µ-Ziq and ID:Mora on humour, collaboration and inspirations
As a visual and sonic artist respectively, Jan Moravec (ID:Mora) and Mike Paradinas (µ-Ziq) both tap into a spellbinding, heady hypnotism with their craft. Speaking to the pair over Zoom, the creative synergy and friendship that has formed as a result of their collaborations is tangible as they joke about the past year of projects together and bounce ideas off each other.
The founder of Planet Mu as well as a producer and DJ, known predominantly under his µ-Ziq alias, Paradinas’ influence on electronic and contemporary club music is indelible. With a firm focus on platforming innovative artists, with Planet Mu Paradinas has championed groundbreaking artists including RP Boo, Jana Rush, Venetian Snares, Jlin, Machinedrum and Kuedo – taking an approach that prioritises authenticity and ingenuity over any particular genre-constraints. And within this remit, the musician and label owner’s output and influence spans IDM, grime, jungle, footwork, dubstep and more.
This authentic spirit of innovation also forms the foundations of Moravec’s work as ID:Mora. Working with a range of different musicians and DJs – such as Otto von Schirach, Chevron and, of course, µ-Ziq – to create videos and live visuals, the Barcelona-based artist’s work is steeped in surreal psychedelia; his visuals for DJ sets creating a kaleidoscopic fever dream that adds a whole other dimension to the club experience.
Having first collaborated as a result of a commission from Prague’s Lunchmeat festival last September, the past year has seen the pair work together on a number of projects across the world. And their next instalment sees them head to Montréal for MUTEK. Ahead of the show next month, µ-Ziq and ID:Mora chat candidly about their collaborations, the role of humour in their work and what inspires them.
© Jakub Dolezal
Crack: How did you first come across each other’s work?
µ-Ziq: Well, I’d heard of Mora’s name, I’d seen it on flyers and stuff. But it was when I played Lunchmeat festival… was it a couple of years ago?
ID:Mora: Yeah, it was last October.
µ: Was it 2022? God it seems longer! So it was only last year when we played Lunchmeat. I was impressed with how well the visuals went with my music. We linked up first over email, didn’t we?
µ: And you sent me some stills, and then a moving images. To be honest, I wasn’t 100 percent sure how it would work out but I thought, ‘I hadn’t seen anything else like this’. Normally the sort of visuals you see at festivals and these sorts of arty gigs, it’s usually very serious and po-faced. I think it went with my music quite well. And then we’ve become friends. I think there’s a lot more collaboration to be done in the future as well. Each time we meet up there’s always a little bit of an update on everything – visually and musically. So hopefully we can continue working like this.
I:M: Oh, definitely. I’ve known about Mike’s since [around] 2003, because I started off on the rave scene in Valencia when I came to Spain in 2000. I was doing a lot of raves back then and I had an audiovisual project with a friend of mine, Matka. He was a musician and I was doing the VJing; he was actually DJing Mike’s music and I was putting visuals to that. That’s when I heard of Mike, back then.
And actually, I said to Mike in Prague – he might not remember – but we actually met at Blade festival in 2005. Because we [ID:Mora and Matka] were walking around Blade festival with some CD-ROMs. We had a demo of our project and we were giving it away to people, and my friend said to me, ‘Hold on, hold on! Stop! Stop! There’s Mike Paradinas from Planet Mu! Let’s give him a CD-ROM!’ I was checking out some old festival photos yesterday. Just out of curiosity. And I found the photos from Blade and I think I’ve got three pictures of you on the stage! With a hat with a Mu leather on it! I think it’s you, I’m pretty sure.
µ: Yeah, probably is! I had a cap with a little orange Mu on it! I’ve got some photos from back then and I think Speedy J was playing and I met up with him.
I:M: So, it’s been a while. And then, like Mike said, 20 years passed and we were put together by Jakub Pešek – who is the director of Lunchmeat festival – because he’s known of my work for a while. He’d always said, ‘You’ve got to be at Lunchmeat at some point’ and then last year he said, ‘Okay, this year is the year. Who would you like to play with?’ I told him: ‘someone from Planet Mu would be nice, some jungle or something like that?’ to which he replied, ‘Oh, yeah, let me check.’ And then he got back with the idea: ‘What about with Mike Paradinas himself?’ I thought that was great. So it worked out!
© Jakub Dolezal
Crack: Mike, you’ve said before that you wanted to get away from the seriousness of electronic music and add some playfulness and humour to it. And Mora, your work definitely has that. Is that a shared value that you’ve bonded over?
I:M: For the Prague show, Mike sent me his set and so I was working on the material listening to his music. I already had some little ideas, I had some sketches. But like you said, for me the touch of humour is very important in any aspect of life or in any kind of work – I try not to do the serious stuff. Like Mike mentioned before, sometimes things get really arty at some festivals and you forget you’re at a festival. It’s a Saturday at 3am and you really just want to dance and have a good time! So I had that idea already, [the] direction it should go in. Then when he sent me the music over, I was actually working on it listening to it and I think that stuff came out instinctively, without even thinking about it. When I’m working on something, I just think about the result and how it’s gonna look on the stage; I want people to have a laugh and to enjoy the moment. So it just comes out like that.
µ: Yeah, it’s not an intentional thing like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to put a bit of humour in here’ – I’ve never ever tried to do that, it’s just my personality coming out. All my music tends to have a signature to it, I guess, a melodic quality to it. Some people think it’s all tongue-in-cheek but it’s not, none of it’s tongue-in-cheek, it’s just what my music sounds like. And it’s not that I’m being serious exactly, but it’s that I’m being authentic to myself, that’s just how I sound. Which is stupid! It has to be true to my name. That’s my humour again! I’ve never tried to make anything self-consciously… silly, but it just comes out melodic. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and there were a lot of melodies around and I was influenced by all that.
I:M:That definitely does reflect in your music. I like it, you know, it goes down, it goes up, it goes up again, there’s a lot of changes. It’s very colourful. It’s narrative in a way because it’s not like when you go to a party, and it starts “boom-boom-boom” and it goes on like that for two hours. It’s like a rollercoaster ride, I think.
µ: I suppose a lot of my influences, overtly when I started off, were things like Detroit techno and bleepy rave stuff around 1989 or 1990, and a lot of rave stuff had humour in it – but it wasn’t that sort of self-consciously humorous. My stuff doesn’t really particularly sound rave-y. But I think it’s got a sort of undercurrent DNA of rave music in all of it. And that includes the sort of nuttiness that you used to have in UK rave. I don’t have much Detroit techno in it – I try, but obviously that wouldn’t be very authentic would it?
Crack: So that’s something that you have in common. Are there any differences in your art, other than mediums?
µ: Yeah, mine is music and his is visuals! I mean, we both just do our thing and respond to each other’s work on an emotional level. I’m getting together some new music, which hopefully we can do maybe next year, Mora?
I:M: Oh, yeah, definitely!
µ: I did a few gigs without you in Japan recently, and I’m updating my set, so maybe I’ve got to send you some new stuff. This is what we do: I’ll send Mora some music and he’ll respond to it on a gut level, really. I’ve seen some of his work, which he hasn’t used to my music yet, and I can write some stuff which I think might suit that.
I:M: Like Mike says, he’s changing the set a little bit each time we play. So that pushes me as well, to keep on working on it. When we play live, there are things you only realise when you’re on the stage. You play it and realise, ‘Oh this could go faster’ or ‘I could change this bit, this is lasting a little bit too long.’ So always after the show, I go through it in my head, and I write down what I could change and then I work on it. And I’m continuously producing new stuff – I think I already have half an hour for the new show, and there’s always space for new surprises to come.
Crack: So there are where you’ll start working on something and then find the music afterwards? Or do you have to have an idea of what Mike’s doing first?
I:M: No, I work at home so I have my little ideas. I write them down. I open the projects. Sometimes, like the last video for example, Mike changed the first track for the show we had at Apollo, here in Barcelona, and I told him, ‘this has a Twin Peaks vibe’ – you know, the series with David Lynch? And it was funny because Mike replied saying, ‘Oh, I’m just rewatching Twin Peaks right now’. So, I started to work on the little animation that the music was reminding me of, giving me the feel of the song, because it was completely freaky stuff. So sometimes it comes after listening to what he sends me or sometimes I just have ideas, and I go further with them. I think that my work is pretty much a mirror of me. I consider myself a very active, energetic person. Not spiritual at all. Quite the contrary, so I think my work reflects that. It’s very direct, concise and might be provocative as well.
Crack: How are you both finding the process of collaboration?
µ: The good thing about it is when you’re vibing together on stage and you see the audience respond. You know that part of your job has been done right, in a way. The visuals and the music are marrying up and people are responding to it on an emotional and physical level. Although, I’m not a great fan of clubs particularly – never really gone out much myself, other than when I’m playing.
I:M: As we live in different countries we actually only communicate through emails, and we don’t actually rehearse together. So the flip-side of that is I have total freedom to do whatever I want to do. Mike sends me the stuff and I can work on it. I send him back over some stills or some short samples so he’s updated and knows what to expect but then actually, everything happens on the stage, when we are already there. For example, when I had this project with a friend of mine it was different because we were rehearsing and afterwards we would have a beer and conversations saying, ‘Okay, put this video here, stop this here, then change it and swap it over’. But here, everything happens on the fly, on stage. So it gives me more freedom. I’m mixing, I’m using different layers of graphics. On top of the main material I use different graphics so there’s a main material, that’s the 3D animation, and then when we play live I try to use different graphics on the top of it every time, so there’s a different feeling to it every time we play.
µ: We do a bit of a practice during the soundcheck – usually that’s the first time we go through any new material. We usually rush through it, make sure it’s working. Often it isn’t working – not the material, but the screen or audio-responsiveness because we have to link up the audio and Mora’s computer and everything.
I:M: Mike sends me the audio feed and then I synchronise the visual effects to the beat so then everything’s perfectly synchronised and it works as the music goes.
µ: We did it one time without synchronising, didn’t we?
I:M: Haha yeah we did.
µ: And it still worked quite well.
I:M: I was like, 50 metres away from you.
µ: But there was no way of getting it on the screen otherwise. Was that the last one?
I:M: No, that was in Mexico, there were some technical issues with the cables.
µ: Oh yeah, that was a bit of a nightmare wasn’t it!
I:M: Yeah, there was no other way. It was like 4am and we were rushing through the club with a laptop in hand going to the back of house because they had a one-metre long cable because the other one didn’t work.
µ: Yeah, I was a bit tired by the end of that. I think we finished about 5:30am or something!
I:M: Yeah when we finished the main stage was already closed. It was supposed to be open for another 40 minutes, and it was already done when we finished, there were cleaners coming in!
"We both just do our thing and respond to each other's work on an emotional level" – µ-Ziq
Crack: What can be expected from the MUTEK iteration?
µ: Well, I’m going to send a new set to Mora quite soon because I’ve been working on an hour-long set…
I:M: Did you add some new stuff or swap around things around?
µ: Yeah, I haven’t sent it to you yet. I’ve been doing new material, which I played in Japan last month. Some of that went down really well, so I’ll probably include some of that.
I:M: I’m looking forward to that because I have the video with the pilot, remember I showed you? I’ve got it completely ready. So when you send me the track either I can swap it for some old videos and use it on a track we already have or if you have a new track for that. I’ve got a couple of new bits as well!
µ: Have we got any of that X-rated stuff?
I:M:Oh yeah, I do. I’m just waiting for the green light and we go for it…
µ: Okay, let’s do it!
I:M: And also the Bible thing. So there will definitely be some new surprises at MUTEK!
µ: I’ll probably put in at least three tracks I haven’t played before.
Crack: With the new elements you’re adding in, what’s inspiring you both right now?
µ: I just sit down and write. I’ve done this one particular new track which I might end the set with…or maybe I won’t. But I’ve got a new track which I played in Japan. It went down really well. It has loads of arpeggios. But I don’t know what it’s inspired by, I was sort of mixing trap and jungle so it does these sort of drum machine beats and then goes into breakbeats alternately. There’s a few breakbeat-y things I’ve been working on.
I:M: For me, it can be anything, really. The book I’m reading or a movie I see, or I’ll see some nice effects and then try to reproduce it in 3D and usually it goes wrong! But that’s what I like because then you get the error and you take it from there and it goes in a completely new direction! And going to festivals, the work of other artists – my girlfriend, she’s a painter and illustrator, so sometimes I steal her sketchbook and it’s full of these weird monsters and creepy things and I use it as well for the characters in my 3D. It can be anything. I really like Sam Rolfe’s stuff. He’s a 3D animator doing some really great stuff. So I get inspiration from there as well. He’s got some really beautiful things. There’s a basic guideline usually, because I have basic sketches, I texture them. I only make a little bit and then the rest usually happens when I receive the music. There’s been a few times where I have an animation already done but I usually just go on the fly because once you start to add things, and hear the music, you get other ideas. You twist it over and end up somewhere you didn’t want to be originally. It’s completely a process of evolution and change. I’m always redoing some old stuff that I’m not happy with. And it’s always adapting to the music.
Crack: What do you see in the future for this collaboration?
µ: I’ve been working on a kind of new album, but it’s like a live album. It’s an album of new stuff I’m playing live and maybe we could release it with visuals?
I:M: Oh, that would be great.
µ: I’m not sure how, cause DVDs are old hat now aren’t they?
"l want it to be an audiovisual mindfuck" – ID:Mora
Crack: Is this the first time that you guys are discussing that?
µ: We talked about it in Mexico a little bit. But I was short of breath because of the altitude and because I’d had a bit too much to drink.
I:M: That conversation actually ended with us saying we should do those clips for Spotify. But it’s just really short, I was checking it the other day because back then it was limited to eight seconds only. You can’t really express the mood of the song in that tim-frame. Especially when the song is changing – you put eight seconds of animation that is really fast and then the music goes slow and it doesn’t really feel right. But they’ve made it longer now.
Crack: And this all just started from you working together for a festival show?
µ: Yeah. As soon as we played Lunchmeat, the next week we got three offers in. And we’ve been playing stuff since then. I’ve worked with visual guys before and tried to keep it going, but it didn’t really click, or things were always going wrong. And so this was the first time it sort of clicked.
I:M: Yeah it was really cool. Because I was hoping that after the Prague show that it wouldn’t end up only being the Prague show. It was a lot of work – like 10 months of work. So I hoped the collaboration would continue and then when I got back to Spain from Lunchmeat, there was an email from Mike saying, ‘Hey, there’s three more shows coming up’ so I was like, ‘Oh, this is great’.
µ: Yeah. Kuedo played before us at Lunchmeat and he came up and was raving about our performance backstage. It was nice. I really love Kuedo’s music.
Crack: What sort of experience are you guys trying to create with the show ultimately?
µ: Just a way to monetise our careers! That’s the bottom line isn’t it? No… we just want to get an emotional response to the experience. I write music because it makes me happy. And hopefully it makes other people happy and dance, or they just to listen to it.
I:M: I think on both levels, audio and visual, the aim is to hypnotise the spectator, to surprise continuously for good or for bad. Because, like I said before, Mike’s music is like a rollercoaster, it’s up and down. So I’m trying to copy it visually. I use strong colours, a lot of contrast. I don’t use lighting in our shows because I think the visuals already create a strobe-like effect. I think that’s to create a feeling that the spectator doesn’t want to leave or turn away, just waiting like, ‘what’s going to happen next?’ l want it to be an audiovisual mindfuck.
µ-Ziq & ID:Mora unite for MUTEK Montréal on 22-27 August