Artist of the week

Friday, May 31, 2013


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22 years old producer/sound engineer from UK

 -Who are you?
I'm Sam Ellison, I'm 22 and I currently live in Guildford in the UK. I've been there for the past four years studying sound recording on the Tonmeister course. Now I'm about to graduate and move up to London where I've recently started working in a recording studio.

- Why did you choose this pseudonym?
Well... Firstly it's *really* hard to think of a good name without it being pretentious... I was deliberating over it for a while, but I needed to pick something fast so I could release on the first Wizard Sleeve compilation (check it out here - I chose Lisson because it sounds like 'listen' and it's a play on my own name if you break it down (sam L isson...).

- You are young. When did you start to make this music?
I only really started making this sort of electronic music just over a year and a half ago. It's progressed a lot since then I think - I used to make tunes around 140bpm, and now I don't have much inclination to anymore. I think I'll stick between 120-135 mostly, as that encompasses the majority of music I've been into recently. But it's a constantly evolving process, and my sound may be something entirely different in a year. Watch this space... 

-Talking about the compositions of your songs: how and where are they born?
Most are born out of experimentation - I'll make something I like and branch off from there. I'm still trying to fully define my technique for compositions, it can be a bit of a haphazard process and I worry that there is a certain incongruence between the results. I'm working to try and make my own sound, so people hear a track of mine and know it's me. Since getting a Maschine I've got more of a defined process to starting my tracks. Problem is it's not the right software to finish tracks in, so from there I move to Logic Pro but often get stuck if I'm not quick to realise my ideas. In terms of where: I'll begin a track on the Maschine at home, do as much as I can on that, and then I'm always pulling out my laptop on train journeys and free moments to try and make progress and come up with ideas. It's definitely not ideal - I don't have any controllers with me when I'm travelling so realising ideas is often quite hard. It's a good time to program synthesisers though :)

- How would you define your sound?
I don't know exactly... How would you define my sound? I'm very interested to know what others think, it's quite easy to lose perspective when you're the only person working on the music. I try and aim to sit under the umbrella of 'bass music' - as a term it isn't very well defined, and I like that, since I just like making music that works well in the sub frequencies. I want to push the subs in a club (like this -  - I think bass can move people in a different way and I really like that. I'm still working to achieve that control though.. still working on it.

-What genres and artists influenced your music the most?
I think the biggest influences on my sound are my peers who make music too. I started this type of music at university, so people and collectives there such as Wizard Sleeve and Presha Bass Music helped develop my interest and my sound. I got into electronic music through IDM, followed by drum & bass then dubstep. It was after dubstep was killed that I started making my own tunes. The artists that influence my sound most... too many to name, but a couple that come to mind are Randomer, Paleman, Dark Sky, Blawan, Jon Convex, Objekt, Rumah and Tarquin.

-You come from UK. What do you think about the music coming from your country and how how do you see yourself in relation to them?Well theres a lot of music coming from the country - I've only got into this scene in the past few years so I'm certainly no authority on it all. I think the music coming from my country is great - but I feel it's not defined by the country, it's a much more international thing. All the blogs that have posted about me so far have been from outside of the UK! When I move to London soon I'll try and DJ more and be a bit more lucrative with my own tunes, then I'll get back to you!

-What's your favourite artist and song?
I don't have a constant favourite song anymore, though when I was younger it was Citizen Erased by Muse. My current favourite song... maybe Freak Dub by Randomer? That one's fun to drop. But it all depends on the vibe doesn't it!

-Who do you think are the most relevant musicians nowadays and who are you listening to the most?
I don't know about relevant - if I try and answer this I'll just end up repeating myself - see above :)

-If you could pick an artist or a band to play with on a stage, who would you choose?
It'd be pretty fun to play with an electronic outfit that do their live sets properly, like Mount Kimbie...

-What do you think about the music industry nowadays?
Oh god. Don't get me started... So as I mentioned above, I'm working in a recording studio in London. I've also worked for one of the major international publishing companies in London for some time. Doing that gave me a first hand view of how the commercial music industry works. It was pretty down-heartening - but I'm trying to keep positive about it all since I'll be a close part of that at least for a while. It's all about making money, but I like good music. The two just don't co-exist very well. I'm not going to provide you with any insightful suggestions about the whole situation. But yeah, it's either music, or money, it seems. But the underground scene is awesome, and never was about making money in the first place, so that's all cool. Weird/interesting to watch an artist I consider/considered good make the cross from underground to commercial releases. Disclosure are a great example of this.

-What is the message that you'd like to express to the people who listen to your music?
HA. I don't take myself that seriously. Neither should any of you.
-How and where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
I reckon I'll still be around London. Ideally I'll strike a balance between DJing and producing, and some sound engineering work. We'll see won't we! No WAY did I think 10 years ago that right now I'd be sitting at work in a studio full of high tech equipment, good musicians and hazy air. It's a pretty sick job.
-Pc or Mac?
Mac. But whatever your machine is, as long as it works, that's fine.

-What about your future plans? Album, EP, Live eccNot much as of yet, still need to develop my sound a lot. Might be doing some collaborative work soon, also might be releasing a track through a blog in the USA.

-Beatles or Rolling Stones?
Not much of a preference - but Beatles.


Thursday, May 30, 2013


photo by Rus Anson - 
Antonio Musco ( aka MSK ) is an eclectic italian artist. Born in Sicily, Italy and he traveled across the Europe before moving to San Francisco in 2010.
San Francisco inspired the 6 tracks of the EP ( MadeinSF ), a blend of electronic , downtempo, funk and  world music.

-So, let's start with name , MSK. Why did you choose this and what does it mean for you?

My last name is Musco, so when I started to produce electronic music back in 2003 i needed a name. Just took the consonants of my last name, changed the C with a K (sounds more exotic, isn't it?) also because a famous cruise ship company. Then i figured that MSK is already used worldwide by graffiti crews, soccer teams, frequency shifting, Moscow time, etc so i wanted to stick with MSK but I added .fm to make it unique. Also because of my love for the radio. That's

- But who are you?
Antonino Musco, a simple human being that loves music and seeks harmony in this existence. I was born and raised in Sicily, Italy but traveled a lot and lived in different countries, trying to learn as much as I can and to keep my mind deep and interested.

-And if i ask you why do you make music and what does it mean to you?

Music is something that i need, at least I need to be around music every day. Music feeds me, its food for my soul. Making or listening to music is a serious thing, you can compare to a nine-to-five job but with longer, sometimes endless, shifts.

bandcamp page
-Let's talk about the birth of your new EP “Made in SF”.

I was on production hiatus for 5 years, since I published "MSK - Am I Scared?" and "Sicilian AV project - live bootleg" in August 2008. Since then I traveled a lot and lived in different places until finally settling in the Mission District in San Francisco, a place I can call home now.
Here I've set up my music studio and recorded with local artists and great musicians just visiting in town. I've learned a lot and gained much more experience in the past 5 years so these songs are, for me, a more mature approach to songwriting and production. The EP was published by Bad Panda Records in April and so far got a great feedback from the listeners. It represents my experience in the City, even the lyrics, wrote by the singers, are tuned into that.

- How would you define your sound?

I love jazz, funk, afro-american music in general and also love experimental stuffs, electronic and world music. I feel the downtempo is the best pace for this project, with a blend of acoustic and electric instruments. Also during these years I've opened and really got into hip-hop and urban sounds a lot, influence that you can find in MadeInSF mood.

-What genres and artists influenced your music the most?

My biggest influences were, are and always be Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota, Charles Mingus and Frank Zappa.

-You come from Catania, Italy. What do you think about the music coming from your country and how do you see yourself in relation to them?

You know what, according to the music that I love and make, there is not a big scene in Italy and neither in Sicily. Catania in the nineties was great for the alternative rock scene, here in San Fran I always met some musician who tells me that he was playing in Catania during those years and was a blast. Nowadays it's different and it's also hard for me to find a gig over there. So i do my things here in SF and go to Sicily in the summer for vacations.

- Why did you choose San Francisco?

Was love at first sight. At that time I was living in Rome, came here visiting and decided to stay. This City meant a lot for me, was a big challenge to re-start from scratch in another continent but I dealt with it pretty good and after 3 years i'm still happy of my choice. I've grown professionally a lot here. 
San Fran is very progressive city, maybe the most progressive in the US, and California is just lovely, whose landscapes remind me Sicily and Italy.
Also living in here helps my radio and music job a lot, being surrounded by great musicians and artists and sharing knowledge and feeling with them easily.

-Who do you think are the most relevant musicians nowadays and who are you listening to the most?

Too many to mention! Nowadays, I'm talking about the independent scene, the average quality level is higher comparing the past. I host two weekly radio shows so I'm listening a lot of new stuff every day but never get bored.

-Do you have a favorite artist and song?

Maybe Fabrizio De André - La domenica dell salme. I grew up listening De André, I've listened his records million times but still find new meanings in his lyrics. Definitely another cornerstone of my musical education.

facebook fanpage and official website
-How much does the live element matter in your music?

It's very important because I grew up listening to jazz and improv music. I always bring musicians, singers, MCs and other performers to my shows. A visual elements is also included: can be a live painter, a live sculptor, a mime, belly dancers, a VJ or an illustrator. I firmly believe in mixed arts and always being a promoter of multimedia performances.

-If you could pick an artist or a band to play with on a stage, who would you choose?

Rage Against The Machine, period. Do you remember them? I've seen them live in Milan in 1996 and so far is the best live concert I've ever attended, these guys were on fire and the crowd too, unforgettable show!

-What do you think about the music industry nowadays? Wanna talk us about your experience with the labels? What advice would you give to all the young artists looking for a record deal?

I currently collaborate with Six Degrees records, pretty well respected world music label worldwide. It's been almost a year now and thanks to them I'm getting to see the insights of the music industry. Also working with radio helps a lot to get a sight of the industry; but honestly, what can I tell to young artists looking for a deal: don't get demotivated if the record label you sent your demo never write you back, keep pushing your band/act with music production and live shows. There is way much (never too much) music out there and for a record label is hard (impossible) to listen to all the unsolicited demos they got in the mail. Even the smallest record label gets tons of unsolicited demos in the mail, how can you blame them for not replying you? 
So just do your thing and keep getting better and better, in the studio and especially live.

- Talking about Sicilian AV Project

Sicilian AV project is an audiovisual antimafia collective started in 2005, a "serious" approach to music at least for the topics exposed. It's something started as a research/study on sicilian literature during my university years that ended up in a multimedia show describing Sicily as a metaphor - an analogy - of the entire country or maybe the entire world.
Jazz, downtempo and electronic live music played by a quintet accompanied by live illustrations thematic visuals. We recorded a self-titled debut album in 2007 and a "live bootleg" the following year, we did a number of shows in Italy (also playing at the prestigious Villa Celimontana Jazz Festival in Rome) and Slovakia but since I moved to San Francisco the project is on hold. This coming summer we are recording some new stuff with the collective to release by next fall/winter. 

-And at last an easy one: Beatles or Rolling Stones?

Beatles please!