous Mural Festival. I bought my controller 1 week before the event. Knowing nothing about mixing except the fundamentals of music (low, mid, high, filter …) I spent 15 hours every day with learning everything to be perfect for the launch. The day came and I was just shocked by the amount of people. Which I hadn’t anticipated. Stressing out, I thought to myself if it isn’t today, you're never gonna do it. I just dove into it and felt the energy of the crowd, the love, the happiness.
Since that day, live performance has been so important to me cause I’m doing it more for the people than for me and I’m living through them cause they give me the strength to fuck everything up. Use my abilities for everyone to share the love earned.
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?
I think the ideal state of mind is to be yourself. In touch with your environment and emotions. Trust your feelings and abilities. Trust the love you’re surrounded with. To support that, you need a sane close environment, always positive and growing and hoping to do good and evolve positively every day. On top of that something to get to your inner body, your soul. It could be prayers or meditation, travelling but something when you’re alone with yourself.
I think to fully express emotions you have to be free from yourself first, so owning everything you do, then don’t pay attention to how people can perceive it, so free yourself from people. Being authentic is being free in your relations, true to yourself, to your relationship, true to your art. Then people who love you really love you for the best reasons. So my ideal state of mind is being authentic.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
I definitely experienced the aspect of being healed by music. But I think it was more like a tool. You can have the tools but not the materials. So the work can’t be done.
I think music ‘enters' your body and heals you when you’re actually ready to be healed. It’s something you need to consume with a good state of mind and an open mind. To see where it can bring you. Explore different horizons and be proud of this exploration, cause it can only bring positivity.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
I think when you show the love and the respect to the person or culture, society you took your inspiration of the message will be different. I’m sure that people can see the intentions. We can feel a good intention from a bad one.
From the moment a human creates and show his research and ‘creation' to the world, this human is ready to get judged, influence and educate people too, being copied or being taken as reflexion to pursue. Bur the moment you’re a human toom I think we all have the right to continue this human research and creation from the moment the intentions are pure and the respect is given.
Nothing is started from 0 except the creation of the world. For example, planes were inspired by birds, music and instruments by sounds of nature. Respecting your environment is the key.
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?
With the short-film for my first LP, we tried to create this linked experience between mainly two senses: hearing and seeing. The visual or textural experience, in this case, enhances the hearing experience.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Music is a tool than can celebrate any kind of emotion and conditions. Thus, it can be used to celebrate love, happiness, as well as life or death.