Momu is the San Fran based duo of Mark Musselman and JD Moyer who have become mentioned more and more in the progressive breaks scene. How did they get together?, What are they up to? and What are they going to do in the future?....well read on to find out.
Momu has become more mentioned in the world of breakbeat, usually in the same sentence as Grayarea. The world first took notice of them after Nick Warren's GU024 Disc in which "The Dive" was on CD 1. Since then, they have released gems like Donner's Pass and other great progressive breaks tunes. Momu is made up of JD Moyer, who is known as half of the duo called Jondi and Spesh, which had big fans in Sasha, John Digweed, Danny Howells and Nick Warren. The other half of Momu is Mark Musselman who is a breakbeat dj and San Fran based producer. i:Vibes chatted with them recently and they talked about how they got together and what is next, among many other things. The first part is question answered by Jondi, the second part is Mark answering questions and third is them answering questions.
PART 1 - Questions with Jondi
i:Vibes: Why did you decide to become a producer?
A: Jondi - I had to justify the $2000 I had just spent on a new keyboard
i:Vibes: How did you get involved with Spesh in the first place?
A: Spesh and I met at a party at Sam Urton's house in '93. I was a bedroom producer, he was DJ with a high profile residency at Release. Spesh basically introduced me to the SF scene, and I introduced him to about thirty badly arranged tracks on my computer.
i:Vibes: .Do you find it strange that some people do not know your contribution to music? Or you comfortable with that?
A: What? I thought Jondi was a household name ... seriously I am very happy knowing that some DJ's and trainspotters appreciate my efforts.
i:Vibes: Have you left your production partner Spesh or is this just a new direction?
A: Not at all! Spesh and I continue to run Lo?q Records together and will be releasing our third full length artist album in May '04 (to be released on Spundae Records). We were a bit quiet in '03 due to our work on the new album. Check out jondiandspesh.com for the deets.
i:Vibes: When did you decide to work with Mark?
A: Mark and started working together a few years ago. I wanted to expand the the scope of things I was working on and Mark and I have great breakbeat chemistry. I enjoy working with other producers, mostly Spesh and Mark Musselman but I've also collaborated with Jerry Bonham (JSJ), with DRC, and recently Momu and Grayarea pulled an all-nighter in the studio. Amazingly we finished a track in one night (along with a few bottles of whiskey).
PART 2 - Questions with Mark
i:Vibes: Not many people know that you are a breakbeat dj, How long have you been deejaying? And when did you decide to get into production?
A: Lets see?I've messing around with decks since about 1998 so going on 6 years now. Jondi and Spesh made me a resident for the weekly Qool night about three or four years ago. The demo I gave them the first time they booked me way back was so bad. It was terrible and terribly recorded on a cassette. I'm certain they didn't listen to It! We also used to do a weekly show on Groovetech called the 'Setflow Show'?that was really fun. I started messing around with production on an MC505 but did not get Into computer based sequencing until Jondi taught me how to use Cubase. Its been a wild ride with Momu, we have so much fun writing tracks together that I have a hard time working by myself now.
i:Vibes: I assume that you knew JD before this production work, what made you decide to work with him?
A: I knew JD solely from going to Qool. Our common friend Chaele Cooper kind of brought us together. There really was no question In my mind about what we were going to do. He liked my Ideas and he knew how to execute on them. JD was working so fast when we started that I couldn't keep up, he was In hyper speed. To adjust he started using the mouse with his left hand Instead. I think he Is still using the Left and Its just as fast as his right If not faster. Momu has far and away surpassed any expectations I had In the beginning.
i:Vibes: You still deejaying full time or is Momu the new career path?
A: I don't DJ full time?last year I had an ear problem that was annoying and has to go light on the dj load but It seems to be cool now with the musician's earplugs being mandatory?before that there was an 18 month period where all I did was DJ and I went seriously Into debt. Its not easy to live In SF and just be a dj, not many can do It. I'm sure It?s the same In NY, London, LA, etc. You can probably count on one hand the DJ's In SF that make a living from just DJing and Producing. Now that we have a Live PA set up and have done It a few times, that could be the direction for Momu. I doubt you will see the "Momu DJ Tour", we would rather play live?I still DJ for Qool/Looq parties, Spundae, Thump, and others but the day job I have right now ss really demanding so super late nights are few and far between (unfortunately!!!).
PART 3 - Questions with Jondi and Mark
i:Vibes: Why did you guys decide to form a duo and make music?
A: Mark: We both have way too many ideas and way too active imaginations
i:Vibes: What was the basis for this?
A: Mark: How many times can you play Ashtrax Helsinki or a Hybrid remix? We had to make more music we wanted to play. We also thought it would be cool a few years ago if the tables turned and people started doing house mixes of breaks tracks?.which is happening a lot more now.
i:Vibes: Why the name? Does it mean anything?
A: Jondi: The original name was Moyer & Musselman but that took too long to say and to write.
i:Vibes: What do you guys want to achieve working together?
A: Mark: Keep having fun, do what we do, and hope people will keep responding. The while momu project has been very experimental and that probably won?t change. There are some goals we have set for the Live Shows like playing in Tokyo, South America, and the UK.
i:Vibes: You guys have been compared to Grayarea, In what ways are you similar to them and in what ways are you different?
A: Jondi: They drink a bit more and can play the guitar. Our sound is a bit more focused maybe ... so far Momu has only released progressive breaks or whatever you want to call it.
Mark: Ruin, Nosmo, and Mcrae are cool cats. There were fun to hang out with. We have a record coming out (Digital Witchcraft ? Brindavan) that has their remix on one side and ours on the other. That might be a way see the differences and similarities.
i:Vibes: Do you mind being compared to other artists?
A: Jondi: Er, I guess it depends to who, but generally we don't mind. ; ) We're big Grayarea fans so we definitely don't mind being compared to them.
Mark: no not all. I?m floored when reviews come through with references to RITM or Papua New Guinea or Northern Exposure-esque. Absolutely floored.
i:Vibes: What got you guys noticed music wise?
A: Probably a track called "The Dive" initially released on Lo?q got us a great deal of attention, as did our release on Bedrock Breaks ("Donner Pass")?.and for remixes the one we did for Cass as his first release on Sabotage Systems (?Mind Rewind?)
i:Vibes: Do you trace your big break to Nick Warren putting ?The Dive? on his GU024 disc? Do you find it ironic that that disc also broke the talents of
Burufunk and Grayarea?
A: Jondi: Yes Nick using "The Dive" was a huge boost. Ironic? Not at all.
Mark: Its also on the new GU ?Excursions? compilation. The Dive is also slated to come out again on Nu-Republic with a Luke Fair mix that is really sweet.
i:Vibes: Do you guys set out to create layered and complex productions? Or was that just for a few productions?
A: Jondi: I guess it's just our production style. We're constantly experimenting though so we expect our sound to change over time.
Mark: Layering is clearly essential. The crown jewel is getting complex arrangements to sound stripped down.
i:Vibes: What?s next for you guys?
A: Mark: We?ve been working on an album. To that end we have about 6 new tracks so far that have not seen vinyl release yet. Mo? remixes, Mo? Live shows, MO?MU!
i:Vibes: Explain the reasoning behind this remix competition?
A: Jondi: Big name remixers aren't always better than bedroom producers. We'd rather put out a great remix than a big name remix.
Mark: It?s a great chance for up and coming producers to get introduced to Spundae.
i:Vibes: Any plans on touring or forming a live band like other artists?
A: Jondi: Like Adam Freeland you mean? Who knows. In terms of a band neither of us are much good at physically playing instruments (unless you count the Powerbook) but we love playing live with Ableton so touring is definitely a possibility.
Mark: I play the drums but always hated carting around the kit. My fianc? plays upright bass so maybe she can tour with us for the deep bass action. I?ve been putting off guitar lessons for 2 years now but really want to learn.
i:Vibes: Where do you see yourselves in 3-5 yrs?
A: Jondi: Damn that's a good question. Personally I'm ready for an extended beach vacation, it's been raining for a week solid here in sunny California. I'm thinking it might be fun to write really twisted pop music for some 17 year old Japanese songstress.
Mark: Still making music and playing live MOMU sets in exotic locations
i:Vibes: Who is the ideas person and who is the music person? Do you both come up with ideas then put them together or does one of you do one thing and the other, something else?
A: Jondi: I would say we both do both. In terms of division of labor Mark comes up with almost all of the song names and themes. Also Mark is much better at knowing which song of ours is playing when we hear them out at a club (I tend to mix them up). I suppose I'm usually in the hotseat clicking away at the mouse, but I try to get up and play keyboards at least once an hour to avoid deep vein thrombosis.
Mark: Jondi is so good at what he does I?m constantly learning. At this point we?ve worked together so much the path to ?compromise? is really swift. We can agree on things really fast or have the same end goal in mind so writing can move very quickly.
i:Vibes: The amateur producers want me to ask this question, what equipment do you guys use in the studio? List them please
A: Jondi: You know really the gear doesn't matter as long as you've got lots of ways to tweak sounds and come up with unique sounding parts. However I will say that we use Cubase VST. We feel vaguely inferior to Logic users but only because they always lord it over you. Also we'll put in a plug for Paia (build your own for cheap!).
Mark: I?m considering getting an Access box for my home studio?(but maybe the soft version).
i:Vibes: Any advice for young and upcoming producers?
A: Jondi: Listen to lots and lots of music. Dissect it but also pay attention to what moves you. When your friends tell you tracks are absolutely fantastic and you don't think they're lying then send demos to at least a dozen labels (indy labels will actually listen to them). Definitely don't go into electronic music for the money - there's not much of it if your last name isn't Oakenfold.
Mark: Try not to get frustrated. Cutting through and trying to get noticed can be overwhelming. Almost any success, as in anything in life, is backed by copious amounts of hard work and dedication. We?ve worked on momu tracks at least once a week for over three years now even when we are tired or frustrated. Find someone you can work with that makes you both ?not lazy?! AND last but not least go skateboarding when you have writers block.
i:Vibes.nu thanks Mark and Jondi for their time in answering our questions. We wish them the best in the future.