Monday, 10 May 2010
INTERVIEW: Milyoo [Opit]
Milyoo deserves props. The American producer’s debut 12” will be out imminently on Subeena’s OPIT Records imprint and it’s a particularly varied and bewitching triplet of tracks. Sitting betwixt the genre malaise with little concern for what surrounds him, we caught up with Tommy - who was busy shovelling mud out of his studio after a storm hit his native Kentucky domicile - to obtain a bit of backstory and grab the 45th exclusive Sonic Router mix.
Sonic Router: Can you provide those who may not know you with a bit of background info?
Milyoo: Sure. I’m a 32 year old guy from a mid-size college town/city called Lexington, Kentucky. I used to smoke cigarettes, but I quit.
Outside of music who are you? What do you do on the daily?
When I’m not attempting to make music, I’m a soon-to-be-former (eventually to-be-returning) PhD Student in Cultural Geography who used to think about writing (though never fully wrote) a dissertation on ghosts and memory. But with the school thing winding down I’ve mostly been writing tunes, hanging out with my super-cool wife Erin, and trying to get back in climbing shape in the Red River Gorge (also see: unemployed)
How did you first get into making music? What was it that infected you to do so?
I guess I’ve always made music to one degree or another... more or less. I bought my first piece of gear in ‘98, but I failed to get very into it until the last year or so. Seems like good timing as I can’t think of a time when I’ve been as excited about the overall state of music-making.
What’s your production set up like? What’s your favourite bit of kit in the studio?
I write in Propellerheads Record/Reason environment and arrange in Live 8 using a few different midi controllers. I also have an Emu E4xt where I chunk up samples sometimes, a korg electribe synth box which I like quite a bit, and a variety of drums, tambs, bells, and whatnot. A tapedeck w/ pitch control. Some 1200s. A guitar. But my favorite gear is my field recorder and mic. I seriously don’t know what I was doing before I started finding sounds.
Where do you take inspiration from when making music?
Movies, bus brakes, great hooks from songs that suck, my friends, other artists... If I’m feeling particularly dim on days I’ll throw in something amazing (right now I’m listenining to some Ramadanman) and just sorta vibe off it for a bit and see what happens. But most of the time I just sit down and start beating on stuff, turning knobs, sampling records, and eventually a song comes out. The process is still really amazing to me.
Whats behind the Milyoo moniker?
Milieu is of French origin and means something like the context or situation in which a thing develops. In my mind, to split the ‘milieu’ from the ‘things they develop’ is a really unnecessary gap. That is, the two are seamless. The milieu and the thing are both collections of stuff, themselves collections of stuff. So, in my mind, everything is a milieu or milieus are everything. ‘Milyoo’ (the phonetical bastard of the original) then is my attempt at highlighting this always-already-beyond-me of music; the ‘not-me’ stuffiness of it all.
Plus my old name ‘The Tommy Wilson Electronic Music Band’ was too folky.
Opit 12" snippets:
How would you describe your sound? I mean your mix for us jumps from Madlib to James Blake via Airborn Audio… would you say hip hop was a big influence on you?
Yes, hip hop was and is a massive influence on me. I grew up rocking out to Guru, Casual, Wu-Tang, Dre, and Biggie when I was a kid, but more recently Dilla’s stuff really turned me around. I know Dilla love isn’t too uncommon these days, but the way he brought together Detroit house vibes, hip-hop cuts, and tripped out production it felt like – seriously – he had made a pile of music just for me. When I’d listen to Donuts on the walk to campus I felt ridiculous if I wasn’t dancing. That’s some serious stuff I think.
But in terms of my sound it seems like I’m always writing a lot of different stuff at any given time. Sometimes I settle into a groove of sorts and write a type of something for a bit. I guess – at the moment – I write slo-mo tribal rnb-tinged psychedelic house music...(?) My last three buys are Flylo’s album, the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack and Dimlite’s new one. All three of which are bearing heavily on me at the moment so we’ll see what comes of it.
And how did you discover dubstep?
To be honest, I don’t feel comfortable taking credit for discovering dubstep. While I am the first guy I know (personally) who accidentally found Burial while searching through the iTunes store, I’m not quite sure that marked the origin point of the movement. Kidding. I take full credit. You’re welcome.
You live in the US in Lexington, Kentucky. Is there any tangible scene there? Where do you go for live bass music?
Lexington is basically a really big (500,000) college town so there’s always enough kids here to get something going; and while you can pack a club with students easy enough, Lexington is just not large enough to sustain a stable community of niche music junkies. Of course, there are some talented people here, and there’s cool stuff cooking at the moment so we’ll see I guess. The other option would be to drive to one of the larger cities in the region (Atlanta, Chicago, etc.), but I’m hard-pressed to drive 2-3 hours to go see live music with any regularity.
Your first 12” on Opit Records is out shortly. How did you hook it up? Tell us what peoples can expect…
Pretty short story really. I sent Subeena a link because I liked her release and the Opit logo, and it turns out she liked my soundcloud stuff. I used to have a ton of tracks up (70+) and she combed through all of it and picked these three. I’m not sure how to characterize the release really...it’s a variety 3 pack of tunes taken from a ton of different influences recorded over an 8-month span.
What other projects have you got in the pipeline? What’s happening with you in the rest of 2010?
I’ve got a remix from Greymatter’s ‘Mind Over Matter’ coming out soon. It’s pretty cool I think. I also have some stuff going on/over with Hold Box Flat that I’m really excited about. I’m assuming everyone already knows this, but just in case: Thristian bPm and D’Wala’s Transmit Box Flat is the absolute penultimate in podcast awesomeness. Seriously: 10/10.
As far as other stuff goes, I’m in the symbolic stage of starting a label called Landforms, mostly because I can count the number of quality US labels (not located in LA) on one hand, and it strikes me there are enough talented artists on this side of the Atlantic to get something going. That and I’m apparently addicted to working really hard sans pay. Finally, I’m trying to do some collaborative work with my Dublin-based friend Shatterfreak and other than that I can only speculate... might have a kid this year... gigs... more releases... job getting... I’m doing a guestmix of some of my stuff for Mary Anne Hobbs on May 26th which is really cool. And I’m gonna keep writing tracks.
Any words of wisdom for our readers?
Yeah... don’t be a douchebag. Life is too short.
DOWNLOAD: Milyoo - Sonic Router Mix
Shai - If I Ever Fall in Love Again (Acapella Ver.)
Radiohead - Reckoning (Kidkanevil Remix)
James Blake - The Bells Sketch
Pariah - Detroit Falls
Milyoo - Like a Fool
Madlib - Lifetime (Lifeline)
Kankick - Mas Fire (Snip)
Kidkanevil - When Doves Bounce
Latyrx – Latyrx
Airborne Audio - Trust Me
Untold - Yukon (Fantastic Mr. Fox Remix)
Tokimonsta - Glaring Lights
Take - Horizontal Figuration
Paul White - Floating Free
Beach Boys - Our Prayer
Adele - Chasing Pavements (Various Production Mix)
Bullion - Crazy Over You
Milyoo - So Many Windows