The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Interview: Mosca

The 26-year old producer shares his thoughts on vinyl, floppy discs and Ghanaian afrobeats

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Tom Reid’s output over the past three years may pale in comparison to many of his peers, but in that time he has still managed to cement his alias, Mosca, as a household name in bass music.  Releases on Night Slugs, Numbers and 3024 caused very big ripples, leading to a residency on the radio and a legion of fans.  But since last June’s Eva Mendes EP, Reid seems to be building tension on the production side of things.

“I’m sitting on loads of tracks at the moment,” he told The Mancunion, “2012 was a great year for me personally but release-wise it was dry.  2013 is all about getting material out there on the right labels.  If anything my production process has become more basic the last few years.  I cut all my own samples and build tracks like that, no sample pack loops.  I recently dug out an old Yamaha sequencer which was the first bit of hardware kit I ever got.  No sampling ability and you save everything to a floppy disc!”

“I’ve been on the road a lot lately, but I find that I make some of my best beats in the airport on Reason.  Obviously you can only get sketches down and I need monitors to properly mix down and get the groove right but I find I get a lot of arrangement done that way.  I can probably sum up my style in a couple of words – it’s rhythm or groove or whatever, and moodiness, a kind of darkness mixed with sexiness.  That’s the kind of thing I’m generally drawn to.”

Sexiness aside, Reid seems to have been enjoying his slot on Radio 1’s In New DJs We Trust.  His selections draw from all four corners, indicating a freedom to decide what goes out on air:  “Apart from swearing or, you know, anti-police lyrics or whatever, I can play whatever.  I’ve run some real headsy Hardwax vinyl-only kinda stuff on there, through to exclusives from the Ghanaian afrobeats scene, old ghetto house, grime with live MCs, dancehall, a tribal special, and loads of deep house and techno each week.  I will have been on air for a year in March when I’ll be doing my final show.  It was a six month contract so I’m happy to have had a year on there!”

Despite the name of the show, Reid asserts that the DJs he mostly listens to are fairly established: “DJing is something that takes so long to get right, beat-matching aside there’s so much stuff to get wrong.  Even if it’s running a tune that gets a great crowd reaction and then running something that normally goes down well but flops compared to the first record.  It’s a lifelong learning experience, especially as crowds are changing all the time.  In a nutshell I would say that experienced DJs are better than new DJs, including myself, but I’m working on it!”

Reid went on to talk us through a bit of his live setup, ahead of his date at Sankeys on the 22nd: “I use Serato with vinyl but I’m in the process of switching to CDJs instead.  Vinyl in this day and age is too much hassle if you’re playing out twice a weekend or whatever, always different clubs, and the decks are rarely maintained properly.  I bring my own needles and that, but there’s nothing you can do if a tone-arm is bent!  I just wanna have peace of mind that I can turn up and focus on music and raving instead of sorting technicals or being on edge that something will go wrong.  I know I won’t have to play what I call ‘promoter tunes’ at Sankeys.  The crowd is wicked and I can get on with running underground beats and just building up a vibe.”

When pressed further on his tendency to experiment in both production and selection, Reid comments that the genre argument has almost played itself out:  “Fans are so open to everything nowadays it seems to be more about reeling it in again, telling people that yes I kinda play all over the board, but not literally everything.  It’s definitely fans that are more open to new stuff; it’s the DJs that would have to find ways to run tracks they wouldn’t normally run that are less open.  I don’t play breaks or trap or dubstep or whatever… but not playing everything out there isn’t a crime.  It’s just called having a taste in music.  I don’t mind ‘Bax’ being labelled as throwback garage considering it was a one-off throwback garage EP.”

And I suppose he’s right; locating music in terms of genre isn’t a bad thing. It’s the clearest way to distinguish between and agree on what we do and don’t like listening to.  One man’s trap could be another man’s Ghanaian afrobeat.