Laying Down The Law: An Interview with Moguai

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Andre Tegeler is the most successful international music attorney you’ve never heard of. Based in Germany, Tegeler comes from an older generation of practitioners endowed with the spirit of early punk rock, an underground, do-it-yourself, homegrown rawness with a bite of angst-y dissatisfaction. He has worked with clients you have heard of like Britney Spears, Beyonce, Moby, Afrojack, and Felix da Housecat, testifying to his unparalleled skill and expertise. And what makes his in-court approach so effective, he admits, is his ability to treat each case like a constantly evolving story incorporating the clients, jury, judge, opponents, and himself, shying away from keeping everything neatly planned and organized, lifeless and automatic, like many of his peers. Of course, this Andre Tegeler is an inhabitant of a parallel universe, one that exists on a few subtle, but immensely consequential occurrences, that differentiates it from the one we reside in.

Our Andre Tegeler, better known by his moniker Moguai, was set to become a lawyer until he fatefully decided to “take the dubious path of a musician.” However, many similarities carry over from the aforementioned Andre and our Moguai. For instance, he cites punk rock, skatepunk, psychobilly, and ska as some of his early influences, describes his own music as “vintage, emotional, electronic, punk,” and even owns a self-started record label, appropriately titled, “PUNX.” Similarly, within the past few years, he has unleashed masterful remixes for Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Moby, Afrojack, and Felix da Housecat, following over a decade of singles released on a various record labels, the most recent being deadmau5’s Mau5trap Recordings which put out Moguai’s first album, We Ar Lyvein 2010. In addition to all of this, Moguai thrives in live performances, where he incorporates his own emotions, the audience’s energy, and the venue’s vibe to create a story told through musical connection, ensuring that each show will be a unique experience, resembling a jam-band or improvised jazz session more than the usual press-and-play, meticulously prepared set other EDM musicians rely upon. On top of all this, Moguai carries more experience with him than most of his contemporaries, which is evident in his music, resounding of European maturity, synthesizing every EDM genre and artist that has risen to prominence since 1995 (when he started DJing).

Whether we are considering a parallel universe, or our own, one fundamental law seems to be established in both: Andre Tegeler’s success is universal.

What kind of stuff do you do during your down time?
When I am not on tour, or in the studio I have a pretty normal life, I love doing sports, going out with friends and of course spend time with my wife.

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Let’s touch on your past a bit before we go into your present. In other interviews, you have noted that you derived your name from a club your sister came across while studying architecture. Could you elaborate on this?
Well, that’s pretty much the whole story. It was at the time when I began to send out my mixtapes to promoters and clubs, and everyone had a moniker in those days, and I thought that “DJ André” might not be the smartest name to write on the tapes (laughs).

How did you go about acquiring your skills?
Most of my skills were self-taught, learning by doing or trial and error. Emotions are the basis of my tracks and my style; “skill” is the ability to transport these emotions into sound and finding a way to express them.

What era of music has particularly influenced you?
Sven Väth influenced me in the early ‘90s; he had this radio show called HR3 Clubnight. I sat at home and recorded every show.

What has been the biggest contributor to your current success?
Persistence.

Give us a few words that describe your sound.
Vintage, emotional, electronic, punk.

In the past three months, you have been commissioned to do remixes for Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Robyn, Rye Rye and Underworld. How did you get these major offers? Do you feel any pressure to make these remixes as big as the musicians they feature?
I made pretty successful remixes for Felix da Housecat and Afrojack in the spring, and especially the Afrojack remix gained a lot of plays, and luckily some love from the major A&Rs, so they requested these other remixes. This all happened within a few weeks, and you can believe me when I say that there’s a lot of pressure when it comes to remixing Britney Spears or Beyoncé. The sound of these productions is simply brilliant, so it’s already difficult to bring this sound quality or brilliance into your mix, or at least make it so there is not a great gap between the original and the remix. Musically, the Beyoncé remix was the hardest work, because the original track was a ballad, and it’s always difficult to get this into a dance arrangement or context, so I decided to slow down the tempo in the break, which was the only way for me to use her outstanding vocals.

I write them down whenever I have an idea, read an article, a book, or a guy with a certain quote on his shirt crosses the street. Most of the names have a meaning or story for me, it’s not obvious for other people but they are not random.

Can you tell us a little about your upcoming collaboration with Fatboy Slim?
To be honest it’s more like a remix or bootleg I did for him, rather than a collaboration. As Fatboy Slim is one of my musical heroes, I always wanted to remix one of his songs, and when I had two singles on Skint Records earlier this year I decided to make a bootleg of this track and sent it to them. They loved it right away, and so it came to an official release.

You have mentioned that you had an album “in your pocket” when you started conversing with deadmau5, which eventually became We Ar Lyve. When you were creating the songs for this album, did you immediately knew it would fit the mau5trap catalogue?
No, they were not made with the intention to fit mau5trap, or any other label. Most of the tracks were produced even before my first single on mau5trap was released. But when they signed the first tracks, I knew they’d love the idea of an album.

The main difference is the level of enthusiasm. The crowd in the States just discovered the benefits of electronic dance music; they are very open-minded and just love the music, whether it’s dubstep, electro, techno or house.

You employ interesting spellings and names for your tracks. Where do you come up with these? Are they your attempts to describe your song in words?
Naming the tracks is the hardest part in the progress of making a single. I have a list on my phone with words that could be track names, I write them down whenever I have an idea, read an article, a book, or a guy with a certain quote on his shirt crosses the street. Most of the names have a meaning or story for me, it’s not obvious for other people but they are not random.

Do you still run things at PUNX or have you delegated its maintenance to others, considering your busy schedule as a touring DJ? Have you signed any new artists given the explosion of young talent across the world through sites like Soundcloud and Beatport?
There are plans to re-launch the label, but right now I just don’t have the time to take care of it the way it deserves it. Producing my second studio album has my full attention now. But you are right; there is a lot of talent out there that just needs someone to put a focus on.

What other things can we expect from you in the coming months?
Right now I’m packing my bags for my upcoming dates in the States, never been there for Halloween, so I’m pretty excited of what will expect me there. On the 7th of November my Single “Oxygen” will finally be released, together with an awesome remix by Jacob Plant, and my second album is due to be released in January.

You just finished a tour through Asia, and you played in the US and Europe during the summer. What, were the distinct or defining features of the EDM scenes in each of these differing countries?
The main difference is the level of enthusiasm. The crowd in the States just discovered the benefits of electronic dance music; they are very open-minded and just love the music, whether it’s dubstep, electro, techno or house. You can almost feel the same vibe as in Europe in the mid ‘90s, but even here grows a new generation of electronic music lovers. In Asia the people always have been very kind and friendly on the one hand, but very selective on the other. But when you gain their favor it’s fantastic.

What kind of setup are you currently using for your live set?
For now I am pretty happy with my current setup, a Macbook that runs Ableton Live and two iPads that act as controllers. It’s very versatile, but it takes a lot of work to prepare the music.

You have mentioned in other interviews that you try to tell a story through your live sets. Could you articulate the story you try to convey through music in words for us?
It’s basically about taking people through different sets of emotions, from happiness to maybe reflective. This depends on my mood, and of course on the vibe of the venue and the people.