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Interview: DJ Muggs, We’re Like Marathon Runners

Originally from Jackson Heights, Queens and now an international star in his own right, DJ Muggs called me to talk about his brand new album Bass For Your Face set to release on Ultra Records this month. January 15th.

What has been described as “a critical page turn in DJ Mugg’s extensive Hip-Hop career”, Bass For Your Face is a project that has been in the making for over five years and it is charged with “bruising instrumentals” and dons eclectic guest features like Danny Brown, Chuck D. (Public Enemy), Belle Humble (a Finnish singer he discovered on SoundCloud), Dizzee Rascal and more.

If Ultra is a new idea to you, they are the bee’s knees in the popular dance and electronic music worlds. Especially, in North America. Deadmau5, Steve Aoki, Benny Benassi and Calvin Harris and so many more are represented by this label. A home like this for DJ Muggs is a great fit.

He’s also worked with A$AP Rocky on a song called “Dank” released by the Russian streetwear hustlers, “Mishka” not to be confused with the international reggae artist from Bermuda who we just learned about 54 seconds ago on Google.

Listen to “Dank” featuring A$AP Rocky produced by DJ Muggs.

Since we’re far from a time where reading production credits are exclusive to a liner note, it was imperative for me to use my time with Muggs to try to get a better understanding of why this might be. It took me a while to arrive at my first question, but I got there. Finally. I knew I wanted to be clear yet, respectful.

When asked why there is a disconnect between my generation and his, he simply replied, “I have no idea. How old are you?”

“I’m 27.”

“Oh, alright. I have no idea why you would know me or why wouldn’t know me. I don’t know.”

After thinking a bit, he replied, “I don’t know, man. Depends on what they’re looking for. I made all kinds of music. I’ve done all kinds of things. I don’t have no clue really what nobody should do to tell you the truth.”

I didn’t have any expectations, but I knew I needed to get more out of him. Honestly, I had DJ Muggs on my telephone. It was not the local aspiring DJ from three houses down. I knew I needed to make proper use of my time, as well as, learn what I needed to learn in fifteen minutes. I would fight myself if I didn’t.

With that in mind, I asked “How’d your new music with Dizzee Rascal come about?”

“Yeah, the song with Dizzee came about through my man Bun B. He [Dizzee] was in LA and he was like, “You should check out Muggs while you’re in LA and see what’s cracking. So, Dizzee came through and we recorded some songs for his album. We did about 3 or 4 songs and while we were rocking on that, he started listening to some other music I was working on. He liked this one track, so he jumped on it.”

Folks, if keeping your network “strong” and “useful” were ever confusing ideas, you can now divorce your confusion.

Currently, what are you listening to?

“Right now, I’m listening to Meyhem Lauren’s mixtape. I was just into the Roc Marci(ano) album. I was just into the Action Bronson, Alchemist production. I’m listening to The Gaslamp Killer album, Flying Lotus, also, a lot of Alice Coltrane as of late and a lot of psychedelic rock from like the early 60s.”

And do you take inspiration from what you listen to or are there other things?

“I take inspiration from everything. From everybody. From people I talk to, things I see, and a lot of the inspiration comes from some quiet place inside. A real far away place like a black hole from another dimension. I don’t know where it comes from sometimes.

Interview Highlights


½ of Fan Questions:

Selko, aspiring producer from Denver, Colorado:

What do you think about software revolution and the idea “anyone with a computer can be a producer”?

It’s great. I feel two ways about that. People used to take an internship or an apprenticeship. Having an apprenticeship, it makes you appreciate the art form. It makes you appreciate the art form. It lets you know that when you do this, you have to have some appreciation or respect for it. You would have to go out and buy a $3,000 machine back in the days. You’d have to go buy records. You’d have to go find the knowledge to be able to produce, so if you were willing to do that and you had that fire in you to really really really want to do it, you’d go do it. It weeded out the horse shit.

Now, pretty much anybody could sit down and make music. So, you’re going to have a lot more horse shit, but it’s a great thing because now, it’s either: Step up and compete. You had your time and your place. There was a guy who made the guitar then, all of a sudden, everybody had the fucking guitar, so he can’t complain about it. Just be better. Just be different. Just be unique. Find your place. Bring something to the musical table. Even as much music as there is right now, there isn’t more better music than there’s ever been.

How many groundbreaking, original groups that are going to stand the test of time that are actually coming out?

There’s a lot of good pop music that’s for the time. Is it going to stand the test of time? Am I going to be able to put on this music on in 40 years and it’s gonna make me feel as good and brand new as 40 years later? I don’t know yet. It doesn’t seem to think so. I’m not hearing a lot of revolutionary groups these days.

On biting and hating

Where I come from, there wasn’t “That’s what hot!” Because what’s hot, you couldn’t do it cause you were a fucking biter. You couldn’t look like nobody. You couldn’t come out dressed like Chuck D. or De La Soul. You couldn’t come out using De La Soul slang or Wu Tang slang and you couldn’t use the same samples or you couldn’t fucking sound like them or you were wack. You couldn’t fucking get on the stage. They were throwing shit at you.

“You suck, get the fuck of the stage!”

Now, if somebody says something. They call it hating. Hating is when somebody’s good and you’re shitting on them, because you’re fucking hating. That’s hating. Hating aint that you suck and we tell you that you suck. This ain’t a hustle. Go to the fucking street and hustle. This is art.

Other Fan Question:

George, aspiring photographer from Bloomfield, Connecticut:

Do have a favourite food or a favourite thing you like to do when you’re producing?

I eat good. I drink a lot of juices: Kale, spinach. All kind of natural juices. We always work out before we get in the studio, so we got fresh oxygen in our system(s). We marathon runners, man. It ain’t no: Make a couple of records… Make a couple of records. I make more money and tour more than I ever have. We’re like the Rolling Stones. We’re like AC/DC. If people look at the top ten touring acts from last year (2011), it’s The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, AC/DC. See, we built our fan base. Now, we have a worldwide army. We ain’t a pop group. We ain’t pop, so you ain’t gonna see us all in of those magazines, and all over the blogs everyday.

What does that mean? I don’t know what that means, because that doesn’t mean you have more fans — because more hits on fucking YouTube. It just doesn’t mean that… That was never our shit anyways. Our shit is about being underground, making our shit, and doing what we want, how we we want, when we want with our middle fingers up. And we still live like that. We’re still on our bosses.

On Dilla

[He] was a true producer. He inspired thousands of kids. If Dilla would have came out sounding like so and so, this whole wave of sound and stuff that would have never existed.

Listen to the full interview now:

DJ Muggs Interview (Duration 16:54)

January 15th, “Bass For Your Face” releases on Ultra Records. Save the date!

Written by Richardine Bartee

Her unprejudiced love for people, the arts, and business have taken her this far. Join Richardine on her journey as she writes history into existence, one article at a time. Richardine is a member of the Recording Academy/GRAMMYs, and a GRAMMY U Mentor. She is part of the Complex Day Ones, an exclusive community to help make the Complex experiences even better.