Little White Earbuds Interviews Move D

David Moufang, or Move D as he’s more commonly known, is known as a musical taste-maker, experimenting with numerous interpretations of sound and their multitude of possibilities. Moufang’s fascination dates back to being allowed to roam freely through his stepfather’s record collection and sound system at a young age, choosing his favorites by their artwork and playing them on a continuous loop. Moufang’s grandmother was a classical concert pianist and he fondly recalls sitting under the piano as she played, surrounded and lost in sound. Briefly experimenting with guitar and playing drums in a school band followed, but it wasn’t until he was 26 that he says he made his first “good” record. The aftermath is possibly one of the finest discographies out there. It was in 1995 when David Moufang released the outstanding Kunststoff album that the German artist turned yet another corner. 16 years later and the LP remains one of the most recognizable techno albums ever made. Move D has since gone on to carve a sound all of his own, one that he refuses to name or even recognize. Nearing 30 releases later and spanning labels such as Warp, Compost, Workshop, Modern Love, liebe*detail, Philpot, Running Back and most recently Uzuri, it appears Moufang remains his harshest critic and admits to cringing at his own music and feeling uncomfortable while performing live. For LWE’s first video-enhanced feature, we asked him about his earliest influences, favorite equipment, the current state of deep house, and whether it’s possible to be comfortable with what you’ve made. [Video by Kojun Shimoyama]

You’ve been making music since the early 90’s, garnering high praise for your output. Yet you’ve never reached that “superstar DJ” status when you clearly could have. Is that intentional?

Dave Moufang:Sort of, maybe. I wouldn’t want to be a guy having a hard time going shopping or anything. Stardom itself, I don’t really like it, I don’t really believe in it. I was really attracted to techno and house music in the beginning because it was a totally anonymous thing: you didn’t use your real name and not show your real face, and the point was about the music, it’s not about who you are. This in the beginning was what really attracted me most, getting rid of that stage situation, that rock stardom. These were the best days in the scene. And only a few years in the 90’s raves got bigger and bigger with more sponsorship and stages got higher and higher. All of a sudden Sven Väth was the new Mick Jagger and we were in the same bullshit again! So I don’t really believe in this, but I don’t think it’d have been easy to become more of a star. They achieve what they achieve when they do what they believe in. And these star kind of types, there’s something in them that’s telling them that ‘I want to be a star’ and I think that’s how they come across. I don’t think you can fake this. Guys who are doing super commercial stuff, they don’t do it because they have a business concept, I think they really dig their own shit you know? I totally do.

You have an impressive discography for an underground artist. Do you feel like you’ve achieved what you set out to do when you decided to become a musician?

I don’t believe you go out and make records with a set career in mind. I think you take it one by one, you want to do the one record and then as a natural evolution you do the next one. One thing I can tell you is, it’s easy to do your best work when you first start, and I realize many people are like this. Their debut albums are the best for a lot of bands. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that you’ve got all your life to prepare it — all your ideas in one go and from then on you’re under pressure. I didn’t really think much about my career, as a boy maybe I was thinking about concerts and stages and concerts and possibly touring the world or eventually coming to Japan! I was 41 when I first made it to Japan, I had totally given up hope. All my friends from the 90’s had been going and having cool deals with Sony Music, etc. It just never happened for me. But now I’ve been [to Japan] three times in two years so, yeah, it’s working out.

I think one thing that’s really important is that you have to keep going going, you have to keep making things. It’s only possible for a few outstanding artists, like Derrick May for example, who did great stuff 20 years ago and still maintains a career without producing. But for the rest of us, you have to be busy, maybe even put out something which isn’t that great. It’s better to put out something that isn’t that great than not putting out anything at all, I’ve learned that. Which I think feels wrong. I’d rather wait until I’m really ready, but, if you wait too long you are completely forgotten. I was really, really lucky myself. My son was born in 1997, and my wife or his mother she was working full-time so I was staying at home with him for the first couple of years. It totally knocked me out of the whole scene. I was really lucky to get back in. I could be somewhere else right now yes, but I could also be totally forgotten, so I’m not complaining!

When you started making and playing music did you have another job and music was your hobby, or did you go straight into it as a full-time profession?

I started playing in bands and made my first record in 1983, playing guitar, and that was while I was going to school so clearly it was hobby, a school band. After I left school I never really made a serious attempt to study or anything, I always knew this is what interested me most. I started DJing in ’87, in a small club in my home town, playing funk and soul and some other mainstream stuff. Some people make amazing albums when they are 20, I made my first good record when I was 26.


Meeting Move D – part 1 from Kojun / selective pressure on Vimeo.

So were you working at the time?

No, no. DJing to survive.

So you’ve never had another job?

No. Teaching at the Bauhaus University, but that came much later. But I was starving some years.

What were you teaching?

They had the first chair, we say in University, or first class of experimental radio, which was an experiment itself. And my professor was actually a sculptor and not a professional journalist. But he did an internship with public German radio, with something like the BBC, a good radio station, and they heard about this new professorship in Weimar. And they told him, “This is the thing for you.” They give you a letter of recommendation, this is how it works. I was super skeptical when they told me to go there. They were supposed to learn how to do an interview and I was just the example, some guy who’d made a record before. The professor actually, he was in hospital with a broken ankle from dancing pogo which is quite unusual for a professor. So in the hospital he had nothing to do expect listening to this Bauhaus radio station and he heard me in this interview with his students and he called me that same evening and said, “I really like what you’re saying, would you like to do a class?” And I said, “No I probably can’t, I know nothing.” “Yes you can!” And he talked me into it. It was fun. But I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t in that context. I can’t work with people I don’t like.

Your recent Hydrophonics release on Uzuri is garnering rave reviews, and time after time you manage to sustain success. Do you think that’s through musical diversity or retaining one specific Move D element?

Both I think. Diversity in the sense that I do stuff other people don’t touch and at the same time probably has something to do with my style, whatever that is. I think people who like my stuff don’t think so much in genres, like deep house, ambient whatever, they just like music! They’re just surprised and like my stuff and it can be ambient or jazz or whatever because it’s always an expression of my aesthetics, even if it’s in different genres it will always sound different from the rest and probably like me in a way, or like my aesthetics.

Was there a defining release or moment for you as an artist where your sound fell together and you knew you’d hit the spot as such?

I would say “Earth To Infinity” with my partner in Deep Space Network, it was just a magical coincidence. I knew this guy from school, he was three years younger than me and working as a bartender in this music venue I always went to to see bands. It was Jonas Grossmann. I noticed that whenever he was working they were playing awesome music and that’s how I really got friendly with him. But it was nothing to do with electronic music, it was jazz and blues, jazz mainly I would say. I told him, “You know that there’s some really cool electronic music coming up?” He said, “No way!” I said, “Yes there is,” and I played him some KLF, chillout, early Derrick May. He was so into it and we were really inspired by this collage that KLF were doing and the Orb. So we were doing something similar. He went to his record collection, he came up with a collection of samples. John Lewey, Tom Waits, John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane. I put in my little bit of Beatles. We wanted to do one track and suddenly we had an album in a week or two weeks. That was a real departure, and of course Kunststoff which has been mentioned enough, around the same time.

When you released Kunststoff in 1995 I read that some of the tracks were up to 12 years old at the time of release is that right? Which in turn makes those tracks and the album in general timeless. What are some of the key elements to achieving a timeless sound?

No, not true. I now realize some stuff that was 12 years old was on Modern Love. But when Kunstsoff came out in ’95 — [it was done in] ’94, that’s how long distribution takes, it was done in ’94. The oldest track is “Sandmann,” that’s from 1990 — the very first electronic stuff I ever did. Sometimes I just take ten years to make up my mind whether I like something or not! If I can still stand it after ten years then it must be alright.

From the ambience of “Goofi” to the disco fueled “Your Rolling Hills” to the gruffness of “Makes You Move,” your output certainly cross genres. Where does such a varied inspiration come from?

“Makes You Move” was very old though.

You still did it!

[Laughs] True. My stepfather was a crazy music collector, he married my mother when I was four-years-old. The first day he showed me how to work his turntables, his stereo and he left me to it. I was four-years-old, he totally trusted me. I was so amazed by it and as a boy, I would pick them by the cover, the artwork if it was interesting. Some I didn’t like, some I loved. If I loved it, I would listen to it ten times in a row. Sit on my stool, not do anything and just listen over and over. At this age, I knew this was it. I didn’t start playing instruments for a while because in all honesty I hated teachers. I did give in eventually and have some [lessons] but I don’t think they’re entirely necessary. I’ve seen self taught people who are absolutely amazing. About the diversity or the variety of music, it definitely has to do with the influence with music, the broad bands I absorbed. When I go home I hardly listen to electronic music at home, but to everything else. Whatever I’m listening to heavily just before I start producing I hear it in my own productions afterwards. I try to make sure that those influences aren’t electronic, ’cause it would be embarrassing if I ended up sounding like my next contender, David Guetta or anyone. I just want to be myself and that’s what I think music is about, hearing something somewhere and transporting it into your own. It could also be world music, I don’t like that word, but when you go to a bazaar or anything, it can be great.


Meeting Move D – part 2 from Kojun / selective pressure on Vimeo.

What one machine from your studio is Move D’s production staple that you couldn’t live without?

I was ready to drop the LinnDrum, but it’s too young to be my core machine, but because it’s new, it’s my new baby so it’s on the forefront of my mind. I’ve just bought it, it’s the drum machine that Prince used in “When Doves Cry.” Basically in all 80’s music you can hear the LinnDrum! I’m a free spirit and in my role of running the record label I’ve seen people making music with the cheapest gear, the cheapest software, the craziest self made instruments, like manipulating pianos and stuff, which is very creative. You don’t want to be a gear fascist. I’m from the old times, I started off with a Commodore C64, which is a real crap computer. When you had an arrangement of patterns and went from one to another you could see the tempo drop because it had to think for the next part. So back then the computer really wasn’t very good and the hardware was all that was really working. I grew up with it and I still love these machines. As I said before, you can do it with a cheap computer with cracked software and you can do the greatest music in the world, no question about it. It’s just about the way you go at things. It does me in to stare at a screen and then I find myself visually arranging things to look good to the eye — this isn’t the point, you should only listen! That’s why I like to work with hardware because it’s not so screen oriented.

Run me through your live set up.

It’s Ableton Live these days. I’ve got several controllers and the Korg Legacy MS20. Doing some fancy apps on my iPod or iPhone. People are telling me, “You’re cold blooded, sending texts when you’re playing.” I say, “I’m playing like this [demonstrates], it’s really cool.” Why shouldn’t I? It’s really cool. Sometimes I also bring real instruments, people bring them for me. Last time I played in St. Petersburg they had a real 909. I have one in my studio at home but wouldn’t really take it to gigs, it’s a bit too big as well. It was great fun, great great fun, so I bought myself a Jomox, which is like they make the same sound but it’s a bit more portable and if it breaks it’s not 1,000 pounds but only like 400 pounds that you lose. Whatever I do, I never play full tracks which like most of the others do. I’m always horrified and shocked to see people playing “sausages” as I call them. Full tracks look like fat sausages on the screen to me! I have my elements and the chance to get lost and go somewhere I haven’t gone before, so even if I just work with my computer and Ableton I think it’s justified as a live set. I also record it every time ’cause I learn a lot about tracks. I like to play my stuff out before it gets released, like the Uzuri record, I’ve played it like twenty times. Things take shape this way because if I put something out and then start playing it live, I realize how much better it could have been and it’s too late because it’s out already!

Are you always 100% happy with your final productions or will you always find fault in what you do?

Never ever and especially just after the time of release. I lose faith and it feel like I have to apologize. Later, much later, like a year or two years later I have a different option. Some things I still think are crap though, some things are fun.

Any one thing specifically?

Well it has to be remixes. I don’t believe in remixing at all actually but I think the crappiest releases of mine are remixes — I don’t have to name them!

But they weren’t yours in the first place.

No, true, but if you don’t care about the people who have asked you to remix in the first place then you’re an asshole, so I think about them! I’m never happy and never into playing my own music, but it’s too separate minded. Yeah, never happy and never really into playing my own stuff when I’m DJing. Even when other DJs do it sometimes I think, “Oh god!” and then I feel like I have to run, or something. There are moments when I think, “Ah, this sounds pretty good,” but that’s a rare exception. Usually I feel sick.

If you’ve spent so much time making, loving and nurturing a track enough to release it, why wouldn’t you want to play it? Surely when you make music you make it thinking of the kind of music you want to hear yourself?

Yes, but I listen to it for so long that I’m really over it. But it has to be others playing it. I play other people’s music and other people play mine. Sometimes I play one because that’s what’s expected of me.

In that case how are you comfortable doing live sets?

I’m not, I’m totally not! I don’t do it that often, maybe four times a year. I enjoy it while it’s happening but always worried beforehand. DJing is so much easier because I know I’m playing good music, or at least what I think is good music. If people don’t get or don’t like it, it’s hard luck, but I feel much more obliged as a DJ to serve people and play something that they like, instead of teaching them, because you have that option. At the same time I do wanna teach and if I don’t play any new stuff. But that’s compromise, you play them something odd and then feed it on with something you know will work, and then play something odd again, or something like this. Ultimately if a night doesn’t do well it doesn’t kill me, but if I do my live set I can’t escape it, it’s only my own music and people make this face, I think “It’s because you do shit music,” you know. Maybe, but I wouldn’t even see if they aren’t enjoying themselves… I never look up!

Can’t you feel it from the crowd though?

Actually yes, I can probably feel it. As a DJ you have to read the crowd, but I still have a hard time looking. But you’re right, I could wear a blindfold and feel them. But I can feel it better, I can enjoy it more when I’m DJing because I do this so often it’s not work in that respect. It’s easy. When I do my live set I really have to focus, it’s not a record that you play and then have five minutes to think, I don’t have time to think with my live set. I press start and from that moment on I’m like, “What am I doing, what am I doing, this is really boring! Oh god!” When it’s over I have a feeling about how it went but not while it’s actually happening. It is really rewarding if it works though.

Do you enjoy playing or is it more of a job?

Sometimes I do. By looking at me you can tell how bad or well I’m feeling. I also realize I sweat a lot more. When I’m playing I’m not moving, but water’s dripping down, when I’m DJing I would dance.


Meeting Move D – part 3 / 25.03.2011 from Kojun / selective pressure on Vimeo.

In 2008, Resident Advisor described as you as “the deepest of them all.” What are your thoughts on the deep house music that’s being put out these days? Do you think that it’s deep?

No. They’ve been tearing apart the word, or the adverb, “deep” last year. Was it on Resident Advisor? A long article and a longer thread afterwards. I love deep house and I’ve always loved it. It’s probably the kind of electronic music that bought me into techno and house. Mr. Fingers, Marc Kinchen, Chez Damier, Ron Trent, all these guys. But, whenever something is the “big” thing and everybody jumps on it it’s time to move on. I think my music fits into this deep category for once, but it may not the next day. I really have a problem with formulated music. When I buy records I’m not looking for deep house but for disco edits or anything that’s just good music. Space Dimension Controller, Floating Points, I don’t need to drop the names, you’ve got that shit going on here and you know what it is. C’mon, you guys know what it’s all about and it’s not what they call “deep house” in the media! Its people doing their own shit and if all of a sudden you realize, “Wow, I never heard anything like this before,” those people are way superior to someone who’s deriving his or her sound from so many things you’ve heard before. You have these people, especially in the UK I think it’s been a phenomenon for decades. The UK is the place where it’s happening, like good pop music and I wonder why that is? You have these cool young producers like Jack [Space Dimension Controller] and Sam [Floating Points] and Kyle Hall, he’s American. In Germany there’s that much talent but they don’t seem to get recognition, it’s such a rigid scene.

Because Germany is not as open minded when it comes to electronic music?

Totally, and very macho and retro. “I know you, I don’t know you etc. etc.” It’s such a hierarchy. It’s the same when you look at party crowds. In Germany and especially in Berlin they are so specific, people only go where “my” people are. “Oh, is that a breakbeat? I think I have to go to another party.” And it’s not still cool after 20 years! London is different, but I’m guessing that a lot of people aren’t even Londoners, like Space Dimension Controller he’s from Belfast. I’m from Heidelberg. I would never want to be in Berlin because I know so many people there, I would have parties from Monday to Sunday and record releases, and I know I wouldn’t get anything done. I think you need to retreat somewhere to a smaller place and do your thing, a place like Heidelberg. But then Berlin isn’t a place where you come from a smaller town and say, “I’ve got something new” and they say “Well, it’s not interesting.” And in England it works differently. I love London, but also love Leeds, Glasgow and Cardiff.

I want to talk about Compost. You first released with them in 1997, was it Hurt Me? What does it take to hold down such a relationship with a label, to sustain such longevity?

I dunno. He asked me for a track back then, for the compilation and he really liked it, and I was really surprised because we haven’t been friends or anything. And then, I don’t know how it came about the second one, which I think is pretty cool that record. He did say he liked it, but never got super excited and when I talk to him again about stuff, he says, “I think you do better when you do techno,” or something, which I didn’t really understand. So it’s really not the best thing to talk about. I don’t know what to talk about. He’s cool. And not cool. I’ve only done those two releases.

Do you think you might do anything in the future?

I might. Other people working for Compost are a lot more enthusiastic. Last time I played in Munich, some guy working for them came bringing me the latest releases saying, “Your black label is the coolest of them all.” This guy really meant it, you can tell. But Michael never really gave it a try. I’m not so sure if I think it’s the coolest label. I mean, they put out some super cool music. It’s just so much. It’s a bit big. I like when it’s like really small, like Uzuri. He came in the business in a way that you’d expect him to become big. Philip Morris were funding nightlife culture and you could become a minister of something and Michael Reinboth was Minister of Nightlife and he got thirty grand from Philip Morris to do something with it and he did something good. And he started his label. But when he first approached me and explaining about him, he would even say that. I would never say, “I got thirty grand from Philip Morris!” He has it on page one of his bio.

You’ve done a lot of collaborations in your time — is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with that you haven’t had the opportunity to yet?

Many people! Where should I start!? Electronically Larry Heard. At least I know him. We’re almost friends. He writes to me once a year which I think is super sweet. I’d like to work with him. I can pretty much do what I want within electronic music so I think I’d like to work with people who aren’t in electronic music. Ringo Starr, Leonard Bernstein. The greater the people, the less I could contribute, but to be around like when Bach or Chopin were creating something great. I was really lucky actually, my grandmother was a pianist and played all day whenever we went to see her. I loved it, lying underneath the piano as she played, where you could hear everything and see her feet moving but not her hands… amazing! The people I work with in real life are also really amazing, Benjamin Brunn and Jonas Grossmann, for example.

I heard about him through a friend in Switzerland. The guy I did Workshop 04 with, DJ Fragment, he was doing his own label, Curved Space Labs, which was really cool. He was playing unbelievably beautifully on one of his sets and I said, “What’s this?” and he said, “This guy’s doing a radio show every Wednesday.” So I became a regular and got hooked. Through the radio I’ve known him for years, then we actually met. He’s super focused. Doesn’t really know much about the hardware, doesn’t really understand his computer I think. But he knows exactly what he wants, he’s focused. We did a 12” in a day.

It’s funny because the two of you seem to have two different personalities, but when the two of you are behind a booth together there seems to be some sort of magic. Not only DJ wise, but production wise as well. I remember seeing, reading and listening about the gig that you guys did in Berlin together, and there seems to be this spark between two guys who are different.

Different, but same. I met him through the radio. There’s a message board, you can chat. Then he was coming to Germany, I was really excited. He was playing two gigs, one at Berghain or Panorama Bar and the other near Frankfurt. And I knew promoters of both clubs and I also know that the Frankfurt gig was under the radar, they were just giving him a little bit and the flight and everything else was being payed by Ostgut Ton. Since I knew both promoters, I tried to tell him in a friendly way that the clubs, they don’t like it if you’re playing somewhere else and they don’t know. I meant to tell him so he would be aware and if it came up he could say, “Oh I didn’t know about this, I’m really sorry.” But he got me wrong, he thought I was going to blackmail him. He totally freaked out. He sent me emails with CAPS subject saying, “Read this but don’t reply.” And he was like killing me and I was only trying to like make sure that he’s not running into an awkward situation there. And he said, “I’m sorry but I over-reacted.” But it was almost over before I met him, actually. I was really shocked, ’cause he really freaked.

Lastly, what three songs have changed David Moufang’s way of hearing, thinking and feeling music?

“I Am the Walrus,” Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma album and… aaah, three is damn hard! Kraftwerk’s Autobahn. All obviously from around that 4-year-old period [we talked about before]. Obviously Pink Floyd and Kraftwerk I got into ’cause I didn’t need to understand English lyrics, they’re narrative music, like somebody starting a car. Ummagumma is a double album, the first is them doing college gigs and the second one is very experimental. Each of the four members fills a half side doing whatever they like with it. It’s very far out and experimental stuff, but it’s very much like radio play. Roger Waters does something like the big dictator with a fantasy language, like German, fake, yelling, and then you end a flying “bzz,” someone’s coming down the stairs and with a newspaper. Stuff like this, you’re four years old. Same about Kraftwerk and The Beatles, well they are just beyond everything. I had no idea of the lyrics, but now that I do I’m not surprised! They transport the same psychedelic weirdness in the same way as the music. “Sitting in an English garden,” you didn’t really have to know to understand to know what was going on. Lucy in the sky with diamonds!

m50  on June 1, 2011 at 9:54 PM

deep

mrb  on June 2, 2011 at 4:21 AM

Nice one

lerato  on June 2, 2011 at 4:22 AM

hahaha ! class !

Joseph Hallam  on June 4, 2011 at 9:16 AM

Cool feature, I like the added video’s.

John  on June 6, 2011 at 3:02 PM

A ture legend,but he may not agree ?

PeteBlas  on June 8, 2011 at 5:33 PM

Lovely!

Andrey R  on June 9, 2011 at 1:01 AM

Super! The videos are much more fun than the blocks of text:)

anon  on July 6, 2011 at 11:45 PM

shame you didn’t mention or get him to talk about his project with Jonah Sharp – REAGENZ – it happened first in the early 90s right after Kunstoff and then has been happening again for the last two years – Fengler has a bit of their live set from Labrinyth Festival on his new mix CD for OTG… live show is fantastic … also people like Appleblim seem to be coping their sound…

Jazzual  on October 14, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Great interview with one of my favourite producers. I was suprised to here there was no mention of his collaborations with Pete Namlook considering they released 23 albums together! Hopefully there has not been some issue between the two of them.

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Move D interview « The Hipodrome Of Music  on June 20, 2011 at 12:21 AM

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