Moullinex, with an X, is a man of near mythic passion and skill. In moving from a life as a scientist to one as a producer and frontman, his relentless curiosity has translated his efforts into outstanding dance music that is loved across the world. Never one to try something twice, he says he treats his creative direction as "musical chairs," using his silence in the middle to try out a new sound.
Coming out of the bloghouse era with plenty of bootlegs under his belt, he released his first album, Flora, in 2012, to widespread critical acclaim. With his second full length album, Elsewhere, he cemented his spot in the hearts of dance music lovers everywhere. One of three label bosses at Discotexas, he's got his hands on many projects you are guaranteed to know by name.
Recently, as a self-professed low-key guy, Luis has preferred to sit behind the glass booth rather than in it. As such, it came as a welcome surprise when he announced Hypersex, a 12 track album of originals, to be released on October 6th. Each of the songs has a distinct story and unique flavor, building on the thematic features of his first two albums. Taking the storytelling element even further, he commissioned original illustrations to represent each of the 12 songs, asking artists he loved to fill the spaces with one-of-a-kind art. He considers this a very collaborative album, and gives those artists featured ample room to take ownership of his songs. "Give them room to make it better," he says.
Magnetic Magazine: How's your week going so far?
Moullinex: All good, I'm spending my time on rehearsal for the Hypersex album release show. We're doing it in a modern art and technology museum in Lisbon. It's not a place for shows, usually, but we decided to do it there. It's going to be a fun time.
MM: What kind of work do they show there?
Moullinex: Well they don’t have a fixed exhibition, right now they have something that is called “Tension and Conflict,” and it has things to say about the impact of technology in modern society. It’s a really cool exhibit, in part about how micro-communities are able to exist globally. They can have only a few hundred members in just as many countries and yet can build a movement world-wide.
MM: What are your thoughts on technology morphing the human experience?
Moullinex: Well, if technology is what makes up most of the social interactions in life, then we end up missing out on the human contact. Now that we've conquered the rights for people to kiss whoever they want, it’s frowned upon to do it in a public square. Although I owe my career to technology, and I used to be a software engineer, so of course I have a healthy love for it's positive impact.
MM: What did you do as a software engineer?
Moullinex: At first I did work researching brain computer interfaces. Basically, using brainwaves to control something. In our case, we wanted to link a mind with a synthesizer. For example, you would think about a certain movement and the synthesizer would open a filter. We ended up using it for more noble projects, for people with ALS, and the various conditions that require brain rehabilitation.
MM: How did you transition from being an engineer into music full time?
Moullinex: Well I wanted to switch to art for the entire time I was getting my software engineering degree. But I knew many artistic types who became very discouraged after pursuing their creative passions. So I kept with my degree, started the research, and then realized that I actually really needed to pursue music. At first I was doing bootleg remixes online, but then the bootleg remixes turned into blog posts, which turned into people hounding me for official remixes. Then all of a sudden I was getting DJ requests across the world. So I realized I had to take it seriously and switched to part time research.
MM: What did your coworkers think?
Moullinex: My coworkers were like "who are these people who are paying you to fly all around on these tours? How did they find you?" They were really interested in learning about the entire process. Despite the external appearances, many of the scientists had similar mindsets to my "artistic" friends. They’re both groups of people who are very curious about the world, that question and wonder, and they both seem to have this access to their inner child.
MM: What's the story on the music video for "Carnival"?
Moullinex: Rui Teixeira, one of my partners at Discotexas, is living proof that night owls do not lose their thrill and passion for the dance floor. He's been DJing for over 10 years and never ceases to amaze, both “on duty” and as a spectator. Due to his unique spontaneity, we invited him to have a face-to-face rendezvous with his inner child, embodied by young Rodrigo Moreira Santos. Vasco Alves lended his helping hand as a choreographer in synchronizing both dancers. Bruno Ferreira was a natural choice to direct this video, as a continuity in our quest to find natural, innocent and unrestrained manifestations of dance.
MM: What mystery of the universe do you wish you understood better?
Moullinex: Why do I hate a song but it sticks in my head for ages. I can't explain this. Everybody must get it of course, it's an echo of a memory that repeats, in time, and in key. Even people without any musical background can do this! It's funny that after you get a song stuck in your head from the radio, there are other people who are playing that song in their head at the same time. It's a small mystery of the universe.
MM: What do you wish you could spend more time on?
Moullinex: Honestly I would love to spend the time engineering synths. I don't have any time for it yet, because it requires 100% of your attention, and that's the way that I like to operate. If I were to pick something up, it would put my music career on hold for a couple of weeks and I can't do that.
MM: How many synths do you have at home?
Moullinex: So, I have only a simple keyboard at home. I learned a couple years ago that I have to keep my work life and home life separate, otherwise I would be tinkering my music while brushing my teeth while answering emails. It worked for me for a couple of years and it's fun, but not productive. The remix would be unfinished, and I would forget to reply to my emails, and where’s my toothbrush?
MM: Do you have a personal philosophy?
Moullinex: In the physical parts of my life, I try and live so that my actions do not have any negative repercussions on others. For a moral philosophy, I think I am very hard-working and focused because I have a simple understanding. Once I am in a position where people listen to me, be-it 10 people or 10 million, I have a responsibility. I owe it to them to work every day, very hard, so that the next thing I do can be great
MM: Are there some days that you have to remind yourself of this?
Moullinex: Actually, it's quite the opposite. There are some days that I have to remind myself to stop working before I get too tired. Also, the people I surround myself with work just as hard as me. We started Discotexas, not as a business, but to protect the family. As a space for like-minded people who will not give up their artistic freedom.
MM: How do you feel about the American electronic music scene?
Moullinex: It's a very competitive market, on top of all the American artists trying to make it, you have many from around the world who are trying to make it there too. Also it changes a lot. Your people's relationship to dance music and club culture is very interesting. You invented it, but then seem to want to get rid of it every decade or two. But you're finding it again in all these amazing festivals. We cannot forget that, as seen in 70s with the disco scene and the acid house scene in the UK, many dance music revolutions started amid political and social ones. In those times, the dance-floors were a safe place to go for a couple of hours and feel accepted and happy. This was very powerful.
In my home country of Portugal, dance music is very special to us for this reason. We had a very severe dictatorship in the 70s, and then once we were freed in the 80s, all the sounds from the rest of the world flooded in all at once. As a result, we had our very own way of discovering dance music. I think it represented our movement out of the repressed society. It was very clearly a way of demonstrating one's freedom; the very act of dancing runs contrary to tyranny and oppression.
MM: Dancing with purpose.
Moullinex: That's exactly the theme of my new album. Glorifying the dance floor as a place where people from all different walks of life can get together to create something with meaning. I owe my entire life to the people who spread acceptance and tolerance through music and dance. This album is in their image.