We caught up with Maoupa Mazzocchetti to delve further into the ins and outs of his complex, pigeonhole-proof musical realm. With his trademark sense of humour and generous eloquence, the French producer takes us back to the sources of 'Gag Flag' but also speaks studio methods, wider artistic vision as well as his large stream of influences.

Gag Flag: Maoupa Mazzocchetti talks up his second album on Editions Gravats

Released: 19 September 2018
Format:
Tracklist
A1. Looking For Cheese
A2. Dazzilo
A3. Ron's Roof
A4. Fonk Left The Ytown
A5. Y'a un Petit Problème
B1. Sultan 1997
B2. Private Investigator on a Guitar Men
B3. Robert Loves My Texas Hat
B4. How To Hate You Without H?

An inherently singular voice in today’s electronic landscape, Brussels-based producer Maoupa Mazzocchetti has progressively established a sonic ID that’s little to do with usual club standards or home-listening considerations, making use of his machines to break down all frontiers between experimental and pop, the ear-pleasing and the dissonant. Fracturing and reassembling the shards to his own taste, with the eyes constantly set on a new horizon of potentialities, Florent can pride himself on being a thorn in the side of the increasingly dominant status quo at work in some fringes.

Responsible for a string of genre-busting records on leading-edge imprints such as Mannequin, Unknown Precept, Knekelhuis, Bank and PRR! PRR!, the irreverent pop masher returns with his sophomore LP for French label Editions Gravats, puting the focus further on his fictional character, Snippet Boy. Evoking the synthetic sleekness of the mass consumption universe as seen from a satiric, almost dystopian perspective, the album adds another dimension to an artistic baggage driven by an appetite for the exploration of uncharted sonic scapes and souterrains.

We sat down with Florent and went further into the ins and outs of his complex, pigeonhole-proof musical realm. With his trademark sense of humour and generous eloquence, the French producer takes us back to the sources of ‘Gag Flag‘ but also speaks studio methods, wider artistic vision as well as his large stream of influences. Listen to the final cut, ‘How To Hate You Without H?‘ below.


Interview by Baptiste Girou

"I decided to free myself from this by creating
this fictional character, 'Snippet Boy'."

Hey Florent, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Your new album ‘Gag Flag’ is coming out today on Gravats – the same label on which you’ve recently released a split featuring dancehall experimentalist Clara! y Maoupa. Can you tell us more about the record, its conception and what it represents to you?

Maoupa Mazzocchetti: It’s an exploration of the pop genre and the mainstream visual communication associated to it, approached in a satiric way. Therefore I explore in this record certain codes from pop music, especially the structure of songs, their length, the melodies, with the constant will to stimulate the listener, more specifically through breaks, compartments, verses… etc. But fundamentally I knew that in the end it would certainly be some screwed-up pop. Then I decided to free myself from this by creating this fictional character, ‘Snippet Boy’.

Snippet Boy: Heeyyyyy!!!

It’s your second full-length after ‘Laugh Tool’, released two years ago on Mannequin. Did you attack this second album under a different aesthetic angle or did you process it as the logical followup to ‘Laugh Tool’?

Maoupa Mazzocchetti: On ‘Laugh Tool‘ I delved into further obscure electronic music from the ’70s, woven with EBM influences and more experimental, industrial sequences. It was a lab-like approach, both for its textures of course but also the methods of use and synchronisation of the instruments. Melody wasn’t the main fuel for the tracks, it existed very scarcely, and principally through the metallic feedback spectrum of the percussions. ‘Gag Flag‘, meanwhile, is about an abundance of melodies…

Snippet Boy: An abundance of uninhibited melodies. But also the urgency, lack of listening time, and an overload of elements on some tracks. These are short cuts which create a surprise thanks to redundant and contrasted musical events. You can feel the urgency in the melody. For each track I was looking to generate a sensation of musical déjà-vu that may pose a challenge to the listener.

For instance on ‘Y’a Un Petit Problème’, the melody is effortlessly penetrating – it can easily be hummed and whistled along.

Did you pick existing cuts and build the album’s canvas around them, or did you start it from scratch?

Maoupa Mazzocchetti: Apart from the song ‘Ron’s Roof’, everything was started from the infinity of zero.

Snippet Boy: And more specifically the weird swing of ‘Fonk Left The Ytown’, a light triplet based on a 4/4 pattern, up until the tambourine comes in, yes!

How do you usually operate in the studio? Is it mainly you jamming around with machines with a vague aesthetic framework in mind, or do you get in there with a clear-cut idea of what you want to accomplish from the beginning?

Maoupa Mazzocchetti: The background concept was clearly outlined in my mind, so the overall aesthetic for the album was there already. I came back to listening to bands I used to listen to when I was younger, including The Residents, Snakefingers, Devo… etc., as well as more recent favourites such as the Hausu Mountain label, and its incredible catalogue of artists: Rick Weaver, Do Pas O…

Snippet Boy: And more specifically the weird swing of ‘Fonk Left The Ytown’, a light triplet based on a 4/4 pattern, up until the tambourine comes in, yes!

What gear did you mainly put to use on this record?

Maoupa Mazzocchetti: I operated a return to guitar, bass, tabla and drum kit on this album.

Once again (it’s become a habit), this new release of yours smashes up all sense of rhythmic conventions and narrative linearity, throwing folk music tropes back to back fractured pop melodies and warped electronic motifs for a sustained wrestle in the mud. How do you proceed in terms of composition and sample assemblage?

Maoupa Mazzocchetti: Apart from the electronic instruments I’m continually in search of new textures. I’ve indeed edited the tracks in a fragmentary way, interlarded them, to create rhythmic breaks and spaces for the “scenario” of the track to breathe and bloom.

Snippet Boy: This way a musical event is constantly happening, which helps trigger the listener’s attention and accentuate concentration.

Maoupa Mazzocchetti: I’ve experimented the techniques of sound recording on non-electronic instruments a lot here, in order to obtain a particular sound, weird even. For example, the texture of guitars was obsessing me. I wanted something acid and responsive for the attacks. I think I got a fine result by capturing the sound of the mediator at the moment it runs into the strings, which – I believe – you can clearly hear on the record.

Snippet Boy: And that’s what gives it its own singularity.

"Snippet Boy certainly represents everything
that's to hate about a human being."

A few tracks in there have a strong middle-eastern feel to them, melodically speaking. What kind of appeal does the oriental world and music have on you?

Maoupa Mazzocchetti: On a certain level I was inspired by oriental sonorities through my friend Luca, who’s into a lot of music and studies Arabic culture and anthropology. In 2017 I visited her in Cairo, I listened to a lot of pop/folk music from there in the taxi, bar, streets… etc., and met a man called Zein who repairs electronic gear and sells rare records from Egypt, especially Cairo. It was very inspiring.

I bought an Egyptian tabla from him that’s featured on most of my tracks with an oriental sonority to them (and not just these), on this album. Such instruments – tabla, darbukkah, djembe… – were the first percussions I learnt to play at a younger age, thanks to an uncle of mine and a childhood friend from Tunisia.

The press release states “Mazzocchetti openly addresses the doubts and tensions he faces himself with the media circus and doesn’t lack humour and irony when time comes to put form to his ideas”. Has it been, or is it still a source of stress to you, to answer the demands and fulfill the “obligations” of promo?

Maoupa Mazzocchetti: This doesn’t stress me at all, and I certainly don’t feel forced to do this interview. It is indeed a less important sideline process to me, yet it’s still intimately linked to a musician’s work nevertheless. I believe it’s pretty healthy to know and be able to speak about your own music. As much for yourself as it is for those who’ll listen to the record. People may not realise how difficult it is to put music into words, which one just has to listen to, to know whether he/she likes it or not. Whatever one may say, it’s always what it boils down to. I like it, I don’t like it.

Snippet Boy: But it’s totally valid.

"I was looking to generate a sensation of musical
déjà-vu that may pose a challenge to the listener."

The cover itself shows your fictional character, ‘Snippet Boy’, in a sleek and colourful visual setup that clearly reminisces of ’80s pop record covers. This persona has actually become your stage performing alter ego. What prompted you to use this mask?

Maoupa Mazzocchetti: Snippet Boy certainly represents everything that’s to hate about a human being. He smiles non stop, and that’s depressing. But I take a lot of pleasure in incarnating this “product”, which refers to these freaky pop icons – freaky because of their social, political discourse, as well as their aesthetics, who have nonetheless managed to thread their way onto the most popular mass media circuits, such as Max Headroom, Devo’s Booji Boy…

What’s the last record store you visited and what did you bag there?

It was at Crevette Records in Brussels. I bought records from the 1€ bin.

What’s your definition of happiness?

Wear knee-ripped jeans and listen to DJ David Goblin’s last album.

Your worst nightmare?

Amnesia.
Crash in the sea and be the only survivor in the cabin, with just a small pocket of air to breath.
Being run over by a train and still be alive after having been cut in two by the wheels and rail.
Having to try and reason with a suicidal dude ready to jump off a bridge and under a train.
Wake up in my bed speeding the highway at full tilt, and with no brakes.
Believe that I’m in the middle of a dream and try something that would kill me – for real.
Hurt someone while sleepwalking.
Kill myself while sleepwalking.

What will you be up to in this end of year?

Ultra Hacking Promo on 26 September. Be ready! Work with Clara, a live tour to present the album. Release party alongside Opéra Mort and Jean Carval-Tarek at Instant Chavirés in Paris on October 3rd. A track on the next Knekelhuis VA, another release on Arma17. A pair of EPs as De-Bons-En-Pierre on Dark Entries. Work on my next exploration.

Gag Flag is out now on Editions Gravats.

TRACKLIST

A1. Looking For Cheese
A2. Dazzilo
A3. Ron’s Roof
A4. Fonk Left The Ytown
A5. Y’a un Petit Problème
B1. Sultan 1997
B2. Private Investigator on a Guitar Men
B3. Robert Loves My Texas Hat
B4. How To Hate You Without H?

Discover more about Maoupa Mazzocchetti and Editions Gravats on Inverted Audio.