Producer profile: Meet London-based artist and producer MISOGI

Audio Media International speaks to London-based artist and producer MISOGI about the making of his new EP little *stars and working with the likes of AJ Tracey, Lil Yachty and BONES.

Combining elements of EDM, pop and hip-hop, little *stars is an assortment of previously unheard tracks, featuring collaborations with the likes of Philadelphia-based US indie/electronic ambient artist Instupendo, Dylan Brady (one half of US electronic duo 100 Gecs), US singer and producer nothing,nowhere and Delaware rapper Lil West.

In addition to his own work as a self-producing artists, MISOGI has also produced works for artists including  AJ Tracey, Lil Yachty, Lil Pump, Night Lovell and BONES.

Here, we find out about his approach to production, how his collaborations have influenced his own sonic sensibilities and what the future holds…

When did work begin on little*stars?
I started working on little*stars in the summer of 2019. I had recently gotten a new Shure SM58 mic to play my guitar and sing at the same time. What I had realised is that the way I could mix my vocals was completely different, and it resulted in me unlocking a whole new way of writing, and I ended up using the microphone for this whole project, which was not what I intended to use it for at all. From here, I started exploring other styles of production I never had tried out before, and it’s really cool to me how a key part of the project’s creation wasn’t exactly planned.

What can you tell us about your approach to production? What’s your process in the studio?
I make all my music in my room, I pretty much never write music in a studio. I always start with chords. I think that if the chord progression isn’t good then it’s not a good song. I mainly like major chords, sort of bittersweet R&B or emo sounding stuff. I’ll usually start with a guitar, but occasionally I’ll start with a synth – a VST that is, I don’t have any hardware synths but I’m definitely looking into getting some in the future. I also love small, cute monophonic synths and that has been consistent throughout my music since day one. Even if I try to avoid using them for a change, they always find their way back in. When it comes to vocals, I start with a melody because I think that it’s the most important factor to good vocals. Especially when writing pop music, an infectious melody is what sticks with me, the sort of melody that gets stuck in my head. After that, I start putting the words together. In the past it wouldn’t necessarily be about personal stuff, but it would be things that inspire me; situations that others experience, situations from movies I’ve seen etc. but for this project it was a lot more personal.

You may also be interested in:

You’ve done production work for the likes of AJ Tracey, Lil Yachty, Lil Pump, Night Lovell and BONES. How has this informed the way you approach your own productions?
Because I started off producing for other people, the key components I’ve learned about producing came from learning how to make beats. While I’d say that producing for rappers and making my own solo work feels like a completely different process, some of the elements from making beats carry over. For example, hard hitting basses and clipping kicks are some things I use in my solo music, which I feel other artists that don’t have my background would not use. But overall, I would say my production for my own music is more inspired by other artists.

What are some of the key things you have learned from working with those artists?
A lot of things about song structure. When you’re making an instrumental for someone else, you need to account for things like bridges, prechoruses etc. and the small things that you can add to a song to make it feel less repetitive. Creating little moments like that in a song is really important, it keeps it exciting and interesting.

Talk us through your production set up – what are the pieces of kit you can’t be without?
I have a Japanese Stratocaster in Sonic Blue, definitely one of my prized possessions. Before that I used a Schecter Demon 6 that I had for about 10 years, it was nice but this Strat sounds so much better, it was a real upgrade. It’s definitely one of the most important things I have. I used to use a Rode NT1A, but like I said earlier, I switched and now use a Shure SM58 and I think it’s amazing. Other than those things, I just need my audio interface, iLok USB and computer. I built my computer four years ago because the one I had just couldn’t run everything I needed. I much prefer working at a desktop computer as opposed to a laptop.

Do you see yourself continuing to produce work for other artists while producing your own music, or will you be working solely on your own projects from here on in?
I am definitely going to continue working with others alongside making my own projects. I just love making music in general and I love pushing it forward, whether it be my own music or someone else’s. There are a lot of people I’d love to produce songs for or even write lyrics for. In the future, I hope to be contributing production to artists outside of rap.

Who are some of the producers that have influenced your production style?
I come from a certain pocket of underground Soundcloud music that was very active at around 2014 and at that time, Clams Casino was just the ultimate producer to me. The way he sampled stuff created an atmosphere unlike any other producer at the time. I’d probably say that ‘I’m God’ is my favourite instrumental of all time. Other people around that time that inspired me a lot were producers like GRXGVR, Yung Gud & Shlohmo. I’ve always loved Kanye West’s production and his music in general, I would cite him as one of my strongest and most consistent influences throughout my career, and I would include Mike Dean in that influence, too. Outside of hip hop and Soundcloud, I really love Kevin Shields, Brian Eno, Steve Albini, Dave Fridmann and Yasutaka Nakata. Owl City’s Adam Young would also be on my list because Ocean Eyes and Of June was very influential to me and probably the reason why I love glidy mono synths so much.

What are some of the records that inspired you to become a record producer?
To expand on some of the names I mentioned above, Shields’s production on Loveless is incredible and had a huge impact on me. I love the earth-shattering dreamy wall of sound he created, even if it was at the cost of nearly bankrupting his label. A few years ago, my friend Helica showed me a video about the production of David Bowie’s Heroes, which showed how Brian Eno added these ambient synths that create such a crazy atmosphere but you wouldn’t really notice unless you knew they were there. It’s one of my favourite Bowie songs and it taught me a lot about filling up that empty space, it creates a lot of texture. Steve Albini’s production on Surfer Rosa, In Utero and even Whitehouse’s Mummy and Daddy was amazing and I love his attitude to production and the music industry in general. Dave Fridmann’s production on The Soft Bulletin is mindblowing, it’s some of the most interesting production I’ve heard and I never get tired of it – the production on that album as well as MGMT’s debut album (also produced by him) inspired me a lot in the way of mixing drums and guitar, as well as panning sounds to make songs wider. My friend Cedric Madden showed me some J-Pop bands, which is where I came to get obssessed with Yasutaka Nakata’s productions. They are so much fun and so unique to him, the whole feel of it inspired me a lot for this project. I also have to throw in Clams Casino’s Instrumental Mixtape 2 and Owl City’s Ocean Eyes, for acting as my blueprint from the early days.