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Interview with Mocky

We last saw producer and multi-instrumentalist Mocky six years ago at an unforgettable show at the world's smallest cabaret, Le Zèbre de Belleville, in Paris. He was presenting the songs from his masterpiece 'Saskamodie'. Here at Paris DJs, the album has been in heavy rotation - and still is. Now Mocky has moved from Berlin to L.A. to embark on new musical adventures with local musicians. The result is the brand-new album 'Key Change', a kind of ideal follow-up to 'Saskamodie' consisting of twelve exquisite, timeless lullabies for insomniac adults. The instruments and line-ups are almost the same (basically, acoustic instruments), except for the addition of gorgeous string arrangements courtesy of Miguel Atwood-Ferguson.

Listen to 'Key Change', savour these immaculate and delicate, songs and you'll understand why we've dubbed Mocky the “Burt Bacharach of modern times”.

Mocky Key Change
(Interview by Nicolas Ragonneau - May 2015)

01. I often start my interviews with a bit of etymology… where does this Mocky nickname come from?
It came to me in a dream and there was a crowd chanting “Mocky, Mocky, Mocky!” and I liked the sound of it, I began calling my tapes that I was doing at the time “Mocky recordings”. The name got shortened and has stuck. When I did my first album I just went with it.

02. You moved from Berlin to Los Angeles last summer. So now you're the second most famous Canadian in Hollywood. Have you moved for musical/artistic matters?
You mean after Peaches? Yes, that's true! (Paris DJs: no, I meant Ryan Gosling!)
All my moves are for creative / artistic matters. There's an incredible scene in LA right now, since the collapse of the record industry as we once knew it, LA has become a hotbed of young and interesting talent. I've always gone where the scene was happening and in doing so ended up with some great musical family around the world – LA is no exception.

03. There's a play on words in the new album's title “Key change”, but more than a change it sounds like a follow-up to Saskamodie.
Yes, it started out as Saskamodie part 2. Eventually it took on a life of its own. People forget how to do things like compose Key Changes, because now computers do everything for you, but to do a Key Change for a reason requires intention and that's one thing a computer doesn't have. So this is a metaphor for the music having a human intention behind every note.

Photo by Vice Cooler

04. Some Californian musicians and vocalists join the usual suspects for this new album. Can you say a word on what they bring to the sessions?
There's a vitality and a sunshine to the sound that the players out here have brought to the table. Moses Sumney sings beautifully on the record, and artists like Kelela bring depth to the project . Miguel Atwood-Ferguson is the best string arranger for my type of stuff because he brings such a classic sound. Anyone who doesn't know his stuff should check out his arrangements for Flying Lotus.

05. Recently you evoked Frank Sinatra in an interview. Would it be a compliment for you to be seen as a crooner?
I started out with a rapping puppet and if he heard me talking about being a crooner he would never forgive me! but seriously I am only trying to bring my song closer to your ear using today's technology. And this is what Sinatra did by being the first one to sing close on the most advanced microphones of the day, in essence creating a virtual space that didn't correspond with reality, this is why I consider him the first techno artist.

06. I'm pretty sure we'll be able to listen to Saskamodie & Key Change with the same pleasure in 20 years because they sound like instant and timeless classics.
Of course, in a disposable era, the timeless will become classics. I strive to make something that will last and make a contribution to our understanding of the many facets of what it means to be human.

Photo by Vice Cooler

07. Between Saskamodie and Key Change you released your first OST for Chinese movie 'UFO in her eyes'. Tell me the story behind this.
The director went and shot the movie in china and made an incredible piece of film. I was honored to compose the music and from her perspective the crazier the better seemed to be the general feedback! this worked for me and I was able to bring much of my "sound" into the soundtrack. This is definitely something I'd love to do more of.

08. For what ideal director?
I'd love to do a soundtrack for Spike Jonze or Charlie Kaufman but who wouldn't! I love the way music is used to tell a story, I feel like the visuals bring something to the music that goes beyond a pure listening experience to something more revealing about the nature of us as story tellers and people.

09. I always thought that you look like a young Charlie Chaplin. Besides, when you share the stage with Chilly Gonzales and Socalled, we have the impression to see the Marx Brothers… do you love slapstick?
WOW. As a Canadian it's a precondition to love slapstick before they give you your passport. And yes Charlie Chaplin has been my spirit animal in LA. There's so much of his history around town, old theatres and studios. Actually I do a monthly live gig at the Ace Hotel in LA and it's built above an old theatre that Charlie Chaplin helped build.

Photo by Dalton Blanco

10. There's a very special friendship between you Leslie Feist, Jamie Lidell and Chilly Gonzales. Have you ever thought of building a supergroup together one day?
It seems such an obvious idea... you know how it goes, we are waiting for the right offer! But that's the great thing about music … once you make family you can always work together in new ways. I've been very lucky to work with some of the most talented and beautiful musicians.

11. You're canadian but you've been in London, then Amsterdam for a few years, then 10 years in Berlin, now in LA. Do you feel like a stateless person?
Going back to your first question about the name Mocky: in some languages like russian and japanese, Mocky means "Gypsy" so in someways I guess I am a musical nomad. So far music has been my only "state" and I've always found family. LA has been no exception. That's why you've got to always keep your musical passport updated (credibility wise). Music is great that way, you can always have people around you, inspiring you.

12. Any young artist you produce to recommend ?
Keep an eye out for Joey Dosik, I just co-wrote and co-produced his whole album, it will come out soon, he's amazing.

Proust's questionnaire :

Fav Painter : DEGAS
Fav Poet : TUPAC
Fav film director : LUCAS
Fav classic novel : The History of Forgetting
Fav monkey species : Human
Fav museum : RECORD STORES
Fav jazz drummer : ART BLAKEY
Fav classic composer : CHILLY GONZALES
Fav OST composer : PLANET EARTH
The animal you'd want to be reincarnated as : SNOW LEOPARD
One very important thing you have to do before you die : LIVE

Links :
Mocky : official | bandcamp | facebook | instagram | parisdjs | soundcloud | tumblr | twitter
Nicolas Ragonneau

Nicolas Ragonneau

Stay informed of all things Paris DJs and beyond thanks to our Twitter news

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