Mefjus: The Process of Emulation
Mefjus. The word itself is almost like a depiction of some form, an unknowable & constantly evolving state of being, rather than a simple artist moniker. Someone or something that manages to deliver a version of D&B that is unknowable and unpredictable time after time, from ingredients and references so disparate… well what can you do? We can only sit and let it wash over us. His artistic output is immense and completely unique… ironic given the album title, and that his work does not emulate anyone.
At least we’ve managed to pin him down with SOME specifics about the new Emulation album, out now on Critical. Starting with…
Mefjus! What are you up to right this minute?
At the moment I am on a train to Prague for a b2b set with Emperor. Due to health issues I wasn’t djing for two weeks so I am really excited about it. Studiowise I already started to make new beats and I’ve been working on a couple of remixes.
This is an audacious and blistering album, what was the MAIN intention you had for the album? What was the ‘world’ you wanted to bring people into?
The main intention was to show the listeners where I come from musically, and what influenced me over over the last couple of years… to my current state of mind.
And the album title, ‘Emulation’?
When I was thinking about this transformation of coming from a hiphop – sampler based – production to an almost ‘all in the box’ setup I found the name ‘Emulation’.really fitting. But then I picked up on the terminology even more and thought about ’emulation’ in a bigger picture and that really got my creativity going.
This synthesisation I experienced over that period of time also happened to a lot of things surrounding me, and moreso if you just think about the general use of smart phones, social media and so forth.
I read you wanted to take an organic approach to your music with the album, re sourcing the sounds. So what SORT of sounds inspire you, what do you LOOK for (as an artist) when you start to collate sounds?
After I’d already written down some track titles/ideas/concepts I took three months off actual writing and just did sound design.
For the track ‘Continuous’ for instance I knew that I wanted to make a techno-ish/minimal tune, at least for 16 bars ha ha, but bearing that in mind I just made really ‘soft’ and ’round’ sounds in general, nothing too extreme.
If you look at the tune ‘Surrounded’ on the other hand every sound is really driven and loud on purpose, to be able to deliver a certain aggressive attitude with the track. So overall I think it just really depends on what you want to make in the first place.
But of course sometimes you don’t achieve the sound you were trying to make a 100%, or you are just messing around with a new instrument and you end up with something different and that sound on the other hand can inspire you to make a new track as well…
On this point, when do your tunes start… what is the moment you start to create, what inspires you to start writing?
It totally depends. But personally I like to have engineering sessions where I just make all sort of sounds and then when I am inspired I just use those sounds. It’s nice because you don’t end up eq-ing/compressing snares for hours in your actual creative sessions: you just use them… that way you don’t run the risk of losing your initial spark.
When it comes to the writing sessions pretty much everything can be an inspiration. Something you hear on the news, something a friend tells you about or just a funny tv/radio comercial with an interesting punch line. But also those sounds I make during my engineering sessions can be an inspiration to start a track.
Speaking of creation and inspiration, how are you feeling as we head into winter? I mean it must be quite beautiful in your part of the world… and is it a creative time? Winter and D&B really fit!
I’m not quite sure how I feel about it to be honest. I didn’t really have a summer due to the album finishing process and also the weather wasn’t that great in Austria, lots of rain. So it feels a bit weird missing out completely on one season of the year. But yeah, Winter in Austria can be beautiful, especially if you’re based in or around the alps, it’s also great for Wintersports.
I think it can be a really creative time and I agree D&B and Winter really fit!
I get lots and lots of mental images in my head when I listen to the music… take the title track. So what is in YOUR head when you regard this tune?
The title track ‘Emulation’ took the longest to finish.
It took me about nine months and I ended up with I guess around 20 different versions. As you might know the idea behind that track is that I wanted to make a song which is completely synthesized. That means every sound you hear in that tune was made in Native Instruments FM8, which is a great fm synthesizer with amazing envelope possibilites.
So when I listen to that track specifically I just always think of those endless sessions making sounds for this project.
Some interesting vocal collabs here, can I ask about Zoe Klinck and who she is? ‘Blame You’ is killer.
I am glad you like the track, it’s one of my favourites from the album. Zoe is an amazing singer. She’s based in England, London was far as I know. I got in touch with her through Kasra from the label and I think he got in touch with her because of Halogenix who did a track with her in the first place.
‘Impuls’ sounds brilliant, it’s infectious, it’s full on. Was it good to work with Phace?
It was really good fun working with Florian/Phace. In fact he flew over for a week and we did two tunes together. Everything fell together really naturally and it was so much fun working with him. He always keeps up the vibe and knows exactly what to do next. Just super professional!
… and Misanthrop? What did Misanthrop bring to the album? You three – counting Phace – are some form of unholy trinity!
Same thing with Michael. Those guys just know what they are doing. I remember sending him a first idea with the weird, stuttery vocal bit in the intro, a rough breakdown and a few different versions of a potential main part. I sent him the Cubase project and Michael developed those main parts a bit further and added his signature midrange sounds.
After he sent back the project we decided to go with the main part version we picked in the end and after a couple of skype conversations about how we wanted to layout the track it was done pretty quickly as well.
Tell us more about sound sourcing for the album?
For the tune ‘Taking’ I started diggin’ some old funk records to get a nice trumpet-ish vibe going. With that track I wanted to show my hip-hop & funk roots to the audience and how my 2014 interpretation of those genres is.
As you can imagine old funk records can sound quite rough and raw which I really enjoy, but when it comes to mixing a tune in a 2014 look and feel it can be a pain in the ass.
So I ended up rewriting almost all the riffs / samples with Kontakt libraries and I actually added a seperately recorded vinyl crackle on top if it.
And hearing this live… it’s got to be amazing to hear your music live. What’s a good venue to hear you live? I hear Bikini in France is a great live venue and PA for eg…
In Vienna I would say the clubs ‘Flex’, ‘Fluc’ and ‘Arena’. In London obviously Fabric and yeah as you mentioned ‘Le Bikini’ in Toulouse is probably the best acoustically treated club I’ve played so far.
What was the moment you knew Emulation was complete?
I guess it was when I got all the masters back and listened to them in the actual order of the final playlist in my car!
What is one thing to sum up Emulation?
I think the vocal sample I found in an 1960’s chevrolette and used for the outro in the track ‘Surrounded’ sums it up pretty good:
‘We’re surrounded by sea of wonderful products to buy, but this is another century, entertainment, television, radio, they all compete for our attention’