Words by Cambell Courtney
Ahead of his show at the Night Cat, we sat down with French singer, songwriter and producer, Myd at his Melbourne hotel
Currently in Australia on tour for his debut album, we chat with Myd about his latest music video, going solo, DJing, all things production and the release of his album Born a Loser.
“I’m really happy it’s been out for a year and a half now,” Myd says. “It takes time for music to get listened to, totally I mean. As an artist you’re always excited for the first days, first weeks, first months. Who is listening? What are the stats? But after a year and a half I can say that lots of people really love the album and added the album to their lives. Which is really important for me.”
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Having released the album at the tail end of the pandemic, Myd described how that factored into the writing and release of ‘Born A Loser’, with it being a tumultuous time for musicians and creative alike.
“The release of the album was a Covid project but you know when you finish an album, I mean the writing, there is time in between when you finish it and you start to release it, because you have to think about all the ways you’re going to release it. Will you do singles? Will you do music videos? How will you do your vinyls or artwork and everything?
“I finished it just at the beginning of Covid, and I shot the first music video for ‘Together We Stand’ in the US. Then I had to cancel my US tour because of Covid. So actually the whole release of the album was a part of the pandemic but not the music process.”
“For me, I’m really impatient, so I couldn’t wait. It was more like, ‘Let’s try to use Covid as a positive thing for the album’. For example, releasing ‘Together We Stand’ as a first single was a part of this. Okay, let’s try to put happiness and good music in people’s lives when they are at home, and it worked. I made that and also I started to do a daily morning show on YouTube for the people at home. So it was definitely using Covid and turning it.”
Myd is no stranger to a wide variety of influences and inspiration in his sound, spanning from electronic and club music to indie rock. Blending the genres seamlessly to create a unique sound.
“Before I was in a band and all this – indie rock, folk music, I loved it. I listened to it a lot at home. But I never managed to put it in our band’s music for Club Cheval. At some point when I started my solo career four years ago, I spent a year thinking, ‘What do I want to say in my music and what did I take from all my band years?’, and one of the big things was all this indie music, guitar, chorused guitars, and this Californian style of folk music, so it was a lot of research.
“You know, in France, we’re pretty good at electronic music and blending the genres. When you think about Daft Punk, they are blending electronic music with disco. Justice, they are blending rock and hard rock music with electronic music. So I was sure at some point I would manage to do this”
No doubt a fun and creative music video can help push the visibility of a song. The latest single from the album, ‘Domino’, has amassed nearly 400 thousand views within just a few months of release, with its quirky and creative use of Hot Wheels circuits and a Go Pro.
“It started because I don’t have that much time, because I’m touring a lot. So we needed to find a good idea for a music video that could be shot really fast.”
“At first the idea was to contact those guys doing dominos and domino masters. And you have to know, in the world, like there are not that many domino masters. There’s like maybe three or four people. We contacted them and they were really busy and expensive.”
“Through all these guys, because they all know each other, I met this amazing guy named Robert Carson, and Robert is doing things with Hot Wheels and is a master of it. So I contacted him and told him, ‘I’m doing my new music video, it will be out on Ed Banger Records. Would you be up to it?’. And he was like, ‘Ooh I love Daft Punk’ haha. We had lots of fun because spending like two days over the weekend playing Hot Wheels wasn’t the worst shoot.”
Being a prolific DJ as well as an accomplished solo act, balancing the two professions requires a different attitude when performing, with headspace and mentality playing a major role in the performance.
“When I DJ it’s as if I’m in a party and I’m choosing the music and I’m partying with the people. Which is amazing. It’s like having the aux cord but you’re on the stage and people are really excited about what you’re going to play, and I’m also partying. I don’t see it as a show. It’s a show but I’m more partying you know? When I’m on stage with my live band it’s way more personal. I’m performing my songs, I’m singing my lyrics and it’s way more intimate.”
The conversation soon steered towards musical gear and equipment. Curating a live show takes time and patience, and Myd has taken the time to find what works for him on stage.
“So we are three on stage. I have a computer sampler for all the beats, because for now I don’t really like drummers in electronic sets… So for me, it’s like a drum machine, a synthesiser, I have a Moog Voyager for the bass, and for the lead I have a SH-101, and also a sampler to play all the sounds that are too processed to be reproduced by a synthesiser, and I sing.
“There’s one person playing a Juno 60 and singing. And one guitarist/bassist, singing also. He has one acoustic guitar for the campfire songs, one guitar, and one bass, and everyone is singing together.”
Translating a song from the studio to the stage isn’t as easy as exporting some stems. It takes time to craft a show that you’ll have fun performing but still carries the spirit of the original tracks. For Myd, it was a matter of trial and error being the best teacher.
“At first I wanted to bring my entire studio on stage. I made a first version of the live show trying to have more HD sounds, whitenoise and blah blah blah. Which is not my sound, I’m more of a lo-fi kind of guy, and it didn’t work at all. I didn’t like the sound, I didn’t like my vocals.
“For example, the drum machines are in mono and I’m passing through a Moog pedal because I need this crunchy high pass filter sound. You know, with an envelope filter. Okay so my sound is in mono and it’s not as wide as when I DJ, but I definitely have this crunchy lo-fi vibe.
“I start with the studio sessions, and I see what is the core of the song. In terms of emotion what is the core? So I start to mute some tracks and see if the song is still working with just a kick, the bass and me singing. Okay we’re missing something, we’re missing a little bit of sunshine, let’s add a Rhode. Okay we don’t have a Rhode on stage? Replace it with the Juno. And little by little I’m building like that.”
Going back to familiar instruments, especially in electronic adjacent music, can help one create a defining sound in a genre that is open to endless possibilities. Myd reveals some of the more defining instruments when creating his sound.
“I have a few classics that I really need to produce. I could say the Moogerfooger is one of my main effects. It’s mono, I have two so I can use it in stereo. I would say a Roland Juno, it could be a 60 or the others are good too… It’s easy to program and it can be really wide. You will not have your special sound but it’s a really useful tool. To finish I have this 909, which is pretty exciting to me. When I need this classic club music vibe, you put the 909 kick or 909 groove. I’m not that much into ‘analog’ sounds and blah blah blah, but I have to say the sequencer of the 909 is crazy. It’s crazy dance-y. You play a pattern on it and people dance.”
Refining a sound and boiling it down to the minimum is a good exercise in creativity and can help artists recognise the core elements to their sound. Myd chimed in with what he would take to a desert island while still being able to produce his signature sound.
“I would take a guitar. I could take any because some of the best songs I’ve made have been on a shitty guitar. But let’s say a guitar and a Jazz Chorus 120. I love this one, it sounds beautiful and it’s very useful for my whole setup. I put everything through the Jazz Chorus and re-record it. Like drum machines, my voice, everything. On a desert island I could use it as a table too because it’s big.
“Also maybe.. More and more, my guitarist is coming with me in the studio with an OP1. I used to hate the OP1 because most of the people were doing shitty electronica on it. But he’s using it as a mini studio. Like we are sampling everything. So I would take the OP1 as a drum machine and sampler. And to finish let’s take a synth. I would take a Minimoog, so i don’t go too far. I’m focused on one important thing, the melody, and so I don’t make crazy chords all day.”
Writing music is a different process for everyone. To write ‘in the box’ is a topic of serious contention amongst musicians. For Myd, the computer is the heart of his studio.
“It’s always in the box. My main instrument is my studio, and if it’s a studio, it’s a computer. So me and my computer are in the centre of the creative process. I need to record fast, I love to sample, I love to sample myself and one computer with Ableton is so powerful and so fast. It’s always in the centre. The best songs I make are when my computer is in the centre.”
Many producers accumulate an array of fun production techniques that aren’t so obvious, yet can be the secret ingredient needed to take tracks to the next level. Myd shares some of his methods.
“There are all these tape things which are analog problems [imperfections], but digital is good too. If you use Ableton, if you have a sound you don’t warp it, you pitch it plus 12 or 24, you consolidate it fast, then you pitch 12 or 24 back down again to put it back to normal. It will lose some information. So it will have these digital imperfections.”
Many young producers and songwriters often ask Myd for advice and what they can do to improve their craft. For Myd, the answer is always the same. Never stop making music, and have a functional studio space.
“I would say to make the most music possible. When I see people learning how to draw, the best way to learn how to draw is to draw every day. For me, with music, it’s exactly the same. Try to do music everyday or more. Sometimes two times, three times a day. And at first trying to copy your favourite artists, trying to understand how they do this or that.”
“More and more I’m talking with young artists. They are like, ‘Oh how do I find a manager? How do I find a label? What should be my logo?’ and I’m like where is your music? ‘Oh it’s not finished yet’.
“Having a working studio. Sometimes you buy lots of stuff or you have stuff people give you or whatever. And you always have this synthesiser taking up lots of space and it’s not plugged in. Unfortunately, human beings are really lazy, so this synth isn’t plugged in. I have to find the power cord and I don’t know where it is, so I will not use it.”
“Whenever you have everything plugged in, you are way more excited about going to the studio, trying new stuff. That’s how you get new ideas, you create accidents in your studio, and it can be the spark for an exciting song.”
“So I would say stop having a studio that is not working. Which is pretty simple, just buy the right cables and put everything together. Buy your first patchbay, which is really cheap and useful. I would have loved to have done that way before. It’s a pain in the ass to do, but once you have your patchbay, your workflow will be so much faster. When you go into your studio, you just press one key and it’s making a sound.”
Stream ‘Born a Loser’ now!