We caught up with MOGUAI at Mysteryland 2019 and spoke about his thinking behind choosing collaborators, an upcoming collaboration with Steve Aoki, his recent single, and his plans for 2019.
Here’s what went down.
Elsi – Welcome to T.H.E – Music Essentials, MOGUAI. I hope you’re enjoying Mysteryland so far.
MOGUAI – Yes, I am!
Elsi – So, ever since I heard your name, I’ve had this burning question. Are you a Gremlins fan?
MOGUAI – I very much like the Gremlins, but I’m not a fan.
Elsi – Because, you know there’s one called Mogwai.
MOGUAI – Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s right and do you know what Mogwai means in Mandarin?
Elsi – No.
MOGUAI – Monster.
Elsi – Oh, is that a part of your artistic persona?
MOGUAI – No, I heard it like a year ago, when I was in East Asia on tour. And now I understand why people, especially from China want to book me for Halloween.
Elsi – Yeah, I can imagine.
Elsi – You are a true pioneer in the music industry. You’ve been around since the 90s.
MOGUAI – That’s right.
Elsi – And you’ve made music with pretty much the biggest artists on our planet. I think you’ve got a very long list. What has been your most crazy experience in your career so far? Is there something that really stands out? Collab or an artist you worked with that you’ll never forget again?
MOGUAI – Oh, there are a lot of special moments. Maybe one was when I arrived in Berlin for the love parade around 2001 and I got a call from the UK and they asked, from a record company for my record company, I was very close with them – “hook recordings” and they released ”You know why?” And they said, yeah, the Sugababes want a collaboration with you and I said “What??”
And so I produced with the Sugababes for one single “In the middle”, that was the song name. And it was based on a single I released under the name “You know, why” and it was very funny, so the weirdest part about it was that I work with them with the biggest songwriter from the UK and producers, Brian Hagen, he also did Cher, “I believe”, and Natalie Imbruglia, Frans Ferdinand and so on. But they couldn’t manage to get the sound like the record I produced So I had to fly to the UK with my old sampler, my emulator, ID assembler, and we re-installed the sound, they’re in their big whatever and I had a mini studio at that time. I thought it was very impressive and very weird because I don’t know to this day why they couldn’t manage to reproduce it.
Elsi – Well I really didn’t expect it to be the Sugababes, so that’s a very good one. Are there any more artists left you really want to work with? Cause you have a good list of big ones.
MOGUAI – Hmmmm….
Elsi – And this is your opportunity, you know, we can put it out there for you!
MOGUAI – I think Skrillex would be nice. That would be a promising collaboration. Also, I would love to have another collaboration with Fatboy Slim. We did one, but it was a long, long time ago, let’s say six or seven years.
Elsi – Yeah, I would really be looking forward to those.
MOGUAI – Yeah, me too. That’s what I just mentioned really acts which are exciting too, to put up with, right? Yeah, well, maybe one more…I dunno, maybe Major Lazer.
Elsi – Yeah, that could also be quite interesting, but I would really be looking forward to Fatboy Slim, I love Fatboy Slim. I’ve been a fan since the beginning.
MOGUAI – I agree. Same here.
Elsi – Are there any artists that you wouldn’t want to work with?
MOGUAI – I think there are more artists I wouldn’t work with but I’d love to.
Elsi – Well, I mean, you worked with the Sugababes, so what’s further down the list?
MOGUAI – So I would or would not?
Elsi – No, would not.
MOGUAI – Yeah. I don’t know.
Elsi – So, you’re open to everything.
MOGUAI – Yeah. When it’s good, then it’s good.
Elsi – Okay.
MOGUAI – And I don’t like to put it too much in boundaries and names are gray, but it’s not about names. So the most important thing is that you nail the track, which is great. And then when the names cool too, well. It’s a bonus, but names won’t make the record.
Elsi – True, it’s the sound and the music.
MOGUAI – Yup.
Elsi – And your latest track “Don’t stop” with Moe Mitchell which was released on the 1st of July. How did that collaboration occur? Where did the idea come from? Because it was a very different sound.
MOGUAI – I covered Mos Def, it’s a Mos Def song. I got the approval from the publisher to use the lyrics, but the record company for Mos Def wanted to have shit loads of money for the original copy. So I needed to have someone who could re-sing the Mos Def vocals. And I didn’t know a guy who could do it. So I accidentally met a good friend of mine, Loco Dice, he’s very well known in the techno scene. I bumped into him at the Dusseldorf Airport and I told him about this record and that I need someone who could really sing it and he said, yeah, I know someone, he’s from Hanover. He’s American he has this kind of voice and so he re-sung it in one take. It was pretty amazing. I have a session with him tomorrow and on Sunday, yes. With him and another girl from Berlin, she’s very good in hip-hop top lines and we have a writing camp tomorrow in my hometown studio with four different producers and some writers and he’s, he’s one part of it.
Elsi – So some new music might come out of that as well then!
MOGUAI – Always for next year because the next months are planned. That’s just how it works and how it should work.
Elsi – Yeah, no, it’s true. Well, I have to say I was in Berlin at the beginning of June for soundcation, which is more trance and techno. It was with Dennis Shepard. He does workshops as well. So there was a lot of music that week and collabs that come out of it.
MOGUAI – Crazy. Yeah, what’s going on there?
Elsi – Yeah. But you always get really good stuff at the end of a week.
MOGUAI – When, when it’s like this it’s good, but mostly it never comes out.
Elsi – You can keep it on the shelf.
MOGUAI – No. Yeah, but I’ve lived six years in Berlin and I still have a studio so I know most of the guys who are working there and who are thinking like this and I don’t like this because they’re doing great stuff but most of the stuff never comes out. It’s too bad.
Elsi – So going back to this summer, how have you experienced the crowd when you dropped the new single “Don’t stop” during the sets cause you’ve been around a few festivals.
MOGUAI – It wasn’t the strongest track in my sense, but I’m in love with the song, so I’m still playing it, but I, I produced other tracks which are more for when the audience is going crazier. Yeah. But it’s not all about this. And I, I really like, the record. That’s why I bought it on.
Elsi – And what are your plans for the rest of the year? Do you have anything coming up? Do you have anything set for ADE as well?
MOGUAI – Yes, I do play again with Oliver at Heldeep and tons of meetings. Before, I’m one month in LA for productions. So I will be really flying to ADE directly after LA, like a day in Germany and then to ADE.
Elsi – Any other tracks coming up?
MOGUAI – Yeah a lot! I do another one on Heldeep pretty soon in September. Then I did a collaboration with Steve Aoki for Netflix, for a Japanese Manga movie. It’s not a “single, single” but more like music for the soundtrack for a Manga movie. It’s a pretty punk rock electro song and they really loved it and they wanted to have it, so we produced it together. Then I did another one with ATFC which will come out together with Mark Night on Toolroom, but I think it’s planned for next year. Then I have another one on Spinnin’ it’s called “Commander”, it’s coming out in November. I have one another track which coming out with a German TV company but this isn’t planned yet, but it will also happen this year.
Elsi – Ok, wow, you’re very busy! Good stuff!
MOGUAI – Yeah, I could mention more things what I’m cooking on, but this is set in stone! This will happen!
Elsi – Well, yeah. I mean you’ve been around for so long, you have so much music, so many collabs. I mean, you’re very diverse as well.
MOGUAI – Yes.
Elsi – And that keeps you going along with time, right?
MOGUAI – Yeah, I think this is the strongest part and also the weakest of my career because some people they always think in reality, you know, you need to be tech house or electro or trance and I don’t like that. This is why I’m doing a punk rock track with Steve Aoki.
Elsi – It’s also different for him really?
MOGUAI – Yeah. Very different. Yeah. This is why he really said, “hey come on, we have to do this because this guy was doing this movie he’s like the Tarantino of Japan for Monga movies”. And I said, “yeah, okay, when you said it like that, we do it”. And then there is the track with Mark Knight, then we do a tech-house track and it’s because I really like it!
Elsi – Yeah, you have to be brave in this industry to be able to do such things because there’s a lot of artists that just stick to their thing.
MOGUAI – Yeah, and it’s boring!
Elsi – But I guess that’s how you survive in the industry for 20 years!
MOGUAI – Yeah, that could be! And it’s going on. And I can tell you it’s not over yet. Not at all! No, it’s going to be more exciting. More than ever!
Elsi – Yeah. Well, I mean, I guess you can show the young ones, you know how it’s done because you have to do what you like and what you want to do and not what people tell you to do. Right?
MOGUAI – Yeah. As you said, this is the most important thing about it.
Elsi – Well, thank you very much for this interview!
MOGUAI – Cool, thank you too!