MY DRY WET MESS: GOOD TO HAVE A FRESH START
My Dry Wet Mess makes beats in Barcelona that sound like they come from L.A. and it all started with an Atari and MPC given to him by his father, a bass player in Ennio Morricone’s orchestra. He seamlessly blends art and sound with Daedelus for his live shows, and on his new imprint, Magical Properties. He speaks now from his parents’ house after Christmas about why everything is difficult for him, his inability to get a visa, and his affinity for twisting pop songs and mashing them with noises from unidentifiable sources. This interview by Lainna Fader.
You said My Dry Wet Mess came out of a creative crisis in 2009. What was the crisis?
I got stuck. For a couple of years I wasn’t really making music. I kind of lost track of what I wanted to do. At some point I just realized a lot of stuff was happening and I hadn’t been aware. I decided I had to start from scratch and try to do something completely different. I gotta say—seeing all these artists working the line around hip-hop and playing with the elements I wanted to play with, I learned that sometimes it’s good to have a fresh start. It can really help. For a year I was doing stuff that was really bad. Now some of my stuff is actually good.
What’s the most encouraging thing anyone’s ever said to you?
I can tell you about the first time anyone ever really listened to me. It really, really changed things a lot—the fact that Alfred—Daedelus— when he listened to my music, he really liked it and was interested. He was the first person to show me … the first person to judge it. He said straight out, ‘I want to release this.’ From that moment I gained a lot more confidence in my work. That’s meant more to me than any advice I’ve ever gotten.
You sound like you’d be at home at Low End Theory. Why don’t you live in L.A.?
I would just love to live in L.A.! I just can’t. I don’t know how to get a visa. It’s really expensive but it’s something I really want to do. I was in L.A. for two months—I actually moved there for two months. If it was just like moving to another country in Europe, I’d be living in L.A. right now. I think I have more friends in L.A. than Barcelona. It’s really frustrating if you make so much music and don’t get to get feedback from other people involved in the same thing. That just doesn’t happen where I live. I feel isolated. Frustrated. You’re not going to shows—not connecting with other people.
What do you do when you get frustrated?
Nothing—what can I do? That’s the main thing I’m suffering from. Most of the time I’m working at home and I’m by myself all day making music, which in a way is really fucking awesome and I’m so lucky to be able to do that, but at the same time it’s really frustrating. I don’t really have a solution for that—yet. This is the time in my life that I’m really trying to do this seriously. I’m only making music. I’m interested in a bunch of things and before this I was studying, I was working as a programmer, whatever. Always a bunch of things at the same time I was working on music. Now this is a full-time thing, the first time where I decided, ‘OK, I want to make music, this is what I’m doing now.’ I do it all day.
What’s something that scares you and excites you at the same time?
Right now—freedom. Freedom in the sense of being able to do what you want in your life. Pursuing your dream. It’s awesome but it’s scary because you never know if you’re good enough. You always think maybe you’re not, but since you’re able to do it you don’t have excuses. A lot of people do exactly what they want to do in a way. They want a job, they need a family, so they do that. That’s their priorities. They know what they want, or think they do, and they do it. You kind of have an excuse if that thing that you want to do doesn’t happen to you. But if you actually are able to try, it’s really exciting but scary—because what if you find out you’re not good enough? You don’t have any more excuses.
What was the first beat you ever made like?
I had this kind of rap band. Me and two friends of mine. I wanted to rap and I wanted to find out how to make beats. My father, he used to make some studio work at home, music for commercials and stuff, so he always had a computer at home and basic studio gear. He bought me this really old … How you say? Atari? The computer brand. I had this really small sampler to put samples in. I had this general MIDI thing that had all these different sounds. That was my set-up. The first one I made had a beat stolen from some other beat instrumental, and it had sampled voices. It was really average. Most basic hip-hop thing you could ever do. Drum loops stolen from somewhere. Sampled rap voices in there for the chorus. That was it. It’s funny cuz that’s pretty much what I’m doing now. It’s really similar, but I had to go through so many things to go back to that.
Any interest in classical training?
I would like to know more about music theory. I really have no fucking idea. I never studied and I have no idea why I never did. Most of my life, I had this ‘I don’t give a shit’ attitude. ‘I don’t need theory.’ I guess that was fine for a while. It let me focus on different things. I never really liked to learn an instrument. I never liked to spend time trying to do something that was that kind of skill. I’d rather sit in front of a sequencer and move things around. Completely different skill. Because of that, I never got classical training. Right now I feel so stupid because these things that I am writing, sometimes … I’d like to write more complex music, in a way. So I am always thinking that at some point I’d like to learn.
Why do you feel closer to writers than most musicians?
I feel closer to writers because I can sit there and create my own whole world and I don’t need anyone else. There’s no translation between what I do and the final work. What comes out of my computer is what people experience. That’s so similar to writing a novel.
I read an interview where you cited Squarepusher saying his music is ‘between a monkey and a cliché’ and you said you feel very close to that definition. Why?
I love that definition because I feel like he was saying that he was trying to mix elements that are played by humans, in a way, and elements that are artificial—electronic, whatever. When you mix them, you never know what you’re listening to. You don’t know if those drums are sampled or programmed or someone’s playing. What he was saying is that you have to use … doing really weird shit, but always have elements in your music that people can hold on to. I’ve been making so many different kinds of music in my life and there’s one thing I’ve always been sure of: trying to do new things, but in a context that people can relate to. This is something I always find in things that I like the most. Let’s say, when I watch a movie, what I like is for a good part of it, you follow an ordinary plot but at some point things get twisted and you find yourself in a totally different place. You don’t know who is who, and things get messy. It takes you to a totally different context. For music, I don’t want to do really crazy music that people won’t understand. I want to do things with pop elements— things that everyone can relate to—and then twist it. Take the listener to a place he knows and can relate to, and at that point try something new. When he said that, I thought the definition was perfect. Between something that is so ordinary that everyone knows, and something that is really fucking weird. And mix them together.
MY DRY WET MESS’ IRRATIONAL ALPHABET OUT NOW ON MAGICAL PROPERTIES. VISIT MY DRY WET MESS AT MYSPACE.COM/MYDRYWETMESS.