EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: 5 MINUTES WITH M! R! M! AKA JACK MILWAUKEE
M!R!M is the innovative new solo project of Italian horror and retro synths obsessive Lacapo Bertelli, known in London as the musical artist and sound engineer Jack Milwaukee. Last week The Playground’s Editor Natalie Wardle, caught up with Milwaukee at Hoxton Square’s Breakfast Club, to discuss his unique style of electronic music, his roots in old-skool hip hop, and his cluster of upcoming gigs around Dalston.
What does M!R!M! stand for firstly?
Milwaukee Melodies, it’s just a made up thing. I wish it was something more interesting.
So how did you first get into playing as a solo artist, where you in other bands before?
I pretty much play by myself, I mean I play with other people live, but all the writing and recording and mixing stuff is done by myself. I played with other bands, I was playing guitar with a band called Seedcamp, but it wasn’t my project. I don’t even consider my stuff a band. I’m just me writing songs in my bedroom, I never experienced being in a band for years, it’s always been just me and my instruments. Whenever I feel like doing my things, I do them.
You have a really kinda of avant-garde sound. I can hear some Twin Peaks nods in there, some 80’s synth like The Killing Moon, Psychedelic Furs, and also a bit of a thing with space, like Brian Eno sort of ambient vibes too. Is this a deliberate reference?
Yeah, definitely! There is a big eighties compliment in the sound… all my keyboards are from the eighties, and I like it. I would say my sound is very dreamy, it is a mirror of what I do, maybe that’s why it sounds like that… because that’s who I am. Maybe if I was different, it would be different, I like lots of other things, but maybe I am just good at this type of thing. I am also really fascinated by space and astronomy, I study let’s say, I watch a LOT of documentaries. So I would say the roots of that kinda thing is related to.
Can you tell us about some of your main influences?
It’s really hard ’cause I listen to so many different things, not related to what I play, I make things that are a mixture of everything mashed together, like I do hip-hop samples. Like the drums of Nars, Mobb Deep… so many. I like the why the old-skool were producing the beats and the samples, unbelievably so for drum machines definitely very influenced by old-skool hip-hop.
What is your method for producing the tracks, do you do this yourself?
I just start playing smoke a joint, it’s very spontaneous. If I like a riff I keep it I play it on top. I try to keep a structure of things then layer it. An also some experimental things, like sometimes I go with original sounds from the keyboard. It comes from industrial sounds like the first industrial band from Germany, Einstürzende Neubauten, who were using pipes and drills.
There’s a few remixes for your track ‘Reel,’ how did they come about?
Yeah it’s from a guy from a band called Dust – an American band. So I got to know this guy and I asked him if he wanted to did it, and he said ‘yeah let’s do it.’ I played with them in Germany a couple of years ago, they’re very electronic, so they’re good to do a remix. Check them out – they’re really good.
Also you’ve got a few gigs planned in London like Shacklewell Arms for instance, do you have any plans for doing any around the UK or Europe this year?
Yeah Shacklewell on the 6th January, there is a mini festival for Night Terrors, then the 2nd February at the Victoria. Then next year doing some gigs in Russia, Germany and France. I just need to confirm the dates.
Do you find it harder as a solo artist being a one man band, sorting pr and promoting etc?
It’s just the promoters contacting me, in Italy I have an agency, but in Europe promos contact me, and I say to them they need to arrange everything for me ’cause I can’t do it. It’s not difficult I guess, ’cause it’s just me an another guy that just got keys and bass, so easy to do travelling. He is a good friend and a very good band-mate, he plays keys and pads… and obviously we try to arrange some parts to sound more exciting, his name is Francesco.
Any plans for an album in the new year?
Yeah I’m recording some new songs, and I’m just waiting to find the right label, to produce it so hopefully next year. I really like Sacred Bones.
Buy the full digital album on Bandcamp here.