This week, Blog will be spotlighting five Brown and RISD student musicians, all of whom will be performing this Saturday night at the Bodega Beats live session at The Spot Undeground. We’ll publishing an interview every day this week, one musician talking to another.
Today’s interview is with Raye Sosseh (Brown ’17) and Michael Moyal (RISD ’16), also known as DJs Chartreux and Mulga, respectively. You can check out their Soundcloud profiles by clicking above, and catch them DJing together Saturday night.
Michael is the co-founder of Bodega Beats, the music blog and community; he grew up playing instruments, but later found his calling in curating music and taste-making. Raye DJs and produces, using “dense hip-hop inspired beats with recognizable motifs and lyrics to emote an evolving emotion with every song.” Read on to find out how exactly a DJ picks a name, why they hate Top 40 songs, and how they came to be real life Zac Efrons (we’re kidding).
Raye: What kind of tunes were you thinking for this event? It’s going to be an eclectic mix of sounds.
Michael: I think we should start easy, because we’re doing the first hour and half, and then the last hour and half just go break everything.
R: How do you hunt [for music]? Because I always have a very hard time — I feel like I fall into niches a lot with where I’m looking for music.
M: I know, I hate my Soundcloud right now. I hate it. Actually it’s weird–it goes in waves. A couple of weeks ago, my Soundcloud was unbelievable. This past week, it’s just been garbage.
I have a folder of all the websites I like to look at, and I’ll check them out from time to time. It’s hard, because people curate music on Soundcloud. My favorite thing is when I find a collective. Recently, I found these dudes, they’re called Blanc Label. They’re so good. Their sound is mostly electronic stuff, but they’ve got some really dark stuff and then some really lighthearted new disco shit.
R: I definitely feel like that’s a better way of going about it, seeing whole movements as they occur on the Internet, as opposed to honing in on eight or three people who repost things on Soundcloud.
M: I’ve been deleting people on Soundcloud. I unfollowed Diplo.
R: Yeah that’s because everything he does — it’s a lot of derivative stuff. If you follow Mad Decent, Diplo’s just going to repost that shit. I go by a rule: if there’s five reposts in a row and they’re whack, unfollow.
M: That’s a good rule. But it’s always a worry when I unfollow–maybe once I’ll get something good from them… I don’t know. I go through dry spells.
R: Yeah, when there’s just no tunes, and you’re like, “Dang.” You gotta hunt through all of the databases. But then you find that gold and you’re like, yes.
M: How’d you choose your DJ name or your producer name? I still don’t have a legit one.
R: Mulga’s dope!
M: Yeah, it’s alright. It’s just… you’ve got to be really happy about it.
R: Yeah it’s something you’ve got to live in and be comfortable with being your image.
M: Once I graduate, I think Mulga is going to stay here. I’m going to leave it here and go on to something else.
R: [Laughing] Give it to a ghost producer, let him use it. I’ve definitely been through that thing of switching names a lot. My first one was “Rayve,” just because it had my name in it. It’s something that’s super important, because that’s the way people first interact with you—
M: Exactly, that’s when they’re going to talk to you first.
R: Yeah, so you want to make sure it’s something that can be out in the world, and is a proper representation of self. Which I struggle with a lot, but I’m really happy with the one I have right now — Chartreux.
I really thought about it, it just a lot of linked corollaries to my life. I’m definitely more of a cat person, and Chartreux is a breed of cat. It’s a grey scale cat, and legit my closet — it just looks like there’s a giant shadow of darkness in it when I open it, because it’s just all black and grey. So I was like, yup, that’s it.
Also it’s wild, but if you look on Wikipedia, under it’s behavior, it’s known for turning radio buttons on and off.
M: I have a friend — actually he’s the guy I started Bodega with — and his name is Bistromath. It’s so good, because it’s one word, and it’s from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The meaning behind is awesome, but also the way it sounds, as a DJ name, is so on the money. It rolls. I hate him so much for having it. I’m struggling trying to find a stupid name…
R: You could just do that thing where you switch the letters, you could be Mistrobath.
M: [Laughing] That’s actually not that bad! Mistrobath.
R: Give that to the people, man.
M: What do you DJ with? What’d you DJ with on Saturday?
R: Saturday I was playing off of a Traktor; Sunday was a Serato Controller. I sold my original equipment, which was a Gemini Mixer, once I really wanted to spend more time producing. I sold it to get some new monitors, and that was a really good decision for me, because now that I don’t have my own thing, I’m learning to play on all kinds of different set ups. I started on turntables. How about you?
M: That’s funny, somebody actually asked me about that recently. They said, “When are you going to get CDJs?” I’m like, I started on CDJs. I got rid of those things. As a DJ, you’re just constantly moving, and there’s no point in having that much equipment. I just throw my Traktor in my bag with my laptop and I’m ready to go.
R: It’s definitely more fluid. But don’t you ever feel like you’ve got to get into a contest with the other DJs whose stuff takes up the whole table?
M: No. I come in and I put my stuff on top of theirs, and just start mixing on my stuff.
R: Power move [Laughing].
M: What do you think people want to know about you?
R: My name spelling is a weird thing. My entire life, my parents were like, your name is Raye, that’s how you spell it. Then I was applying to colleges, and I saw my birth certificate, social security card and all that, and on there it’s Ray. I had a little crisis. It’s really spelt with an e, but then everywhere official it’s Ray.
M: Where are your parents from?
R: My parents are from Gambia, West Africa, which is where most of our family is. We go back and visit a lot. I think the way that African places are depicted in the media is sort of — I mean there is a lot of turmoil going on there, but in Gambia there is a great, vibrant culture that I feel more people should be attuned to; it’s not all…
What’s the origin story, the backstory? Where’s this all come from for you?
M: Wait, no I want to ask you that first. That’s a good question — you answer that first.
R: I guess it started in Maryland, city of Gaithesburg — it’s in between DC and Baltimore. It was weird place to grow up because there wasn’t much to do — it was boring. So I had to go find my own things to do, whether it’d be skateboarding, which was a really big medium for me. A big thing with skateboarding culture is the music that you skate to. Like in skate videos, you’ve always got to be plugged in to get into the vibe to do the kick flip or whatever. So I always had to hunt to find new tunes in that sense.
It’s always been a big part of my life. My parents were really good at keeping good music around me. They always had Bob Marley in the car, or Youssou N’Dour, who’s a Senegalese artist. All these eclectic sounds. So I just kept looking for that. That’s what I’m doing now — hunting for new tunes, or making them if there’s a gap that I see and something I want to hear.
M: My family is actually not big into music at all. My siblings listen to music like anybody else. My parents didn’t constantly play music — it wasn’t a thing they exposed us to. I started piggy-backing a lot on my brother’s music. That’s how I started listening to music. The basic stuff, like Eminem or Hot Chip.
Eventually, I started discovering my own music. My first thing was electronic house music. I just always loved playing music at parties. I had Virtual DJ on my computer, so one day I was like fuck it, I’m going to play music at parties. And so, I started DJing seriously when I got my CDJs. But I still never played at parties because I didn’t have that music library yet–I didn’t have that catalogue where I could just go to a party and be like, alright I can play anything.
It just started building, and I started playing parties for people. I started actually curating music that I was into and that was different. I hated playing Top 40 shit. I don’t know anybody who likes doing that.
R: It feels so soul-sucking. You’ve got to give them a couple gimmes, but a whole set of Top 40 just hurts.
M: So then I started playing my own stuff, and the first time I played my own music at a party, people really responded to it. That’s when people started to recognize me for what I can bring, as opposed to shit they’d already heard. Then I started thinking about Bodega, and that was really the platform where I could start putting out stuff that people wouldn’t hear otherwise.
R: I find there’s a lot of DJs where behind the decks is where they feel the most at home. Do you feel that, where you’re like, I’m at the place, I’ve got to plug in an aux cord?
M: Of course. I just love the feeling — I don’t produce music; I know that’s not where I’m supposed to be. But curating music, I’m just — it’s just what I do. And Bodega is a platform for doing that, but then DJing is the live aspect of it, and they both just really come together. Doing events where we feature awesome artists like you and DAP, it’s just really about discovering new people. We could bring in big names, but the interest is really in finding music that you wouldn’t hear otherwise. That’s the whole vein of Bodega.
It’s a certain type of person who uses Bodega–a person who likes the way music sounds and makes them feel, and who’s interested enough in music to not just turn on Pandora. If you’re okay [with hearing] a couple tracks you don’t like to get to the really good stuff that you like, then that’s what Bodega is all about. It’s creating a space for people to hear stuff they wouldn’t otherwise.
R: How did Bodega start?
M: I started this blog with the guy who runs Bodega with me now, and it totally failed. We were in two very different places musically — he was very into indie electronic, and I was very into electronic beats. Eventually our taste converged naturally, and a year later we were like, let’s try again.
R: It’s a great name, way better than Mistrobath.
M: [Laughs.] Yeah, it’s just fun. We’ve been growing slowly and been live for a year now. We’ve got a solid following and we’re doing shows. I’m pretty happy with where it is.
R: Where do you see it going next?
M: It’s hard to say. Expanding means bringing people in, but with music, it’s such a personal thing, and it’s such a time commitment, that if people don’t allign, it falls apart quickly. That’s our problem with most big blogs today. Hypemachine, you’ve got this vomit of music, and everything is so different, there’s no cohesive sound. That’s what we’re trying for — you go to Bodega, and you know what you’re going to find. There’s vibe that we tailor to.
Image via Bodega Beats.