In the twilight summer of the October evening on which I speak to London producers Yamaneko (Joe Moynihan) and Mr Mitch (Miles Mitchell), collectively Yaroze Dream Suite, a pink haze mingles with the fading pastel blue sky – colours which also tinge the edges of the press shots selected for the project.
“We both are heavily influenced by visuals associated with music, definitely,” Moynihan tells me over the soft crackle of a somewhat intermittent Skype connection. “We spoke about the artwork for about a year. It was kind of always on the back of our minds.”
“The visual element is definitely something that’s very important to us,” agrees Mitchell. So is there a video in the works?
“If I had visual software on my laptop I would have definitely tried to do something, but at the moment it’s just money. We do what we can, but visuals are definitely something where if we could, we’d be doing them,” replies Moynihan.
“I think our ideas are quite expensive as well. Our brains go off on a mad tangent,” says Mitch, laughing. Live shows, however, are a more likely next step, and this is clearly something they have already begun to discuss. “I think we’d like to do live and DJ shows. The way we crafted our mix, for example, we took tunes that influenced us over the years, and influenced this project, and made them into something new. We edited them in a way that it becomes new music and I think that’s something we’d like to do in our DJ sets. I know Joe does do that in some of his sets already. That’s the way we’d like to approach it,” explains Mitchell.
“When I do my sets as Mr Mitch it’s a bit more haphazard and I like to freestyle it a bit more, but with this project I’d really like each set to be something new – having original content but made from music that we like. Still playing other people’s music, but playing it as if the CDJs were instruments.”
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The one tune where amongst all the chaos, it just hangs there...
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The fine balance between plaintive, almost melancholic synths and a candyfloss lightness of touch evident in the EP’s opener, ‘Pixel Dreams’, makes me wonder about the response the tracks get in a club.
“For me, definitely, my favourite element of club sets are the moments, the one tune where amongst all the chaos, it just hangs there. So there’s a melody, or a synth line, or a weird drum sound that just kind of penetrates that rhythm a little bit and it’s a bit of a ‘what’s going on now’ moment. And I like the idea of making tunes that could fit that sort of context. So definitely still within the club but from a more leftfield perspective.”
This is something the producer has been exploring throughout his work, and an approach that has been closely supported by Local Action label owner Tom Lea who oversaw the release of Moynihan’s debut album, Pixel Wave Embrace, in 2014. Discussion around their respective releases (Mitchell’s Parallel Memories graced Planet Mu the same year) often paired the artists, Moynihan says, and Lea suggested that they take advantage of an opportunity to use labelmate T. William’s studio for an initial session.
“He was away for a bit and Tom got us in. We were chatting for a while. Miles’ album has always been a huge inspiration to me and there was a lot of dialogue when our albums came out that kind of grouped us together. It was always knocking about like, ‘You guys should make some tunes together at some point,’ and we always wanted to, but this was the catalyst for it – having an actual studio space to do it. So he dragged us in and everything came out quite naturally. We knocked out two tunes that felt very unique to the pairing of us, rather than our own solo tunes, so we just carried on from there.”
“We worked on making tracks over the course of a year really, on and off, after that,” adds Mitchell, though his memory is hazy around the exact chronology.
“They all developed alongside each other in a way,” offers Moynihan. “We revisited the first stuff we did, in the final sessions. It all felt very – just a constant building of a sound.”
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The chance to collaborate in person, they agree, was vital.
“I feel like we definitely both used our own little techniques that we use with our solo productions, but we kind of accepted each other’s intricacies and brought them together to do something new,” Mitchell explains. “So this collaboration is a proper collaboration; we’ve come together to make something that’s completely different to what we would normally make, but at the same time it’s got our individual elements in there as well.”
Moynihan agrees with this diagnosis. “I think it just helps that our individual elements complement each other very well, so we got used to knowing what we could bring to the other person’s sound, and towards the end it was very easy to create a finished vision based on how well our certain idiosyncrasies production-wise would complement each other.”
In fact, it seems like it has given both producers an appetite for future work together, and Mitchell in particular speaks about how the experience of teaming up with someone of a similar mindset was important to him.
“I’ve never really enjoyed it before this. I usually find it quite hard. I think it’s something that I’m learning to do more, within myself, but before I found it quite hard to accept other people’s opinions on what I consider to be my tune. So it’s learning to collaborate. This whole process has taught me how to collaborate as well. I think when I’ve done stuff in the past with other people it’s normally been online sharing little stems across, and that would be like ‘I’ve almost finished this tune – what do you wanna do to finish it?’ Doing it online can take forever and it can really dampen the creative process. That’s how I’ve collaborated before but this one was really a proper back and forth, constantly.”
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We’ve come together to make something that’s completely different to what we would normally make...
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“I think it also encourages some of the weirder ideas you might have but might not be so confident about,” Moynihan adds. “If you’re producing by yourself you’re like – ‘That’s a bit weird, maybe I’ll indulge in the loop for a bit and then move onto something else.’ Whereas if you show it to someone else and they immediately go ‘yeah I’m feeling that as well’ then you’re like great, let’s fucking do it. That sort of encouragement makes you make more interesting decisions quicker.”
Another advantage of being in the same studio together, Mitchell admits, is that it can stifle his tendency to let ideas run away with him.
“When someone’s sent me stems before and said ‘Can you try and do something with this?’ I will just end up getting carried away with it. In the end I’ll make something I really like to the point where I think – I don’t necessarily know if your stems work in this tune any more; let’s take them out and let’s make a new tune. So to have someone to just stop you and say ‘Well let’s make this a collaboration again’ – it definitely helps to have someone in the room to do that.”
The dynamic between them, it seems, was powerful. “I remember 'Pixel Dreams',” says Mitchell. “The melody for that was made in about a minute in the Netil House Studios.”
“Yeah that was amazing,” chips in Moynihan. “We slept on that melody for a bit – just like this melody’s too good. We were going through some tunes and chatting about some ideas and then Miles just pulls out the keys and knocks out this beautiful melody in a minute. And we’re just sitting there going, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna have to do something special for this.’ It took us about a year to add to it.”
The attitude of label boss Lea was important too, Moynihan explains as we near the end of our conversation. “Tom’s really good to work with. He’ll help enhance any ideas. The thing with Tom is that he generally wants to provide an outlet for producers doing interesting, outside the box ideas and giving it a good context for that. He just wanted us to make some tunes together.”
“Since it was all based in the Local Action studios it felt like a natural home for it. That was the Dream Suite for us.”
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Yaroze Dream Suite's 'Pixel Dreams' EP is out now on Local Action.
Words: Alex McFadyen