There’s no denying that stocks are high in druggy, retro-tinged house music right now.
But you get the sense that, for Wes Gray, the convergence of the wider world’s tastes with his own is purely coincidental. The reclusive Atlantan producer who calls himself Moon B first emerged with an eponymous debut album – in a self-released cassette run of 100 – last year. The album was then picked up by funk reissues label People’s Potential Unlimited and committed to wax, christening their Test Pressings series.
Judging by that record, Gray’s schtick is gorgeously sleepy boogie funk, thriving on low tempos, fuggy atmospheres and a strong melodic sense. There were moments, though, that hinted at a tougher, more dancefloor-oriented sound; a direction that Gray has explored further on the Entropic Feelings EP, due to be released shortly on the new label from Phonica’s Brian Morrison, Going Good. These six rough-and-ready house jams recall the loucher drum machine workouts of some L.I.E.S. affiliates – Mutant Beat Dance, Legowelt and Xosar’s Pacific House EP – in their deviant retooling of a vintage sound palette. But there’s also something about them that’s Gray’s alone, a certain dreamlike quality that makes them apt for late night listening as well as peak time adventures. FACT got in touch with Gray to discuss the recent resurgence in cassette culture, his plans for a live hardware show and more.
First up, could you introduce yourself – what’s your name, where are you based, and what’s your musical background?
“I’m Wes in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve been making music since my teenage years. As a child, I studied piano for about five years.”
“It was time to test the synths and drum machines I had amassed. I jammed nonstop into a Tascam 4-track at my home for about a month, moulded the results into what eventually became the cassette/LP and released it.”
Is there a scene for what you’re doing in Atlanta? Do you bounce ideas off the people around you, or do you work in a solitary way?
“Completely solitary. Atlanta is a young city that follows mostly hip-hop and dubstep when it comes to club music. I’m holed up at the house for the most part, just making the music I crave and want to hear. Luckily, it’s reaching folks who enjoy it.”
Your first release was a limited-run cassette pressing of what became your album on PPU. Are you a long-term cassette fan? If so, what appeals about the format? Why do you think cassettes are experiencing a bit of a renaissance among dance music fans at the moment?
“Yes, it goes back to the childhood thing. I’m an 80s baby. It is a look backwards – conjuring up those days when I spent countless hours in my room making extended versions/mixes/edits of my record collection (to mimic those promo radio-only versions you’d hear) utilizing the cassette player pause button, backing up the track, lifting the pause button on the measure you want extended and so forth. I have no desire to wrap my head around Ableton. As far as the cassette resurgence, obviously a lot of the mp3 kids recognize and appreciate the lo-fi DIY process. Maybe they’re tired of seeing themselves on the Serato Face tumblr account. I don’t know. There are a shitload of tape labels out there now, I do know that.”
The Entropic Feelings EP is far more dancefloor-focussed than the PPU record. Do you have a history of going out to clubs? Were you intending for this record to appeal to DJs and be played in a club environment, or is it still more of a home-listening affair?
“I grew up in Memphis, Larry Heard’s second home, so I popped out and saw him some in my college days. It was cool. But that’s about it. As for Entropic, yes. I used higher bias tape! [laughs] I wanted this rawness banged on the floors around the world. Brian Morrison, the label boss (of Going Good) and Phonica veteran, sent me a message on Soundcloud, picked up on the vibe, and wanted to make it his first release on his label. Brian is a world class dude that I’ve really enjoyed working with so far. Keep an ear out for Going Good!”
“Good mix of both new and old. I can do a straight boogie set one hour and then bang out analogue jams, leftfield, and 80s Tamil electro. If you see me in a club setting though, I’m going to be playing on my hardware. After the birth of my son in March and all gets settled with that, I’m in talks to possibly make a fast trip to Europe, say, three countries max, then get home, be a father and make more music while out on paternity leave from the 9 to 5 [laughs]. Also some gigs in the States are materialising.”
Your music – particularly the Entropic Feelings EP – ties in nicely with the druggy, lo-fi takes on house music being released by L.I.E.S., Sex Tags and others at the moment. Have you been aware of or inspired by these labels, or is the tie-in just coincidence?
“Thanks, as that is a compliment, especially the tie-in with L.I.E.S. I played a set in Brooklyn a few weeks back and getting to meet and party with them (Terekke, Steve Summers and more) was top notch. They are great people. Entropic gets in where it fits in I reckon, and I’ll take that company any day.
Finally, what are your plans beyond the Going Good EP? Do you have more releases on the horizon?
“Back to PPU for a maxi 12” single that is more DJ-friendly (i.e. louder) containing some re-rubs from the debut LP. Also, Brian at Going Good informed me that Entropic Feelings will see a limited cassette release. Then, I’ll be reaching out with demos to the labels that have hunted me down. Don’t rule out another self-released cassette (100 count) either!”
Moon B’s Entropic Feelings EP is available to pre-order here.