“All these guys are doing the exact same thing that we’re doing – just sitting on a laptop on Fruity Loops” - Hudson Mohawke
It sounds like there’s a real David and Goliath mentality to what you’re doing.
Lunice: “Pretty much.”
Hudson Mohawke: “From us growing up in our little circle or sphere of music, we sort of had an inkling for a while that maybe more commercial and mainstream producers were vaguely pinching ideas or sort of borrowing, but you can never really be certain about it. I definitely had the distinction in my head of, “We’re doing this type of stuff, those guys are in massive budget huge studios all working on the best equipment, the best whatever”. The reality of it is it that all those guys are doing the exact same thing that we’re doing – just sitting on a laptop on Fruity Loops. It just happens to be in a different sphere of music, but it’s basically the same thing. We sort of came to the realisation that a lot of those guys are aware of us and what we’ve been doing. You thought it was a completely different world, but in reality, people are well aware. And either they’re just borrowing a little and not saying anything, or…”
Lunice: “Borrowing a lot.” [Laughs]
Hudson Mohawke: “There’s much less of a distinction now in the whole thing. There are, in my limited experience a couple of good major label A&R people that are bringing more interest in, and there’s much less of a distinction between the two sides. So things are meshing together a bit more, which makes it an interesting time for us.”
Lunice: “There’s a bit of an opening where we can get in and present our music to a commercial crowd.”
It’s one of the fascinating things about the current state of play with the internet, whereby the medium that gets a bedroom producer heard is exactly the same as the one that gets a multi-million pound producer heard. Which can be great, but can also lead to, as you say, pilfering and theft. It’s a really interesting time.
Lunice: “Very, very. Right now, major labels are struggling, trying to work out what’s the Big Thing. There’s big things happening with a lot of people, a lot of new talent, but it’s just so vast it doesn’t feel concrete. It’s not like, “Ah, we forgot the formula in this era, we can just do that now” – they still didn’t figure it out. Which is great, because it gives us the opportunity to break in and bring to the table what we have, without them being like “It’s missing a certain thing in here to make it this sort of track”. Now, it’s like “Oh, wow, very interesting. This might be the next big thing!” So it’s really interesting nowadays.”
From what you were saying, you two were making the record around the same computer rather than pinging things back and forth. How do you two function as a production unit? Is someone Mum and someone Dad?
Lunice: “It’s a very smooth dynamic, to a point where I feel we can’t get a writer’s block, because even though we don’t have an idea, we always just put something on loop. From the moment we stated working, I don’t think there was a pause from the moment we started to the moment we finished. It’s all in one motion, almost. Or sometimes we’ll do the whole structure of a song, with the bridge and everything, and just stop there because all that’s left is to tweak it. So we’ll just stop there and move to the next one, boom-boom-boom-boom. Stop there move to the next one, boom-boom-boom-boom.”
Hudson Mohawke: “I think we stop each other from getting too caught up in the intricacies of it, and keep it on more of a vibe level rather than a technical level.”
Lunice: “It’s all the in the jam session.”
Hudson Mohawke: “It’s more like a jam than two ‘electronic producers’.”
Lunice: “Yeah, very like [chin-stroking voice] “Change that to that, blah blah blah…” No.”
Hudson Mohawke: “For the most part, the way we did it was to have a couple of keyboards set up. We’d come up with a loop in five or ten minutes or whatever, and then keep the loop running the whole time. Then we’re continually adding or taking away or making little arrangement changes whilst the whole thing’s running, so you never lose the train of it. And before you realise it, it’s done. Like what you were saying about us both simplifying things: we were both able to be like “Right, that’s it – this one’s done”. Even if there’s only three or four elements in the track, we just say, “This is how we want it to sound” We’re not going to obsess about turning it into this big opus.”
“You can’t just take our ideas and come up with after all these years.” - Lunice
Lunice: “It’s almost as if, even though we don’t finish the whole song, it’s like: this is enough for now, we know where it’s going, let’s start something right away while we’re still in the moment of creating and creating. What I like about is that it’s a very jam orientated type of collaboration, because it’s not like we’re both sitting and working really silently. It’s us wiling out. He would start some shit, and I would be like “Oh, shit!” and stand up and start vibing around the room and jumping around and shit, and then pretend to rap! [Laughs] Just to get the flow going. That time when we were working on shit and I was pretending to rap like Meek Mill? [Laughs]“I’m out in my old hood!” and shit like that. It was great because then you get in the vibe, you’re like “Yeah yeah!”. He would play with some notes, and I’d be listening and be like, “Woah, woah – loop it like that, yeah, boom!” And then I’d start to add some, and he’d be like “Oh, let me add that in, boom-boom-boom-boom‘. It’s constant: that, that, that, that…”
Hudson Mohawke: “It was great. It was more of a natural click .The sort of collaborations you sometimes get that are set up by a third party – “Oh, maybe you two guys should work together” – it can work from time to time, but it doesn’t necessarily work. It’s just two people sitting in a room, it’s not that often that it really turns into a proper vibe and becomes something. But this one seemed to click and turn into something.”
In relation to what you were saying about doing something a bit more minimalistic: the TNGHT project seems to come with a lot of bombast around it. Everything from your blockbuster-style promo video to a lot of the sounds you’re using (explosions, smashing glass). Was the intention always to do something quite widescreen?
Lunice: “Whatever made us laugh, really.”
Hudson Mohawke: “We just wanted to make a load of bangers that were not necessarily what each of us would release on our solo material, but that we do want to make and do want to have an outlet for. To turn it into its own project of stuff that we’re both big fans of, but wouldn’t really fit on either your record or one of my records, but that we do want to release.”