The Outlaw Ocean Music Project | Interview with: MISCÉL

** (Update 8 December 2021 : I wrote a piece about recent events that have circulated about The Outlaw Ocean Music Project. Read it here.) **

Norwegian producer Miscél created a top ten track for The Outlaw Ocean Music Project. The talented beat-maker is already a well respected figure in the electronic production world. He was one of the more high-profile contributors to the cause. His chilled-out single, E Mare, Libertas, is certainly a stand-out musical moment for me. I had a brief zoom chat with him – here is the transcription of that!

Make sure to listen to the track whilst reading the interview for the best experience.

The Interview

What inspired you to take part in ‘The Outlaw Ocean Music Project?

I got an email in the summer of 2019, it was a pretty short email asking if I’d be interested in getting involved. When I read the full details, it looked so cool, like a total passion project of his. I’ve always wanted to score music for something and scoring literature is something super new and abstract.

I was then sent an e-copy of the book, I read it and it was amazing to actually read something and at the same time think of ways to make music that would fit it. Seeing the vast amount of artists that have got involved was unexpected, it wasn’t necessarily a negative thing. Listening to the other musician’s varied interpretations of the project was really interesting for me.

When you received the footage, how did you approach the sorting of the sounds and pick the sounds you needed?

There were a lot of sound-bites to sort through – originally I was going to go for something a lot more dark as there were a lot of really dark chapters about piracy and human trafficing. It got quite overwhelming trying to make scary abstract music to – I decided to try and make something a little more uplifting. Throughout the book, there are quite a number of lighter moments, particularly the section about the tiny nation of Sealand. It was a surreal, weird story, which was so much fun to read. I thought I’d prefer to make my musical adaptation more chirpy and whimsical.

In terms of sound-effects, I went for a lot of the traditional sea noises, sea birds and trawlers. I ended up using a lot of piano, I don’t really know why – there’s piano in all of the tracks actually. The sound of the piano matched the ocean-based images in my mind as I read the book.

It was really fun translating a piece of writing into a melody or sound.

Tell me about E Mare, Libertas – what does the title mean?

It was one of the first songs I made – there’s a lot of sounds of waves and also some prose dotted around. The song title translates to being ‘free at sea’ – which is a poignant line that I picked up on. There’s tons of unclaimed land, territories and grey lines in the depths of the ocean. I wanted to use sounds to illustrate this theme and the piano brought an uplifting mood to it.

Can you explain the technical side of the song to us?

I work in FL studio on a Macbook – finally, they released the official FL Studio for the Mac, which has been a long time coming. I use a Korg minilogue, which is an analog poli-synth – there’s lots of cool soundscapes there. I also use traditional LoFi hardware like the SP-404. The xx version is really good for recording and sampling. Finally, I use a thirty-two key keyboard from Native Instruments.

I made E Mare, Libertas mostly on the road and away from the studio. It was basically all composed on my laptop. Labs have a really nice piano sound called ‘Spitfire’, it’s a lovely soft and warm sounding plug-in. The song is processed in quite a weird way, there is a plug-in called RC-20, which is a standard piece of technology required to make Lo-Fi music (to make it sound like vinyl). I didn’t actually have this technology at the time so used an autotune plug-in called ‘Pitcher’ to give it more appeal. These plug-in’s make subtle changes to the track but are really important to the end result.

Has participating here made you more open to creating music in a different way?

It definitely was eye-opening in that kind of way, it was nice to get my hands on the material and very consciously pick out pieces from the book and deliberately trying to make music to it. Initially, it was hard to adjust to because I’m just so used to things happening automatically. It was strange being so aware of what I was doing at first but after a little while I got used to it.

Listen to the Full EP here:

Check out The Outlaw Ocean Music Project official website : here

About ‘The Sound Sniffer’

The Sound Sniffer is a one-man music blog which is still only a baby – Founded and run by Kevin Coakley in early 2019. He is a music writer and ghostwriter. ‘The Sound Sniffer’ also runs gigs and showcases in London since Oct 2019. The showcases are picked from artists I find in my submissions inbox.

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