An Interview with Electronic Music Producer Mercurius FM
Mercurius FM is an electronic music producer based in America. He's got a passion for all types of electronic music, but is especially drawn towards synth-driven expressions of the genre. I talked to him about his roots as a music producer, his latest EP entitled Thicc Moombah and his sources of creative inspiration.
Karl Magi: Tell me a bit about your musical background. How did you become interested in making music in the first place?
Mercurius FM: My background in music is fairly odd as I think the first thing I ever made music with was my Nintendo Gameboy Camera around the age of 10 or 12. It had a little "DJ" mode inside the game that allowed you to make really basic chiptunes. I always had an interest in music, but it was never something I seriously thought about making. During my childhood I really thought I'd become an anime or comic book illustrator. But as I played more and more video games, the music stayed with me, especially electronic music, which I feel is really ingrained into video game music with soundtracks such as X-Men 2, Clone Wars, Sonic 3, and Tekken 3.
Everything came together one day, during my daily anime watching routine on Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block, I saw Daft Punk's anime music videos for their album Discovery. I bought the album. I loved it. Then I got Homework, their second album, and from that incredible record I caught the bug. I knew I needed to make music. Music without boundaries.
KM: What are the elements and ideas in synth-driven electronic music that attracted you to making it?
MF: Well, as I mentioned, I've always been into video game music. I learned early on that the sound in early game consoles was generated with a synthesizer chip inside the console. When I first started out, I was recording riffs and loops from the Gameboy Camera. Then I opened them in a really basic audio editor and tried to make some songs with them. It was mostly crap. Then I started sampling disco music, and made house music for a few years.
However, I started to learn that you had to clear samples and pay a license to use them otherwise the original artist would sue you. I was just a broke teenager. So, I started using a pirated copy of Propellerheads Reason, and that has a lot of easy to use built-in synths. (I did buy it eventually) I also bought a whole bunch of analog synths that find their way into my music. So, what I like about making music with synths is that you own what you make, and you can make pretty much anything. Only your imagination is the limit.
KM: Which artists have you taken inspiration from in terms of how you approach making music?
MF: I love so much music, I take inspiration from different things at different times. Even non-musical things. Since I am multi-genre, this is even more true. One record could be synthwave, which I might take inspiration from the music of Kavinsky and the movie Akira. When I make house and techno, artists like Daft Punk, Cassius, and Armand Van Helden really help me keep my music artistically genuine. Since I am primarily an electronic musician, I think this also saturates my general approach in the studio too, especially taking influence from great the producers Phillippe Zdar, Thomas Bangalter and Brian Eno. There also many great composers to remember such as Yasunori Matsuda and Yuzo Koshiro.
KM: Tell me more about Thicc Moombah. Where did the ideas for the EP come from and how did you approach making it?
MF: The first song I made for Thicc Moombah was Technoton. It originally had a Jamaican style vocal. (and for those who don't know, moombahton is essentially a hybrid genre which takes the sounds of house music and blends it into the rhythms of reggaeton/Caribbean music.) I made a vocal mix and an instrumental/dub mix sometime around 2012. It never got released. Then a couple of years ago, I sent it to my friend ETC!ETC!, a Los Angeles based EDM producer, who was making a new DJ mix called Moombah Season Vol 2. because he was looking for some new music to include. To my surprise, he included it in his mix. This kind of reignited my flame for the genre of moombahton so I set out to make a unique moombahton record that would include the sound of various electronic music genres such as acid house, vaporwave, and techno. I re-worked the original Technoton instrumental and created 3 more songs. Then, I also got a DJ edit style remix from ETC!ETC!. As always with my music, I wanted it to sound unique and to my knowledge, I've never heard a moombahton record like this.
KM: Where do you want to take your music in the future?
MF: To be honest, I have no idea where things will go. I follow my passions when it comes to music. One of the things, I've been really having fun with again is remixing video game music into functional club tunes that DJs can play. I used to do this back when MySpace was around, but now I even get booked to DJ gamer themed parties at fan conventions and arcades. It's been great. I'm going to be doing a lot more with that. I also have a bunch of other projects I've been working on. All of it is being released on my own record label, Broken Synth Recordings, so keep an eye out.
KM: What's your take on how the global electronic music scene is doing?
MF: For a while I feel like it was really hard to find good quality, genuine music. Music that is actually good art. It was always there, but it was buried. However, i think listeners are looking for new sounds now. The whole mainstream EDM thing is burnt out and I'm really glad. I heard that "top DJs" like Tiesto and Calvin Harris are making less money now, while smaller touring DJs are getting more opportunities. I think that's beautiful because those guys are old now, they have their mansions and sports cars. They will always have their fans, and if they make some great new song people will listen. There's no question about that. But now it's time to give the new generation a chance and it looks like we're starting to hear it. I'm always excited to hear good, authentic dance music.
KM: How do you recharge your creative batteries?
MF: I really enjoy making music, but when I do have the time to recharge I like to watch some classic anime, or a good sci-fi movie. Of course, I really love video games, old and new. So I'm always surrounded by that. I also like watching game related YouTube shows such as Gamesack and reading interviews with my favorite creators. In the event that I cannot take a break, I refer to Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies. That really helps shake things p. Oh yeah, some good food and coffee always help!