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Mosca: Dark and Gritty Melancholy

Since the career-launching release of Bax, Mosca came a long way: playing to six-digit crowds on BBC, starting his own label and putting out tracks that never seem to age. I caught up with Tom to talk about his work ethos and plans for the future.

mosca-2The first release on Mosca’s new label, Not So Much, is his own “No Splice No Playback”. It has been out for a couple of weeks now, and Tom seems really happy about how it’s doing. “People are following the label on Soundcloud and Facebook and all with just one release! If it was me I’d probably wait until a few more come out.” The label is something he always wanted to, but wasn’t ready until now. It is an operation that will grow organically, and “is probably not gonna be like Hessle or anything to start off with.” Two-track “No Splice No Playback” shows promise. It is house music tweaked to perfection. It is Mosca making relentlessness sound effortless, and is surely one of his best productions.

The label fits well in the growing circle of small, artist-run labels. More and more producers decide to release tracks on their own imprints, thanks to the ever-increasing ease of sharing music in the digital era. It allows for more control and flexibility. With bureaucracy less of a headache than it used to be, it’s not a tough operation to maintain either. It’s cheap and makes a huge difference in the way artist’s work is seen.

Coincidentally, small imprints are also an amazing thing for up-and-coming producers. While sharing music is easy, having it heard is not. With the rise of labels such as Not So Much, an audience of thousands is within an email’s reach. The boss himself, when asked about demos, claims that he has gotten “loads of cool stuff, but nothing that really fits the label yet. Realistically, it will probably be a lot of me, think two thirds me.”

Mosca started off by putting nights on while studying magazine journalism at City University. Less than a year after releasing his first record on Night Slugs, he quit his day job. “There are circumstances against you, but it’s not like people or expectations are against you. That’s why you see people shooting up so quickly.” He did, too, and seems really grateful for all the opportunities. “I didn’t look at it as a career until much later, so it never really felt hard at all. It was all good back then. I didn’t spend years sending tunes to labels – I just put one on the internet.”

We hear bass coming from downstairs. It’s Dance Tunnel, where Mosca-curated FWD is about to begin in an hour. Tom looks really excited, which has much more to do with the fact that he just found out he’s having a son, than with the music. “Haven’t thought about the name yet.”

It’s a pretty special time to meet him, and it is clear just how satisfied Tom is with what he is doing. “I don’t release much, but I’m always working. On the tube here, on my laptop, I was working. Especially now that I have a kid and another one on the way, and the missus is doing exams and whatnot, it’s very busy. I’m a full-time daddy!” I recall Mosca talking about how he finally reached the level where he is happy with his sound, how he “found” it. “I’m much more productive since I started a family. Before that, I was always in the studio, but I was never happy with the level of work, the quality.”

His sound is about tweaking, and tweaking, and tweaking, and it is a result of a years-long process of looking back at his musical influences. “The whole thread that goes through it is this melancholy. Not too depressing, just dark, and gritty, and sexy.” I pick up on the sexiness; it’s an odd word to pick to describe his music. “Maybe more… gender- balanced? I don’t wanna put out stuff that’s just like bloke music, or on the same tip, something just for the girls. I just want it to be balanced – I love seeing a crowd that’s equally mixed. When that happens, you can see all the interactions happening between people and you got this conversation going on. You could write books on this shit, the psychology of club crowds.”

The night before, Mosca played on Rinse. I ask about his time at BBC. “I used to play after Zane Lowe, who had 2 million listeners. Imagine half of them turned off exactly at 9 pm, when my show started. That gives me a million! I’d start with some music that I love, but I know it’s not for everyone. Stuff I’m playing is quite boring and left-field, and yet they picked me. I have big respect for BBC for that.” How does the radio compare to DJing? “You get listeners every week and you don’t get people following you round the country at your gigs. At a gig, you can play the tunes that you really love again and again and again, cause you don’t get sick of them. Radio’s different.” You don’t see the immediate response, either – “that’s the most beautiful thing.”

We grab more beer when Flori & Ethyl, also playing the night, show up. They opened for Mosca later, and you can hear their set above.

Get No Splice No Playback here.