Muzzy on his new science fiction-inspired ‘F Minor Factory’ concept EP [Interview]
British drum & bass artist Muzzy‘s new EP, F Minor Factory, is a high-octane journey into a dystopian, cyborg-filled future. Released through Monstercat, the EP marks the end of a year-long hiatus taken by the young producer and the return to what fans hope to be a regular release schedule once again.
We had the opportunity to talk with Muzzy about F Minor Factory, and the concepts behind it, including the prospect of a complete 360 degree visual experience, and the storyline for which the music sets the stage.
From the artwork and the teaser trailer for the EP, there’s a clear sense of narrative behind ‘F Minor Factory.’ Is there a written storyline, or is it meant to be implied?
The concept of the EP revolves around a Factory, set far in the future. The factory is controlled by a female artificial intelligence, and there are a bunch of workers (cyborgs/robots) who work at the factory constantly. The first track is about the AI interrogating a cyborg worker called SID, who has been arrested for rebelling against the system. The rules in the factory are clear: “You will work here until your reactors expire. If you do not obey, you will be captured, dismantled, and then incinerated.” SID started recovering more of his human qualities, and as that happened over time, he began to rebel against his static and robotic nature of life, and eventually got captured.
The rest of the EP isn’t so much telling a story, but is definitely part of the entire concept. “Junction Seven” was supposed to be an audio-representation of a typical working day at the factory. “Play” is about SID rebelling against the system, and “Children Of Hell” is SID escaping from the Factory. These tracks don’t chronologically tell the story this way, but the concept of the music is based on these ideas.
That teaser trailer is awesome, but it’s just that: a teaser. Is there going to be a full visual experience to go along with the music?
We were going to do a completely 360 degree/virtual reality visual experience, but for our vision, the technology hasn’t actually advanced yet to the point where we could pull off the quality of virtual reality animation we wanted. It could have been done, but it wouldn’t turn out as good as we wanted. We’re waiting for VI consumer products like the Oculus rift to reach out worldwide, which will enable us to do a virtual reality experience worth producing for future projects.
Is there a message that you wanted to send with the EP?
There isn’t really a message, but I wanted the whole thing to be a fun experience. It’s not meant to be taken super seriously. Yeah it’s evil and mysterious in parts, but there’s definitely an element of fun and a sense of humor, like the title. The whole F Minor thing is poking a bit of fun at the fact that so many records, not just in dnb but the whole electronic music sphere, are written in F Minor.
I feel like I’ve been guilty of making tunes in F Minor over my career just so other dj’s will drop my tracks, and I think a lot of artists feel this way to. I have nothing against the scale or anyone who uses it, it’s a great key to work with frequency range wise (rich and deep bass harmonics in the scale work greatness with kick frequencies), but I think composition wise it’s a little bit overplayed. But hey, it’s music, not politics, none of that stuff really matters in the long run.
What or who was your biggest inspiration for the EP?
My influences for the EP came from my usual broad range of influences that recur in all my music, a lot of which comes from film scores, heavy rock and metal, ambient, video game music and of course the usual suspects in EDM. But I feel like my biggest influences for this EP in particular came from City Of Gold, The Prototypes’ new album, and Knife Party’s Abandon Ship album.
They both have a concept that’s not only about doing some seriously stellar production, but also creating a fun experience that’s playful at times and not too serious. That balance is something I wanted for this EP.
Will this EP be followed by a tour of any kind?
I’ve taken this year to focus on studio time. We had an EP launch Party at a Liquicity event, which turned out amazing, but other than that and a few one off gigs and festivals, there’s no dedicated EP tour, or much touring at all in 2016. We have some serious plans in 2017 though, so watch out!
What was your most memorable moment in the studio working on the EP?
Working with UK:ID was definitely up there. We recorded “Play” in 2 days in this tiny little room on some pretty entry level speakers, using an NT1A mic in another room with a blanket on the wall. Despite all that, the record turned out awesome and we’re all very pleased with it. Definitely was a fun couple of days.
When did you start making/playing music? If you didn’t start with producing electronic music, what did you play before that and when did you start producing?
I started dabbling with computers around 11 years old, learning a little bit of programming, music, graphic art and whatnot. I came from a background influenced by rock and metal, especially seeing as a lot of my friends were in bands. I never learned an instrument (even to this day) but I could use computers pretty well for my age, and that’s where I discovered the electronic music world.
I’ve always loved drum & bass and I’ve always written and produced it, but I was never influenced purely by the genre, I took a lot of my influences from rock and metal, early dubstep (at the time), electro, and even some pop artists. I also took a heavy influence from video game music, film scores and orchestral music, ambient, and that all shaped my sound from early days until now.
Any formal training in production, music theory, etc.?
I’ve never had training and I couldn’t talk to you in depth about scales or music theory, and I sure as hell can’t read or write sheet music. I’ve always written melodies and compositions by ear. It’s funny because I do all that by ear, but then I’ll engineer primarily visually, using analyzers, meters, scopes, etc. I know some very basic music theory but like I said, nothing advanced.
How long does it usually take you to finish a track? Any advice on finishing those tracks that never seem to be done?
It varies. For F Minor Factory, “Junction Seven” took the longest (about 3 months on and off) and “Play” took the shortest (about 2 days). “Children Of Hell” was a weird one. It came from a very old project that was originally supposed to be on my last EP, The Takeover, but it never got finished. That took about a week to do; all the sounds were already made, but the mix was absolutely awful, so I went through a week of solid re-mixing. I’m glad it turned out ok, almost ended up completely destroying that tune.
My advice for finishing old tunes? I’m probably not the guy to ask, seeing as 99% of stuff I make never falls through, or are recycled into different projects. I think if a sound isn’t fitting one track, try using it in a different track, or try resampling it and putting it into a different context. Bounce and archive your sounds so you can always come back to them at a later date if you’re uninspired by them at the current time.
Which do you believe is more important, technical knowledge or creativity?
It depends on the artist. It’s all about what the artist wants to achieve. If you don’t want to sit there making a snare drum completely from scratch then don’t. Some artists only want to produce music “melodically” as it were, focusing more on the actual songwriting than the sounds used. It’s all a matter of preference. But here’s where I stand:
I find it much more fun and more personal to engineer my own sounds including kicks and snares (layering, synth fundamentals and pitch envelopes). I also find it fun to make my own sounds and resample sounds from scratch, using soft synths. I also MUCH prefer using hardware and outboard gear for signal processing like bus compression, limiting and eq. Some people don’t care, but I can definitely hear the differences between a real SSL G Series Comp and a software clone, and a real LA2A and a software LA2A. It’s not needed, it’s not going to get you bookings at Ultra, it’s all just preference. You find your own way, the sounds you like, the tools you want to use, and you go from there. This is music after all, so don’t ever feel pressured to do something you don’t want to.
Any hints about what’s to come after this?
We can’t give too much away, but there is another body of work coming out this year. All I can say is it’s going to be completely different to F Minor Factory.