Music Mondays had the pleasure of sitting down with gum.mp3 and we had a one of a kind conversation. We discussed everything from recent projects, climate change, influences and much more in this rare MM interview.
Rei Low: How’d the Eldia Summit go?
gum.mp3: Eldia Summit at Elsewhere was crazy! It was our biggest show in New York. We had a great turnout. Best experience at a venue, real smooth process and a great crowd.
Rei Low: Recent albums of yours have had clearer mixes, but would you want to elaborate about the influence of Moodymann on your projects?
gum.mp3: Yea! I listened to Moodymann when I started learning how to make beats. He shaped my ear for samples and what I wanted to get out of those samples. Whether that be thematically or melodically. He shaped my appreciation for both Black history in music, dance music history in particular, and just inspired me to take a more thoughtful and intentional in my process with sampling. He helped me sharpen my focus a little bit.
Rei Low: Do you feel like house, techno, and jungle’s roots have been contested or gentrified?
gum.mp3: Definitely! It’s definitely been contested, “gentrified.” I feel like we need a better phrasing for it, a better term, because the term gentrified has a particular meaning in a particular context. When we address something like that, we should use a context specific term to be intentional. But I do agree, yes, the history has been challenged, it’s been co-opted, it’s been rewritten. It’s something we have to actively fight against as DJs, producers, artists, and consumers.
Rei Low: I read some of the papers on halcyon.txt; would you want to talk for a second about social ecology and the way different types of people relate to their environment?
gum.mp3: Yea yea yea. I’m new to the school of thought, I just came across it in Modibo Kadalie’s Pan-African Social Ecology, and his other book, Intimate Direct Democracy. It’s a lot of learning to understand my own personal relationship with the environment, and also trying to understand my political concerns and my environmental concerns, how they’re related and interconnected. It’s inspired me to think more deeply about my own independent artist work, and when I’m producing, how it’s being consumed. How much space am I taking up? How many resources am I using? Whether or not I’m being ethical. Being aware and advancing my agenda in my day to day lifestyle, as opposed to just thinking that way.
Rei Low: Do you think there is room for intersectional collaboration to prevent the upcoming disproportionate impact of climate change?
gum.mp3: Yes! The intersectional part is what’s gonna make it difficult. Not because it shouldn’t be that way, it should be intersectional. Sometimes when we're doing environmental justice stuff, or organizing at all, it can be hard to get the good kind of cross-cultural synthesis that we need in order to make progress. It’s directly related to race relations as well. If we can’t get together interracially or as a united front, then it’s difficult to change our relationship to the environment. I do think it’s possible, but I don't know how to do it.
Rei Low: How has your experience as a librarian influenced your ability to educate people online and IRL?
gum.mp3: It’s been sick. Socially, I have a different position as an ex-teacher and now an ex-librarian. Community-wise, I have a novel skill set and position. So it’s cool being someone people can turn to for help. Whether that’s like homework help with college, or like their independent studies. Or teaching at schools and stuff.
Rei Low: You really are the resource. That website with cybersecurity, philosophy, critical theory, ecology, and piracy is super empowering. It’s so great that you’ve opened that up for people. Usually it’s hidden behind JSTOR and all that shit. What are some good deep house first records for people to listen to?
gum.mp3: Moodymann - Forevernevermore, Fred P - The Incredible Adventures of Captain P, Wamdue Kids - Wamdue Works, Theo Parrish - First Floor. That’s a good place to start.
Rei Low: I saw your vinyl release for the Atlanta remixes, how do you approach working on tracks like that from a creative standpoint? That acid I Serve the Base remix is nuts.
gum.mp3: They’re really whimsical. I never really think about them too much. I kinda get an idea and if I think it’s funny I’ll do it. I thought it would be funny, and it turned out so good. I Serve the Base is already kinda gritty so, I thought, “What if I make it faster? More electronic.” I’m having fun. I haven’t had fun with music in a while.
Rei Low: I’m glad you’re getting it back! How fruitful has it been touring with and collaborating with Daze and Swami?
gum.mp3: They’re my lifelines. Swami is my brother. Daze is my brother. I can count on them to do anything musically or professionally. They’ve been a big support system to me, and we’ve been like a little DJ union. We just help each other out, even in personal ways. We’re stronger together. It makes us stronger independently too.
Rei Low: During Covid, we saw the release of some of your best albums and a run of incredible projects. How was it not being able to test those tracks on the dancefloor?
gum.mp3: It was fine honestly. I’m a bedroom producer, and I never even went to the club like that before I started producing. I’m a homebody. I used to go to house parties and stuff in college, but never like the Club. Except maybe once in college. When I’m in the club thinking about the songs I’ve made, they make me want to listen to it at home and dance. That’s why it’s interesting when I’m DJing and they request one of my old songs. I feel like they’re more like in the crib songs.
Rei Low: That’s so funny because that’s how I feel about your older stuff too. My roommate introduced me to your music around early 2021, and we watched you get better and better and more and more established. It was a super great experience. What project are you most proud of? It could be multimedia, text, music, etc.
gum.mp3: Probably Time Traveler because the music video is crazy. Alejo did a great job with that. The vinyl rollout was flawless, too.
Rei Low: I have that vinyl, it looks so good.
gum.mp3: It looks so goddamn good. The actual music is good. Some of my best songs are on there. Cartz 3 is fun, too.
Rei Low: Cartz series is so fun.
gum.mp3: Yea it’s like an urban legend type of thing.
Rei Low: How’d you get linked up with Leon English and CARBIKE?
gum.mp3: CARBIKE is my friend from college, like freshman or sophomore year, so he’s been my homie. He’s one of the people who inspired me to make music.
Rei Low: Would you want to talk about that for a second?
When I first started I was making weird ambient shit and classical shit because all my friends were rappers and I was trying to figure out what I was trying to make. This was before I started making house music. I didn’t really know what I wanted to make, so I was making sound collages and shit. Then CARBIKE taught me Ableton, then started listening to Moodymann around the same time.
Rei Low: You use the Push right?
gum.mp3: Yea I can’t play any instruments, but-
Rei Low: You can play the Push.
gum.mp3: I can play the fucking Push.
Rei Low: What are some of your favorite jazz albums?
gum.mp3: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers Ugetsu and A Night In Tunisia. Giant Steps by Coltrane. I like Nina Simone, I got some of her live albums on vinyl. I love Idris Muhammad, and Yusef Lateef.
Rei Low: Last Question, any opinion on Sun Ra?
gum.mp3: Hold up Sun Ra’s the goat. Let me backtrack on jazz recommendations: Space is the Place, and God is More Than Love Could Ever Be.
Written By Rei Low: twitter.com/_rocktimist