We’re assuming you’re big on scifi – William Gibson and Moebius, to name a few (yes, we stalked your social media footprints). Electronic/dance is a genre trope, meanwhile in real life, that type of music is so indebted to net culture. Would you say 2015 is officially cyberpunk?
Yes! We’ve got iPhones and Google Glasses. We’ve got Microsoft’s Hololens. We’ve got ‘Post-Apocalyptic’ fashion. Put those together in an outfit and you’d look like you’re straight out of The Matrix. Also, we’ve got the most powerful hackers in the world hacking into government websites. The NSA can read your emails and texts just like Big Brother, but that’s more Nineteen Eighty Four than cyberpunk.
Relating to that, why do you think electronic music – from Vangelis’ Blade Runner score to Burial – is so closely associated with dystopia? Even your own production could be fitted into a cyberpunk soundtrack, we think.
Because it’s cool! Personally, I think dystopia is such a recurring theme in movies that we’ve become obsessed with that and the end of the world. A lot of us grew up watching movies like Brazil, Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, The Matrix, and not forgetting anime [films] like Akira and Ghost in the Shell. Naturally, a lot of producers are attracted to that. We don’t want the world to end or be in shambles, but at least we can try imagining it. Have you seen Doomsday Preppers? It’s hilarious but that’s the reality of the world we live in. There are people out there preparing themselves, we just want to make the music for them when it happens…
While we’re still at it, let’s use scifi as a parallel to electronic music. The former regularly deals with artificial intelligence gaining – or attempting to gain at least – sentience, or soul so to speak. From the very beginning of the latter’s existence, it has been at odds with musicians who do not see ‘instrument’-less music as ‘real’ music. With music today going increasingly more electronica in both underground and mainstream, has electronic music found its ‘soul’?
If it makes you dance then it doesn’t matter, right? Electronic music has always had soul. A lot of producers use real drum recordings. Stuff like kuduro, gqom, and tribal house. Swindle mixes jazz instruments with dubstep and does live shows with bands. Classical musicians hated John Cage when he started. His ‘4’33”’ piece now gets applauses! To me, if the music makes you ‘feel’ something, then it’s all good.
Tell us about the 50490 collective. What’s the significance of that area code?
I’ve been living in Bukit Damansara for 15 years, Iz (Mysteriz) has been here his whole life, and Naz (S|Co.) lives here too. When it came to starting a collective, it was only natural for us to use our postal code. Besides, Subang people rep 47500 hard too.
Even besides Trax Couture, you have quite the connection overseas. How did you manage to hook up with them?
Social media is such a powerful tool. I’d communicate with a lot of them through Twitter DMs and Facebook. The boys and I would send zips of tunes to them. DJ Rueckert of Classical Trax helped a lot. He set up the Classical Trax group on Facebook. We probably had 50 guys in there early last year. There are 600 of us now. Some of my idols are in there – it really is amazing. In terms of Trax Couture, I’d met Matthew Thomas (Rushmore) a few times in London to grab some wax off him. Then I played a Vogue Ballroom event at Hong Kong last year alongside Rushmore, Victoria Kim, Dashaun Wesley, and DJ MikeQ. It was amazing, we had Paris Was Burning on a huge screen behind us and the vibe was amazing. He asked me to join Trax Couture soon after that.
‘Yo Fuccboi’ was played in a Boiler Room set before. Does having your track played by DJs overseas, one during Boiler Room no less, come as validation to you?
[Shout] out to Scratcha DVA! It was very exciting. DJs were already playing my tunes on radio for some time but Boiler Room was something else. People were sending me messages on Facebook, texting me about it, all when I was asleep! It’s gotten a lot of support. Oneman used it in his summer mix, which was lovely too.
We know a few other local producers who have had their tracks played by DJs outside of Southeast Asia. Does it ever feel like you guys, people in this scene who make their own music, don’t get as much recognition locally? Do you feel like most of the attention goes to those who purely just DJ?
Definitely. It’s especially difficult for me and the rest of us because the music I produce and play are still very niche in Malaysia. Hip hop is still king. Festival trap, trance, ‘deep house’ (laughs) – these are what people love here and we can’t change that. Bud Culture (RIP) and Maddkidz were the only ones pushing proper soundsystem music since 2008. We’d be happy with a crowd of 30 to be honest. We just want to play it LOUD.