Over the last few years, the Berlin-based producer Mechatok has dedicated himself to making simple music. He's a minimalist—though not necessarily the academic sort. He doesn't make monotonic drones or drippy ambient pieces,he just takes pop music and strips away all the excess. Both under his Mechatok moniker and in collaboration with others—like his project with the producer Toxe, Emiranda, or his production work for forward-thinking artists like Palmistry—he's liable to lean on just a single synth line or two and genteel thumping drum programming.
All the candy-coating that usually accompanies pop production in 2019 is thrown by the wayside, its gleaming core of his melodies sit exposed in a bare white room. Last year, he explained the philosophies behind his approach with an example from the radio.
"There’s this one Taylor Swift song," he told FACT Mag. "It builds up and it’s terrible but then it drops into this thing where there’s only a bassline and her singing on top. Those 16 bars, to me, should have been the hook or the main part. It’s catchy, it conveys loads of emotion. You feel uplifted but melancholic at the same time, like all those things that pop is fun for."
You can hear that mindset in action on Emiranda's My Face, which he and Toxe released earlier this year in an attempt to, he explains, "bring a lightness back to music." What that means is slow-moving melodies, floaty synth woodwinds and dizzying rhythms, all made from just a few interlocking parts. So much music aspires to be like a daydream in this way, but few artists inhabit that liminal headspace as well as Mechatok and Toxe do on that release.
On his entry in our mix series, Mechatok chooses to celebrate music made from a similar disposition. It's minimal, but lively. It's a party, but a restrained one, isolated, but happy.
Noisey: How are we meant to enjoy the mix? What's the perfect setting?
It turned out to be kind of a party mix but I think of it more as a little party inside your brain.
Was there any specific concept to the mix?
I don’t think so. It’s a bunch of new tracks by myself and my friends and what I listen to ATM.
Do you have a favorite moment on this mix?
There’s some new tracks by Toxe and Palmistry in there that go absolutely crazy watch out for those when listening.
Your most recent release is the EP you made with Toxe as Emiranda. Can you tell me a bit about how that came together conceptually? What do you feel like your common thematic or aesthetic interests are with Toxe?
I’m not sure if there was much of a concept but we’ve made some tracks together before and thinking of a continuation to that it seemed like the right moment to make an entire project together. It’s a bit like anything goes, but we keep each other in check quality-wise. It still has to makes sense. I think we had to do this in order to bring lightness back to music, both for ourselves making it and the listeners. There’s definitely a whole lot of stuff that were both fans of, that might or might not have influenced this EP but to us it wasn’t really about that, it was more about the spontaneity of being in the same room and having to react to each others' ideas, both trying to let go and staying in control at the right times during this process.
The opening track on the EP is called “Real Life,” do you have any feelings about how dance music is related to the real world? Do you see the club as an escape?
I'm tryna escape the club! Dance music doesn’t seem to have a whole lot to do with reality, but at the same time people love to pretend like it’s about so much. I don’t really know. maybe it does have a lot to do with real life, but talking too much about what that might be definitely ruins it for me. I think music should it spark a feeling and the rest is up to oneself.
You’ve said in other interviews before that your music is deliberately stripped down. What do you find satisfying about space? Are you pulled toward minimalism in other areas of your life as well?
There’s something very emotive about it. music it can feel almost transcendental when its barely anything but what’s there really moves you. Most religious music is very stripped down and feels like [you're] about to see the eternal white light. But it’s also about proportions. if you have a lot of nothing something tiny can seem really big. Or you just can’t tell its scale. That leaves you with much more headroom to play with the intensity and dynamics of the sound and emotion
I might actually have a tendency towards reduction in most other areas of my life but it’s just some intuitive thing. I don’t really have a lot of things but that’s just because I just feel uncomfortable in the presence of too many things that are supposed to belong to me. It’s a lot of responsibility to carry to be owning things like that.
What’s next? Is anything else on the horizon?
Yes I’m going to tour the US starting end of August. I’ve only been to New York so far so i’m excited. If you wanna hear some new songs of mine come to those. I can’t really drop any names but I’ve produced a bunch of peoples songs that might come out soon, I’m working on a mixtape with one of my [favorite] rappers and working on a new solo thing too.
TIC TOC Loop
Kanye off the 2C
DJ Richard Gate of Roses
Buckethead Big Sur Moon.mid
Something About Us / Mecha Cover
Daft Punk Aerodynamic remix
Regular Citizen - Ultramarine Dew
Mecha Nexus Blue Bee Pill
Rovin Club Mix
Firaasbeats La Vida Loca
OLI XL Jet Generation
Mechatok tour dates:
August 31 - New York City
September 2 - New York City
September 6 - Miami
September 7 - Houston
September 13 - Los Angeles
September 14 - Vancouver