Techno Mood has the pleasure of introducing Superfreq Records founder Mr.C and long-standing label artist Noel Jackson to our interview series. Both Noel and Mr.C have been operating under a new alias as East LA Tek. Their sound is forward-thinking and has been perking the ears of many throughout the industry and beyond this year – they recently showcased the ‘Wormhole’ EP.
How are you and where are you both in the world – how has working together been this year?
Mr.C: I’m in Los Angeles & I’ve been a bit up & down like many have during this pandemic. Thankfully I’m extremely busy, which keeps me from losing my shit all together. Saying that things are good right now. Keeping busy with doing my weekly DJ streams, the Freqstream podcast portal that I also do with Noel & we’ve just launched Superfreq merchandise on Thread Noise, a new company we are creatively directing, and which plans to take on merchandising for some of the coolest labels and musicians around—which I’m guessing Noel is too humble to mention as that unexpected delightful thing. Working with Noel is amazing. We’re besties & have a lot of love for each other so we can be frank with each other & push each other. We’ve made tons of great new music this year on top of all the other projects we’re working on.
NJ: I’m in Detroit, and doing fantastic… and also really terrible at the same time. I think everyone feels that way. Everything is perfect, and the world is falling apart at the same time. Working together with Richard this year has been really wonderful. We’ve produced a lot of material together, and magically fell into some wormholes of sorts, where something completely unexpected and delightful came up. Our collective output was insane this year… something like 14 new tracks together, not including remixes and such. We made a mixtape of just our East LA Tek work, which had phenomenal and unexpected response, and also created some top secret opportunities for us. Then on the NJ music side, I released 2 EPs (“Life is Good” and “Grateful”), and did a few remixes for Richard and others, along with probably a dozen or so other tracks that are unreleased at this point. I’m building a new studio in my home, and currently in the process of some demolition and construction. My new newsletter and website are launching at www.noeljackson.com soon.
Going back, how did you both first meet, what is the story?
Mr.C: We met in Detroit when I was playing there & had a very rare immediate bond. It felt as though I’d know Noel for years. We simply clicked. We have the same high level of taste of great music, we both love fashion, we both love great food & we both love throwing dollar bills at crazy chicks in Jumbo’s Clown Room. What more is there to say!?!?
NJ: Back in about 2008-ish I was pretty new in the world of DJing, only having played small venues, and my bedroom mostly. I played B2B with a friend who organized some parties in Detroit, and we had Mr.C come to play a nice rave at a larger venue downtown. Before the show Richard’s hotel wasn’t ready yet, so he snagged a post-flight disco nap at my pad, which was quite big and spacious. I figured after about 3 hours or so, he would be up. But that MF slept for like 6 hours straight. He is not just a pro DJ, he is a pro traveller and sleep regulator. He is battle hardened, and can live on 1 hour of sleep for 2 weeks, and crash out for just the right amount of time whenever needed. After he got up, we had some espressos and chilled, and it felt like I met my brother, yet I only knew him for 15 minutes at that point. Then we boogied on downtown to party.The show was a massive sellout, and at that time, Techno, and the crazier shit just wasn’t really getting thrown down in Detroit at that magnitude. We’d seen *many* techno DJ’s come through and empty out a club, not really understanding that the house and techno pieces of the scene in Detroit are very integral. As a genre pro, Richard turned that place inside out… from a club packed with chin strokers into a club full of raving lunes who couldn’t stop. They shut the place down, and we moved on to party elsewhere, leaving a trail of blurry memories in my mind.
After that, I kept on seeing him at one festival and then another festival, almost like the universal elves were guiding us to connect. During that point I was poised in NYC. Richard invited me for a week to hang in LA, 2 weeks after getting back I was an LA resident. When we get in a room to make music, there is no match for our speed and creativity. We finish a session, magic comes out, and that’s it. There is really no questioning the outcome of when we get in the studio. There have been plenty of times we planned a whole 8-12 hour day, and ended up done in 4 hours, and popping over to Jumbo’s Clown Room to polish off the day properly.
The ‘Wormhole’ EP is set to be unveiled this month, it’s not the first time you guys have collaborated under the East LA Tek alias – how was the project born?
Mr.C: After becoming great friends, hanging out in NYC when Noel moved there & then Los Angeles, Noel moved here & our bromance blossomed. Noel had a little set up in his flat & we made some music together. Everything fell simply into place & before you know it we had a sick EP called Innuendo finished. Proper House, Acid, Techno & Electro. After that we did a remix together for Pete “The shaker” Bones on his Dwarf Nibbler track, which came out sick & after that Noel moved out of his flat into a house & set up an amazing recording studio. The sound in that room was dead as a doornail so extremely accurate. No Hype in sound anywhere. Noel is a genius when it comes to sound. So once he was in there I had Noel engineer 8 of the 10 tracks on my Indicents EP. Working with Noel on that album and also a few other Mr.C tracks & remixes was a pure pleasure. I felt free to be a real artist around the keyboard & writing knowing that Noel was constantly processing sound along the way. Noel really gets me & has zero ego, just wanting to make things sound right to get my album sounding sick. It’s so simple explaining what I need as Noel simply gets it. Genius.
NJ: We created our first record together in my first apartment in LA, and we kind of just whipped something together, and it was brilliant. Just kind of like: whoop bam, done. We both at the time didn’t have as deep of an understanding of each other on a personal level as we do now, so in a way the music helped us get to know each other and converse. That collaboration was my first collaboration, and showed me a lot about what collaboration means. You can’t just say “let’s collaborate,” and think everything is going to just happen, you have to both have vision, do hard work, communicate, and you have to be objective and subjective about decisions. Our strengths compliment each other extremely well, and working with Richard is as natural as it comes.
You both come across as very strong individuals, when working on music together, how does this factor into the decision making? And musically do you have similar backgrounds and tastes or is it more opposites attract?
Mr.C: We’re both all about the end product. Neither of us are precious about parts that we write & have our egos well & truly in check. If there’s something either of us don’t like we both accept that it has to go, it’s that simple. Luckily we both love cutting edge House, Acid, Techno & Electro-Breaks & we both have great ears & bring different qualities to the table. I’m extremely decisive & if something grates my nerves it’s kind of immediate. Having been a DJ, producer & A&R for over 30 years I know exactly what’s wrong with a track on 1 listen. Noel is a proper sound nerd so knows exactly what needs to be done to fix any problem with any sound. We both love the same genres but Noel is more of a pop head than me & analyses Hip Hop & Trap in minute detail, which is great as he broings those super high end production techniques into our sound.
NJ: I’m a strong individual, but an introvert. Richard made me a stronger person and more social over the years. On musical taste I am very much like Richard, and nothing at all like him. We both have overlapping musical proclivities, and we both refine our work to a point of absolute certainty. I don’t think he likes 100% of my taste and I don’t like 100% of his, but I like 99% of it. We appreciate the different variables and characteristics in music in different ways. We both like classy stuff, and we also like a little bit of filth madness and trash. I think I have more guilty pleasures than him. I’m in love with pop music to, what most might classify as, an unhealthy degree. I find inspiration in the crevasses that no self-respecting techno producer normally would, and I don’t classify myself as only a techno producer either. But, I don’t like typical, and I’d rather die than deny myself that satisfaction.
How has it been writing music with no crowds to test them on, no feedback from playing in the club – does it feel different?
Mr.C: We both know what sounds good & what doesn’t & we both have an abundance of ideas when it comes to writing music, so we don’t really need to test our music in clubs to know what works or not. I’ve been doing 2 DJ streams each week throughout lockdown & I communicate with my listeners as I’m streaming & the feedback we’ve been getting on our music in my streams has been very positive indeed. It does of course feel different not being about to play to crowds on dance floors but we just have to continue to be patient.
NJ: That’s hard to answer. Logically you’d think it makes a difference, but it doesn’t matter. The music will find its place in time. For me, the perspective is trying to communicate with people through music, and exposing your soul unapologetically. The moment you write music to try to manipulate or impress someone, they can smell it a mile away, unless they want to be lied to (or are bold faced liars themselves). And, to be honest that’s the problem I see with so much dance music… So many tracks are written to try to manipulate the crowd, completely lacking soul. It’s not just that it’s not my style, it’s that it’s about integrity… and that’s kind of the point. If you create with intention and integrity, everything else follows. As an introvert, the club is one of very few places where I in no way feel intimidated or keep closed off… I feel at home. Overall my music is a reflection of the emotion I keep inside, and I put it out there for people to get what they can out of it, no pressure. It just so happens when I go into the studio that some fire comes out. With Richard, it’s the same thing, except we get to pull out just the best and most honest pieces of each other. I think it’s why East LA Tek tracks are a bit more spooky and trippy than any of our separate works. Our music is a bit like hanging out with both of us at a party… which outside of making music is our favorite activity, mostly because we can make a party anywhere we go. My music and my life was influenced heavily by Richard over the years. To look back I have to say, it’s not just a gift professionally to find Richard, but personally. There is nothing that will replace the friendship we have. Lately it’s been a bummer that we aren’t closer and travel restricts us. They say you become a mix of the 5 people you spend the most time with; thank God I spend so much time with brilliant, honest, absolute badasses.
With everything going on in the world right now, it really does seem crazy – how long do you think it will be until we have music and clubbing culture back to escape from it all?
Mr.C: We have music to help us escape from it all. Lot of people have been very creative during this pandemic due to being locked in at home with no touring & I’ve almost doubled our output on the Superfreq label this year. I am however desperate to be on dance floors with people. I’m an extremely social creature & helping people to come into the moment to celebrate life on dance floors is one of my strongest passions. I miss it dearly. Thankfully vaccines are pretty much ready. I’m happy to go first & if anyone doesn’t want theirs I’ll have that too. Make mine a large one. If uneducated conspiracy theorists & anti-vaxxers man up & stop living in fear of a little vaccine, we could be back to full on partying by the summer. I hear Presidents Clinton, Bush & Obama are all going to have their vaccines administered publicly to show it’s not a big deal. All leading politicians & community leaders should do that same. I certainly will film & share myself getting the shot.
NJ: There is no escaping reality, there is only your perspective on reality. The impact that 2020 will have on us, is not something that will roll back. We will all be acting and living in a different world forever from this point forward. COVID may go away, but that’s just a part of this time in history. My approach is to stay true to myself, listen to my intuition, and stay logical. Looking at what I gained out of going to the club, and trying to keep those values in sight is really helpful. Eventually we will club again, but until then we can keep the party going inside and keep producing music to help others enjoy the moment.
If you guys could perform b2b in any location or venue, where would it be and why?
Mr.C: Noel’s a dope DJ but we haven’t played B2B together yet. It would be so easy to do that with Noel due to the bond & passion for mischief that we both share. We’d completely destroy an extended 4 hour set headlining on the main stage on Saturday night at Return to Rio Festival in Australia. I’m anual resident there & it’s arguably one of the best festivals in the world. All types of House & techno music & pure unadulterated love. The Robot Heart or Indendia Dome at Burning Man would also rock.
NJ: Well shoot, I don’t know. You ever go over to someone’s house for a party, and the first thing they say are the ground rules. Usually something like, “you can keep your shoes on, drinks are in the kitchen, don’t go downstairs, and by the way don’t pet our cat Wolf, we love him, but he kind of likes to just be left alone.” And, only if you’re a cat whisperer can you go and pet that cat. I’m a bit like that cat. I’m really good just on my own. Hahaha. Richard may be one of the few people I’d play together with, and it would be otherworldly. But also, the whole fun of playing back to back is being able to reach into your bag of tricks, and pulling out just the right little piece of magic. Problem is that I’ve given Richard like all my tracks… he’s got so many tunes from me that I go to shows he’s playing and I’m like “hey dude, what track are you playing?” and he’ll say “it’s yours.” Give me a solid month to produce some magic tracks that no one else before the set. So I don’t want to play back to back with Richard after thinking about all that. 🙂 It’s like playing basketball with Michael Jordan fused with Kobe Bryant. But, I would love to do a live show with him and about half a dozen 303s. Give Richard and me a poorly lit room anywhere in the world, a lovely crowd, a cluster of Roland 303s, and we will gladly gladly go to town creating sonic destruction beyond repair. So, for my pleasure, I’m gonna flip the question: Where would I like to have a party and have Mr.C DJ? I’d like to have him DJ disco tunes at one of our mansions in LA for a Grammy award winning celebration. Maybe he shouldn’t be working the night of our Grammy award win, but he loves playing disco.
A question for Richard in particular – Superfreq has had a big year full of releases, who’s been your surprise artist or most favourite release to date?
Mr.C: It’s been our biggest year yet with the volume of releases but they’ve all been so good. We don’t release fillers on Superfreq, every track has to be a winner in it’s own right & all of the releases this year have delivered above & beyond. The biggest surprise was releasing the first ever release of Jehr. All 3 jams are sick. You’d never in a million years know it was an artist’s first release.
NJ: East LA Tek – Parallel Reality is my favorite tune. I also love Jay Tripwire’s DMT Demento. But, really, every release is scary good.
Finally, what else can we expect from the East LA Tek project in 2021 and Superfreq?!
Mr.C: Watch out for the East LA Tek album.
NJ: Look out for our Ariana Grande “7 Rings” remix.