Over a period of nearly twenty years, Heidelberg’s David Moufang has released music that has continually defied superlative. Best known to his loyal fanbase as Move D, Moufang has carefully found common threads between his musical loves of jazz, house and techno in idiosyncratic and melodious fashion. Evading the trends that have come and gone through the electronic music landscape during his nigh-on two decade stint, Moufang retains a joie de vivre in both his production and performance which has seen him endear himself to discerning fans around the world.
Middle age has not dimmed his enthuisasm for his work, with 2013 seeing the release of another single on London imprint Electric Minds alongside the UK live debut of his mind bending improvisational collaborative project with Juju and Jordash; Magic Mountain High, as well as countless gigs around the world.
Ahead of another summer of releases, DJ bookings and festival sets, David took time to talk to Hyponik about his career, maintaining his artistic integrity, the influence of jazz on his work and much more. Enjoy.
Hi David, thanks for taking the time to talk to Hyponik, where are you speaking to us from today?
I’m at home in Heidleburg. It’s a nice day, the sun has finally come out.
You’ve been releasing music for nearly 20 years. Back when you first started, did you ever forsee your career enjoying the kind of longevity and success that you finally have?
Oooh. A tough one…No probably not. I don’t know. I remember when I was asking myself maybe in teenage days what a real ambition would be. One thing that came to mind is would I ever get to play in Japan, so I accomplished that, which is great and that kind of tells you that I’m kind of overachieving anyhow in some respect. I didn’t choose music because I thought it would be a big career. I chose music…
Because it was your passion?
Do think it would be possible for a producer starting out today to have a career as long as yours?
In terms of my advice for people starting out? You have to be on some sort of a mission. Aesthetically, musically, whatever. You have to have a vision in sound and if you pursue that maybe you will find people who appreciate that and that keeps you interesting over a longer period of time. I mean I was super chuffed actually when Maceo Plex chose the first ever techno track I ever made for his new DJ Kicks on K7, track called ‘Sandman’, first recorded in 1990, released in 93. That was really cool. That’s something I definitely wouldn’t have expected, you know the longevity of things in a genre which is kind of short lived usually.
But it also has to do with the fact that trends come and go and they reappear and then all of a sudden something that had some exposure can come up again and its kind of new, although its old, you know hip again?
The balance you’ve achieved between sustaining your vision like you said and still being successful is certainly a tough one. Have you actively shied away from more high profile sets and releases as a means of maintaining your integrity, or is this something that has happened naturally?
Sort of more or less naturally. I mean there have been some offers that maybe I did shy away, but not because I thought it would ruin my career or anything, more that I didn’t really see the point of them. At a very early time in the 90’s, the Snap! guys, ‘I’ve got the power’ you know? They were getting in touch and saying I should meet them in the studio, but there was nothing I could tell them. I kind of respected that track even though it was super commercial, it was the first of a kind in a way, it was a different kind of groove.
I shied away from a collaboration from Atom Heart (Uwe Schmidt) as a bassist, because the stuff that he gave me to work on was that complex that I didn’t really see where I could fit myself in there. So yeah, fortunate enough that I never got a request from, I don’t know-Depeche Mode or Kylie Minogue.
You’ve consistently spoken of house music’s need to push boundaries, which is something I think you’ve always done in your own work, so what do you make of the current return to popularity of ’90’s’ influenced house in the style of Kerri Chandler, MK etc?
Both of them, Kerri and Mark Kinchen, are two idols to me, so I’m really full on supportive of how big they are. But it is kind of frustrating when you get a lot of music that mimes their style too much and doesn’t really excel it, because all they seem to do is recreate the work and not take it to the next level. So there’s a lot of this kind of run of the mill MK and Kerri Chandler stuff that I’m not so fond of.
I don’t know if you’ve heard the story of Till Eulenspiegel, but that’s the guy who’s always kind of sad when the sun was out because he knew it was going to rain soon, and when it was raining he was happy because he knew the sun was going to come out again and I’m a little bit like that. Deep House came really big again, so I’m a bit worried that it won’t last like this because if it doesn’t have the substance if people do the same stuff over and over again, it won’t be attractive for long enough.
I mean I always love deep house, but its not the only thing that attracts me in electronic music. There’s always been other stuff and even at this moment, as much as I like Kerri Chandler or Larry Heard, I also like Joy Orbison and the Bass kind of stuff. I think the UK is the best is the best example of how you kind of take stuff to the next level, you look backwards and its like garage but at the same time it’s something maybe more futuristic or more tightly produced. I think that’s all super cool.
Big fan of the UK scene really. I think it’s all really enhanced by the UK style of press which can be really cruel kind of, you know you’ll be really hip one season then totally like slagged the next season. But at least there’s a permanent change to things, whereas in Germany its very conservative. They are still writing about Sven Vath and all this, I have nothing against Vath, but there is so much other talent which me don’t talk about.
Touching on to Germany, as you undoubtedly know, after a lot of wrangling and appeals, new GEMA copyright legislation is finally coming in effect this month over there. What is your take on the new law and what kind of impact do you see it having on the scene in Germany?
I think I can see both sides. I think maybe the talk is a bit louder than the actual outcome of it. I think they will probably settle somewhere and probably go for more reasonable fees that won’t destroy clubs and the way they exist. On the other hand I think its only fair that people get paid a royalty when their music’s been played out because there’s hardly any money in the scene left anyhow and artists are starving. In Germany it’s a long story, most of all its that the money collected by GEMA is being distributed in a fair manner between the artists, which it isn’t. So far they don’t go to clubs and get playlists of all the nights, so it doesn’t get accounted for, whereas the big stuff, gets a certain amount of ‘points’. They get a certain share of all the money collected, which has no direct recipient, so they get millions of all the money collected from music being collected but they have nothing to do with it. So whilst GEMA have to make the charges they also have to make sure the money ends up in the right hands, blah blah. It’s a long discussion, it could get overcooked but I honestly don’t think it will effect everything that much.
Going on to your touring DJ schedule, its something you’ve been doing for many years now, travelling around the world playing in different countries every weekend. Is it ever a challenge to balance this quite unorthodox lifestyle with more conventional obligations such as family life?
Of course it is! And it’s only possible now, this kind of globetrotting has only been happening for the past 5 years max. Before I actually had a pretty long period of not playing out and not producing so many records because I was staying at home with my child. So I’m really lucky that now he’s 15 and a very good boy, and he has a good mother, so they give me a lot of freedom. But it still hurts, I mean you go away and I can tell he’s changed. Even if its only for a couple of weeks, because still the progress or evolution is happening so fast and I miss out on a lot of things.
Well obviously that’s one of the drawbacks of the occupation, but does going around the world playing your music to different people still excite you?
Oh yeah totally it does. Also I feel very privileged and gifted to go around experiencing all these different cultures, food, music and everything. People like to complain about how hard it is all the travelling, and of course if you’re going to Australia its takes a day , 24 hours or maybe more likely 30 or something. So there is a trade, but what you get in return is just amazing. Yeah…really really blessed you know, so cool. I’m still really excited, I couldn’t do this if I didn’t enjoy myself when its happening. Of course you can’t enjoy yourself all the time, but whenever possible I try to enjoy myself and the crowd as well.
You always look like you’re having a lot of fun and I think that’s a big part of the appeal of watching you DJ for me at least. Do you ever go places perhaps where you’re surprised that people have knowledge of you and your music?
I mean there seems to be somebody in every corner of the world which is amazing by itself to me at least I mean it still is. If there happens to be a few more people then that’s even greater, usually the way it goes if its the right people, they know about you then they might tell your friends and you get a little crowd somewhere. I’m realistic enough to know that I’m not like a big name wherever in like Taiwan for instance, but it was like off the hook there. I won’t ever forget the party in Taiwan. That was really unexpected, its just great.
Moving on to your production, your last LP project came out in 2009 and its a format I know you have a lot of fondness for, do you currently have any plans for an album in the near future?
There will be an album by Magic Mountain High, this project with Juju and Jordash. I’m also about halfway through the next one with Benjamin Brunn, but I couldn’t make any prediction on a solo album. And you’re totally right, I really like the format but . with all the travelling nonstop its kind of hard to work on a body of tracks, you know not just like a single but a full album. Also I think its not the right times in terms of the market of course, there are albums being released and people talk about them a little bit in the press but I think sometimes its just to keep the press busy really. What people really care about is tunes you know? You’ve got a good one, you want to bring it out and the whole album concept and the time you invest to go through an album, when you’re up against people’s option to listen to a million other files, is really slim these days.
So I go with the flow which is a lot more on releasing singles at the moment.
House and techno influences are of course apparent in your work, but what personally intrigues me is the jazz element of your musical background. You’ve spoken of how you’ve been inspired by the freedom and the improvisation of jazz, is this a quality which you still seek to emulate?
Totally, and I honestly believe that the better contemporary electronic music is like the contemporary form of jazz in a way. Where the mainstream jazz is very back dated and keeps attempting to revive the same formula that was invented in the 50’s essentially. I think that the modern jazz after free jazz is kind of natural to me, Squarepusher or many other people could be considered cutting edge jazz. I wouldn’t go that far about myself but you’re totally right, this basic idea of free floating improvisation and the freedom you have and exploring that freedom is there. The quest for the odd note, not the really bad one, but the less obvious one that still works or works even better, that’s predominant in whatever I do, that’s the quest I’m on.
With your background playing guitar and the fact that your parents were both musicians), do you ever find electronic music limiting in a sense, do you ever feel inclined to create something made purely with instruments?
I would totally do an all-acoustic album, but I don’t think that’s because I believe electronic music would be limited in any way. I think maybe you get some other kind of intimacy with real instruments, if you record them nicely they’re almost like living beings. I would go a step beyond, to me hardware; a synthesizer, a moog, is also a living being, it’s just the software inside that isn’t. The border is really close between a good emulation and the real thing and it’s not so obvious for everyone. So I totally don’t think electronic music is limited in any way, it’s only limited by our imagination. You can do anything and you can incorporate real instruments or texture…well that’s not the point.
I believe in reduction sometimes and I believe in playing, I think I make better music or more interesting compositions if I actually play and put this into music as if I had put notes into a piano roll and start building and editor and start building like this. It’s more of a brain determined process where the playing is like yoga, it’s a state of meditation almost, music is flowing. What happens sometimes if you don’t think about it, maybe the most interesting stuff will happen.
Finally, to conclude on a tangent, I’ve often seen you enjoying a nice glass of red in the booth. Which is your favourite red wine?
It changes, I’m not an expert. I just like try to remember ones that I like and have them for a while. Recently, I came across Primitivo. These are the ones I keep finding myself going back to. A good Cabernet Sauvingon. I wouldn’t be too specific about it. Usually in the UK if you don’t get the promoter to go out and get you a decent bottle in the clubs it’s pretty terrible ( laughs )
Take care man.