I recently had a chat with Muckaniks, a music producer from Ipswich in England. He has a propensity for dark, bass heavy production which has earned him credits on projects with the likes of Ocean Wisdom, Lunar C and Dizzee Rascal. We spoke about his production methods, his roots and how he came to work with those notable artists.
How’s everything going, man? I know you’re travelling round Asia right now; have you been up to much creativity while you’re out there? I can imagine it’s pretty inspiring.
Sup bro, yeah all good with me. I’ve been travelling Southeast Asia with my fiancée the last six months and it’s been crazy and you’re right it’s super inspiring. I’m lucky to be able to do something like this as well as being able to still work on music out here!
What first drew you into music production? Did you come from a particularly musical background?
I was actually in a music lesson in year 7 and we had to make a song using Cubase; I was hooked instantly. I don’t really have a musical background, my uncle is a really good DJ and a massive hip hop head, so from a young age I was around stuff like Tribe and Wu Tang. My cousin was producing at the time and he hooked me up with a 100% legal copy of FL (Fruity Loops). I got addicted from there and I’ve made beats every day since the age of 11.
Did you ever have any other possible paths to follow musically, or was making beats always the one?
I wanted to rap initially. When I was super young I would rewrite songs I liked with my own lyrics. I also remember rapping the entirety of ‘What Up Gangsta’ by 50 Cent in a year 6 class; the teachers didn’t take to well to that. I’ve made a couple of albums where I vocal my own beats, but it got to a point where I had to push one or the other and as far as I was concerned the quality of the beats were far higher than anything I can do with my voice, so I hung up the pad and put all my time into production.
You’ve worked quite extensively with both Lunar C and Ocean Wisdom. How did those collaborations first come about?
Lunar and I started talking a few years ago. I was friends with someone who was also on Don’t Flop sporadically and he helped link us up – shout out TwoCan – and we got on really well straight away. Lunar is one of my favourite artists to work with, not just because he’s an incredibly talented rapper but he’s also just a sick guy! With Ocean, his manager emailed me out of the blue while they were starting to work on Wizville. They had heard a couple of the bits I produced for Rye Shabby and wanted a beat for the album. I ended up producing five tracks on Wizville and building a solid relationship with both Ocean and his manager. That’s the bro now and we speak most days. I’ve learned a lot from him and we are always working on new bangers. I’m exxcited for Big Talk to come out as I’ve got five beats on this one as well.
Do you have a fairly regimented approach to your work or do you like to explore new methods?
I mostly start with a melody. Whether it’s something I’m playing in or a sample, I never try to overdo it because I think it’s key to leave as much room for the vocal as possible. Drums have always been my strong point, so I know once a melody is catchy and nice, I can slot the drums in the gaps and make it bounce!
What do you find are the most frustrating things for you as an independent artist, in terms of getting your music out there and getting it heard?
I try not too get frustrated to be honest, bro. At the end of the day this is something I do as a hobby and anything that comes from it is a bonus and I’m massively appreciative for the opportunities I’ve had already and what I’ve achieved. I never thought I’d be able to work with someone like Dizzee Rascal so at that point I was ready to retire happy [laughs]. A minor frustration is not being able to get certain beats to people I know would like them, that’s more over the pond though. But I think the Americans will be obtainable soon and I’d love to be able to work with some American guys and do something a little different.
I know we’ve spoken about the darker side of your production before and I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s your trademark, but it’s definitely where you seem to be most at home. Was that the natural progression of your sound when you started making beats, or did you set out to make music like that?
I think it mostly comes from the cluster of things my music is influenced by. I always liked the darker side of hip hop as well as being a big grime head and the early dubstep days played a big part too. Something that bangs and makes you screw your face up has always really appealed to me and I think subconsciously all of these things come out when I’m working on beats. Every now and then I’ll do something a little smoother, like Face The World by Rye Shabby, but it’s like packing Messi on Ultimate Team, it doesn’t really happen much!
You’ve racked up credits with some pretty big names already; is there anyone you’ve got your sights on for future collaborations?
Before he passed, it was a lifetime ambition to work with Mac Miller and I’m gutted I will never have a chance to do that now. He was a huge inspiration for a lot of reasons so his passing really hit home. I’m a massive Dave East fan, I’d love to work with him. Also Vince Staples has been someone I’ve rated for years. I like the guys who can mix a nice flow, solid bars, hard beats and do something a little different at the same time. The pinnacle would be Kendrick; at that point I’ve won life! UK wise, the next step for me would be Kano. He’s been one of my favourite artists since I was a kid. Obviously like Stormzy, Skepta etc, would be cool, but currently I’ve got my mind set on getting some of the American guys. Anything that comes my way I’m lucky to be able to do.
What producers are you rating highly at the moment?
My favourite producer currently is Flume, the guy is a genius. I’ve still not heard anything that topped what the Neptunes did back in the day though, that was game changing. You can also still listen to anything they produced in the early 00’s and if you’d never heard it you wouldn’t know it’s 15+ years old; timeless. There’s a producer from Ipswich called Relly Crise who is super talented, I really rate him. We have a few local guys who are killing it. Forrest Moon is also a dope guy to look out for.
What’s next for you when you get back to the UK? I think I saw you mention an Asian inspired instrumental project on Twitter
I’m gonna play a load of golf, mate! I’ve made about 20 tunes out of samples I’ve recorded in various countries, that will be shelved and come back to the surface after maybe a year or so. I’ve got a couple of projects I’ll be working on, but I can’t talk too much about the ins and outs of that right now! I’ll always be working on music. I’ve got a few on the new Rye Shabby album, as well as a few more bangers with Lunar. I don’t think me and Ocean will ever stop working together because it works.