Prolific Brussels-based producer Maoupa Mazzocchetti makes the kind of discombobulated electronic body music that isn’t easy to grasp at first but that, with time, grows on you. In an extended interview, we talk obsessions, recording with as little equipment as possible and wearing a pair of Jordans and his number 23 Chicago Bulls jersey before performing.
Where does your name come from?
From Maoupa Maake. An African serial killer. I have a kind of second obsession with serial killer behaviour. I’m fascinated by the idea of acting out. And Mazzocchetti is my real name.
How would you describe your music?
Electronic music? A bit obscure but not totally dark with lots of sarcasm and criticism prevalent in it too. I don’t really know, but it’s influenced from the 70s and 80s – sometimes more, sometimes less…
How did you first get into music?
I began making music thanks to my uncle and my aunt, post-hippies who toyed around with djembe derboukas and other Indian toms. During the same period, I made drum kits with plastic boxes. I only had a “real” snare drum that my uncle had given me. I was around seven to 10 years old. Then I took drum lessons but quickly stopped because I didn’t like the music theory, nor any practice bound to the school. I then took up guitar, teaching myself, and played in some ghostly groups (the last one was Deutschland Western). The guitar is now my instrument. It’s the keystone of my music perception.
Can you pinpoint a moment responsible for getting you into music-making?
One summer, during a big outdoor party organised at my uncle and aunt’s house. The sound system had broken down so the djembes came out. They made me play in front of their friends. One of them, a black guy with big dreads and a straight-up rastafari look, played along with me. I must have been 10 years old at most. He told me that I was good and I had the impression that, coming from a rastafari, it was the truth. Myspace also shaped my music-making ambitions. Bands such as Fad Gadget, D.A.F, Soft Cell, Liaisons Dangereuses, Grauzone, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire… and a bunch of rockstars.
Can you talk to us about your recording process?
I’m often in my studio. Sometimes I play something and if I like it, I’ll record it. It’s rather simple. In general I’ll start with choosing the instruments that inspire me. For example, at the moment I’ll only use one drum and one synth sequence, together with some guitar and voice. I like keeping things simple and not overproducing.
What’s your recording space like?
The kind with lots of equipment, you know? There’s a bed, some furniture and a few shelves where I keep my instruments. There’s also a bunch of comic objects and novelties, stuff I collect. Other studio items include weed, Steelnox, Blue Boy, coffee and books. And it all looks out onto a prison – I can eavesdrop on inmates’ conversations from my window.
What do you find the most challenging when recording music?
Not forgetting to stock the fridge up.
Studio or stage?
Studio when I want to catch a nap right after a good recording session. And stage when I manage to convince the sound engineer to turn his limiter/ compressor off and when I don’t have visuals being projected behind me.
Do you have any pre-performance ritual?
I put my pair of Jordans on with my number 23 Chicago Bulls jersey! I might also walk into the venue a while before my gig to get a sense of the vibe.
What’s the most important piece of music equipment to your recording process, and why?
To me, talking music recording equipment is like talking about what camera a movie was made with. It really doesn’t matter, the result is what matters. Of course it helps to know how and with what something was made, but it’s not the main point of interest.
A Belgian label you rate?
Insane Music managed by Alain Neffe of Pseudo Code.Maoupa Mazzocchetti’s latest album, Laugh Tool was released on Mannequin Records in January 2016