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DJ Mag Podcast 85: Moscoman

Disco Halal don and DJ/producer supreme Moscoman steps up for our latest podcast, delivering an hour of intoxicating rhythm, swerving melody and psychedelic sensibility.

Moscoman is an artist with a unifying purpose. Since forming the visionary Disco Halal label in 2015, the Berlin-based, Israeli DJ/producer he has been releasing forward thinking music by friends and collaborators across the globe. From Tel Aviv, Paris and Moscow-based artists to Tokyo producer Yoshinori Hayashi’s recent ‘Uncountable Set’ EP, Disco Halal’s output is becoming increasingly international, with common threads of psych, nu-disco, post-punk and deep house weaving through each release.

The DJs and producers connected to the label always keep a keen eye on traditional sounds embedded in global cultures. Most notably, in releases fro Red Axes, Naduve, Autarkic, Acid Arab and Mehmet Aslan you will find nods to Middle Eastern folk, psych and blues fused with house and disco energy, bringing new, diverse and wonderful sounds to clubs and dancefloors that may have scarcely been a home for them previously.

Now, after three years, Moscoman — real name Chen Moscovici — has released his first EP on his own label in the form of ‘I Ran’. With previous releases on labels like ESP Institute and Cosmo Vitelli’s I’m a Cliché, ‘I Ran’, which DJ Mag premiered a few weeks ago, finds him on top form, serving up a track that utilises a chilling Iranian vocal sample and a driven house groove to create a heady, deep floor-filler.

“A good friend of mine from Israel came to my house and played me this,” he says of the track’s source material. “Automatically I loaded it on Ableton, and saw if I could make something of it. At first it was just a jam with some drum machines and synths, but after a while I composed it into a track. I didn’t really think about it while I was doing it. I was just playing around, but I’m happy it turned out to be one of my favourites.”

When considering if there is any socio-political purpose to be found in the diversity of influence that fuels Disco Halal and the artists it champions, Moscoman seems simply determined to transfer ideas of togetherness and shared appreciation through music’s common language, while acutely aware that such a statement can only really do so much.

“When you get to travel and meet people from everywhere you realise the world is very small,” he says. “But still we created a big wall between us and sadly this is the case in most of the society. I can be romantic and say I try to do some de-building of that wall by representing music from across the globe but, in reality, I don’t think there’s much to do.

“Everybody is different and sadly most people emphasize their thoughts on what’s different and not what’s similar. Music, I think, is always similar though, and has the same purpose and the same motive.”

"The days of simple house or simple techno have changed and it’s the same thing in music production. It evolved, and so did people”

Despite only being active for three years to date, Disco Halal’s rise to prominence has been monumental, not least thanks to the widely celebrated live and DJ sets from the likes of Red Axes, Autarkic and Moscoman himself.

Does he feel that dancefloors and club spaces are becoming more and more receptive to the diverse and less directly “dance music” oriented sounds that he and his contemporaries have been championing? 

“I guess there is a longing to belong to anything,” he says. “I think most of the sophisticated dancers can feel this emotion even though it's not in their DNA. Rhythm is universal, melodies are also. Every area has its own scales and ways to perform them. Musical understanding is something you can learn with practice and people can transform themselves into different cultures. 

“I am obsessed with the Japanese day-to-day for example,” he adds. “People go to India to visit Ashrams, people move to Istanbul… People are global these days. You can be born one way, but where you’re going that’s on you and it’s the same thing with musical taste. The days of simple house or simple techno have changed and it’s the same thing in music production. It evolved, and so did people.”

Coming from a live music background, and with a live band he still plays guitars and keys with from time to time, it’s valuable to take note of the loyalty to post-punk and pysch-leaning styles that permeates so much of Moscoman and Disco Halal’s catalogue.

 “If you learn about Israeli music you will know that 80-90-00s, we’re very post punk and psychedelic,” he explains. “So we are just continuing and improving the sounds of the history of our place.”

With no signs of slowing down on the horizon for Disco Halal, how far does does he feel the label has evolved from its inception? And what evolution can we predict in the coming months and years?

 “At the end of the day it's about music I love and people I trust to deliver it,” he explains. “So it will continue to change, and grow, and be diverse, as I evolve so will the label I reckon.”

As for his own output, there's a new Moscoman EP coming on the mighty Life & Death label and “plenty of surprises” on the horizon. Speaking about his DJ Mag podcast, Moscoman said, “This mix is pretty much things I love at this moment: Banging music, upcoming Disco Halal stuff, and friend’s productions! You should really get on with your work and listen to it in the background… or break out in a dance!” 

You can buy 'I Ran' here

Photo credit: Nuphar Blechner

Want more? Listen back to our recent Podcasts with The Mover and Fresh Kicks Mixes with Object Blue and Elkka.

Eoin Murray is DJ Mag's digital staff writer. You can follow him on twitter @eoin_murraye