Mochipet Interview

David Y. Wang is a prolific, well-travelled and edgy musician. While best known for his madcap electronic work under the moniker Mochipet, he also performs in two campy rock-flavored outfits, Cuti Sada and China Air, which he releases on his own label, Daly City Records. Wang took time off from his busy schedule to visit betterPropaganda world headquarters in San Francisco for an exclusive interview. He kicked down a huge assortment of cds and vinyl from his catalog, awesome listening for us here at the office. We talked about his upcoming 2005 releases on Bpitch Control and Kid606's Tigerbeat6 labels, his rock music, his favorite laptop software environments, and the erhu, a Chinese fiddle he's been learning to play.

Better Propaganda Editor Terbo Ted talks to David Wang, aka Mochipet.

betterPropaganda: So whenever we start an interview, I always ask the artist, you know, how do you describe your artist to other people... what is Mochipet?

Dave Wang: Mochipet is pretty much all my electronic endeavors in music. If anybody's ever listened to any of my other music, they will know that it's kinda crazy, kinda different, it pulls from a lot of genres. It can be very intense, but also very mellow and also very dramatic as well.

bP: Isn't Mochipet like the name of a Tamagotchi or something like that?

DW: Yeah, I don't know, everybody keeps asking me about that, (laughter) I don't think so. ...You know what it is, my grandmother and some of my relatives used to make mochi and they used to make little pets out of it. (laughter) Yeah yeah yeah, it's like a rice... if you know what mochi is, it's basically like a rice CAKE, you can shape it into whatever things, and you can make it into little pets and stuff, it's awesome.

bP: Playing with your food! (laughter)

DW: It's like some stupid thing, you know, and it just turned into one of my artist names, you know.

bP: Okay. So you mentioned that Mochipet's your name for your electronic music. You do a bunch of other stuff, you've got like a heavy metal/hip hop project you're in, you've got like a rock/pop/synth thing you're in, you've got a label, so you do a lot of stuff then...

DW: Yeah, I'm really really busy. The metal thing is pretty much like death metal meets like Neptunes beats, like Timbaland beats with like death metal singing over it. It's just like a kinda crazy idea that I had. One of my friends who loves like crazy Ludacris hip hop, but he also listens to a lot of like black metal. The combination of that, and being around him, kind of inspired me to do that kind of an album.

bP: The band, Ludicra, do you know them?

DW: Ludicra? No...

bP: They're a black metal band that just got signed to Alternative Tentacles, so you could do like a Ludicra/Ludacris mash-up... (laughter)

DW: (laughter) That would be RAD.

bP: What's the name of this project, the metal and hip hop band?

DW: The metal with the hip hop is Cuti Sada.

bP: And then you have another one, that's like a metal band, right?

DW: Yeah, it's like a rock/punk rock type band, and that's called China Air, and that's just kind of me and some of my friends. My friend Bob- I don't know if you know of the Texas Thieves- he played in Hotbox which was with Barry from RKO. He plays drums. My other friend Dave plays guitar and stuff..

bP: That's a kind of campy album, it's really silly...

DW: It's pretty silly, yeah. It's a pretty fun album.

bP: Didn't you cover, uh, what's his name, that Canadian guy, Bryan Adams?

DW: Yeah, we covered Bryan Adams "Heaven"...

bP: (laughter)

DW: ...there's also a remix by DJ Sammy. ...If you ever hear that remix, it's twice as funny actually.

bP: You've done some fairly high profile work with Kid606 and his label Tigerbeat6, and you actually went to Europe with him, right?

DW: Uh, no, I didn't actually go to Europe with Miguel. I did a couple of things for his label. I went on tour in Europe by myself, and actually DJ Forest Green came with me, and we played in a bunch of places in The Netherlands and Germany. Mostly Netherlands and Germany I guess. Like VMF and stuff, and we did a Bpitch Control party there with Ellen Alien. Yeah, it was really great. It was fun, but no, I didn't go to Europe with Miguel.

bP: There's a rumor that Kid606's Tigerbeat6 label actually pays royalties to it's artists, which is strangely rare in small electronic labels...

DW: Uh... maybe.

bP: Maybe? (laughter) Is that what you're saying?

DW: MAYBE. Yeah. I don't know. (pause) (laughter)

bP: I want to get back to the Europe thing. Your laptop was stolen at the end of that tour, which caused you a lot of problems. What did you learn and grow and feel and think out of that whole process of having to get back to your tools?

DW: Um, it was definitely hard to start over and everything. But, at the same time, I think it was very good I think. It kind of made me start fresh again, and got rid of a lot of things that- you know- I probably should have gotten rid of a long time ago. People were actually really supportive of that as well, a lot of people donated... and THANK YOU to everyone who donated- that was wonderful- and bought the fund-raising CD, which had like a bunch of my unreleased tracks on it. I guess it was good and bad. It was really bad at the beginning, but, as time goes on, it gets better...

bP: What kind of laptop did you get to replace it with?

DW: Miguel- Kid606 actually- let me loan one of his laptops, which I finally just paid him back for (laughter). I had for like (laughter) six months. Yeah, it's like a Dell something, it's like a PC that he had, he never used it. And it was just sitting around, and he was like "hey, you can borrow it," that was really nice.

bP: I've noticed in all of your work, you've got a constant motif of using your childhood photos for your pictures. What's up with that?

DW: ...I don't have any recent photos, really, of myself. It's really hard to get... you know, when you're in school, you get the yearly photos or whatever (laughter) get that kinda stuff, and that's so easy to use. I don't have time really to go take photos of myself, so people could get a better view of me like today. But I'll do that soon, hopefully.

bP: And then you're on myspace, you've got your childhood pictures up there. What's with this myspace thing? I mean, we just started a betterPropaganda page there, and obviously a lot of bands and artists and DJs and labels and magazines and all that are up there. What's in it for you with the Mochipet page there?

DW: I don't know, I get a lot of weird, weird messages from people. It's FUN. I kind of think of it as like Garbage Pail Kids you know, collect them all you know... (laughter) myspace characters. It's like "hey, that one looks kinda cool" or something. Yeah, I haven't had much time to spend on it actually, it's just been kind of overwhelming. I can imagine it could suck up all of your time (laughter). Yeah, Garbage Pail Kids, that's what I think when I think of myspace.

bP: Have you gotten any shows from there?

DW: No, not really.

bP: Recently you did a midi orchestra, can you explain how that worked?

DW: Yeah, that was really fun, that was a techno orchestra, and basically, um, uh...

bP: You conducted...

DW: I conducted it, YES. I basically just asked all of my friends if they wanted to get together and midi-sync all of their drum machines and keyboards and laptops and whatever you can get that will midi-sync and then just all jam out and rock out to it. There's a great like live element to it, in that everything is kinda improvised- and it's on the fly- but then it's also like cohesive too, where everything is like kinda synced together and that's really fun, yeah.

bP: Would you describe that event as being successful, musically?

DW: Yeah, considering we kinda just played around for like an hour before the show, it turned out a lot better than I expected actually. (laughter)

bP: A lot of electronic music is known as the one man producer, the bedroom musician. And to actually go up there and play with, you know- what, almost a dozen people or something?

DW: Yeah

bP: That's not the way techno music's usually gone, I mean, you're starting to be in a big band or jazz or something, did you think of those things?

DW: Yeah, totally. It's like the whole element of having other people around, that the whole jamming aspect makes it more live. Instead of just being by yourself... there's only so much one person can do, it's not as interactive.

bP: So when you use your laptop out, are you playing songs, or, I mean, are you playing finished songs, are you playing songs that you're remixing live, can you describe kind of the process you use when you play out?

DW: When I play out with my laptop, it's usually one of three things. I'm usually DJing with Tractor, which is a Native Instruments like DJ/mixer thing. Or I'm using Live, which is the Ableton software... I trigger things, and I have certain midi things going in in Live which I manipulate live along with my live music. Or, I'm doing everything live with Reactor, with a bunch of different Reactor instruments that I've built, that are pretty much just generative, and I can just run weird things through it.

bP: When you're making music right now, what do you work in, environment-wise? Just any software is okay, or do you work with a favorite right now?

DW: I'm currently using Logic Audio, mostly Logic Audio...

bP: On the PC?

DW: On the PC. And uh, Reactor, a lot of Reactor instruments that I've built. But I'm finding that I'm going to have to move to Cubase, because Logic, as you know, was purchased by Apple which is Macintosh, a different company...

bP: Do you like the Apple machines?

DW: I like the Apple machines, yeah, they're great, I just can't really afford em. (laughter)

bP: You play a lot of other instruments too, right?

DW: Yes, I play guitar and bass and a little bit of drums.

bP: Sing...

DW: I Sing, or I try to sing, yeah. (laughter) Um...

bP: Turntable, you play?

DW: I used to DJ a little bit, yes, I used to DJ hip hop...

bP: Do you scratch?

DW: Scratch, yes. Yeah, and I'm trying to learn this new Asian instrument. Or it's not new, it's really old, but, uh...

bP: (laughter)

DW: It's an Asian instrument called the erhu, I don't know if you've heard of that...

bP: Erhu, is a one string Chinese fiddle...

DW: Yeah...

bP: ...with a sound gourd at the bottom and a vertical neck...

DW: Exactly...

bP: Well, it's actually two strings, sympathetic strings, and you squeeze the string and it pitches it and you bow...

DW: Exactly, so you know it, yes.

bP: It's an awesome instrument. Does anyone in your family play that?

DW: No. No one in my family plays that.

bP: Where did you pick one up?

DW: In China, when I was there, a really cheap one for like three dollars or something...

bP: (laughter)

DW: WHICH MIGHT EXPLAIN WHY IT'S REALLY HARD TO PLAY (laughter) But I'm trying to learn that as well.

bP: Have you played shows over there?

DW: In China?

bP: Uh-huh.

DW: No. I was going to play a show in Taiwan, but it didn't work out. There's these guys called The Recorders, they're really great. They're in Taiwan, they're like the first group of experimental electronic musicians there. And they started a monthly I think. They're just trying to get the whole thing going, because right now there's nothing like that in Taiwan, yeah. Josh- Kit Clayton- actually went over there and played at a show.

bP: So you're kind of tied into a scene which some people call breakcore or hardcore. I'm just wondering what you would call it right now, that kind of music and a lot of the artists you're reacting against or with, if you would call it a scene...

DW: Yeah, there is like a huge breakcore- along with a dancehall like ragga kinda like scene- going on. I love all that stuff. There's some of my music that does fit into there, like the "Polka Electronic Death Country"

bP: (laughter)

DW: Kinda like hardcore. I'm not really that tapped up into the scene, but I can hear the similarities in the music, and I do appreciate all the music that they put out.

bP: So what are your plans for 2005... you've got your label, you've got several acts you're doing, what are you going to be doing with yourself?

DW: Um, with the label, definitely, we're just gearing up, and we're starting to sign artists, and we're going to start putting things out, and get that going. There's also a show that we're going to run, it's going to be a bi-monthly called Dim Sum. It's going to just feature all the crazy electronic music and underground music, bands, etc., everything in San Francisco. I'm also working on two records right now, one's for Bpitch Control, and one's for Tigerbeat6, which are full lengths, hopefully to be done fairly soon.

bP: Wow. So you expect to get both of those out this year?

DW: That's my plan, hopefully.

bP: And how about your own music on your label?

DW: My own music on my label, I don't have anything planned right now, no.

bP: Best of luck to you.

DW: Thanks.

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