He is man and he is mouse, and he runs with the tag of "intergalactic muppet disco." Most folks wouldn't know how to imagine such a genre title, but this purveyor of the feel-good sound has got you covered. It's fun dance music that isn't in your face or overly pretentious, which is a very refreshing thing these days. Although he would classify himself as a DJ first and musician second, Mighty Mouse' productions are what first drew the diverse attention from the likes of Aeroplane, Classixx, Alex Metric, The Magician, Mylo, and plenty more. The London based artist has the ability to seamlessly fuse multiple genres spanning the '70s, '80s, '90s and '00s, yet he’ll be the first to admit his appetite for disco is insatiable. But for him, disco is not strictly a type of music, but a movement and mentality. 2013 promises to be his most exciting year yet, as he’s teamed up with Matt Van Schie from Sydney band Van She for a new project called "Du Tonc." And of course, Mighty Mouse will be continuing his Disco Circus mixed compilation series that launched him into the spotlight shortly after the first volume was released a couple years ago. The compilations combine disco old and new, house, techno and 80’s rarities. Mixmag even lauded them putting the first two volumes in their top 10 compilations of the year. As the man is busier than ever getting countless releases lined up and even a full LP, we caught him at the right time to exchange some thoughts.
What’s up man, how are things as of late? What’s a typical day in the life of Mighty Mouse at the moment?
Things are pretty awesome right now thank you! This year has been crazy, in a good way. So much happening I’m finding it hard to keep up. A typical day would be:
Get up and go for a walk around 9 am then get some breakfast. I’m on a health kick right now so some heavier exercise every other day.
Around 10 am I’ll go into the studio and deal with emails, make some calls and try and get the business bits out of the way,
Around 11 am I’ll start on music. This involved a variety of things including music practice, technical practice/learning (I’m a bit of nerd so study mixing/plugins a fair bit), then I’ll definitely make sure I do some work on a track. Sometimes it’s the whole day on a track. It depends I really try and let the mood decide that day… or the hangover. Studio time also involves making edits and going through promo’s, although I’ll often do that in front of the TV in the evening.
Around 6 pm I’ll break then normally eat and get on with some more e-mails. If I’m on deadline, which I seem to be all the time right now, I’ll go back into the studio and work on tracks until I’m too tired, normally about 10pm. I’ve got so much to do right now I’m having to be really strict with myself.
Then the weekend is usually gigs and traveling.
So you’re gearing up for the release of the 4th Disco Circus compilation. When you compiled the first one, what did you hope to achieve with it? Was it more of a reflection of who you are rather than what you play in the club?
The whole purpose of the first one was to try and get my music out there more. It was only ever meant to be one CD with only my remixes and originals on it. Then it took on a life of its own and we started licensing tracks in and it became a double CD. There wasn’t a master plan, I had no idea if I’d do volume 2 at that point. It’s never solely been about what I play in the club, although I do play a lot of those tracks in the club. My DJ style is very different to playing track after track, I loop a lot, cut things up, make lots of edits—I also play a wide variety of music so my sets vary heavily depending on where I’m playing. With Disco Circus I just wanted to make a blend of music that would be enjoyable to listen to at home or in the car that reflected what I’m into. So I guess it’s more a reflection of me, but there is some connection to the club, not much though. Disco Circus is pre planned too, and my DJ sets are never pre planned.
That’s the only downside for me, the time it takes to get through a lot of crap, to find the gems.
Sounds change way too fast in this day and age, and you can hear the growth of your taste with each annual compilation. But are there any elements you hope to preserve with each? You don’t seem like the kind of guy to compromise your favorite records for what’s hot at the moment. Explain the balance of maintaining relevance while staying true to the Mighty Mouse vision with these compilations.
I quite like the speed that they change—because I love variety; I find it exciting how people suddenly jump from one genre to another, but I don’t quite understand only playing one genre of music. Right from the start I’ve played a wide variety of music. Disco for me is a movement more than a sound. I mean, I love classic disco records and play them a lot, but I love house, techno, African music… all sorts. But all this variety is awesome for my DJ sets, but at the same time a nightmare for finding music because I have to trawl through so many genres. That’s the only downside for me, the time it takes to get through a lot of crap, to find the gems. I definitely don’t compromise though; I’m not interested in playing what’s hot at the moment, unless I like it. As far as staying relevant, whom are you trying to be relevant to? I think your fans are the most important people and you stop becoming relevant to them when they stop liking your music. That’s inevitable because people’s tastes and circumstances change. I’m not sure it’s possible to maintain relevance to the press without playing what’s hot at the moment and following the trends though. I’ve definitely gone through periods where I’ve been a bit lost though, not sure what to make, which in turn has probably lost me fans. The Mighty Mouse vision is simple though—make music I love and believe in, then hope people like it. I think it’s probably hardest trying to stay relevant to yourself. But if you make music you believe in, that’s as much as you can do.
And how would you describe #4? Has it become easier to get tracks from producers you admire as the project has grown in ways you never imagined? What are some of your favorite songs on the new one? Tease us…
Volume 4 is definitely my favorite since volume 1. I think it genuinely portrays what I’m into right now and I love the balance on both mixes. Normally after I’ve finished them I can’t listen to them for ages, but I can with this one. Maybe this is the most honest one I’ve done so far, and the most relevant to me. It’s definitely become easier to get tracks because I know more people. I’m so happy to have every track on there, Drop Out Orchestra were kind enough to give me an exclusive track for it (Inko Salsa). I’d say Lindstrom "I Feel Space" is the track I was most excited about. Mainly because it’s the track that got me into producing what I make now, and he’s one of my musical idols.
I really became familiar with you from those compilations, by the way, which leads me to the next question. You considered yourself more of a DJ than a musician, but now the two titles are quite even. Do you think having years under your belt as a DJ / clubber prior to taking production more seriously helped with your understanding of music or the things you wanted to achieve with your own music?
Yes definitely, DJing feeds what I make in the studio, and I think having spent lot’s time in the clubs helped me shape what I wanted to make with Mighty Mouse. After a weekend of DJing I’m always full of ideas. This has changed over the years though, especially with Du Tonc, my new project with Matt Van Schie. This isn’t about club music. At home I listen to all sorts of music, and Du Tonc is probably more of an extension of that. It’s more song based, probably more of a band I guess. We’ve turned down so many remixes because we need to focus on originals, I’m starting to think this is a good thing, because when I remix, I instantly think of making a club record (which you don’t need to do as a remixer!), but I can’t help it. I should address that haha! But I don’t want to make pure club records with Du Tonc, and I don’t think Matt does either. Saying that, all the tracks so far have a groove and would work in a club, so err, maybe I don’t really know what I’m talking about.
I love what I do. But then every six months or so I burn myself out and spend a week on the sofa watching box sets, eating pizza and not answering the phone. Finding a balance is important…
It’s also an important relationship, to focus on both things and not be putting all your energy on a single one alone. But whenever you need to clear your head from music, what do you do?
I’m working on a book at the moment, I’ve always written, my mums a writer so I think I get it from her. I always wanted to be an author, even before music took control. So I try and work on my book. To be honest though, I find it hard to clear my head. It’s not good because it takes over your life, I really need to work harder at it, it’s not healthy, but I can’t help it. I love what I do. But then every six months or so I burn myself out and spend a week on the sofa watching box sets, eating pizza and not answering the phone. Finding a balance is important; I’m still working on that one though.
Tell us some of the best things about being a solo artist and why being in a full band is sometimes a tough thing to maintain. What sort of freedoms associated with being a one-man operation are you most thankful for?
I’m not sure which one I prefer, honestly right now, I prefer working with Matt more on Du Tonc, although I’m really excited about the new Mighty Mouse singles. He inspires me both in the studio and as a person. They both have pro’s and cons though, I think if you find the right people to be in a band with, it’s magical. You tune into each other, respect each other’s ideas, push each other, and inspire each other. When these things go wrong, it’s awful. You grow to hate each other. On your own, I think it takes time to nurture and trust your instincts, but then again that depends on how much you do on your own. If you use an engineer you’ve got someone else in there with you, I do everything on my own so it can get a bit lonely, and sometimes you need someone to say “Dude, that sounds shit”. But I guess A&R and managers can help with those aspects.
But that’s not to say you work alone all the time. How did the Du Tonc project with Matt from Van She come to be? Was it in the making for a while, or did you guys only meet over the last year or so? You guys are based out of different places, so how does the collaboration actually work?
We met in Paris at the Social Club where we were both DJing. We hit it off and became friends. That was in 2010, we talked about doing something for ages, but I think we were both waiting for the right moment, the right spark. Darkness was that spark. Weirdly I think being in different places works great, you get to work on ideas in privacy and take your time. It’s at the final mix process, when you’re coming to the end of the track is when it would be more useful to be together. Would definitely make things quicker, but he’s over here soon and I’ll be in Oz after that. I guess you just have to work to whatever boundaries you’re given. It’s working ok for us at the moment and I hope that continues.
Do you see yourself covering more classic favorites in the future, just like you did with “Love Is Gonna To Lift You Up?” Is it ever scary or seemingly challenging to take on the task of working on a song that already means a lot to you originally?
I’ve always wanted to do a cover, no idea why. "Love Is Gonna Lift you Up" was actually an edit, then Josh (Herve) at Cheap Thrills said I should cover it, so I did. It wasn’t scary, and not really any more challenging than any other track to be honest, even though it’s a track I loved. It was exciting to put my own spin on it. Saying that, there are other records I’ve thought of covering and decided I would never touch. When Josh suggested making a cover, I thought yeah, cool idea. No idea why it didn’t bother me to cover this and why other cover ideas have bothered me. It just felt right so I did it.
What’s next as far as the Du Tonc project, what can we expect over the course of 2013?
Well, I’m not allowed to say because there are a heap of announcements coming over the next 3 weeks. There is a video for "Darkness" coming this week I think, that’s all I can say… there is more coming though.
And what about Mighty Mouse productions coming up. Remixes? Singles? I heard you have a full LP coming out at some point…tell us about that. Is it entirely dancefloor material or do we get to see another side of you?
The Mighty Mouse LP is an ongoing writing process, it’s not going to be entirely dancefloor material, that’s what’s in discussion right now. Songs are there, it’s where to take it and what kind of album to make, a lot is happening right now though with other projects (and Mighty Mouse) so I’ve got to try and work out when and how to fit everything in. The next 4 weeks will probably dictate when the Mighty Mouse album will happen. There is a new single though featuring Monarchy I’m mixing at the moment and Disco Battle Weapons (Volume 3). I’m remixing an S-Express track and something for the Disco Texas label too.
Do you plan on bringing back a live element on your tour schedule this year or are you sticking to DJing for now? Both are obviously very different but explain how they are personally unique for you as an overall artist. What sort of setting is ideal for a true Mighty Mouse experience?
Mighty Mouse works best as a DJ set, but there might be elements of live incorporated into that DJ set, mainly with toys and FX. A true Mighty Mouse experience is me DJing for about 4 hours. That’s perfect for me. I love to DJ, I feel at home behind a pair of decks. But I love live elements too… which you will probably/possibly see in another project I’m doing… which I can’t say anything about (yet). They differ greatly though and both have rewards, for me live is more enjoyable with other people, because it’s more planned you can vibe off each other and I would say there is more of a performance aspect (although you still perform as a DJ). A planned DJ set would be boring for me—so the unpredictability of a DJ set is probably the most significant difference in my world. This could be completely different for someone else though. Both DJing and playing live are very personal experiences; I’m sure different people get different things out of both.
Before we wrap this up, any extra news you’d like to share? What’s the tour schedule looking like for summer?
I think it’s going to be a very busy summer, I’ll be announcing some new tours later in April, but I’m also taking a fair bit of time off to focus on some studio projects. I’m trying to find a good balance at the moment so I’m not constantly chasing my tail, which is how it feels a little at the moment. But more Mighty Mouse and Du Tonc for 2013 will definitely keep me busy.
Thanks again, hope to see you soon!
Disco Circus Volume 4 is out now via iTunes and will be available via CD in most stores shortly. Stay tuned, Mighty Mouse will be hitting LA soon and you can already RSVP here.