Beat Battle Royale

Producer Spotlight

Micky Morphingaz, Sydney Australia London England

BBR: You have many hats, you have been a phenomenal, hip,hop, producer DJ. Back up Dj Which hat are we wearing at the moment?

Morphingaz : At the moment I’m wearing my DAD hat … digital audio dad ! I’m relearning music along with my kids and remembering to keep things elementary, clear and concise. Some of the things I’m upto nowadays aside from dadding… I’ve opened up a DJ and production school in Sydney, so running courses and recording some songs in there. I’m managing a young rapper who was once homeless and he is now mentoring and inspiring the next generation of homeless youth through music, so we are working on an album together for that. I’m also running a business managing music playlists for several venues around the which keeps things ticking along….and of course always working on my own projects as well as getting into the marketing side for all o dat.

BBR: Lets take it back to your beginnings. Do you remember what your first recording set up was like? What pieces of gear do you recall having?.

Micky: Aside from my first cassette tape to tape deck for pause / record looping… and aside from my belt drive technics and an old realistic mixer with VU meters and no cross fader, my first real production set up for recording was an Akai 3000XL sampler, a Zip drive and an Alesis compressor, plus a live Eq rack. I didn’t yet have a computer program for the midi so all of the programming and recording was done inside the 32mb sampler and I triggered everything live on a midi keyboard.

BBR: What was the first piece of gear that you acquired that made you excited to get home?

Micky: I’d have to say my funk flex Vestax DJ mixer for scratching. I was addicted to scratching for quite a few years. The great thing about this mixer was you could replace the cross fader, so I used the dirty and dusty ones as a key ring when I bought a new fader, that way I could still practice my fader flares and crabs when I wasn’t at home. I really used scratching as my main expression and voice, so before making beats, everything I produced was just me practicing and experimenting in the moment and it mostly remained unrecorded.

BBR: So you are A Scratch DJ? This would indicate that there is a history with hip-hop. Explain your metamorphosis through the genres of music and where do you see yourself at the moment?

Micky: Yes. As I mentioned scratching was definitely my thing. Before I was turntabling, I used to write rhymes and rap. During high school in Australia I was part of a hip hop group called Illegal Substance, we made an album and did a bit of radio, and our producer was also a mobile DJ with crates for days of RnB and hip Hop. We threw some parties together and tried to get our name out that way. But it wasn’t long before I discovered producers who were mainly from the UK experimenting with sounds and loops inspired by hip hop. I felt like I had found a home for my expression. So my tastes became less mainstream, drum n bass, breaks, instrumental hip hop records and electronica got me buying and collecting vinyl that didn’t always slay the dance floor, I looked for old jazz, soul and funk records that inspired the hip hop that I was into. I moved to London to get amongst these sounds , studios and streets and when I found myself scratching alongside drum n bass and breakbeat DJs, tabla players and dancehall mcs, I felt like I fit right into this movement of people trying to move hip hop and electronic music forward. Soon after arriving in London, I landed a regular spot on an authentic UK hip hop radio show which regained my love for rap through these different English voices and raw grimey energy. It felt like there was this next movement parallel to the early US rap. Each MC had their unique character and some started to gain recognition.

I still wasn’t feeling confident with my beat making, but had my sampler and was making tracks and playing around. I knew these MCs that appeared on the radio show needed to be heard, so before heading back to Oz for a year or so, I booked two full day recording sessions with as many of the MCs as would come through and I lay down my favourite UK rap instrumental vinyl into a 20 minute continuous DJ mix and each crew or soloist jumped in the booth and rapped. I took these recordings back to Australia and partnered up with an audio engineer to extract the best verses and then build the music and beats around these recordings. It was a long but fruitful process. My friend and I named ourselves MAS P and It gave me a product to return to the UK with and start getting deeper into production.

From then I toured alongside some hip hop projects, also a jazz/pop project and I had random DJ spots to keep me in the game. So, after exploring all the beat related genres that the years 2002-2005 could offer I eventually returned back to Oz, joined a local hip hop group for some live shows but was also invited to jam with some accoustic musicians and instantly joined a group with a violinist, a jazz / latin pianist and another turntablist. These guys were writing klezmer melodies and adding beats. This began The Asthmatix and 10 years later we are releasing a full length studio album.

To address the question of where I see myself now, I’ve always appreciated music as sound, so genres and labels which are useful for the industry to box you in, doesn’t really help to describe my sound. I’m just more interested in the process. I love collaborating and joining forces with artists for the journey. Sometimes it’s a long relationship and sometimes a moment in time. Now I’m just doing whatever feels right whether it’s making a song for my kids, finger drumming on my iPhone before bed, or continue getting my eq chain game tight on a new production.

BBR: At What point in your career did you think okay, this is starting to seem real? What was that moment like.

Micky: Real?!! Um!! It’s all real. I started DJing at 13 and was rocking clubs at 17. I guess when I moved to London a few yers later it started to feel ’real’. The energy around music in London was and always is intense. I struggled the first year to get noticed and when a door eventually opened for me to perform alongside some real heads with some history and reputation, I realised that the journey was on and I was actually on the inside. The rest would unfold in all sorts of manifestations.

BBR: Who would be your dream collaboration why would they be your dream collaborations

Micky: Collaboration is what I’ve always been about. I love creative partnerships. Sharing ideas and learning from different people to create unexpected outcomes. Hopefully everybody learns and grows from these experiences.

I named my next album, The immigration Application Collaboration Compilation. Over the past 20 years I’ve lived and worked in many cities and the best things I’ve taken from these places are the musical collaborations. To complete this project, I would like to collaborate with a social media whizz, an interactive programmer, an incredible animator and possibly a philanthropist. Musically, I am happy collaborating with anyone who loves what they do.

BBR: What is your preferred DAW or do you use multiple DAW why?

Micky: My main 3 are Maschine, Ableton and Logic. Traktor also has its place in my productions. Sometimes they are all open simultaneously

🙂

I love the flow of maschine, the power of Ableton and the familiarity of Logic. I missed the boat on Pro Tools and still don’t play in that playground. All of these programs are simply tools for our ideas. My iPhone and its various apps is also a great DAW. Anyone can make music even without these tools, get creative and use what you have!

BBR: If you could tell your younger self anything that you’ve learned along the way what advice would you give your younger self ? Why?

Micky: Don’t focus on making money, if you keep at your goal, it will come. Study your craft, read the instruction manual, practice and experiment more and above all, always follow your instinct…but I would also say, keep doing you, you are on the right path.

BBR: What are you working on now and what can we expect next.
Where can we find your work?

Right now I’m deciding to release a compilation of all the best work of the past 20 years. Mainly so they don’t stay on a hard drive for ever. Which means finishing some songs, mixing and mastering them and getting that all packaged up and out into the universe. Also The Asthmatix album has just finished being mixed so we need to master that and get it up for theworld to hear.

Ozone (the Aussie rapper) is releasing an independent hip hop album to raise awareness about youth homelessness in Australia and I’m on beat making duty there. I’m also part of an international crew of amazing artists, rappers and musicians called STG (Steggadoe Click), so you might start hearing some noise from this family over the coming years. . . and of course I’m always working on being the best DAD on a daily basis.

Where to find my work: All the good stuff is coming soon !! But meanwhile follow me on Insta and Facebook @morphingaz and look for @asthmatix also. And if you ever want to say hey, you can email me here : info@morphingaz.com

BBR: Dope bro! Looking forward to hearing your new stuff soon!