We met Moken and the energy of their sound.
It has been a travel between present and future through an ancestral and uncontaminated dimension.
A trio, Moken, formed by different minds and personalities that encounter and unite in a unique spirit. Luca (aka Dj Vietnam), ‘modular alchemist & screamer’ of the project and co-owner, producer and A/R of the Future Me label (FU.ME rec) since 2014; together with Antonio, Audio Tutor at the SAE Institute, and Edoardo; both sound designers and music producers, already known with the side project A.I.C. (Andromeda in Catene) getting noticed by brands like Off-White, C.P. Company and A Better Mistake for which they produced the sounds of the related promo videos for collections and documentaries.
Moken is a music project born in the peripheral reality of the Milanese suburbs, between post-industrial architectural scenarios that recall scratchy sounds and corrosive visions. Together, since 2020, they are the perfect conjunction among the present and future dimensions in an attempt to evoke through their sound the eternal struggle that resides in our unconscious.
According to their minds, music is an occult matter and their natural habitat oscillates between ferocious basslines, dirty rhythms and tormented vocals. Thus, the vocal part finds a predominant expression in some tracks, creating an introspective and visceral connection.
The story of Moken is inseparable from the story of the war, as is their music. A story signed by the conflict (internal and not) from which emerges a sonic experience accompanied by sharp images and extreme narrative force. From this point on, their tracks and music productions come to life, created to make you lose into this world.
2020, a year that extremely marked the music industry and its destiny, also represented the battleground of the trio concerning the publication of several releases. The first, “Lay Environment”, an EP that includes four tracks plus a remix of Kluentah in a climax of suspense made up of harsh but enveloping rhythms that cross techno, break and electro genres. This is followed by the release of the “Nude” LP on Industrial Possession record label; in October ‘20, Moken performs in a live performance at Macao Milano taking part in the documentary “A Pandemic Rave” on the YouTube channel of the Mondonero platform, in which diverse artists of the underground scene alternate for 12+ hours of music.
In December, the name of the trio appears in the V/A collection “CONGREGA” published on FU.ME rec where converge various artists united by the same vision in sharing, with no filters, reality in its raw violence and brutality. Each track strongly expresses the need to communicate such discomfort that characterizes our times, through the sacred rituality of music.
The same expressive potential is evident in another collaboration that marks their artistic career last year. Also on the Milanese label FU.ME, the V/A collection “Suburban Tales 2” comes out in April, where Moken trio joins other well-known artists such as The Exaltics, Violet Poison, Lake Haze and A.I.C..
Another conquest after troubled months was the collaboration with Soil Records label at the V/A compilation “Tears for Fears Vol.3”, released on double cassette. Here Moken presents the track “Alive”, a hymn to those who resist and do not succumb to this uncertain present.
Also on the same label, the latest album “No Prisoners” has finally been released, mastered by Thomas P. Heckmann, available in EP version on vinyl, and on cassette + digital.
By the way, it is not easy to describe the concept behind this project, which is why we completely entrusted ourselves to the trio who led and welcomed us into their industrial, dreamlike and often brutal world where everything is possible.
The encounter with Moken was certainly a growing journey that reached its peak with a very intimate jam session, in which we perfectly came into contact with their profound artistic vision.
I interviewed them to find out who and what hides behind this project. We just have to let ourselves go and enjoy this hypnotic and mysterious journey.
When did Moken come to life? Where did the need to create this project come from?
Two years ago we went to make an episode at Operator Radio Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. A very uplifting experience that brought great inspiration. We went back to Milan, it was August, the city was empty and the only thing to do was to hole up in the studio. Thus, it was born a great and very prolific chemistry between The Andromeda and Dj Vietnam, inspired by a common imagination: Moken.
How do you define Moken?
Moken is a trine artifact identity, that is, composed of 3 elements to create one. Something like Cerberus, the three-headed monster.
Darkwave, EBM, electro and industrial techno sounds converge in your music. Which artists and genres influence and inspire this sound dimension?
We are three people who listen to music constantly, thousands of different melodies, tones and rhythms flow in our ears. But there is the common point: we get excited and let ourselves be struck by the same details in the music we share. The magic comes to life in the recording and arranging sessions. By the way, the jam sessions in the studio are the very essence of what is then translated into the final product. The will is to bring in the records the same energy that is unleashed during the live (which we miss so much now).
It really depends on what instrument you have under your hands, the effects chain, the chord played or the beat that the synergy of the studio session guides us to use and create. We do not premeditate or impose stylistic goals – not that everything is dictated by chaos – but the boundary is blurred, the creative flow of three heads put together is a fairly chaotic affair and although there may be stakes to pre-establish some rule: the freedom of expression that we allow each other is maximum.
More concretely, we can say that we are very close to the genres you mentioned, in fact some tracks of our repertoire are easily cataloged, even if we always look for our stylistic code in the drafting and arrangement structures. Aesthetically we can be everything you said but, at the same time, we are none of these.
We are Moken and we are looking for that sound that comes from our belly, from our head and from our heart.
Which releases have most marked the evolution of the project? Was there an evolutionary trajectory in terms of sound and style?
Hard to say. We’ve only been together for a year and a half, and have produced 2 LPs, a vinyl EP on Fu.Me and 5 other singles on Various Artists. What’s easy to notice is that for each project there is an evolution.
Each release tells a different story, also from the point of view of the narrative and the ideals that inspire us. We are floating in our hyperspace and each release is a new planet, different from the previous one, and we are at the controls of the ship.
“Lay Environment” tells about Moken and its formation; in “Nude” as the title says, we wanted to get naked, we were starting the transformation towards the identity of a band; “No Prisoners” is the final stage of this transformation, where we consolidate our nature, however not to be considered as a point of arrival but as a new beginning towards the exploration of other sounds.
In conclusion, if we have to mention one of the works that certainly marked our path the most, it should be mentioned “Lay Environment” on Fu.Me rec as it really had a key role in our musical panorama. Hearing it played by so many artists we respect and appreciate has given us the right energy to continue our journey, despite the release date coinciding with that of the first Italian lockdown.
The full release of the “No Prisoners” LP on Spanish label Soil Records is not out. Listening to the Premiere tracks “Make My Day”, “Redemption” and “Night Chronicles” the idea of resisting an oppressive present that pushes us to fight with all our forces becomes more and more pressing. Do you feel that this battle is also the driving force of your production?
You got our message and this is really very important.
It is a war that we refer to that concerns every human being, and that does not develop only in these contemporary dystopian scenarios that we must certainly resist. We tell about a more personal and profound struggle against our own “I”, staged in our mind. Not everyone finds the strength to resist, often the reasons to fight are lost, sometimes there are too many disappointments and difficulties, at times one has been a victim of prevarication and injustice.
Sometimes we find ourselves helpless in front of events…
What we do is meant to be an encouragement, a hymn to resistance, to non-renunciation, to stay the same despite everything.
At a time when clubs and music are on standby, what echo has the lockdown had in music production and personal life?
We are producing a lot, thanks also to the “extended times” to which the Covid era is accustoming us, but the atmosphere of the clubs is very lacking also because we are eager to let the public know the performing soul of Moken. If you appreciate our music, surely you would appreciate it even more by breathing in its live energy.
How will the future of the music industry take, and especially Milan, how do you think it will find the local artists of the independent scene in the post-pandemic era?
The general situation is disarming. Uncertainty reigns supreme and you no longer know which way to look, you have to navigate by sight and hope that institutions will find a way to give the right attention to a sector like ours that has always been mistreated in Italy.
We believe that some situations have been penalized and others badly managed, we find it absurd not to be able to allow the reopening of events and places of culture by establishing the necessary health precautions.
We hope that the meanings of art, music and culture will be re-evaluated and re-qualified as soon as possible and that the importance of socializing will be recognized again. These are essential components for the human soul and it was disheartening to see how in a moment they were cornered.
Without spoilers, do you already have in mind or are you working on future projects?
We can’t go into much detail but we are working on new things: there is a remix coming out soon, an EP for the label of a guru of the EBM darkwave scene, another EP for a very promising new label and others requests are on the table, but let’s stop here!
Art director & Styling: Federica Intraligi
Photographer: Gaia Olga Bianchi
Ass. Photographer: Michela Pastorello
Editorial design: Federica Borghesio