From Hip Hop to Neurofunk – An Interview with Mefjus

They say “time flies when you’re having fun” and actually, I think they’re right because it definitely doesn’t feel like four years since a good friend told me to “check out this Mefjus dude because he’s going to rinse it!”.  Turns out he was right, and yes, it pains me to admit that I didn’t discover him first and will always, therefore be indebted to said friend, and yes, it also pains me to admit that even after four years of listening to his music intently I still have absolutely no idea how to pronounce his name, Mefyoos/Meth Juice?  Either way, the impact the young, Austrian producer has had on the scene in such a short space of time is utterly mind blowing and to think that he’s yet to reach his peak reassures me that the future of our scene is in very good hands indeed. 

After a phenomenal start to his career with a host of successful neurofunk bangers (such as Gravitational Lensing with Bowsar and Kaiza on the mighty Close2Death Recordings), Mefjus has quickly climbed the ranks and firmly secured his place at the top next to legendary producers such as Phace and Misanthrop.  It only takes a few moments of browsing through his back catalogue to see why as the rate in which his production techniques have progressed is staggering, not only that, his ability to transfer this knowledge to other genres such as hip hop and even into the more rolling side of drum and bass has made Mefjus one of the most exciting producers of the moment.  With this in mind, we couldn’t resist catching up with him to learn a little bit more . . .

I remember reading in previous interviews that your musical background has been quite a colourful one to say the least, from playing the trumpet to producing hip hop by the age of 16.  Were you always encouraged by your family to express yourself musically or were you mostly told to “keep the bloody noise down!”?

During the last year of primary school there was a workshop where the town’s band introduced their instruments to the pupils. I was psyched by the trumpet from the first second so I subscribed to get a tutor to learn it.  My parents were really happy to see me being enthusiastic about an instrument as my mother always said that playing an instrument gives you the perfect balance to your day-to-day work, so they supported my decision and I went to a musical school next to grammar school.

Unfortunately though by the age of 16 i thought I was “too cool” to play a classical instrument, I started skateboarding and producing hiphop instrumentals and stopped playing the trumpet.

To answer your question, my parents have always been pro-music and they were really happy to hear my decision last year when i started my own business to make music full time.

Wow, you must be the envy of every man being a full time musician!  Personally, I remember the first time I came across your music was in 2010 when I stumbled across your remix of Bone & Dust by Bowsar on Mindtech Recordings.  That EP was incredible and ferocious, the second drop on Field of the Dead blew my mind but it seemed a far cry from what you’d expect someone with a hip hop background to have helped produce. Can you tell us a bit about your journey within music and how you discovered the neuro side of drum and bass?

Wow i just had to re-listen to the track as it feels like ages ago.

Well, after i started making those hiphop beats my brother took me to my first rave and I remember especially one night when I heard Noisia’s “Block Control” for the first time, that had to be around 2005 or 2006 so I was like 18 years old.  Instantly I was hooked on those sharp and detailed programmed beats and tried to make those by myself as well and if you listen back to the tracks of that period I guess I was just trying to make my tunes kind of sound the same.

That EP I did with Bowsar back in the day, who is also an Austrian producer, was my first attempt to deliver a package of tracks with a certain attitude but they still lacked a lot of know-how and focus.

Someone such as myself, with no real knowledge in music production might see hip hop and neurofunk as being at two opposite ends of the musical spectrum, would you say this is true or is the ability to combine the two an integral part of your production style?

It depends really.  Looking at it from the musical progression perspective it’s quite common, where I come from, to slide from hiphop into drum and bass as the scenes are very close when it comes to the attitude, interests and cliques.  Most of my friends I grew up on hiphop with also listen to dnb.

Production wise it’s quite different though as hiphop depends at least 50% on the vocals.

Combining those two genres is not necessarily an integral part of my production style but it’s fun to do it once in a while.

mefjusheader

Over the years you’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest artists in drum and bass including Emperor, Icicle, Enei, and InsideInfo, this must have been an amazing learning curve for you! In fact, I remember a few years ago you said it was one of your dreams to work with Phace and Misanthrop! Now that’s been crossed off your bucket list, if you could form a collaboration with any artist from any genre, past or present, who would it be and why?

That’s a tough one, I want to name 2 producers:

Dj Premier – Because I just want to see his jazz/funk record selection, see where he samples from and get my Gang Starr records signed.

On the electronic side i’d love to do a track with the guys from Noisia as their mixdowns still continuosly blow my mind.

A DJ Premier/Mefjus collaboration is definitely something we’d love to hear!! Speaking of collabs, Repentance, your collaboration with InsideInfo on Critical Music has to be one of the best tunes I’ve heard in years, a real masterpiece.  Did you guys have a rough idea of what you wanted to make before you went into the studio or did you freestyle it?

Thank you very much, I also really like that track.

I had Paul InsideInfo over for a week as we were playing two b2b shows in Austria.  Between those gigs we were working on several tunes.  I remember Paul being in a bad mood as he was going through some personal stuff so I left him alone in the studio for bit, when I came back after an hour or two he had this 4bar loop going and he said something like “yeah you won’t like this …“ when I walked in, but he laid out the backbone of the track and I was instantly hooked so we rolled out the track the same day!  As I mentioned above it’s still one of my favourite tracks we’ve made and I am really proud of it.

In the past some producers have mentioned having “landmark” moments within their career in production, a significant point where even they noticed a substantial improvement in a finished project.  Have you ever had one of those moments, a time where you’ve listened to a finished track and thought “Damn, that’s good!”?

For me it was the time when i released the tracks ‘Distantia’ and ‘Far Too Close’ on Phace & Misanthrop’s label Neodigital.  At that time me and my girlfriend broke up so I decided to focus all my energy and time into production.  I was reading a lot of magazines, tried new instruments, techniques and just tried to level-up my skills which wasn’t really possible before. Seeing those guys liking and releasing my stuff gave me a huge pile of motivation to try even harder.

Absolutely! There must be no better feeling than to receive high praise from two of the biggest names in the industry! And speaking of which, you recently went b2b with Phace at a Critical Music night at Fabric nightclub in London, I think I speak for everyone when I say what an incredible set it was! It must have been a great experience for you, can you describe the atmosphere in the booth? Was it friendly one upmanship or an all out war between you?

That was an amazing night indeed and I had a lot of fun playing b2b with Flo. We play a similar selection so it was like first come, first served with certain tracks but it worked out great and we had a lot of laughs in the booth when one of us played a tune the other one hasn’t heard yet. I hope we can do that again soon!

Me too!! Now, those that have followed the harder side of drum and bass will have been familiar with your music for a long time but for some their first encounter will have been when you joined the crew at Critical Music.  Can you tell us how this came about, it can’t be every day you get to work on a track with the boss of one of the most prolific drum and bass labels!?

Kasra approached me during 2012 saying he liked my stuff and asked me if I would do a remix of his and Enei’s ‘So Real’.  I loved the original so I did the remix and apparently he liked my interpretation of their tune and invited me over to London for my first Fabric show, where I met Emperor for the first time too.  I felt honoured when he asked me to write more for Critical and since then we are working closely together.  It’s great to work with a label which has such an open mind about music and such diversity in it’s releases and artist roster.

Absolutely, We recently interviewed Emperor and he mentioned you’d been working on some more tracks together! Can you tell us a little bit about this and any other releases you’ve got coming up?

After we released the ‘Hello World’ EP we realised how well we actually work together.  Even though we are in two different DAW’s every track fell together really natural and quick.  Furthermore we became good friends over the last two years so we’ll definitely keep working together.

And lastly, any shoutouts?

Shouts to Kasra, Emperor, InsideInfo, Phace & Misanthrop, Icicle, Rido, Billain, my roommate Flo, my brother and my homies from Linz­.

Total
723
Shares