The 86th episode of our 12 Questions segment features Canadian producer MNR.
1. If you had to pick one track which solidified your love for electronic music early on what would it be?
A track that is still as fresh in my mind today as the day I heard it. It’s “Holden & Thompson – Come To Me”, as mixed by Sasha on his superb ‘Fundacion’ mix (which I still revisit regularly). At the time, I was recording mostly in the rock genre, and dabbling here and there in electronic music. Within seconds of this gorgeous piece of music playing, I knew things had suddenly changed. It hijacked my consciousness. I couldn’t fathom how he (Holden) had managed to channel such sounds – the vocal work slinking and slithering so marvellously across a groove that felt palpably alive. I knew in that moment that I was hooked. I would discover how these sounds were made, or at least try in earnest.
I still have never gained the ability needed to decode the method behind Holden’s brilliant works, which so deeply inspired me, but I daresay I’ve managed to have some incredibly validating experiences along the way.
2. What was your first and last DJ gig?
My first DJ gig was with a close friend – and my former collaborator – Michael Nekic. We performed as “Mnemonic & mUSER”, then brandishing a collection of dark minimal techno, in the bottom floor of a dance studio after hours (complete with ballet props hastily stuffed into back rooms). We managed 15 minutes of glorious storm before the party was shut down. It was enough to sustain me for a good long time, as I’d never quite had such an invigorating experience – despite playing several fairly big shows in my previous life as a teenage rock kid.
My last gig was again alongside Michael, back when we still shared the MNR moniker, where we each fulfilled a long-held dream of manning the booth at Footwork in Toronto. We opened for Ripperton. After seeing so, so many legendary artists from the other side of the ‘fence’, we’d finally gotten our moment. It was fantastic. Big thanks to Kian and Maziar for that!
3. What was the first and last record you purchased?
The first record I purchased was Nirvana In Utero. Yep, I was quite the grunge-kid. I remember my dad offering to let me choose 2 records from one of those ‘Columbia House’ flyers we used to get. That, and Pearl Jam Versus. Oh man, I rocked out to those hard.
The last record I purchased was ‘Bahamas is Afie’, from Toronto act Bahamas, which – though completely outside of my genre of production – has seen mad play, particularly as my wife is also a big fan.
4. What would you say is the highlight of your career thus far?
Without a doubt the highlight thus far has been seeing my music played in several Hernan Cattaneo sessions. That made my year.
Hernan is without a doubt one of ‘the’ key influences in my development as an artist. His sound has always been like a touchstone for me over the years – a marker for what is real, and valid in this field. To know that a few of my productions have made the grade in his eyes brings immense validation; it simply doesn’t get any better than that.
I’m really grateful to Marin – Verche – for finding my music, bringing so many of my tracks to light, and thereby enabling that experience.
5. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
When I was 11, I got picked to play the role of ‘experimental child’ in a music video for ‘Superman’s Dead’ by Our Lady Peace. What I didn’t realize until the shoot was that I’d have to dress up as both a boy and a girl for the role. Man, I took some serious punishment in school for that at the time. The many years since have made it just a bit less bruising 😉
6. Who are some of the best undiscovered talents in your eyes?
I guess that depends on what ‘undiscovered’ means. I mean, for the average person, almost everyone I enjoy listening to is ‘undiscovered. I’m by no means the definitive source for the next underground trendsetter – I spend too much time in the studio and offline for that – but I feel like I’ve come across many really authentic, brilliant craftspeople during the last few years of my Youtube / Soundcloud wanderings. I constantly find myself remarking: “How the hell does this unreal piece of music have 234 views?” One of them is Vishnu, a guy named Brett Kelly out of Australia that I discovered years ago on a random google search. Some mind-bending vibes and sounds. Psychedelic mind-bending. Served me very well on an epic night of star-gazing up north with some close friends. ‘Solitude’ is a stellar, ultra-deep DJ who straddles genres and has served up many profound listens. They’ve brought me much joy.
7. Which producers consistently inspire you?
Guy J for sure. He’s a mammoth. His remix of ‘College 84’ on the dance floor is just punishment. He’s one of those guys I listen to and its almost masochistic; I know it’s gonna hurt (as I scratch my head and wonder how he did that?), but its so good I can’t not! Also, Cid Inc has put out some storming material. Couldn’t make it through the month without mixes from Barry Jaimeson. Charlie May, Matt Lange, Funk D’Void, Nathan Fake, Holden, Babicz, Scotty A, Silinder, Verche, Ryan Davis, Navar, Sahar Z, Henry Saiz. I’m also inspired by friends like Naz, who works very hard and crafts some great music. There are just so many unsung, nearly nameless heroes who have provided the crucial substance for the sets woven by the titans of progressive. Outside of the progressive realm, though, I’d have to say I’m inspired by Phaeleh, Burial, Synkro, SpectraSoul, Tokyo Prose and any set by ‘Solitude’. Nice, deep groovy stuff.
8. What artist or track would you love to remix? and who would you love to be remixed by?
I’d be really intimidated, quite frankly, but I’d happily have a crack at anyone on the list above. Bjork would be great; but really, anyone with solid, ethereal vocals. Vocals just create so much opportunity for remixes, and great vocals are very hard to find.
I’d love a remix by Guy J or Cid Inc, simply because I think both have a great understanding of the balance between what works on the dance-floor and what resonates cerebrally – something that I’d like to have better understanding of myself.
9. Record labels are a dime a dozen these days, which ones if any standout for you?
Honestly, my time these days is so restricted; as a father, husband and man keeping his love of music production alive, I don’t have almost any time to dig. My musical injections come from constant streaming. However, microCastle is consistently quality. Replug. Sudbeat. Lost & Found. Balkan Connection. Stellar Fountain, Soundteller, Lowbit, System, Mystique. Lots of good music going on in those circles.
10. What would you say is the best mix compilation of all time?
Very tough call. For me, either Fundacion, Involver or Holden’s ‘Balance’ – sheerly for their personal impact and tremendous longevity. I’m eagerly awaiting my first listen of Hernan’s ‘Balance’.
11. Current Favourites (you can list more than one per category if you like)
Food: Grass-fed rib eye on the charcoal grill. Or Mango (that someone else peels for me).
Drink: My morning Doi Chaang.
Drug: the Dopamine surge I get from witnessing brilliant works – of any kind.
Animal: Do my children count?
TV Show: Cosmos or any BBC / David Attenborough combo.
Movie: Harry Potter – simply for providing a fun month of marathoning with a young family.
Video Game: Minecraft.
Album: Bahamas is Afie.
Track / Song: ‘All I’ve Ever Known’ – Bahamas.
Producer / Band: Guy J, Cid Inc, Bahamas, Daughter, Boy & Bear, Wild Nothing.
Record Label: Anyone with an unfailing commitment to put out music from the soul.
Nightclub: Stereo MTL
DJ: Sasha or Hernan, for the years of wonder, and Guy J for consistently demonstrating that excellent DJ/Producer combos very much do exist.
12. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?
Probably ‘Requiem’ off Airdrawndagger. It’s filled with a sense of wonder, awakening of new possibility, yet also somehow has always been bittersweet to me. Like the first beauty of Spring.
MNR’s remix of Robert R. Hardy ‘Be Happy In The Moment’ is out now on Stellar Fountain, you can purchase the release: here