We catch up with Germany’s Munk

Munk is the alias of Mathias Modica, a German-based DJ/producer and label owner whose rich and versatile sound has won him legions of fans down through the years. A true musical radical, he established the always eclectic Gomma Records at a time when Germany’s electronic music scene was being swallowed up by generic minimal techno. A decade on, and the landscape has vastly changed for the better, with friendlier sounds very much a key point in contemporary house. Despite keeping a modest head, Munk is a visionary of sorts in that sense, and if you want to hear what he’s allk about, then you could do worse than checking out his latest effort for Exploited Records, Southern Moon. We checked in with him recently to find out more…

 

So how are you doing right now? What’s keeping you busy away from music?

I just came back from a DJ tour in Mexico that was too much fun. Actually, I am pretty exhausted just now. I can’t go to studio today I guess. So just gonna go to DJ in France next week and will be mostly DJing over this summer. I’m trying to record some tracks in between in our new Berlin studio that I am running with the boys from Black Loops.

Is music a full-time thing for you then? How long have you been involved in it?

Yes, music is my life. DJing, recording records, releasing cool music of other musicians, producing other artists, organizing parties… the whole thing. I started to release my first tracks around 10 years ago. Now there are 3 people working at our label…a lot of work but a lot of fun.

So how would you describe your daily life? What’s it consist of?

I usually wake up lunch time. I then eat with friends and label homies. I then do Gomma label stuff in the afternoon and go to the studio time at night and travel at weekends. In my spare time, I try to be nice to my girlfriends!

Does you label, Gomma Records, still take up a lot of your time?

I am lucky because I have Manuel Kim and Mo Butchek doing most of the administrative stuff. And as we have a lot of releases on both labels (Gomma and the house sublabel Toy Tonics) it’s really a lot of things to do. They are both passionate like me about music so it’s work – but it’s 100% fun, too. Things are going well these days so this gives us energy to push it even harder!

What was your original thinking behind starting the project?

I wanted to bring some new flavors to the house music of today. There is lot of retro house everywhere these days. And a lot of schematic dance music that sounds the same. I think in 2014 its important to try to do more experimental with 4/4 music again. Writing great songs, doing interesting vocals (not using only sampled voices from old tracks), trying to bring it on an interesting pop level… so that’s what I am trying with the new Munk songs..

I like the big 80s pop producers who tried to push boundaries. The dudes who came from Jazz and Dancemusic and breaked the styles in pop music. Kings like Trevor Horn, Arthur Baker, Rod Templeton… I want to push house inspired music on that level. My album will be out in September. Lets see what u think then…

What’s the most satisfying thing about running a label these days? And the most challenging?

Putting out music that we love. Always great. Challenging? As long as Spotify, Youtube, Google etc dont pay a fair $ to the musicians the Music market is really fucked up. So the biggest challenge is to see if one day there will be again a fair payment for hard working musicians…

Your latest track, Southern Moon, is really great and has a really great bassline running through it. Can you tell us a bit about how you produced it?

Usually I do a lot of sketches. Very fast. Like 5-7 songs in one night… I have a beat and then I play some spontaneous basslines, keyboards and small melodies and then do a raw musical structure. Then I give these songs to my 2 vocalists (Lizzie paige and Mona Lazette) and the girls choose the tracks they like most. This happened recently with Southern Moon. Lizzie loved the bassline (that originally was played on a real Fender bass and later exchanged because I wanted a more electronic sound). Then she did lthe yrics and then we started to work.

Is Exploited a label that you really admire? What’s been your favourite release of theirs to date?

Yes, I like the way the work. They are among the most interesting house labels of these days. Because u never know what they doing next. Of course you know it will be a House single, but they like to explore different territories in House music. And they still only release great music. My favorite are the Jazz Funk infected House Singles from James Curd and the classic stuff by Cocolores and Doctor Dru.

And how did you first come into contact with the guys at the label? Did you instantly realise that your music would make a good fit for them?

I’ve known them for over 10 years. Shir Khan, who is the mastermind behind Exploited, used to DJ in Berlin a lot. He did a very influential radio show where he always played Gomma and Toy Tonics tracks. So we have a long history.

Did you learn music about yourself musically through the EP? Was it an especially difficult track to do?

With every recording you learn something new. Also from the people you work with. In this case it was Lizzie Paige who was very inspiring. She was raised in Austin, USA and been living and working also in the New York scene. She brought some great input.

What’s been your proudest achievement as a musician through the years? Where do you envisage yourself being in 5 years with it all?

Proudest? Don’t know… maybe when The NME described Gomma as “Germany freshest and most interesting label“ some time ago… In 5 years? Doing the same what I am doing now. except of course, being married to my love!

I also wanted to ask about Berlin. How involved are you in the scene there? Would you ever swap it for anywhere else?

To be sincere: I loved more Berlin in the 90s. That was a wild time. Crazy parties we were playing at.. there were illegal clubs that were the bomb. Like Cookies, Berlin Tokyo gallery space and many others. These days its very  much about the commercial big clubs playing “mainstream techno/ house“… but still there is some cool little movements happening. There is lot of people from all over the world coming to live here. among them not many real artists (more people that “wanna be an artsts“ but. Still you can find some interesting people

But you’re listed as being in Marselle, Munich and Berlin – how’s that?

Before living in Berlin I came from Munich. That’s probably why we are so Disco infected. Moroder, Faltermayer and Donna Summer left a stamp on this town… Later I moved to Marseille for 4 years when I was bored from Germany.. and Berlin is my home since then

And you also recently played in Boiler Room in Munich; was it everything you expected it to be?

That was great. Crazy amount of people showed up. At 10 it was full and people went nuts. You cant really see it on the recording.. you only see me, how I am going crazy with that energy in the place..!

Can you tell us 5 tracks that you’re really digging at the moment?

Phedre: Aquarius

Shit Robot: Jack your Body

Luke Solomon  : Raw Feel

Nancy Whang: Like an eagle

Obalski: Tierra

 

What’s next for you then?

Djing, djing, djing…


About the Author

A house music veteran, growing up with the sound before it was even called ‘house music’. A successful DJ and producer in his own right, an ex-label and record shop owner. It’s safe to say house and techno music has been a large part of James’ life for longer than most of today’s clubbers have been alive. Despite being a self-confessed ‘underground monkey’ James appreciates the adage ‘house is a feeling’, and that the scene is all about bringing people together no matter what sound you’re in to."