If you haven’t heard of Mugwump, the chances are you’ve heard their music. In fact, it’s almost a dead cert that you’ll recognise some of their back catalogue. The Belgian duo (Geoffroy and Kolombo) have DJ’d across much of Europe since the mid-nineties and have been releasing their own genre-bending music for the best part of a decade.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Geoffroy to find out a bit more about the past, present and future of Mugwump. To get you warmed up, check out a recent mix by Geoffroy, recorded at his own night ‘Leftorium’.
So, to the interview…..
YAMB Let’s start from the beginning. Where did your love for music come from and when did you realise you could make a living from it?
G My love for music comes from my early childhood. My father had a pub with a Wurlitzer jukebox and my parents were into loads of music, there was a lot of Philly soul, black music in general and disco, crooners or French pop around me all the time, so I’ve been immersed in an ocean of music since a very young age… my mother was taking me every week to the record store around the corner to buy the 7s that’d fill the jukebox. I was allowed to buy some for me too later, it was just the start of a pretty long process : ). After the Belgian New-Beat storm and the end of the Boccacio craze, I went to Ibiza every year from 1991 and started to DJ a bit there and after a few seasons, while back in Belgium I was working in some well-known Belgian dance record stores in the winter. I started to DJ professionally in the mid-nineties with my Food Club residency.
YAMB I’ve been sifting through your extensive back catalogue and tried to pinpoint a genre, but I’m finding it hard. How would you describe your sound and how has it developed over the years?
G As a DJ, I’ve always approached production trough the prism of creative sampling and diversity, I never wanted it to be associated with one genre in particular (hence the name I’ve chosen) and I’ve always tried to avoid categorisation. But yeah, it was kinda more electro-ish in the early years and it’s definitely sitting in a no man’s land somewhere between disco and techno now I reckon. We’ve slowed things up over the years too.
YAMB Can you tell us about your partnership with Kolombo? Do you usually work together, or mostly alone?
G We’re working together definitely and he’s a wizard, I tell you. We both love a wide variety of dance music and we share many common influences. He’s pretty open-minded in the studio and follows me everywhere I wish to go musically. Right now, he’s very busy touring the world with his solo stuff.
YAMB You’ve worked with some of the biggest labels in the business, yet each release seems to suit each label perfectly. To what extent do you adapt your style to suit the labels?
G It’s more the other way round. We’ve never made any record with one specific label in mind actually and quite obviously there never was a big master plan to find or create a niche sound either. It’s not the easiest path I suppose, but that’s my attitude anyway… I’ve always sent tracks to labels I felt it could fit and it worked pretty well with Kompakt, as all our 12s for them were quite different. That kind of open-mindedness is pretty rare in dance music these days, where artists are extremely profiled and where music is mostly genre-segregated. With Mugwump, the essence is at fusing styles so we probably need different platforms to express our wide scope I suppose.
YAMB What’s happenning in Belgian music at the moment?
G Personally, I’m really digging up-and-coming producers like DC Salas (Relish, Biologic) and Jimi After (Days of Being Wild, Correspondant), but with our electronic music history harking back to the early eighties, there are plenty of talents emerging here and there all the time. My personal fave thing about Belgium right now is “The Sound of Belgium” movie, which is doing the rounds around the country in many preview screenings. It covers Belgian dance music from Popcorn to Techno and has interviews with Renaat from R&S, CJ Bolland, Eddy De Clercq, Ronny from the AB, Sven Van Hees, Keith from Optimo and many cult underground heroes. The soundtrack is the nuts too and curated by Geert from Dr Vinyl.
YAMB You travel a lot, playing some of the best clubs in the world. Do you have a favourite place to play?
G My Leftorium night in Brussels (www.leftorium.be) is always fantastic to play at, to be honest. Im closing it most of the time and it’s always a pleasure. But if you want club names, lately I really enjoyed playing Mondo in Madrid, Renate in Berlin and always really dig playing NYC and Brooklyn with the Throne of Blood and Let’s Play House crews. Fabric was really cool too but it’s been a very long while unfortunately… I always love to have a midday dance at Panoramabar too, when I’m around.
YAMB The ridiculously brilliant ‘Boutade’ is due for re-release on International Feel very soon (above is the artwork for the EP). Why did you choose to re-release this track?
G It’s still pretty much played a lot and name-checked as a classic now, it was never available digitally either and there is still a vinyl demand for it, so I tought a re-release with a new techno-ish version would maybe let the track reach new heights. When I sent the remix to International Feel, they even mentionned “Boutade” as an indirect inspiration to start their label and the deal was coined within the hour… Sean Johnston & Andrew Weatherall have already made the new version a full-on ALFOS anthem again (after the original was huge there too), so we’re curious to see what’s next.
(The track below is taken from the EP)
YAMB You’ve just finished your debut album. Can you tell us a bit about it?
G It’s been a rather long process to say the least, we’ve been doing collabs with Circlesquare, Luke from The Rapture, Mungolian Jetset, Ost & Kjex, Von Spar, Samy from Minimal Compact and a Belgian newcomer called Raphael Lee. Its been a hell of a trip.
YAMB One of my favourite tracks of the year so far is your remix of The Asphodells’ ‘A Love From Outer Space’. How did this remix come about?
G Thanks a lot for the props. Andrew has continuously supported a lot of the Mugwump output since ‘Boutade’ and this was a remix swap with him (who has returned the favour with a monstrous remix for one of the singles from the new album). We discussed this at Leftorium when he was over to play and I’m so happy it has become a reality. I’ve been a big fan for ages (I think I first heard him play at The Drum Club at the Sound Shaft) and remixing a track of his (and the amazing Tim Fairplay) was always going to be a huge honour, but a difficult perspective. Especially with a track that certainly epitomises their ALFOS night with Sean, and with this night exceeding all musical expectations, with such a loyal following. Really happy with the result in the end and glad it’s been added to the album.
YAMB You have a plethora of remixes to your name. Is there a set process that you stick to when attacking a remix?
G Not really, I always look at isolate the bits I’m digging the most and then we jam really.
YAMB What track is really doing it for you right now?
G To keep on with the ALFOS theme, the Hardway Bros remix of Headman ft. Scott Fraser and Douglas McCarthy – ‘Noise’.
YAMB So, what’s next for Mugwump?
G We’re working with our new publisher on the release of the album and the Boutade re-release is scheduled for the end of June. The new version should raise a few arms I think. I’ve also just launched the Mugwump tumblr : http://mugwump-music.tumblr.com/ and I might start a label again.
YAMB If you could banish one track to hell for all eternity, what would it be?
G Maybe the one that started this endless bandwagon of generic/boring 90’s preset deep-house ersatz with no balls, no soul and no interest that we’re hearing everywhere.
YAMB Hear hear!
A massive thanks to Geoffroy for speaking to us. Keep up to speed with all things Mugwump by checking out the links below and be sure to pick up a copy of ‘Boutade’, which is out on International Feel at the end of June.