Today, we are proud to bring you one of the most important and influential artists in European techno scene, neither more nor less than Bas Mooy, leader and founder of MORD Records. He is a brilliant producer, a master on the decks… plus an excellent person, very close and kind, a guy with clear ideas, as we checked out after interview. In the following text, the legendary DJ born in Rotterdam tells us, among other topics, his production secrets, his opinion about the current scene, collaborations with other labels and crews, work experiences… besides an interesting tour of his musical career, from his origins to nowadays. Bas Mooy speaks very clearly, without mincing words, without avoiding any question…
At first, I must say thank you very much for taking some of your time for this interview. It is an honor for me to interview a legend of techno born in Rotterdam, the city where I am living now. These are my questions…
Nowadays, you are one of the most respectful artists from the underground techno scene in the Netherlands since 1999… How did you start your interest in techno sounds? How was the scene in Rotterdam those days?
The scene around 1999 was way more underground and a lot smaller I guess, just a couple of small organizations, existing of friends, that were playing music together and running parties together. You had crews like Sound Architecture and Strictly Techno and they were doing relatively small parties. I really got into techno after visiting Strictly Techno for the first time. The music was so much harder and darker then what I heard at the regular clubs. There was a lot of respect for each other back then.
These days it’s kind of a chaotic jungle filled with a lot of cowboys. I preferred the old days to be honest, the ‘gentlemen era’ so to say, but I guess the whole world is changing. Techno has become big business these days, so that comes with a different approach and attitude, you can’t fight that, but I sometimes look back and miss those days to be honest. Of course the new days also bring a lot of positive things and progress, especially when it comes to event production. We have some great crews in Rotterdam, organizing massive events, impressive productions. Twenty years ago, we had no idea techno would become this huge.
I found out you began to produce music soon, kickstarting Audio Assault label with Radial in 2002… Did your methods to produce music change a lot from those times to nowadays? Can you give me any clues from your current methods?
Well, my methods changed a lot, because I learn new stuff every year, which obviously affects the way I produce. I started out with a program called Acid many years ago and bought some gear every now and then. I remember the Yamaha RS7000 as my first machine. Tried out Logic, Reason and then discovered Ableton. I still use that as the main program in my studio, combined with some hardware. Radial built me a 909 and a 303 some years ago and bought some machines and effects over the years.
I’ve always preferred to work with a combination of hardware and software. I like to edit tunes and work to a final version. Some tracks I start turn out to be 2 or 3 different tracks in the end, after taking unexpected paths in the production process. One-takes are not something I could do to be honest, I wish I could, but that doesn’t work for me. I need to work in several phases to create the final product. Even if I finish something I always want to do a final check with fresh ears so to sayh, production wise I need to have the freedom to do that.
Nowadays, there is a big discussion about digital vs. analogic methods, Traktor vs. vynils… What do you think about this topic?
I don’t think this is an issue anymore. People who still have a problem with people using software or playing with Traktor or Ableton etc should take a long hard look at themselves, focus on important matters instead and let everybody decide for themselves which format they want to use. Such a waste of time to be frustrated about this. It’s just another easy way for haters to hate and people to feel better than others. Don’t want to spend too many words on this actually, since in my opinion the whole debate is pretty much bullshit anyway… 😉
I know you lead your own imprints, Audio Assault and MORD. Was Mord label born as a substitute of Audio Assault or are they working at the same time? Why did you create MORD, is it another concept of music?
I was running Audio Assault with Radial and we thought it was time to quit after more then 12 years. We both needed a new challenge I guess. I started MORD, he started Radial Records. Audio Assault is not dead, it’s in the fridge, although I don’t see us starting it up again any time soon, you never know what the future may hold. Never say never.
There is no connection between MORD and Audio Assault though. I run it completely on my own. Radial did release two EP’s on MORD and will release another one after the summer, but that’s mainly because I think he’s one of the most talented producers out there and I love his music. MORD is all about my taste and the bandwidth is a bit wider then Audio Assault I guess, there’s no real clever thought out concept, except the music and art is all selected by me, so my taste is the concept I guess.
CLR, Sleaze Records, Perc Trax… you collaborated with many labels, contributing with your music. How is your relationship with those “top labels”?
I released on the labels, but didn’t play many showcases. I did play for Perc Trax and Sleaze Records once or twice, but most label showcases I play are MORD night, obviously.
I realised you are a member of the collective Strictly Techno, creators of over a hundred legendary parties since 1966. How active is the collective right now? Can you inform us about coming events?
After 20 great years Strictly Techno is currently on hold. For me mainly since I just don’t have the time to do events at this moment. I play around 7-10 gigs every month and run MORD on my own, run my webshops, need to find some studio time and also have some quality time with my girlfriend and kids. At some point you need to cut down some of the things you do, there’s only 24 hours in a day and I just didn’t have the time anymore.
No plans at the moment, but maybe in the future there will be new events, you never know. I must also say that I don’t really feel the urge to compete in the current Rotterdam event organizing climate, but there have been times like this before, in the end you always get this feeling of doing something again when you run into a great new venue etc. That’s what happened when Perron started. Perry (who I run Strictly Techno with and is the founder of Strictly Techno) and I were checking it out at the opening night and looked at each other and knew we needed to do something there. We had some proper good parties there. Right now I feel comfortable doing MORD label nights mainly, since I don’t have to put in that much time in an event and still be connected to it and have influence in the final product.
You are being invited to some big festivals like Awakenings or INOX Park… Which one is your favourite to play your music? Any special feelings with any particular country?
I’ve played Awakenings 9 times in the past, but haven’t played there the last 3-4 years unfortunately. Of course they have a special place in Dutch techno history and they are responsible for a big part of the rise of techno in Holland. But there have been a lot of new organizations that sort of took their place now, when it comes to the more obscure and underground techno. But Awakenings is one of the strongest brands out there and they have respect all over the world, which definitely means something.
I play INOX Park Festival this weekend and I’m looking forward a lot to that, I can’t say a lot about it since it’s the first time. France in general has been really good for me the past couple of years. MORD has become really big in France fast and I play in France a lot, most parties there are really good. France has become one of the bigger countries for techno over the past years.
Choosing a favorite country is difficult, since there are so many great crowds. Countries where I play most are Italy, France and Germany, so I got a special thing with them obviously, but I had good gigs in almost every country I played, so i could never really select a favorite. I just came back from Buenos Aires, where I played Under Club, great people, amazing crowd! It’s just great to see that every country has a scene with people who spend so much time and energy keeping it alive. They are the reason I can do this, so I’m grateful for that.
About clubbing… Which venue do you think is the most appropiate to make a techno event in Rotterdam?
In Rotterdam, Maassilo is great for techno, also Factory010 of course. Unfortunately there are not enough smaller venues these days that can guarantee a proper techno experience. Transport Club has potential, Toffler is nice too, but I’m still missing a nice 600-800 capacity club, like the old Waterfront. We had some really good days there when it was still Waterfront, heavy sound system and a great crowd. We had so many legendary Strictly Techno events there, great memories. Such s shame to see what happened to it over the years… That actually hurts a bit.
Rotterdam is known as an industrial city, famous for the origins of hardcore… It is supposed to be an underground city with music… Do you think this is truth?
Define ‘underground’? There have always been a lot of events, but like I said, we are missing a proper venue right now for the kind of events we used to do with Strictly Techno at Waterfront, or the NightTown basement or Perron. There has always been quite a big illegal party scene too, not sure what’s going on in that scene right now though. I’m never home in the weekends, so I only see clubs when I play these days… But I’m sure you can find underground stuff if you look for it, it’s just not as easy to find, besides that there’s a whole scene of people creating music and art, which you can consider ‘underground’. Underground stuff is usually not as visible as the commercial stuff, right 😉 You gotta dig deep…
Thanks for answer my questions. I am looking forward to see you at the decks in next Strobe party, I will enjoy like a kid listening your mixes on the dancefloor! When can we see you again as a DJ in Rotterdam?
Unfortunately, I don’t play a lot in Rotterdam, most of my gigs are outside Holland. I will be playing in Rotterdam in December again, more news on that soon (official Facebook).
Interviewer: Pablo Ortega