Moonbase Commander: Coming in with the knockout punch
Moonbase Commander is a Sydney producer who has been making a name for himself by creating hard hitting, bass heavy electronic music. Keeping busy with tours across Australia and collaborations with artists across the globe appearing on his stellar discography Moonbase Commander is a talented producer who can push out many different styles of music and make them all bangers.
Following up the release of his latest EP Orthodox, Moonbase Commander was kind enough to lend us some time to pick his brain about matters like how he produces and his upcoming goals for the future.
Lets get into it. So recently you’ve released Orthodox Ep .
It’s really great stuff, I’ve had it on repeat the last couple of days.
Aw thank you, were you the one who wrote the review the other day?
Yes I did.
Yeah that was cool man thanks a lot for writing that up.
Well I liked it, but how do you feel about the reception it’s been getting so far?
Well it’s only been out for a week but it’s pretty cool, just online the response has been pretty crazy, the premiere though Nest HQ, I saw a bunch of people digging it so yeah that’s cool. I’ve had the chance to play some of the track live and people seem to be into it. It’s a good vibe.
With this EP, how do you feel it compares to your previous works? How do you feel you have evolved as an artist?
I think my production skills have improved, I’m always learning new tricks and that sort of thing, so I feel like this EP is more of a continuation I guess. My last EP was called Southpaw, this one is called Orthodox. I like to play with the concept of symmetry and numbers a lot, my last EP was 4 tracks so this one is 4 tracks. They are both named after boxing stances, so they play a lot with parallels and that sort of stuff. On a production scale, it’s mostly a continuation really, I learn some new little tricks but I keep the same vibe.
I noticed a motif in your artwork, you tend to have dogs in there and in general your artwork looks great with your typeface having this metal aesthetic to it. Can you tell me more about the art direction and the artist?
Before I started with this whole illustrated vibe, I used to do my own artwork and that was a lot of fun but then I got into contact with a guy named Chris Yi. He’s a Sydney based dude, and he just kills it. I saw his work at a show somewhere in Sydney and I just hooked up with him from there. The vibe just worked, what I was looking for was what he was doing and ever since then we’ve done everything together. With the metal typeface, I come from a background of listening to metal and stuff from high school so I wanted to channel that energy as well, which I think it works well with the dogs.
It does 100%. Back to production, what do you use to produce and is it constantly changing?
I basically use software out of the box, it wasn’t until this EP and a couple of track before hand where I started using hardware and things. I borrowed a few synths off a friend of mine that are from the 80’s, some really old school pieces of hardware like the Prophet pro one, the Juno, you know all those kind of synths. Playing with them really took it to another level. So, everything I’ve done so far has been software based and the hardware is fairly recent but it’s taken my music to a whole new level…hardware is really nice to have and you can get some really nice sounds out of it but to make music you could do it all with just a laptop, it comes from yourself. I’ve heard some crazy stuff and I’ll ask them, “what did you use to make that crazy stuff?” More often than not they’d reply, “Just my laptop.” Good music can come from a range of places.
Yeah, I remember there used to be a time where people would be like, “Man, you have to use Ableton or Protools or you’re not really making music,” but now I hear dope stuff being made from Audacity and FL Studio.
I use both of them, Audacity and FL are great.
So underrated. So what do you draw inspiration from when it comes to your music?
That’s a tough question man cause it changes all the time. It can be from movies I’ve watched to music I listen to, even if I walk down the street and see something cool. I guess when I started making electronic music, I was listening to Mr Oizo, Aphex Twin and Flying Lotus. It evolved to me listening to stuff that is really crazy like, “One guy made all that stuff? That’s crazy! I want to make that stuff!”
The other thing is that I get inspiration from seeing other people do cool shit as well. Other producers, local or from other cities, and going on tour helps because you can see people you wouldn’t see otherwise or you would have seen only on the internet.
When it comes to collaborations, how do you pick who goes on which song?
It’s similar to the last question, because it happens a different way every time. I’ll normally make a beat and I’ll think, “Oh this beat would sound good with this person.” Then I’ll hit them up; sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. Like for the Cakes Da Killa stuff, I was listening to his mixtape and I thought he’d go well with one of my beats, so I just hit him up. I think a lot of producers are not scared, but apprehensive when it comes to hitting people up that they want to work with for whatever reason. Out of 100 emails you might send, or 100 phone calls you might make about getting a feature, you might get one or two back but it’s those tracks that work the best.
So with your EP, I hear a lot of different styles like trap and Drum’n’Bass. How long did it take to cultivate your skills so you’d be comfortable working in/with multiple genres?
[Chuckles] Well that’s the thing man – it’s not like I’m comfortable with all those skills. What it is when I put out these releases or EP’s is not me being proficient with the sounds, it’s just me experimenting with the sounds. Sure I’ve done a lot of Drum’n’Bass and a lot of jungle-y kinds of sounds, but I don’t consider myself good at them. I just see what happens. Like with ‘Greyhound,’ which is the Drum’n’Bass sounding track started off as a hip-hop sounding joint, which then went the other way. I think it keeps it fresh, almost because you have no expectation of where the track is gonna go sort of thing.
This one isn’t music related, but with the name Moonbase Commander – did you get that off the video game?
A lot of people say that I did and I don’t mind that, but it’s kind of funny. The name came from a game in a one dollar bin that my friend picked up, other than that my name doesn’t have any relation to it.
Well it sounds cool.
Have you played it?
No, I just found it while looking you up
Suss it out man. I actually get hit up now and then by people wondering if I did the soundtrack for the game, and I always tell them, “Nah man I don’t have anything to do with the game.” I feel bad. I want to give them an exclusive or something,
[Laughs] Alright so right now you got a few EP’s under your belt, you’ve been touring, Triple J loves you and the people love you.
What are your plans for the future? Do you have any goals or plans?
There’s always people you want to work with and that kind of thing but right at the moment? My mantra has always been, “Keep it rolling.” Keep making beats, keep playing shows and keep putting music out. I think if you just lock one thing in your mind, that’s all you’ll chase down. So I just keep it rolling, you know?
I see a lot of producer do EP’s rather than albums, what’s your reasoning of that?
I don’t know, I’ve never really given it much thought I’ve just always done it that way. I’ve always liked the format of an EP because it’s quick and almost temporal. It’s just a quick jolt of music that just does its thing. I think one day, it will be cool to do an album but it’s not the right time for me, personally. I know a lot of people have different answers, but I just like doing EPs. Back in the day I used to do mixtapes and beat tapes, they’d be 20 to 30 tracks long. While that was fun to do, the music would kind of get lost. With only 3 to 4 tracks it’s short and sweet, I like that vibe.
I find it interesting how everyone has a different answer to that. Most rappers I ask tend to go for mixtapes, but I’ve had rappers like Midas.Gold talk about how he like EPs and singles too.
Yeah, Midas.Gold is sick. It’s a different dynamic when it comes to rappers. Then again everyone is different. I think producers come from a background of using Soundcloud, and with that you can just release one track and instantly get a response for it. I think that mindset is the reason why.
That’s a good point. So are you planning for your next release or tour? Or are you going to take a break?
It’s a bit of each really, while I’m not taking a break I’m formulating what the next release will look like. I don’t know if it’s going to be a single or an EP. I think I want to do something collaborative, with the last EP I put out I had two [people] on it, Ecca Vandal and Mikey Dollaz, plus two instrumentals, and I want the next release to maybe only have one person or like one MC or something? I think that’d be cool, getting a collaboration for the entire release rather than just one song.
You mean like Action Bronson with Party Supplies sort of thing?
Yeah I love that kind of stuff! When one producer teams up with one MC, that shit is really cool to me. I’m not taking a break but I guess it would be cool to find someone looking for that kind of vibe.
Final Question, is there anyone you wanna shout out or say anything to the people? This is a good time to say, “Hi mum”.
[Laughs] To all the people listening to me, it’s been sick seeing you at shows and seeing people who know tunes and people who can catch the vibe. I’m playing at This or That festival and Falls, those are the two biggest ones so i’ll leave you with those.
Thank you for doing this interview I’ll be sure to catch you sometime.
Cheers man, It was fun.
Words by Aiden Benavides