Midnight Moodswings originated as an increment from the confusion that Radio for the Daydreamers have created previously. Embracing darker side, with emphasized melancholic element and syntheticism created by a Belgian DJ & producer Seiswork, Midnight Moodswings have forged an EP entitled „The Dopamine Recursive“ which serves as an ouverture to the project’s debut full-length release „The Surrogate Piano“.
The Dopamine Recursive EP is a collaborative project between Midnight Moodswings and Seiswork. How did you guys come up to work together?
Aki: I got introduced to Seiswork’s music through youtube and immediately contacted him for a collaboration or some remixes. That pretty much got us talking about art and music more and more and I realized that we have a similar approach to art, just different styles. Seiswork worked on a remix for “Wasted Faces” first and I immediately fell in love with that track. Since then, he has worked on a few remixes for RftD and Midnight Moodswings.
We were talking about writing a record together for a while but we wanted to set a story, or at least an outline of one, before we started writing music. That involved a lot of discussion and reading up on things but since we were both fine with that, we were a lot more confident about the writing. I would say that is why it was a very organic process to work with Seiswork, since we both like to take our time with the writing process.
Can you tell us something more about the creating process of the EP? How did it go?
Clem: The creation of this collaboration was all done over internet because we haven’t got the possibilities to meet in flesh and blood. We talked a lot on Facebook, shared sounds and our opinions on Soundcloud and it worked well. Gradually, we adopted work habits that organically evolved and we started to develop a good work rate. Specifically, Aki sent me stems of acoustic instruments, and after I add synthetic sounds like beats, I modify the instrumental sounds, and I add some soundscapes that fit well with the rest. The creation mainly involved exchanging of ideas, and we were always honest about what we felt concerning the work of the other.
The way I see this collaboration between MM and Seiswork is that Midnight Moodswings brought in everything what is organic and on the other side Seiswork’s goal was to bring some sort of syntheticity. Would you agree on this? Is that what you wanted to achieve?
Aki: In a broad sense, that is correct. Seiswork is responsible for the percussion throughout the record, which ended up being some of my personal favourite beats. But since we both understood the creative freedom we had, he added a whole “soundscape” section to the record that included field recordings, white noise, recording silence et cetera. That was something that Midnight Moodswings welcomed dearly, since it added a completely different aspect to the record. So in a way, we were both responsible for the organic side of the record because we would have never thought of something like that. Furthermore, Seiswork also had a huge influence on the artwork and the final master of the record. Even though we were responsible for the creation process, but the shaping and concluding of those ideas were through Seiswork. It was a collaborative project in every sense.
Aki, it’s said that Midnight Moodswings is an increment on all the confusion and seclusion you created with Radio for the Daydreamers. How would you compare these two projects? Do you see this increment as an upgrade of the RtfD sound or a totally new experiment?
Aki: The two projects are incredibly different not just with the approach towards the art, but also with little things like the storytelling style, instrumentation et cetera.
Radio for the Daydreamers is a place where we get to truly experiment with sounds and instruments. There is always an overlaying story for both the bands, but we have a lot more freedom with RftD. So with each record, there are a lot of genres that we go through. Sometimes Jazz describes a feeling that trip-hop cannot. Why not use all the faculties we have to express the chaos in our head?
Midnight Moodswings, on the other hand, is a lot more uniform. A lot of people have been misconstruing this uniformity with “maturing” or an “upgrade” but I am afraid Midnight Moodswings is just a different manifestation of our art.
RftD is our playground where we try things that we wouldn’t while scoring a film or writing a soundtrack. Both the bands have a cinematic approach to the art but Midnight Moodswings is more of a soundtrack while RftD is the score.
The visual components of the two bands are very different as well. With RftD we usually had 1 or 2 official music videos for each record, while Midnight Moodswings is completely different in that regard. There are a lot of video projects with Midnight Moodswings, that will be concluded in the coming weeks. While RftD is a lot more mysterious in that respect.
Furthermore, the music we make as RftD is a lot more live oriented. So when we play live, RftD songs are a lot more interesting and therefore fun to play. While Midnight Moodswings is a lot more cinematic and personal music. Records best enjoyed after everyone around you goes to sleep.
Where do you draw your inspiration for Midnight Moodswings? The music is certainly deep and mysterious. How much of your personality reflects on the music?
Aki: There is really no direct inspiration for any of the art we make. It is always a synergy of little things we pick up here and there. I could name some bands that we were engrossed in while working on Midnight Moodswings, but that would be futile.
I would say a lot of our inspiration comes when we add limits like minimalism, piano-based melodies et cetera. That is not to say that other artists do not inspire us. There are some bands that have inspired our lives through and through and that might or might not show up in our art. But to be specific would be unfair to the artists I cannot remember at this time.
We aren’t trying to be deep or mysterious. We are just trying to emphasize the point that the art is a lot more important than the artist. So our personality is something that we do not actively consider or let influence our art. In the realms of being artists, the art has always shaped our personality and not the other way around. I feel like I am a new person for each record I work on. There are new things that I learn and implement not only in the art, but in life as well.
Did you guys work together on songs from The Dopamine Recursive or you sent tracks to Clem who did his part of the job? The cohesion in the EP’s flow is truly remarkable.
Aki: Thank you so much! I am glad you think that. I would say the cohesion depended a lot on the song. Some tracks were pretty straightforward to work on, while some took a lot longer (through trial, (t)error and adjustments) than anticipated. Usually, we shared ideas first and then talked about the instrumentation and what we were trying to achieve with the song. Which is exactly why we wanted to cover the story behind the record before we started writing. That way, every time we got stuck we knew exactly where to go.
It is always a great time working with artists that are as enthusiastic about creation as we are, if not a little more. Seiswork is one of those artists and that was pretty apparent right from the start. That would probably be why the flow of the whole process worked out well.
Aki, the artistic side of the project seems very important to you. And it seems that you are obsessed with the fractal art. What does it represent to you? Where do you see the connection between the music and this artistic segment of Midnight Moodswings?
Aki: Fractal art is something that has consistently helped my expression. I studied Chaos Theory in school and got introduced to, and eventually incredibly fascinated with fractals. I guess the fact that I had an option of bringing mathematics to my art, this was bound to happen.
There is a sense of distraction that these fractals provide because instead of an understanding, they provide abstraction. And over the years with RftD and now Midnight Moodswings, it has become a staple for us. Something that everyone approaches differently and takes away something different from. That is exactly what I aim to achieve with it. I think if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that means the “beautiful” should be everywhere. So it is not the “beautiful” we should be looking for, it’s the beholder, a way to see the “beautiful.”
With the fractal art, I am not trying to show what’s beautiful, I’m trying to listen to the stories of the beholder that finds this beautiful.
Sometimes it isn’t that apparent and other times it is. Instead of ascribing an overlaying idea to the art and letting that shape it as with our music or literature, fractal art is where I get to allow the art to tell the story. That is something incredibly powerful and beautiful and that is exactly where I see its connection with the music.
Let’s talk a bit about your work with Seiswork, Clem. How long have you been in this kind of „business“?
Clem: I started using music softwares in 2001, but I was young and I didn’t know if I wanted to involve myself professionally in music. At the end of my high school studies I decided to study experimental music in an art school. So I studied electroacoustic music in the Conservatory of Mons (near Brussels) until 2011. After that I started to make professional things for myself and I tried to do some serious collaborations with other musicians and artists (filmmakers, video makers, …). I shared my music for free until this year. Now, I am trying to find record labels that distribute music through platforms like ITunes, Juno Records, Spotify, … but this is pretty hard for starting without having a name in the electronic music scene. Aki was the first artist with whom I worked towards making a record. Before that, I worked with two friends where we made music for fun and did DJ sets that included mixing Drum&Bass in underground places in the south of Belgium (2008-2012). The name of this group is DJZU or “Dites Jesus”, they still do stuff together. I also did collaborations with other people before 2012 but it did not give a lot of results.
You are about to release an EP called Penses Ameres on Hopskotch Records. Is this your first official release? I know that you’ve been involved with many projects. What else is in the pipeline?
Clem: Yes, this is my first official release. My music was already released in record labels but it was only on compilations. The four pieces of this EP were created from an experimental work, this is a sort of IDM with abstract hip hop beats and weird sounds. I have one project waiting: a new EP created like “Pensees ameres” (from an experimental work) but this time it is more drill&bass and drumstep oriented. I just have to propose it to record labels. This summer, I’m working with instrumental musicians (a pianist, a viola player and a guitarist) to create ambient works for making a physical EP. In addition, I’m planning to create a little movie about schizophrenia but this will be a big project and I’m only at the beginning.
Aki, there is a video for the song „Only You Can Heal“ taken from the Midnight Moodswings’ debut album „The Surrogate Piano“ which is to be released some time soon. Comparing with the work off the Dopamine Recursive and judging by this song, it’s obvious that you are pursuing a different direction. How come? What can we expect from the album?
Aki: Pretty much from the start, we decided that Midnight Moodswings would be more or less the antithesis of RftD. Especially when it came to structuring the records. Uniformity is certainly something that we want to approach each record of this project with, but in that we want to change things. Therefore “The Surrogate Piano”, while uniform in itself, is a lot different than “The Dopamine Recursive”. One of the things that makes the former different is the fact that it is very lyrically driven, unlike “The Dopamine Recursive”.
The uniformity, on the other hand, comes in the instrumentation of the records. They are a lot richer in sound than RftD. We are using a lot more acoustic instruments with Midnight Moodswings. Even though “The Dopamine Recursive” was mainly electronic, “The Surrogate Piano” stays away from that and includes a lot more acoustic and organic sounds.
Have you had any chances to check some other bands from our new Progstravaganza sampler? Anything you like?
Aki: I have only had the chance to listen to “Le Reverie” and “Lion Farm” so far. Both have put out some really interesting music. I aim to listen to the rest of the bands soon but as of now, those are the only 2 I am familiar with.
Do you think that you guys will be working on another collaborative project in the near future?
Aki: There is a lot on our plate right now. “The Surrogate Piano”, a little solo-project for me, and then the next RftD record. But I am sure we will be doing some collaborations in the near future.
Clem: I think we have the opportunity to have a good understanding of each other and good working methods when we do music together. So yes it is quite possible that a new collaboration will be put in place in the future.