Mailer Daemon is about to release his latest album Ronin 2. Tomatrax caught up with him to ask a few questions.
What inspired you to become a musician?
Guns ‘n Roses, Green Day, REM, Smashing Pumpkins, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Radiohead, Nirvana, The Offspring, Michael Jackson, Depeche Mode, 80’s + 90’s pop radio, MTV, my Soundblaster Live! Soundcard, all the guitars in the house growing up, ScreamTracker, ImpulseTracker, and the Internet. 🙂
You’ve just released your latest album, what’s it like to have it out?
For the last 3 years, i’ve put out a record annually, and that’s a great feeling to have that consistency, building and pushing Mailer Daemon forward. I do enjoy having a unique concept and approach for each album, Gravitas was heavy on the guest features and featured an interesting balance between the bass culture and the dreamy rock side of things, Ronin 1 was more of a thickly layered rock album, where as Ronin 2’s beats are all minimal, grimey, and darker. Each record has a it’s unique personality, but there is still an underlying cohesive thread as Mailer Daemon music with it’s bass heavy and post-punk core.
How does your latest album compare with your previous work?
So the previous album in the Ronin album series, ‘Ronin 1’ had a more organic-instrument focused Alternative Shoegaze Rock focus. It was really fun to embrace that angle especially before Wu Tang’s ‘A Better Tommorow’, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’, and Dr Dre’s ‘Compton’ came out. One of the main elements of Mailer Daemon music is predicting new trends and suggesting where things could go, in context to the Ronin 2 album and it’s Post Trap-Alternative-Hip Hop-Grime production, it was a comment on where the sound is right now at this point of 2015.
What made you decide to title the album Ronin 2?
The tag line of the Ronin series is ‘to make the album that i want to make’, this renegade artist approach and the sound of each album is a direct response to the climate of the culture of the time. Ronin were Samurai in feudal japan who had lost their master or clan purpose, the rogue nature of this album series gives it it’s Ronin title. Visually, and sonically, we really went with the video game concept, evoking that Streets of Rage or Street Fighter energy. Early 90’s 16-bit Beat ’em Up games… a future Dub Hip Hop Post punk interpretation of that vibe.
Are you going to continue the Ronin title series in your future releases?
I definitely am excited to continue the Ronin series with part 3 to make it a complete trilogy, giving further context to each part on it’s own, as well as a complete saga with the Ronin Trilogy: Best of. The response has been so great to Ronin 2, i’m going to explore some other angles of my artistry, building more XP before i come back complete the trilogy.
What was the inspiration behind the video for ‘Let’s see’?
The last video ‘One of a Kind’ was heavy on the VFX with lot’s of data-moshing. For this video, we wanted a striaght-up performance video, with focus on real projections of the album-cover-animation from visual legend Kidmograph (A-Trak, Kanye West, Frank Ocean), and retro-futuristic projections that I put together myself. X-Ray Dolls showed us alot of love and let us shoot in their wharehouse, performing with the projections was dope 🙂
Omar Musa makes a guest appearance, how did this collaboration come about?
I had the honor of meeting Omar Musa at the infamous One Day Sundays day party back when it was at the Vic in the Park. In due time I got to see Omar’s strong social media presence, his great performances, and how he was impacting culture with his book. I’m a big fan of his, and I sent him some beats from the album, he come over and we decided to track “All I Know”. He took the cyber-punk themes and pushed it forward, giving some really spooky lyrical depth to the music. Omar is working on his own music right now, very excited for it.
Your press release says your album tracks were originally fashioned as 16-bar loops on a mobile phone, where did you get this idea to make your music?
So the amazingly young and talented producer, Dread Jensen, was interning for me and he played me all these grimey and trappy beats that he did on his phone with the IMaschine app. They were so dope and I was super inspired to flip them into an album, so I took those loops and did the song-writing, arrangement, and mixing to produce it into the Ronin 2 album that we have today. It was great to have that macro view of the journey, and I feel it really shows in the song integration and musical progression. The songs work individually on their own, but sequenced together they create a larger and more profound picture, sitting more in the artist seat helped to piece that together.
You’ve remixed music from Bag Raiders, The Herd, and the Panics. How does remixing other artists work compare with making your own?
Remixing is great, it’s an awesome avenue to reinterpret things and put a new twist on it. It’s the basis really of production sampling and flipping a piece of music into something new. The main intention 90% of the time is to flip it to work on a dancefloor; however, as a creative i’m interested in so many other dimensions such as songwriting, and vocals- being your own artist allows you to tell your own stories and bring your own voice to the table. it’s also reflective to the nature of EDM culture of the time. From Mashups, to Edits, Mixtape style remixing- there are so many avenues to explore as a DJ Producer, I always try to see what the trends are, and find my own unique lane amongst the noise.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Yes of course, it’s important to re-visit music at different times because it will mean different things in relation to where the culture is at at that time. It’s also important to keep the perspective of a fan, or basic pedestrian, you must understand how the product is being received, it’s important to digest the feedback and fine tune your approach accordingly.
What other music do you listen to?
Deafheaven, Rap Radar, I just watched the Matilda Musical Live – that was super dope – that ‘When I Grow Up’ tune is incredible.
Now that the album is out what do you plan on doing next?
Back in the beatmaker seat! Gotta switch things up again, keep em guessing, making beats for Sage on his next project, stay tuned 🙂
Check out Mailer Daemon’s website to find out more!