featured interview

Moka Only & Chief And The Mystery Of The Tasteless Cookies A cold afternoon in November. Not rainy, but sunny. My train is heading to Brussels. Luckily I have a plane to catch to Barcelona, where the weather is more merciful. When my plane will be cleaving the frosty Belgian clouds, Moka Only and Chief will be performing 9 km below at the Coco Bar. The durable mammal and the Suisse producer/label manager of Feelin Music are touring the old continent, following the release of their first collabo 'Crickets'. Before me taking off and they doing a sound check, I got to speak them ('Interviews are important. It's important we can talk about our music.'). Their tour is six days old. They did Vienna, London and Paris. Tonight the Belgian capital. When I arrive at the place of meeting, Moka and Chief are on their laptop ('Twitter is great'), Slum Village is playing in the background ('Jay Dee changed the face of beats and music - even for pop music') and a mysterious package of cookies is staring at me from the middle of the table. Moka Only: We picked up this magic package of cookies in London. They're the worst. They don't taste like anything. So everywhere we go, we celebrate the tasteless cookies. Chief: We're gonna make a track about those cookies. M: It's gonna be on the next album!

On the train to here, I was reading J-Zone's book 'Root For the Villain'. In the book he mentioned the love, appreciation and feedback he received at his European performances, as opposed to the gigs he did in the US....do you feel the same?

M: The feedback is definitely strong. There's a lot of enthusiasm. It feels greater than back in America or Canada. People seem more passionate about it. But this is still early in the tour so I have yet to see what the rest of the places will be like. This is my first time in Europe. Haven't been to Europe before.

You went digging in Paris?

C: Yeah. We did it quick. We went to Betino's. I bought Ahmad Jamal and Sergio Mendes. Moka didn't bought anything.

M: Naah, I didn't. I have a real particular taste.

So what do you dig for?

M: I dig mostly for instrumental music that I make. I like jazz. I have lots of jazz. But my jazz collection is big, so I'm not really lookin for anything. I like library music and psychedelic. But then again anything that's interesting, it could be rock music too. The store we went to in Brussels today was amazing man, so much that I couldn't even make up my mind. So I didn't get anything. (smiles)

You're both producers. You both use jazz a lot in your production.

C: I'm very much into jazz, jazz-rock, Krautrock,.

Chief, you did a tribute to Chick Corea.

M: Yeah! And...can I add just a lil something? It's great that we connect with the jazz, because it seems in hip-hop a lot of people have left it behind. When I do beats, even though I not only use jazz, I try to make it sound like jazz, that's the essence you know!

Are you pessimistic about hip-hop?

M: No I'm not. I just know it goes in cycles. But I also believe in sticking with your vision. It's not because everybody else is doing dub step that I have to. We believe in what we believe, even though it's not a popular sample form. You have to do what you love! If you don't, you might as well kill yourself.

Today Spotify, the streaming music site was launched in Belgium.

C: Hmm.I prefer Bandcamp. When someone buys a record, it's directly money for us. It's true that for example for Spotify, if you have thousands plays, you receive a bill. And the artist receives nothing. Bandcamp is a great idea. When somebody buys an album, music, someone leaves an e-mail address and you can send your newsletters to them. The money goes directly to the artist. It's made for the artist. iTunes is more expensive for the artist. People know that and buy through Bandcamp because they know all the money goes to the musician. We sell more on Bandcamp.

When I entered this place, Slum Village was playing. In the past, a lot of reviewers seemed to have compared you with J-Dilla.

M: It seemed like for a while anybody that was using samples or experimented with any sort of off-beat timing in the drum programme, would be compared to J Dilla. Rightfully so, because he def changed the face of beats and music in general, even in pop music, everybody was influenced, but the whole idea is you use people as inspiration but you don't need to copy. You grow and find your own likes. I'm certain we have got our own style. Definitely.

Another legend, MF Doom, worked with you on the track 'More Soup'. I saw it's on the set list for tonight...

M: I like performing it. It's a lot of fun. Everybody seems to know that one..

C: It's a Moka classic (laughs)

How did the track come together?

M: It was just very simple. I got a hold of him, expressed that I wanted to do it and he made it happen very quickly. Not super-personal but there was mutual respect and I done some shows with him in US as well, yeah, he's very professional.

Twitter is hot right now, but Chief, you contacted Moka through Myspace?

C: Jep.

Off all the MC's why Moka?

C: My beats with his rhymes is a good combination. We did our first piece called 'Felt Before'. Then because of I had a label, we issued 'Lowdown Suite 2'. On the record I had a song with him. Then we had the album 'Crickets'.

Last week the Rhymesayers crew performed in Brussels. Not only the songs were dope. But in between, they had some entertaining lines. Moka do you prepare your lines in between the songs?

M: It's all in the moment. There's definitely an element of humour fo sure. I don't take myself too serious. Me I'm just a guy. I don't take myself serious. I take the music serious. Humour is important. It's important we have a good time. That people feel the music.feelin music (laughs) Performing is what I live for, anything what has to do with music, performing, creating is what I life for.

You get inspired by touring ? lot?

M: Yeah, just seeing new places, people, food, just architecture. It's ridiculous. It's non-stop so when, I store all of this in my head. I get back home I'll be able to create, create, create.

And you'll have another fifty albums in no time?

I don't know. We'll see. I slowed down a bit.

By getting older?

Yeah. I only do like thirty albums a year now (laughs) Naah. Seriously. It's not about getting older. Just because I'm older doesn't mean the inspiration ceases. It's not like I physically can't do it anymore just because I'm 50,60.I still get inspired.

Chief relieved me from the beat duty. Did you actually feel relieved or does making beats comes first?

Well I always want to make beats, but with a project in this nature it freezed me, so I can put more emphasis on my lyrical structure. On my own albums, I focus on the beats. Lyrics are just an afterthought. Maybe that's not always good for people who want to hear lyrics, but then again I do what I wanna do. I'm not here for giving people massages. If people like it I'm grateful. But yeah, when Chief does the beat, I can think of new ways to flow.

There's a lyricist who resembles you very much: Ron Contour.

Well he's my cousin. He's taking time off right now though.

He's in Canada?

Naah, he's in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Making music?

Naah. he went back to school. He's taking anthropology classes. I don't know what he wants to do with that. He's crazy, he'll disappear for a year then shows up for my door and says 'Let's make music' and he'll record like three albums in a week and then he expects me to hook him up. The labels that I deal with, they don't always want to. He's different you know, he's acquired taste. I have like thirty Ron Contour albums that he gave to me. I don't know what to do with them. He's not good with business.

So you have to search a label for him?

Basically I do. I always looked out for him, we grew up together.

I have to ask: hows the 'Mista Mista' album comin along?

M: It's been done for a long time, we just need someone to sign it. We need a label to put it out. I think Hiero will put it out. Tajai from Souls Of mischief wants to put it out. He runs Hiero Imperium and also his own Clear label, he expressed interest in putting it out. I don't know. The timing has to be right. I don't wanna put out two projects at the same time. Mr Brady is great, he's got an interesting perspective and his voice texture is unique. He's also a very hard worker.

You also have a record with Bootie Brown of the Pharcyde coming up?

Thats gonna be great. It's almost done. We made a loooooot of tracks. Expect that album by Spring or Summer. It's very 90's inspired. The contrast between my voice and his is interesting. It's an interesting album. Theres some big songs that could be played on pop radio!

So Chief, what's next on Feelin Music?

We issued Jazzo & Melodiesinfonie, it's kinda like Flying Lotus beats. I will make an album with John Robinson, then an instrumental album and another tribute album, and of course another album with Moka Only.

M: With a song about cookies!


Two hours later I'm above the clouds and all of a sudden -while dozing off in my seat- I'm hearing a high-pitched sound...a rusty wheel spinning...or...or...insects...the chirping sound of...of...naah could it be? Crickets?

- 'Care for a cookie sir?'

Why thank you stewardess.

 

Check out and buy 'Crickets' on Bandcamp.
POSTED 11|22|2011
conducted by cpf

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