Friday, January 30, 2009

Kassem Mosse: Q, A, & Trklst

Tell me a little bit about your musical development: what did you listen to as a kid? What did your parents, siblings and friends listen to? How did you get into electronic music?

My parents sing in a choir and they are very much into classical music. As a kid I used to listen to the radio a lot. My sister introduced me to late 80s independent music. The DIY idea had a lasting influence on me and also directed me to particular stuff when I started to get into hip hop and later electronic music.

What was the first electronic music you fell in love with?

80s pop music. I am not sure if I ever fell out of it.

What are some key classic records for you (artists, EPs, labels, sounds etc)? Which of these has had the greatest influence on the music you make now?

There is a lot of stuff that isn’t straight up techno that still has a great influence on what I am doing now. I am interested in a rough sound aesthetic and an uncompromising attitude in music. Early Pavement was as much an influence as Wu-Tang Clan. Outstandingly rough sounding tracks, great aesthetic influence. The transition to electronics came with Autechre. Chiastic Slide, I lost my peers with this one. In more techno terms the greatest influences have been UR, again concerning attitude & aesthetics (DIY, no faces), and Sabotage Rec. from Vienna, arguably the first European crew?/label?/group of artists? that had a coherent vision of music, art, and visual aesthetic that totally did it for me. It was important also that they were from Austria of all places (my family went to Austria on holidays a lot), so it was much closer to me than Detroit, which is a place I, honestly, still cannot relate to. I do love the music, but I cannot share the experience. I could however relate to the experience of underground people from Vienna. That made a lot of sense and gave me a vision of what I wanted to do.

What other things (not restricted to music) have the greatest influence on you as a music maker?

I do have other interests than music, but they don’t have much influence on how or why I make music. I am not sure if reading about music counts...

Who/what do you think your music sounds like? How do you describe what you do to people who have no background/understanding in electronic music (like your grandmother)?

I don’t think about that. Most people I know actually have no idea that I am making music, as I don’t really talk about it unless I cannot avoid the topic. Perhaps I would say it is repetitive music with a warm and mechanical sound? I appreciate when you can hear that there is both technology and human agency involved in the process of making this music (say a bit of static, background noise or the sound of a scratchy fader).

How did you become a music maker?

Doing field recordings, mock radio features and audio plays with a tape recorder as a kid.

How did you choose the name Kassem Mosse? Is anonymity important to you?

Anonymity is important, but made impossible by the internet. I think for the type of music I am doing it really doesn’t matter who the person is that produces the music, it won’t help you to understand it better or help you get into the groove.
The name as such developed over various stages to its present form, but actually, i am not interested in this form either. I prefer it when there are some typos and misspellings, people hearing a name or reading it, being uncertain how to write or pronounce it correctly, etc. Its about playing with the notion of a fixed identity. The problem with the internet is that it works very much against such playfulness, as it tends to fix things with “correct” spellings, tags and folders.

Tell me a little about your process: (perhaps using the example of Workshop 03) how does a track begin, how does it develop, when do you know it’s finished?

I never know. They are never finished, I just stop to work on them. Sometimes I record studio jams in one go and add stuff later, sometimes I end up recording session loops and re-use them later for new tracks and so forth. Usually I have an idea in my head that I try to work out (and more often than not I fail to realise it). It could be a beat, or a synth line. Sometimes it is also a concept. The A1 track would be a good example: I felt disillusioned and slightly depressed about the music that was coming out at the time, about everybody doing huge sounding tracks with minimal effort on their laptops. So I thought, whatever, it’s not what you use, it’s how you do it. And one of the results was that track, besides the reversed synth line and the drums, all sounds are taken from a toy Casio. And the irony of course was that track went down well and even got licensed. Personally, I liked the editing process of that track: I would add things without proper synchronisation or time-stretching, just pasting on top of the previous material. The Workshop guys asked me to do it, and that was a good experience.

Tell me a little about the podcast: Was there a concept, a guiding thread, a central idea? Tell me about some of the track selections: (in each case) why do you like them, how did you choose them, and what do they move in you?

It is just some stuff I like, stuff I would listen to in 2008, nothing too obscure. Tracks from different places and points in time that go well together although the transitions might not be totally obvious at all times. I try to go with the flow. It basically represents the scope of things that influence me.

I feel like we’re at a really exciting conjunction in music right now: the genres have been blown wide open and there are a whole new generation of young producers coming up through the ranks who don’t give a damn about the old barriers and categories…. what do you think? Where are we at? Where are you at?

I don’t really see what would be so new right now. Then again I am not keeping up with things. I stopped reading magazines some years ago. I might read up on a blog once in a while. So perhaps I don’t know much about the new things. The last “new” thing I registered was dubstep, but it doesn’t do anything for me and I missed out on the “new” about it. I still follow old favourites and still discover something once in a while, but I neither have the feeling that anything stagnates nor that things are progressing really fast. I am interested in a certain sense of validity, anyway. Timeless qualities. Robert Hood doesn’t age. When I buy records now I must have the feeling that I will still enjoy listening to them in ten years. There hasn’t been much change in that. There is lots of old music that is new for me. In the moment I am trying to understand the past of music.

What’s something that people often ask you about you and your music (that you find unexpected or strange)?

People ask me technical stuff. Questions about gear. I find it neither surprising nor strange.

Kassem Mosse: SSG mix 18, tracklist:

heaven 17 - best kept secret (virgin)
acidboychair - doctor please (acido)
pollyester - you are amen (dompteur mooner mix) (love in c minor)
omar s - for us all (fxhe)
even.tuell - workshop 4 b1 (workshop)
m. collins / kdj - (keeping you) satisfied (mahogani music)
m. pittmann - there's somebody out there (unirhythm)
allen wright - sexual primates (muzique est. 1989)
prosumer & murat tepeli - alpha (ostgut ton)
armando feat. sharvette - don't take it (thomos edit) (let's pet puppies)
moodymann - dem young sconies (planet e)
redshape - neon (music man)
sabres of paradise - rumble summons (warp)
brian eno - becalmed (island)


  1. Excellent. I like his music, and this interview is interesting !
    Thanks guys.

  2. Eerie parallels with my musical upbringing... the choir, Pavement, hiding musical activities from conversation at all costs... the amazing (I think) track selection...

  3. ... I meant that the track selection is amazingly close to what I might have chosen, as were the connections. Weird resonances.

    ... also a very interesting vindication of the theory that you really don't need nice equipment to get amazing results.

    It's nice, not necessary. And 'we' (stereotypically borderline autistic male geek type) do fixate on 'nice equipment'....

    ...but did you see NI's Maschine? (ahem... )

  4. I actually didn't listen to this podcast till last week, nor did I know Kassem Mosse. Now I am a fan, and as Pierre-Nicolas said, interesting responses! Thanks ssg crew and Kassem Mosse for yet another delightful mix.

  5. one of the better interviews. thanks.

  6. start off listening to what mom and dad play, then get into hip-hop...then into various forms of electronic music.

    i wouldn't think it would be such an obvious progression, but i guess it is, have heard numerous instances where it was the case.
    maybe its something to do with rebellion, and you choose hip-hop or metal once you are to that point.

    thanks for the tracklist, i have been playing this off and on since it was posted and it has always been a good listen.

    it may be a stretch but as i have listened to most of kassem's stuff, i was hoping some day after some more releases under his belt i could draw a parallel between him and donnacha in that they could break out a wicked acidy techno tune, but also pull a dry retch out the bag and just make everybody who hears it fall in love. i think kassem may have that ability in him.


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