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Picking The Intricate Brain Of NYC Producer Gilligan Moss

Written By Sam Murphy on 09/02/2015

Gilligan Moss

New York producer Gilligan Moss hooked many a few months ago with his hyperactive, captivating video for Choreograph. The video perfectly embodied the playful and kooky nature of the track, portraying it all through a stationary boy who has just about every obstacle possible moving around him as he gets completely lost in a song. All of Moss’ music on his debut EP Ceremonial makes you feel like the boy in this clip. It’s full of clean, crystalline beats but they’re delivered through organised chaos with sounds swirling, jumping up and down, unable to stick to one common thread.

It may sound like a mess but it’s a thrilling listen – one that makes you confused and yet smile at the same time as vocals are pitch-manipulated, driving right into the core of your ear. Opener Choreograph is without a doubt the most chaotic, bonkers tracks on the EP but each track has its different quirks. It Felt Right dizzies with its cascading piano keys while Stasis uses Layers of repetition to distort the mind. Moss’ music feels like an audible portrayal of the subconscious mind, almost like a Dali painting converted for headphones. His brilliance is that the music makes no sense and yet as a listener you feel completely at ease with that.

We spoke to Moss about his specific influences, combining pop with electronica and wanting to work with Brian Eno.

How did you move from creating beats for a hobby to moving towards it being a career?
To be honest, I’m not really sure how it happened. I think I just got lucky that some awesome people believed in the music that I was making and I ended up with a really great team around supporting the music. It’s still a bit surreal that I’m able to make music full time.

Your music would probably fit into the electronica genre but it sounds like you have a much wider range of influences. Is that correct?
Yeah, I grew up listening to all sorts of stuff – so I think that filters through to the music. At the end of the day, I view this project to be as much of a pop project as it is electronic. I think the most interesting music exists in the cracks between different genres — so I try to have a foot in a lot of different worlds.

You’ve remixed Sia and Glass Animals. How do you approach a remix? What do you want to get from the song?
I think in general I try to mangle a remix as much as possible so that it becomes something original while still maintaining some connection to the original tune. How far that balance goes depends on the song. Some tracks are more interesting if they become something quite different from the original, however, I’m working on a remix now where the songwriting itself is so strong that I want to maintain the overall structure but add my own touch to it.

You’ve only really embarked on your first proper tour this year. Has playing to crowds changed what type of songs you write at all?
I think it has. I don’t know if it has drastically affected things, but I now have the experience that I can play out in my head and imagine how a song would fit in that context. It’s just another way to evaluate a song, and another set of experiences to bring to the music.

Choreograph feels a bit like the mind of a hyperactive child, in the best way. Is the rest of the EP just as manic and kooky?
The rest of the EP definitely has the same ethos, but it also has different moods and approaches — it’s not an EP that has four Choreographs. I wanted side A of the EP to have more of the Choreograph vibe, but on side B I wanted more of a standard ‘song’ approach with verses and hooks. I tried to imbue all four songs with the same level of color and life as Choreograph, but I also wanted the EP to represent a number of different styles that I hope to explore more in later releases.

The video for Choreograph embodies the song perfectly. How did the concept for that come about?
The initial idea for the video was to choreograph mundane, daily activities. For example, have a dance sequence where a family is getting ready in the morning. We sent out a brief with this idea, and Oscar Hudson came back with his take on the idea. His idea was to pay homage to a 1980 animated short called Tango by Zbigniew Rybczynski. The idea was to incorporate the same looping elements of Tango, but capture them live by building a set and having the actors literally run around the walls of the set after they completed their action.

Are there any plans for an album after the EP?
As of now, the plan is to release another EP some time next year, and then eventually the first full length album shortly after that. Now that the ball is sort of rolling release wise, I’m hoping to pick up the pace a bit in terms of output.

What’s your dream collaboration or do you prefer working on music by yourself?
In terms of working with personal heroes, I’d probably have to say Brian Eno. Although, I have found that when it comes to the early stages of a song, I prefer coming up with initial ideas on my own. Unless I’m extremely comfortable with someone, I think there will always be some level of self consciousness — which I think hinders the early-stage idea process.