With the release of his debut LP, Luneworks, earlier this month, Mmoths (aka Jack Colleran) delivered a crystalline slice of ambient electronica. Hailing from Dublin, Mmoths distinguished himself early on with ambitious soundscape work on the EPs Mmoths and Diaries (2012 and 2013 respectively), and having opened for both Aphex Twin and At The Drive-In, his music is certainly difficult to categorise.

I spoke to Mmoths about taking his music to the live stage, the story behind Luneworks, and the far-reaching influence of My Bloody Valentine.

What are your earliest memories of music?

Probably playing the piano. I started playing that when I was pretty young, so that was around four or five.

Was piano something you wanted to learn or did your parents want you to try it out?

Yeah, I wanted to learn piano, but my mum thought I was too young. I kept asking her and she eventually gave in, and I started studying classical music. Obviously nothing too intense, being a four-year-old, but that’s how it started.

Are there any specific records that you feel have influenced your sound or your approach to making music?

I guess Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine. He’s someone that, especially on this album, I was listening to a lot. Loveless specifically, and he and that album quite heavily influenced the writing process of Luneworks.

You’ve also opened for both Aphex Twin and At The Drive-In, but would you say your sound is kind of a hybrid between the obvious electronic influences and more diverse guitar effects-based bands?

I guess I’m trying to make organic sounds with electronic instruments, something that sounds natural. In the beginning it’s not totally electronic or totally analogue, but I tried to make it sound as organic and familiar as possible, but whilst it still being new.

Totally. There’s an element of that in Luneworks, which was the result of a breakup.

Yeah. Well, kind of. I started writing the record here in Dublin, and Dublin can be quite a claustrophobic place at times, just because it’s so small. So I decided to just get out of here for a while and went over to LA to continue writing the record. Dublin wasn’t being the most inspiring place at the time. So I started working on it over there and slept on my friend’s floor for two months, which was pretty intense, but that’s how it kind of took its shape over there.

How do you go about turning these emotions into sounds?

I never really sit down conscious of what I’m doing, but it somehow creeps its way into the writing. I don’t think it’s as simple as, ‘This has just happened, so I’m going to sit down and indulge in that and create something from it’. I guess there are people who work like that, but with me it just found its way in.

Do you think that the recording setting had an impact on the sound, or would Luneworks have sounded the same if it had been recorded somewhere else?

I think it would have sounded the same if it had been recorded anywhere. I don’t usually find inspiration from places or I don’t think it has that much of an impact on what’s happening, especially because when I was working I wasn’t really interacting with the city that much to be honest, so it wasn’t something that would have found its way into the record.

It was all recorded on laptop, but would you like to use more analogue techniques in the future?

Yeah, it was recorded basically entirely on a laptop, but I sampled some stuff like a piano from my parents’ house. I could only really bring a certain amount of stuff with me, so I sampled a lot of things I had lying around here at home so that I could bring it with me in a sense. But I do want to use more analogue. When I’m here at home I’m using organs and pianos and tape machines and tape delays and stuff like that, but it just so happened that this album was mainly digital, because the laptop is all I could take.

Would you say it’s a product of its limitations then?

Yeah, and then when we got back home we started bringing it out of the box more, so we mixed it in The Meadow, which is Rhian from Solar Bears’ studio, and he and myself worked on really giving it space by doing things like sending an audio signal through a speaker underneath the grand piano, where it resonated with the strings. So just recording it with different speakers in different rooms and layering it up to give it a sense of space and life.

The record flows quite nicely between harsh and caustic moments where you can really hear the Kevin Shields influence, but it’s also got some more relaxed and ambient moments. Do you see it as a breakup album with tragic undertones or a kind of catharsis?

I think it’s essentially a comment on my headspace at the time, where it was up at times and down at others. It was the transition period, really. I really don’t want it to be a breakup record, but as I said it’s a commentary on my own headspace. I think it’s a journey from the first track, going from that space where nothing seems like it’s working, to the last track, where it leads out with a feeling that everything’s normal again.

The voice is quite prominent on the record, but it’s these snatches of melody as opposed to straight up lyrics. ‘Eva’ has the closest thing to vocals on the album. Do you think you’d like to experiment with vocals and lyrics, or do you see your music as more suited to being instrumental?

I’m not sure. I see my vocals as an instrument more than anything else, not as a means of communication. I always want my music to have some element of blurriness to it, so if I were to start writing lyrics then maybe it would become too direct. I like that people can take what they want from it or make what they will of the track themselves, rather than me telling them exactly what it is. A sense of haziness or whatever that might be. I like it to have an element of fuzziness.

What’s next or is it too early to tell?

We’ve been working on the live show for the past few weeks – me and Josh, who plays with me in the live setup – so we’ll be playing lots of shows. That’s the next step.

Could you tell me a little about the live show?

Sure. Josh plays guitars and I do vocals and the rest of the electronics, and we’ve been doing it for a while now. It’s been kind of weird trying to take those tracks that were never really meant to be performed in that kind of environment and figure them out in a way that they will work, so that’s been interesting over the past few weeks.

Has that process been difficult?

It’s been a little difficult, but not as hard as I thought it would be. I guess when I was writing I didn’t want to take it live, and had to take into consideration that I didn’t want any restrictions on it or any worries about how we were going to play it live, so dissecting and making sense of it, and then sequencing it differently has been kind of fun.

Is there something that you have in mind that, when you achieve it, you can retire happy?

I try not to think about the future too much. I try and just take things how they come, but I think the goal would be to score a film at some stage. I think that would be an interesting experience to do something like that, but that’s constantly changing.

http://soundcloud.com/mmoths

 

Kristofer Thomas