Podcast Interview with Joss Moog – Paris-based House DJ and Producer
Joss Moog is one of my favorite producers and House DJs. I completely overplay his track “Drummin’ it” and yet can’t stop playing it. His sound is rough and warm, tecky and yet jazzy. Just the way I like it – HighTechSoul. I had to find out how he does what he does and asked him for a interview session, which we eventually had recently. Here is the recording of that session and the transcript for those of you who rather read than listen.
Listen to the Interview:
Transcript of Interview:
Hi everybody! This is Dano from DanoEF.com and I have the great pleasure to have Mr. Joss Moog with me today. The creator of one of my favorite tracks ever called “Drumin’ it”. And this is Joss Moog. Hi! How are you man?
Joss Moog: I’m fine and hi everybody, nice to meet you, virtually meet you!
You are talking from Paris right now, is it?
Joss Moog: Yeah, I’m in the east of Paris, 20 minutes away from Paris. Not too far to go for booking and to play in Paris. So that’s cool.
So that’s where you play mostly? Paris? Europe? What is your tour schedule these days?
Joss Moog: It’s going better and better in Paris you know. The house music scene is growing very fast since 3 or 4 years now. Paris obviously a very beautiful city, but in the past we used to have lot of commercial parties you know, now young people in Europe, especially in Paris, the around 20 years old are discovering house music and underground music. It’s getting better and better. Before I used to play most of the time in Europe, not in France, but now I get more and more gigs in Paris, and its cool because I need them.
Yeah. So Paris is becoming a house capital so to say.
JM: Exactly, its growing faster and lots of young people are having parties, creating labels, buying vinyls…you know. It’s really good for us, because 4 years ago people used to say that I was playing music for old people, but not anymore.
Is the majority of the house scene happening in regular clubs and established locations or is it more about private parties, one off locations?
JM: You have both. I think it works like this: if you have money you can have great parties in regular clubs like “Rex” which is really expensive. Only if you are a good promoter or you have money you can do that. Young people try to make it happen in underground places in Paris, but it is not so easy. You have to be careful in Paris, you know.
Yeah, one thing I know about Paris: it is very expensive.
What I would like to ask you is, what is your story? How did your House DJ carrier take off? What was your break through experience?
JM: As a child my first thing is production you know. I used to make funky music and play the electric piano in a band, funky disco style. My first love was the French touch especially Daft Punk with “Homework”. That’s when I got into house music and started to produce some tracks. Then I met Phil Weeks. We became very close friends because we were doing sports together.
Phil Weeks is the Robsoul founder right?
JM: Exactly. In 2006, I released my first EP on Robsoul and then I didn’t quit. We stayed very close and I have a lot of releases from Robsoul. And that’s how I came to production and DJing.
When you DJ, you learn a lot about how to produce
So your first access was production and by having successful releases you got into DJing.
JM: Exactly! And now I love both because when you DJ, you learn a lot about how to produce. If you are only working in your house or in your studio, it’s not the same thing. This music you have to play it in order to understand it.
I completely agree with that. I think it’s a perfect combination to produce and play. It both inspires each other. This is also my experience: when you just sit at home and make tracks, they may sound good in your bedroom. But it can be a different story in the club.
JM: Exactly! I learn every time I play. I listen very carefully to every track I play or other DJs play. Every time I come back home I’m very motivated to do new productions. I want to do this, I want to do that… Every time I go to gigs I take my computer and before and after the gig I want to do production you know.
Would you mind sharing what you use for production? Which tools you use? You use Ableton , Logic or something else?
JM: I used to work on Cubase for years. But now I have completely changed: I bought a MPC 3000 – hardware stuff – and I’m really loving it. It changed everything. But when you have MPC 3000 you have to change everything in your studio. So now I’m building a new studio, because I want to organize everything around the MPC.
That’s your central production tool? MPC ? I used to have a MPC 2000 some 15 years ago and unfortunately I sold it.
JM: It’s the main stuff in my studio now. And I’m buying everything to make the MPC sound better.
What software do you use?
JM: Now with MPC, I only use Sound Forge. Because, the main stuff is to import good samples. I used to take samples from vinyl, from CDs, internet, everywhere. Even from my microphone. I like to record stuff, like my voice. Last time I did a video – you can find it on my face book page– with my Samsung phone. I sampled the “bip..bip..bip..” of the volume control, put it into my MPC and did a track on “bip..bip..bip..”
With the MPC now, I have the exact feeling I was looking for
Oh my God ! that is hilarious!! So you do your whole production on the MPC – that is unbelievable!
JM: Yeah, I ‘ m working on it. Because in software (Cubase) I always had that problem of sound. Not so easy to sound great. To have the particular sound I’m looking for: rough, strong. With the MPC now, I have the exact feeling I was looking for. You have to have great samples at first. The sounds of the sample is really important. You can’t import something which sounds bad. But now if I import samples into the MPC, it sounds really huge.
I guess that is where the name of your track “Drumin’ it” came from, because it’s made basically on the drum machine right?
JM: No, in fact when I made “Drummin’ it” I was still using the Cubase! The story of “Drummin’ it”: it was the last track of the EP I was making for the Robsoul. I had a deadline. I don’t remember exactly but it was the end of October. I had only one or two days left. So Phil Weeks told me “ hurry up Joss! You have to give me the last track! We have to release it in two days”. So I made this track in 2 or 3 hours. At first when I made it, I was not sure of this track at all. For me it was not a good track, but then I realized it may be the best track of the EP because, everyone told me “Wow!! It’s the best one !!”. So it’s a good lesson. Sometimes you think that your track is not cool and put it away. You don’t use it. But sometimes you don’t realize how strong that track can be. And then again sometimes you think “Ah! this track is really cool!” But when you listen to it one week later – it’s not. So this is the story of “Drummin’ it” . I did it very very fast, because I had to do it fast. But this track is the one that most people like. That’s cool.
So I‘m not the only one who likes this track. To me it is really outstanding. The baseline, the vibrato. You did not make any changes? After listening to the final version, you still did not really like it?
JM: Exactly! But with experience, I understand this kind of thing. I used to be very slow in production. Always doing and doing, spending hours and hours on one track changing the edit. But sometimes when you do something quick, it’s the best track or the best remix. So I try to think this way: “don’t think too much, do what you want to do and keep it”.
Yeah! I think it’s really good advice. I think that also go with some very intuitive production environment. May be something like your MPC 3000. Because, that is something that where you don’t play around too much because people tend to get lost in all the plugins and this and that. You can spend months clicking around plugins and presets. You will always find something else and something different. The art of limitation says: less is more. Picking a very limited production environment and taking it from there. I heard it many times that people who specifically limit themselves come up with much better results than people who have all the freedom.
JM: Yeah that’s right. Many producers ask me on face book: “What do you use? What advice you can give me? What kind of machine can I buy?”. For me you can use any machine. You can use any software. But you have to find what suits you. If you use a MPC, don’t go in many different ways. Just try to learn how to use one thing good, then just keep it. Because for example, for MPC you need good nice samples. Nothing else. I really don’t use compression or anything else.
But you do the mastering? Or someone else does the mastering for you?
JM: Of course. But I like t give the mastering the most rough, row, track. Nothing on it. Because I want the engineer who masters the track to have freedom. To have space.
So you don’t pre-compress and try to make it loud and maximize everything.
JM: No. If the samples are great at the beginning, you don’t need to do all this. For me, it’s my way of production. I know some people do it differently and I respect that. But for me, I like to make it raw first and then mastering.
Do you use sample libraries?
JM: No, that’s what I always say to people who send me tracks. Many times I hear CD libraries, especially on the beat. And most of the time it sounds cheap for me. That’s why I say “don’t look for samples in a sample library. Take them directly from tracks, CDs or vinyl. Most of the time I take samples from funky music, Disco music, jazz, hip-hop. And for the beats I have my own libraries of Kicks, you know it’s the most important, like 808 or 909 kicks . I think I have about 100 kicks that sound great and I always use them. Then I go to Jazz music for HiHat loops because they have the original groove.
It sounds more natural and more human.
Exactly! That’s what I like , the human touch.
Where did the baseline in “Drumin’ it” come from? Is it the sample?
JM: Yeah. It’s the sample. I didn’t play it. People think “Wow, where does it come from?” Most of the time it’s more simple than you think. With base line: I changed it a little. But it comes from an old track, more electro, not really house, but I can’t tell you the name because I don’t remember! When I sample something, like last time when I took some baseline from the Ohio Plyers, it’s a funky band, I like to share it. No problem. But this – I don’t remember.
Yeah. I really like that. You open about what you do, you don’t make a mystery out of it. But you do capitalize a big record collection I think.
JM: One thing I like to do in Paris is to go to a place where you can borrow Books and CDs. Every week I go to this place and borrow about 20 CDs. I come back home, listen to every CD and sample everything I want. Then I return them and borrow another 20 CDs every week. Because I can go faster like this you know. And it’s cheaper. You don’t have to buy everything. Sometimes I buy digital tracks, vinyls on discount and CDs. But for sampling I want to have lots of material. So I come back with the CDs and take all the samples I want, and then I have my libraries, I put the samples on the MPC and start.
You don’t use the internet at all?
JM: Yeah, sometimes I directly take samples from YouTube. But it depends on what you want. In YouTube I can take some vocal for example. Or some people speaking. But for the beats, I will never directly take samples from YouTube. I always try to get the best quality sounds.
The sound quality of the YouTube is not really great right?
JM: Of course. But some samples I don’t care. Like for vocals – YouTube is enough sometimes. Sometimes I take samples from movies which I can’t find otherwise. Then I directly put them to the MPC, and if doesn’t work I try another one. I use samples from CDs, YouTube, vinyl and whatever.
How about playing? When you play as a House DJ, do you use CDJs ? What is your DJ setup?
Most of the time I mix wit CDs. But now I’m going to change for USB. Vinyl of course sometimes. But now I like to try USB because it is really easy when you have to travel.
In Paris now we have a Vinyl revival
Yes. You just put it into your pocket. Do you use DJ controllers?
JM: No, no I don’t. but I’m not against it. In Paris now we have a Vinyl revival. People think that if you can mix it with vinyl then you are true DJ. For me it’s stupid. Because you can be a good DJ and it doesn’t depend on Vinyl, CD, USB or Traktor. I don’t care. It’s all about what track you want to play, what emotion you want to give to people. There are so many important things to be a good DJ. But Vinyl, CD, USB or Traktor – whatever.
When you travel do you find a lot of clubs that provide decks, so you can play vinyls?
Not so many. Last time I was in Amsterdam for the ADE, I brought some vinyls, but there was nothing to play.
That’s what I expected! When you bring vinyls you might not play them at all.
Where is your next tour happening? What is your next schedule?
JM: Next I’m going to play in Paris, then I will go to your country, I will play in “Chalet” in Berlin in December. That’s is a very nice venue. I used to play there before. And I will play in Hamburg too.
So Germany it is next? I can’t wait to see you in Asia in someday. Make it happen !!
Yes. I hope. I need to speak with my agent.
Yeah, exactly. I will do my best to promote you hear, for people to know who you are. There should be some fan base already.
One last question, what would be your advice for a young House DJ? People who want to make it big in DJing – how should they go about it?
JM: There are many different ways to be a good DJ. First you have to love music. Don’t think about the business at all. Don’t think about money, yourself your image. Because now most of the time you have to be your own manager. You have to be on face book, Instagram, twitter. It’s like an addiction. You can spend more time on writing and chatting on Facebook than mixing.
Very true. How do you do that? Do you take care of your all social media accounts or do you have someone to help with that?
JM: No, I do it by myself most of the time. Then I have a friend who helps me. You have to choose. You cannot be in everywhere on every social network. I’m using Facebook and Soundcloud. Soundcloud is really important. And that’s all. I try to do production, to mix and to propose to record to my set, I try to make some funny videos sometimes with my MPC. And that’s it.
I saw this amazing video of a girl drawing behind you. How did you get that together? Is that a friend of yours?
JM: No I found her on Facebook, I saw she has done it to commercial track, so I talked to her and asked her to do that for my next track and she said OK. She is really talented, she had the idea of drawing a studio. So we did it. For me it’s really important. Because you have the emotion when you hear the music, and when you can watch something great with the music you get more emotions.
I really love that video and found that really exceptional. Something I never saw before.
JM: To answer your question about young DJs: it sounds stupid but they have to work. The combination is very important to be able to mix and to be able to produce.
So you would agree to say that, you cannot just be a DJ today. I mean just playing tracks somehow is not enough right? You have to produce.
JM: That’s my way of thinking. You can be just a DJ. There are many many good DJs who are not producers. But if you can do both, it’s really great.
Yes, that’s true. I think that kinda sumps it up. So thank you very much for your time Joss. It was a great pleasure to speak to you. And all the best wishes for your endeavors, your new upcoming tracks. I‘ll be checking them most definitely. And I really hope to see you in Asia soon.
JM: Thank you so much! would be my pleasure to come.
More Joss Moog: FaceBook Soundcloud
Article & Interview by Dano Falk