Moullinex’s latest album, ‘Hypersex’, is Luis Clara Gomes’ reaction to two separate events in 2016 — the unprecedented refugee crisis in Europe and the horrific shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando.
“I had to respond,” explains Gomes. “So I reached out to like-minded artists I admired, and set out to create my most collaborative project yet.”
‘Hypersex’ isn’t necessarily a protest record but it almost certainly wouldn’t sound the same if those two tragies hadn’t happened; it’s a product of a multicultural crisis which the world has faced many times before. But what makes Moullinex’s response so compelling is it’s very much an experiement in multiculturalism, as influences, backgrounds and musical upbringings clash across the album’s 13 technicolour tracks.
You’ve got features with Fritz Helder, Best Youth, Iwona of Rebeka, Georgia Anne Muldrow, DA CHICK, Marta Ren, Guilherme Tomé Ribeiro, Shermar Davis and Tee Flowers. Scratch a little further and you’ll find cleverly constructive comicbook-inspired artwork which then plays into a forthcoming fanzine featuring dozens of illustrators.
With such a spontaneous yet well thoughtout roll out of his album we just had to speak to Luis Gomes to find out more. During this in-depth discussion, Moullinex touches upon world politics (yes, it gets a bit deep) the club culture crisis effecting the world’s dancefloors and the meaning behind his album’s strong visual identity.
Hello Luis Clara Gomes — you’re new album has just come out, so first of all congratulations. What are the overriding emotions now it’s released? Do you have a giant album-shaped hole in your heart?
Absolutely! But it’s already been filled by the response I’ve been getting since it’s out. I believe the biggest void I felt was between finishing it and waiting for it to come out. When I started making music I’d release it minutes after finishing it, and I’ve adjusted to this buffer by playing the music on DJ sets or with the band, long before it’s out. It’s probably the work I’m most satisfied with, and the one that came most naturally.
What was the initial inspiration behind the album, we noted that you, like most of us, have become disillusioned with the way the world and dance music is heading at the moment – did that have an influence the album’s themes at all?
That influence was at the core. When I started working on the tracks that made it to the album, a huge massacre had just happened in a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL. Trump had risen to power, and in Europe we were facing the biggest refugee crisis of our generation. All these things pushed me into making a statement through my music – after all, that is my main resource, and I figured I could use it as an agent of change.
The album is billed as a love letter to club culture in many ways, do you think the commercialisation of dance music has bred a new generation that’s completely oblivious to dance music’s roots in gay communities and America’s ghettos?
The commodification of dance music into a lifestyle accessory (and subsequent white-washing and depletion of substance) and isn’t something new, but has been happening at a steady pace since the disco era – I became familiar with club culture while growing up in the 90s and still felt it since then, so I can only imagine what it feels like to someone that was there at the beginning in NYC. It’s not specific to dance music, as it follows a pattern in society. But after all I – and anyone who makes electronic music nowadays – owe what we do to these revolutions that spawned in a dance floor.
You’ve worked with a bunch of new collaborators on the album — what was the most challenging part of working with vocalists you’ve not work with before?
Though each track had a different workflow, it all was very natural. Mutual appreciation of each other’s work was the key – there wasn’t a moment when I felt anything was lost in translation. Some tracks were done remotely, others in real-life sessions. Each vocalist has a personal approach to the instrumentals I sent – some are more about nailing the first take and how that will convey a truer emotion, and others like to record several and get all the nuances right. I liken it to my own workflow, where I’d rather work on everything at once (writing, arranging, recording and mixing), whereas other producers prefer doing it sequentially. I’ve always loved working with vocalists – when I started making music I took just the vocal parts for the remixes I worked on.
The album has a distinct visual make-up thanks to Bráulio Amado illustrations — where did you two meet? Is he a dance music fan, too?
We met in Lisbon, before he moved to NYC. He’s always been in punk bands, and we had many common friends from that scene. We have been working together since my first album, Flora, in 2012. He’s since exploded and has been working with Frank Ocean, Good Room in NYC, Washed Out and Beck, just to name a few. For Hypersex I wanted to involve him from the get go, so we could create a common narrative for the album, singles and all aspects of the visual identity as a whole. Bráulio even named some tracks himself.
Tell us about the concept behind casting call video for ‘Love Love Love’ — it looked like alot of fun for those involved. What was the initial concept behind it?
The basic premise when I sat with director Bruno Ferreira and creative supervisor Sebastião Albuquerque was to capture people’s reactions to questions about dance and their relationship to it. How they’d behave when dancing with strangers, whether it would be awkward or natural. We thought a staged casting call would be the perfect setting for this to happen, as people are more willing to participate as they want to get the part. We put up ads on craigslist and shot in NYC. There was certainly a risk factor, as we did not know who’d come and what to expect. The conclusion could have simply been awkwardness between strangers. We did ask participants about their background, their relationship to dance and how it relates to ideas of “sharing” and “feeling”, and that might have made them more comfortable in letting go. The result was very spontaneous and fun.
There’s a rather fetching vinyl release which comes with a fanzine featuring a wide range of artists and designers — what was the idea behind that?
Extending the collaborative aspect of the record to its visual identity. As the dance floor is the perfect metaphor for this record (a place where different people come together and create something unique) it made sense to take Braulio’s work as place where other views on club culture could coexist. So we reached out to several illustrators to create the fanzine, and thus provide a visual narrative to this collective love letter to club culture.
The release party and exhibition we did at the modern art, architecture and technology museum had the same objective: to uproot the dance floor from its natural habitat and rebuild it in the context of a museum in order to honor it. The night started with the presentation show and continued with a marathon of DJ sets that lasted till 7 am.
Of all of the album’s tracks — which one posed the biggest challenges, either logistically or creatively?
That would be “Painting By Numbers” or “Love Love Love”. The former because getting the right balance between the frailty of the vocals by UhAhUh and the groove of the instrumental took very long time to achieve. I did not want to have the focus on either.
As for Love Love Love, the concept was to create a sample of an original song that did not exist and use that sample for a modern composition – I wanted the song and the vocals to sound like a Brazilian classic from the Tropicalia era, full of groove, flutes, percussion and sun. So we recorded that song as it would have been done in the 70s. A couple of parts from it were sampled, filtered and manipulated in a classic house approach, and the final track was built around it. That was a lot of fun to do as well.
If listeners can take away one thing from your album ‘Hypersex’ — what would you like it to be?
I wish people can come together through music, and celebrate love. Any time a track of mine is able to get random strangers dancing together, I feel like its mission has been accomplished.