The Alien Sound Engineer
Jack Adams aka Mumdance is one of the UK’s most exciting young club music producers. With his unique style the Londoner blends grime beats with rough techno and Musique concrète elements. The Red Bulletin sat down with him to discuss his new album, alien music and sounds that make you go like, ‘what is this?!’
THE RED BULLETIN: When I played your recent EP Take Time to my little niece, she said it sounds like a special effects recording for an alien film. How do you make music that sounds like it’s from outer space?
Mumdance: I try not to over-analyse my music too much and I tend to work quite quick. Take Time only took two hours to make, from start to finish. Novelist and I, we both wrote our parts really quickly. I think you can hear that in the tune, it sounds quite instant.
A lot of producers spend more than two hours only to find the right bass drum sound. What’s the secret of your efficient way of working?
I actually spend a lot of time building new sounds from scratch. Running machines through other machines, running sounds through wires and desks an effect units. So when I make a tune I know where I’m drawing from so I can put it together quickly.
You are known for pushing the boundaries of dance music. What makes a good dance record these days?
I think the holy grail of a good electronic record is that moves the dance floor but at the same time is interesting to listen to at home. Getting this balance right is difficult. Sometimes I make tracks that are too complicated. Sometimes I make things that are too simple.
Can you name one of those holy grails from your record collection?
There are loads by them, but one of is definitely I Luv U by Dizze Rascal.
One of your biggest musical influences is Musique concrète, a genre of experimental composition that originates in the 1940s. Rather unusal for an electronic music producer, isn’t it?
It’s all got to do with what they called the acousmatic experience where you can hear a sound but you just got no idea what it is. It’s something I’m very interested in. I like making music where you’re just like, ‘what is this!?’ I love to play Music Concrete compositions on my radio show. You can use it as segue to move between two different genres.
How’s Musique concrète reflected in your own music?
A lot of the stuff I’ve been doing recently is trying to be somewhere between music and organising sounds. What the Musique concrète guys were doing is not music, it’s sonics. That’s something I’m quite interested in. Exploring the physicality of music in a club, working with very low and high frequency, moving away from a traditional musicality.
Your new collaborative album Proto (featuring Logos) is a tribute to the history of British dance music. How come?
Because it’s the music Logos and me grew up with. Electronic music has been a big part of my life ever since I was 12 years old. That’s when I first heard a hardcore-tape. Our album is paying homage to the music we love without totally trying to just make the thing over, adding our own little twist to it.
Can you elaborate on that?
There’s this idea that before each genre of music’s cemented, there’s this proto period beforehand where there aren’t any rules, it’s all about pushing the boundaries. When a genre gets established then it’s about making the sounds as good as possible within the existing framework of ideas. As an example, jungle was all over the place before it became drum-and-bass. When it became drum-and-bass it was just about getting the loudest snare drum and heaviest sub bass. It became very formulaic. So what we were trying to do with this album is, rather than stick to one particular genre, we were playing with different genres. It nods towards these various times in UK dance music that were the most interesting ones.