With more than 200 million songs streamed since the debut of his 2016 Album Panorama, French DJ Møme is breaking out of Europe and turning up his global presence with a new focus on the United States. Currently on a North American tour with Gramatik until mid May, Møme ventured to Williamsburg this past Wednesday night for a headline show at Rough Trade (64 N 9th St) and we sat down with him to explain his motivations and process for creating his extremely popular sounds. He says fame has not changed his general musical equation and the his organic love of music continues to be his guide.
Greenpointers: You are originally from the south of France, but you were producing music in Australia. Where are you currently based?
Møme: I’m Back in Europe. I moved to Australia three years ago to write my first album but now I’m back in France and I’m touring a lot. I had 150 gigs last year and I have a lot of gigs overseas, it was a very busy year. I’m not supposed to be touring right now, I’m supposed to be writing my new record, [so] things are very busy.
GP: You have said that you are always creating, that music seems to always be on your mind. Has it always been that way? Has mainstream success motivated you more?
M: I love music for music, and not for any other reason. Commercial success and being played on the radio doesn’t impact me. I love making music at home, it’s my favorite thing to do, recording. I did a song in the last few days and it’s true I’m always thinking about making music.
GP: I know you have a strong traditional music background as a classically trained pianist and guitar player. But when you are creating music in your current genre—chillwave/deep house—can you explain how you go about creating your new music?
M: Actually, it can change every time. I think it’s when I’m happy and in a good mood. I think a lot about harmony and melody. When I was younger, the melody was more important. But now, I’m constantly listening to other music and when I hear something even when I’m out on the street I make a loop of what I hear and that is the beginning. It’s not easy.
GP: Has your traditional music background eased your way into the type of electronic music you’re making currently?
M: I’m a guitar player first. I’ve learned other instruments like the sequencer and the epitome and lots of software. And I’m so fascinated with music. I spent three years at school focusing on classical piano but I gave up because every time I changed the music for me it wasn’t accepted. It was too strict and I’m more experimental. I try to keep in mind everyday that it’s important to learn new things musically and in the production side. It’s very important to continually practice and progress. If you continually learn you are able to expand your range which is very important.
GP: You mentioned that commercial success has not influenced you as a musician but something the notoriety will do for you is open doors to other artists who know your music and look to collaborate. Is collaborating with other musicians something you’re focusing on?
M: In regards to that, some things have changed. I really love producing music with other people because I know what I can bring and I love working with singers—because I’m a producer first—and every musician has a different point of view and they often use different software, so it’s good for me to grow that way. In the future I definitely want to do more collaborating.
GP: For an artist based in Europe, creating music in Australia and touring around the world, borders don’t really exist. Where in the world are you currently focusing, music wise?
M: Right now, I’m focusing on the United States. It is such a huge market. We were in California in February—LA, San Fran, San Diego. I met an artist from the LA last February named NoMBe and I hope to work together with him soon. I’m currently touring with Gramatik. I love making music with locals, everywhere I go. People have different minds, for instance Americans are much different creatively than Australians. I actually did a US tour last year in August in very small underground clubs. I was supposed to tour in New York but my luggage went missing for four days and I had to cancel the gig, so luckily I’m getting to perform here tonight.
GP: What were your musical influences growing up and currently?
M: Not really electronic stuff. Now I’m more into new soul and electronic jazz. I really love Tom Misch who is from England. I love music with beautiful melodies.
GP: Coming up in the musical world, before you were signed and working with an agency, how did you go about building an audience?
M: I came up using Soundcloud, that is where I passed my one millionth song play. That was my favorite for online streaming, but now Spotify is easier for commercial reasons but I use both still; and on Soundcloud I interact with other producers and singers and link up with people. I met an Irish guy yesterday whose voice I love, and I hope to make music with him. When people are not well known its much easier to communicate and work directly with them instead of having managers talking about doing work together. I use a lot of social networks to communicate with artists and it is very important to have a profile on these networks. I’m not focused on getting likes and that type of thing, but more for communication.
GP: I’ve spoken to artists ranging from obscure to quite famous and there is a concern that the streaming-based model of business is not enough to make a living. What is your opinion on the business models artists will need to make a living?
M: Touring is going to be the way unless you are looking to make big commercial hits. I’ve had songs on the radio and I’ve made money off that, but touring is the main way. Artists are going to have to live with touring.
GP: Do you enjoy touring and life on the road?
M: I prefer being in the studio and working as an engineer. There are different paths and I prefer the studio side of things, but I don’t hate touring. I love touring when I’m playing with other musicians, I love to jam with new people. In France I play with different rappers such as Jason Medeiros who has a side project with 20syl from C2C. Very different chemistry. My dream is to play with a band with people who love electronic music. I love powerful bass and the dance rhythm, and to do that with others would be amazing.
GP: After you produce something on your own equipment, how many steps are left in post production before people listen to your new songs? How many people help you build?
M: It’s just me by myself. I’m recording everything, all instruments except drums, but I’m using a lot of computerized drums. I do have someone master the music because that is a lot different technically. Right now I’m very focused on the mixing of my next song, mixing is composing and for me it is an obsession. You can have a very different experience making music by yourself compared to the experience of when you play the song for a live audience, you are always creating something based on the ambiance of the room. But at home I never play what I play on stage—it’s not the same songs. Sometimes it’s very tiring doing so much by myself. The music industry is very different in the US because for one song there are so many people working on it. You have to choose a song engineer, a good guitarist, and lots of other people. In France people try do do all the producing and try to do the work with less people and I think that route is more personal and less produced.