Mechatok Melds Clear-Eyed Emotion And Deft Pop Sensibility On New EP

Photo by Niclas Hille

Berlin-based producer Mechatok has shared a full stream of his crystalline See Thru EP on Stockholm collective/label Staycore, following the release of trance-inflected single “Placer” and the Palmistry-directed video for its title track. The emotionally earnest record also comes in the wake of a number of vocal collaborations with Bala Club’s Uli K and noted Sad Boy Yung Lean, and works in a framework built from West Coast hip-hop influences, refreshingly uncontrived pop intuition, and the occasional hint of Baroque musicality.

For the occasion, Mechatok spoke to THUMP in an interview via email, where we talked about the importance of melody, Staycore’s crew dynamic, and the meaning of the record’s title.

THUMP: Your work is pervaded by a sense of pop sensibility, particularly when it comes to melodies. What do you think pulls you in that direction artistically, and who are some of your favorite artists that work with melody?
Mechatok:
Before I started producing music I played classical guitar, and was the guitarist in a couple of different bands. The simplicity of a beautiful chord progression and a low-key catchy melody always touched me the most, whatever type of music it was so now it feels the most natural to me to focus on writing chords and melodies.

I think my favorite producer right now would be DJ Mustard. Almost every beat he made sounds iconic to me, I guess like 70% of the music on my phone is produced by him. I think Palmistry is an amazing songwriter. My brother Firaasbeats made some of my favorite songs right now, and also i’m really into the music Niclas makes. Both of them have so much amazing music that’s not out yet.

How would you characterize your relationship with Staycore? What brings the crew together?
We’re just really good friends and whenever everyone is gathered it’s usually going to be mad fun. I feel like everyone of us is approaching music and art from a very different angle, which keeps it exciting to exchange ideas or just talk about anything, figuring out how to work out certain situations in life and music.

You’ve worked with vocalists a lot in the last year. What draws you to that kind of collaboration, and how has that experience affected the way you do solo work?
I’m really into lyrics, i love focusing on the lyrics when I listen to music. I always layered random acapellas on my songs, just for fun. At some point realized that some of them work as instrumentals pretty well. It was definitely also Uli K that inspired me to work with vocals, since he was the first one to propose that idea to me.

Working with vocalists definitely made me more aware of song structure, even in my solo songs I’m thinking in hooks and verses sometimes now. It also helped me reducing my music and just keeping a few essential elements, which i think makes it stronger.

Is there any significance behind the EP’s title?
It’s one of those terms that weirdly trigger many really different images and associations for me. I felt like all of them make sense with the music on that EP, so I had to call it that.

To hear the EP’s title track in action, revisit SKY H1’s recent THUMP mix, which also featured amorphously ambient club and a dembow-trance hybrid.

See Thru is out now.

Follow Alexander on Twitter.

Mechatok Melds Clear-Eyed Emotion And Deft Pop Sensibility On New EP

Photo courtesy of the artist

Berlin-based producer Mechatok has shared a full stream of his crystalline See Thru EP on Stockholm collective/label Staycore, following the release of trance-inflected single “Placer” and the Palmistry-directed video for its title track. The emotionally earnest record also comes in the wake of a number of vocal collaborations with Bala Club’s Uli K and noted Sad Boy Yung Lean, and works in a framework built from West Coast hip-hop influences, refreshingly uncontrived pop intuition, and the occasional hint of Baroque musicality.

For the occasion, Mechatok spoke to THUMP in an interview via email, where we talked about the importance of melody, Staycore’s crew dynamic, and the meaning of the record’s title.

THUMP: Your work is pervaded by a sense of pop sensibility, particularly when it comes to melodies. What do you think pulls you in that direction artistically, and who are some of your favorite artists that work with melody?
Mechatok:
Before I started producing music I played classical guitar, and was the guitarist in a couple of different bands. The simplicity of a beautiful chord progression and a low-key catchy melody always touched me the most, whatever type of music it was so now it feels the most natural to me to focus on writing chords and melodies.

I think my favorite producer right now would be DJ Mustard. Almost every beat he made sounds iconic to me, I guess like 70% of the music on my phone is produced by him. I think Palmistry is an amazing songwriter. My brother Firaasbeats made some of my favorite songs right now, and also i’m really into the music Niclas makes. Both of them have so much amazing music that’s not out yet.

How would you characterize your relationship with Staycore? What brings the crew together?
We’re just really good friends and whenever everyone is gathered it’s usually going to be mad fun. I feel like everyone of us is approaching music and art from a very different angle, which keeps it exciting to exchange ideas or just talk about anything, figuring out how to work out certain situations in life and music.

You’ve worked with vocalists a lot in the last year. What draws you to that kind of collaboration, and how has that experience affected the way you do solo work?
I’m really into lyrics, i love focusing on the lyrics when I listen to music. I always layered random acapellas on my songs, just for fun. At some point realized that some of them work as instrumentals pretty well. It was definitely also Uli K that inspired me to work with vocals, since he was the first one to propose that idea to me.

Working with vocalists definitely made me more aware of song structure, even in my solo songs I’m thinking in hooks and verses sometimes now. It also helped me reducing my music and just keeping a few essential elements, which i think makes it stronger.

Is there any significance behind the EP’s title?
It’s one of those terms that weirdly trigger many really different images and associations for me. I felt like all of them make sense with the music on that EP, so i had to call it that.

To hear the EP’s title track in action, revisit SKY H1’s recent THUMP mix, which also featured amorphously ambient club and a dembow-trance hybrid.

See Thru is out now.

Follow Alexander on Twitter.

The 25 Best Albums Of 2016 So Far

The history of dance music has primarily been told through singles. One great trackwhen properly nestled in the right DJ set, so the logic goeshas the power not only to set the dancefloor alight, but to shift the sound and energy of a scene writ large. You’re never going to spin a full-length album at peak hours, but the format has furthered some of the dancefloor’s great paradigm shifts, allowing producers to explore the furthest corners of their sound. Moments of euphoria are spread further out, but they’re just as present, and always worth the wait. We’ve already told you the year’s best tracks, now strap in for the long-haul below and check out the 25 best albums of 2016 so far.

Amnesia Scanner – AS

Amnesia Scanner has never felt real, at least in the sense of corporeal human beings with fleshy fingers programming the mutant beatwork and ASCII melodies that make up their music. But earlier this year, they made their debut in the physical world with AS, issued in varying forms of paper and plastic. The short EP contains some of their most hookily structured material to date, as if the shadowy figures behind the curtain realized that restructuring their jabbering vocals and drum judders into more recognizably humanoid outlinespop and club structures, mainlywould make their work more legible to mere mortals. As it turns out, appending sinew to steel does not a human make, but AS‘ real draw is in the ugly bits, where meat and tech collide in a beautiful cyborgian failure.Colin Joyce

ANOHNI – Hopelessness

Sonically ambitious, ecologically minded, and emotionally fragile all at once, ANOHNI’s HOPELESSNESS is one of the most multifaceted records 2016 has seen yet. The New York-based artist, formerly of the band Antony and the Johnsons, has crafted a protest album that plays out like an assault on society’s grandest ills: climate change, government surveillance, drone strikes, and genocideand it’s particularly interested in the places where all of the above intersect.

But the record’s genius lies partly in the sneakiness with which it plants these messages in the ear. Bolstered by production by Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never, HOPELESSNESS uses the physicality of dance music to bruising effect, making ANOHNI’s political provocations both more palatable and more punishing. Speaking to THUMP earlier this year, ANOHNI said that the way she “express.” That’s a generous thing of the 26-year-old artist to say, but it’s unlikely there are many people who aren’t left in the dust by his debut for J-Cush’s Lit City Trax. Remixing everything from hip-hop hits to an NFL theme song and a Cousin Terio Vine, the mixtape is an exercise in profound artistic tenacity: just when you think he can’t fit another idea into a track, he fits in eight.Alexander Iadarola

Uli K – Elusivo

Long the most laconic and sensitive member of Long London’s Bala Club crew, singer/songwriter Uli K steps out of the shadow of younger brother Kamixlo (who’s released on PAN sublabel Codes) and pal Endgame (recently signed to Hyperdub) and into blinding, heartrending vulnerability. Uli told The FADER at the time of the EPs release that it that it was part of a process of coming to terms with heartbreak and gender identity by presenting all the misery and confusion wholly unvarnished, or as they put it “snitching on myselfreading my diary out loud.”

That pain reverberates throughout. Even over the fractured beats care of Berlin shredder Mechatok and frequent Yung Lean collaborator Whitearmor (Lean also turns up for a brief verse, on that “Drifting”), Uli sings of blood and money, voluntary loneliness, and romantic dissolution. The catharsis these stories offer feels generous, a hand stretched outhowever tremulousfor whenever you feel similarly broken.Colin Joyce

Various Artists – Pampa Records Vol. 1

There’s a dizzying array of sounds and styles represented on the first label compilation from DJ Koze’s Pampa Records, from Jamie xx’s rave retro-gazing to Matthew Herbert’s butcher-shop techno trickery. But the unifying concept is the unmitigated joy that a dancefloor can bring. UAE-born producer Abood Nasrawi makes that explicit on his contribution “Bump with You,” sampling a small child’s giggly suggestion that singing “embarrassing,” but dancing is “ok.” The track then lurches into glassy-eyed, unrestrained beatwork, permission for liftoff having been granted from the mouths of babes. Pampa’s stable of signees and friends often adopt worn club forms, but their productions underscore why people return to things like house and techno over and over again: club music’s currency is ecstasy.Colin Joyce

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