Many fans got their first introduction to skweee on Museum of Future Sound, Flogsta Danshall’s seminal compilation, and the first ever skweee release on compact disc. In one of the great “you had me at hello” moments in electronic music, MoFS kicks off with Mesak’s “Popkumm”, a delicious and irresistible slice of jiggery funk that instantly hooked many in the uninitiated masses on the wonders of skweee. Based in Turku, Finland, Mesak is ubiquitous in the skweee scene along with partner Randy Barracuda, running the Harmönia record label, producing tracks, performing live across Europe, DJing and radio broadcasting.
Skweeelicious: You have been making electronic music for many years as one half of Mr. Velcro Fastener and a solo artist. Now you are part of a new movement called skweee. Tell us how you became involved and how Harmönia came to be started.
Mesak: I think it happened as naturally as the evolution of skweee itself. I mean there were echoes of skweee already coming from Sweden when I was a bit fed up with the electro beat, and started experimenting with more downtempo Mesak material. At the same time Randy Barracuda of Imatran Voima had similar progress in his music. Later on we brought Pavan and Daniel Savio from Stockholm to play in Finland a couple of times. Me and Randy thought “shit, we have this great music too and it needs to be released!” That’s when we established Harmönia.
S: Why is seven inch vinyl the format of choice for skweee recordings?
M: 7″ is a great format. It’s like some people like to buy individual songs as mp3’s rather than complete albums, (or so it is said in the media, I’m not sure if it’s true). Harmönia has released more 12″s than 7″ to be exact. 7″ IS a cool format and we’d love to put out more of them. They’re just a bit more difficult to get to the record shops, but on the other hand mail orders make more sense due to expensive prices for posting 12″s.
S: Music styles usually have been given names after the music was created — often by writers or radio DJs. Often artists object to classification of their music and so reject these labels. With skweee the artists themselves have put a label on their music. Why is this?
M: Yes, there has always been some sort of “skweee” music. We just found it difficult to book gigs and sell records since the music sounded a bit wackier than hiphop, electro, dancehall, 8-bit, whatever, and it was always a lot of trouble describing the shit. Giving it a name made it a lot easier – or that’s what i thought. Ever since I have had to explain what it means and what it sounds like and is it a joke or not.
S: Skweee is very diverse but would you say there are some characteristics that define the music?
M: Yes, i think there is or was.
S: What do you think will be the next phase of development for skweee? How will it grow?
M: The skweee is about to shatter in dozens of subgenres by all the artists performing their own music so strong that it slowly blends into being just top music and great artists. As there is more worldwide attention more people get into it and start producing or organizing parties. I think no one really knows what is going to happen. It’s also bit worrying if it gets popular.
S: For now the scene is still small and the original creators of the music such as Pavan and yourself are providing much of the images and words associated with skweee as well as the music itself. If skweee grows a lot and gets big will it be hard for you to maintain the quality control you have now?
M: Absolutely, but in a way it’ll be exciting to see how it goes. But if it gets dirty (like Nelly Furtado singing on Punt Kick) that’d be kind of heavy. Pavan has created a monster, I think he’s lost “control over skweee” a long time ago.
S: Tell us about Back to the School, the new Mesak 3 track digital release that has just come out on Harmönia.
M: It’s part of a secret plan of Harmönia. But I can tell you that it’s exactly what the title says. Though I am not quite there yet, as old skool as I want. But maybe some day.
S: Tell us about the next Harmonia 12″. What is it and when will it be released?
M: Mesak and Randy Barracuda 7″s (first two Harmönias) are to be re-released due to huge demand. BUT it will be just 100 copies, numbered small pressing. So they will be even more rare than the originals, if possible. But the main thing is a 4 track 12″ release that will be out in November, heavy production also by Randy and Mesak with a remix by Eero Johannes, (this 12″ WILL be properly announced in
every possible way ;) ).
S: You also do circuit bending and synth customization. How did you get involved in this? What projects have you done? Do you use any of these instruments in your skweee productions?
M: I do handcrafts to balance my audio-overdosed head. But it includes some electronics which leads easily to audio hacking… There’s one massive project I did, a midibox SID (c64 synth) DIY project (documented at www.mesak.net/sid) that is heard almost in all my skweee production. It’s amazing. I’m really a big time amateur in circuit bending (which is part of the fun) and there’s lot’s of things one could do with even a little bit more knowledge… Still it’s best to mix the “toysounds” with real instruments. I’m not very fond of puristic 8-bit music, for example, even though I love the 8-bit sounds.
S: Will you continue to release non-skweee records under the Mesak name?
M: Of course. I’ve always made electronic music in many styles, this is something I like to do now, but there’s many other projects going on at the same time. Electro for example is selling like shit and there’s not many good records coming out.
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