MxCx Interview#28 "Bas Mooy(Mord Records)"
You are from Rotterdam. How long have you lived in Rotterdam and how is life there?
I was born in a city very close and connected to Rotterdam, where I lived until my late teens. Then I went to live in Rotterdam to go to University. Been living there for almost 25 years now. Life is good here, I like the mentality of the city: work hard, no bullshit etc, people are real here. Most of my childhood friends also live in Rotterdam, so it has felt like home from the start.
When was it that you began making music? What kind of equipment did you use?
I started with a Yamaha RS7000 and some software, a program called ACID. This was around 2000 I think. From then on I switched to Ableton at some point and slowly started buying some hardware too over the years, but I try to keep my studio as basic as possible, although I have been buying more gear then I was planning recently.
What was the status of the Dutch Techno scene when you started?
When I started there were just a couple of organisations doing techno, I also started organising my own parties in 2000. The scene was much more friendly back then It was all about the love for techno, we really didn’t give a shit about making profit, just wanted to play music on a big system, getting over some artists we wanted to introduce to the Rotterdam crowd and hang out with friends. Many people now organise events without actually being into techno in the first place, but this is a universal thing. Techno is an interesting way of making money for some people. I guess the attitude changed over the years. Having said that I must also point out that the scene has become way more professional when it comes to productions of parties and conditions for the artists and the crowd etc, progression comes with a price tag…
The Netherlands is famous for Hardcore (Gabber). Are the scenes of Hardcore and Techno fused together? Have you been interested in hardcore?
I did listen to some Gabber when I was younger, but it was never really my scene to be honest. It all started in Rotterdam, so of course there is an influence in other Rotterdam musical genres. Usually a lot of music coming from Rotterdam has a tougher edge then other cities. Most dj’s that are invited to play in Rotterdam play a bit harder then usual. Rotterdam is a harbour city, with a harbour city mentality, it’s not really surprising a city like Rotterdam was the birthplace of Gabber.
Industrial techno has become popular in recent years. Ancient Methods, AnD, Clouds, Perc, Ontal, You & Mord crew,etc. Why do you think industrial techno became popular in club music? What do you think this trend will become in the future?
I don’t consider myself to be part of an industrial wave of techno or something. I don’t play a lot of industrial stuff to be honest. I just think a lot of people categorise the harder stuff as industrial these days. I don’t really want to label techno or my music too much. I play quite diverse, also a lot of techno from the nineties. Trends come and go. At the moment people like the more harder stuff again, this will go harder and harder and then they are fed up with it and go slower again. Cycles like we saw over and over again. I don’t like the direction it’s going lately to be honest, where people want to show how hard they can go or how fast they can play. It reminds me of the dark years we had when hardtechno and minimal split up the techno scene. I felt lost back then…
I think that the essence of industrial and dance music (Techno) are inherently contradictory. Is the dark and distorted sound in harmony with the euphoria of club music? How do you keep balance?
People want to get lost in music when they go clubbing, wether they do that on house, gabber or techno depends on their taste. Same goes for punk music or classical music. Everybody has their own way of experiencing euphoria from music. All a matter of taste. You just got to make sure you got the right crowd in the right place, then shit will go off!
Please tell me what equipment you are using for music production? What is the secret to making a dance groove?
There’s no secret, accept making thousands of ‘flying-hours’ in the studio I guess. Try and try harder until you find your own sound. I use a combination of software and hardware. Basically my Mac with Ableton is the center of it all, besides that I use a Maschine, some hardware and fx, such as a 909, 303, Analog Rytm, Korg Electric Sampler, Sherman Filterbank 2, Korg ms 20 mini, Korg Volca Keys, Orban 6226, Aphex 204, RAT and Big Muff Distortion etc.
What is your recent favorite artists/label?
Favorite artist: Planetary Assault Systems. Favourite label: too many to really choose a favourite, I really like Charlton and Nick Dunton’s ‘Poverty is Violence’ as a relatively new label, same goes for Tar Hallow, if I can point out two labels I really like at the moment. Tar Hallow made me discover Damcase and Klankman, so I’m thankful for that. Both labels have their own identity, which is rare these days.
You have been active in the techno scene for many years. That is a very respectable thing. Like all people, I do not think that everything was a fun time. Have you ever tried to quit activity in the past? What is the most important thing in music activities and night life (DJing)?
I have been doing this for almost 20 years now, started around 1999 and went in fulltime-mode for my music around 2007. I have been struggling for many years, but always found a way to survive, mainly by just doing loads of different things in the techno scene. To be honest, the year before I started Mord I was at a point that I almost wanted to quit, since I was fed up with the constant struggle, mainly financially. Sometimes you need to find a new way, start something new and leave your comfort zone, to shake up things. For me Mord has given a positive injection to my creativity and to getting the fun back into my music and career. I never expected the success of Mord to be as big as it is, but I was fully confident that it was the right way to move forward back then, since from the start I was enjoying it so much. I’m very grateful for the support I’ve been getting on the project so far. The most important in music, but also in daily life is to be humble, act like a gentleman and treat people the way you want to be treated. I know it maybe sound like your grandfather speaking, but these things are important, especially in the times we live in.
When did you start a label? Why did you start?
I started my first label Audio Assault in 2002 and Arms in 2003, before I started my most recent label Mord in 2013. I started Mord because I wanted to do something fresh, after running Audio Assault and Arms with my label partner Radial. It felt good to make decisions regarding the musical direction and the artwork by myself again. It is so much fun to feel completely free to do whatever you want. Like I said before, I needed something to get the fun back in music, Mord was the key for that.
What is the theme (concept) of your label? What is the origin of the label name?
The concept is basically that I release anything within the bandwidth of my personal taste, both in music as in art. The label name was originally Morderstwo, which means Murder in Polish. I shortened it to Mord.
How do you choose artists to release? and How do you decide the release format(CD/LP/DIGITAL)?
All Mord releases are on vinyl and have also been released as digital, since I think it’s important to be available in both dj formats. I choose my artists based on my personal taste, both from demos as from requests for music from my side. I don’t care about status and think a record label has an important role in pushing new talent. Fresh blood is something I’m always looking for, but I try to find a balanced mix of established names and talented newcomers.
How many staff are working on the label? Can you make a living from the label only?
I work with some people that help me here and there, but I mainly ran it on my own since the start and make all decisions by myself, I’m kind of a control freak. I just started with getting some help to be honest, I’m working together on some of the label stuff with a friend of mine, since it has become almost a fulltime job to run the label these days. He will take over some of the label work, since I really need to have more time to focus on other things again, like my own productions etc. I have been living from my music since 2007 (a combination of DJ-ing, producing, running labels, organising parties, running webshops, an agency etc), before that I worked at Triple Vision Record Distribution from 2000 till 2007, after I quit my studies at University. I can make a good living from my music these days, also because I have quite a busy tour schedule, so I really can’t complain at the moment, but I also been on the other side. That’s something people sometimes forget. It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice to be able to make a living out of music, but in the end it’s all worth the blood, sweat and tears ;)
Mord logo T-shirt (White logo)
Rotterdam Techno Guerrilla shirt black or white
When do you feel the enjoyment of label management?
Running a label is fun, but also really stressful. Deadlines and sometimes making tough decisions, also bad decisions or decisions that make others disappointed or unhappy…this is the hard part. When you get 10 demos on a daily basis there’s a really small percentage that will be actually signed to the label. That doesn’t mean I don’t like some of the demos I get sent, there’s a lot of good producers out there. I just wish some people would think a bit more about where they send their demo in the first place and how they introduce themselves, since these kind of things are also important to a label. The fun part of running a label: discovering new talent and getting the music out there. Seeing artists develop and growing. It’s great to see how much support we’ve been getting since the start and I’m really thankful to be able to do this job.
Your label participating in streaming (spotify / apple music)? Do you think streaming services are effective for independent label?
Yes, streaming is important because it’s the new generation’s way of discovering and listening to music. I don’t like the fact that people illegally download music when they can afford to buy it, but when they don’t have money I guess it’s also a way to discover new music for the young generation and to have your music out there as a label. We got the full catalogue on youtube ourselves and I guess it’s on Spotify too, at least I think so, correct me if I’m wrong ;)
Do you still need a record store (real store)? If you sell it on your own web shop / bandcamp the profit will not decrease. Still think that a real store is necessary?
Bandcamp is a really important tool for a label, to make a bit of extra money and to reach that break-even point sooner then when you only sell though a distributor. But I think actual stores are also real important. The social aspect of record stores is almost gone unfortunately, but you still need stores to push your music. I’m happy that places such as Hardwax and Clone still play an important role in the scene.
Do you usually buy music goods such as CD / LP / TAPE? Recently what did you buy with music products?
I buy some vinyl every now and then, but not a lot of techno to be honest, usually classic records in other genres and stuff I used to have on cd when I was a teenager. The techno stuff I buy are usually albums.
What is the most impressive release on your label?
I can’t choose a favourite child, I love them all in their own special way, but think the first Mordbox made the biggest impact when you would ask other people. It was a very exciting project, all the artists kept it secret until it was released and then it just exploded online. Good times :)
What are your future goals?
Keep the fun in running the label!