Getting Honest with Moomin

In a world where function often dominates form, Moomin finds an expressive language that creates a new poignant dimension to this music without losing sight of its inherent purpose. It’s not predisposed to any particular dance floor decorum and yet it applies itself to that context effortlessly. The function that exists around the music is often merely coincidence, which only seems to further emphasise the emotion already there in the music; a positive visceral experience that more than often borders on happiness and contentment. Much like the cartoon characters Moomin references in his artistic moniker, there is a sense of universal joy Sebastian Genz brings to his House alias over his countless EP’s and more markedly over the two albums that came via Smallville. “You need to feel something”, says Sebastian by way of email correspondence about the process behind his creative efforts to arrive at these results. The German producer and DJ foregoes in his productions the introverted music obsessive in favour of adding the emotional depth that this music quite often lacks in it’s more concrete terms. It’s grounded in the origins of the producer’s work as Moomin, where the music came from a necessity to be “honest with yourself and make the music you feel”; music that was not proposed to align itself with the hype of the moment and only intended for the shared experience.

Moomin arrived for the Kiel native after an era spent in the German Hip Hop game. “I guess when I started with German Hip Hop in 1992, everything was more or less just beginning”, remembers Sebastian. It wasn’t common practice to “rap in German Hip Hop” and Sebastian found an affinity with the scene, not so much as a fan, but more an admirer of its raw underground appeal. Everything was unique and exciting, but when it went from “something that was ‘underground’ to something super commercial” Sebastian became very disenfranchised with the overall scene. “I couldn’t associate myself with that anymore” and instead he turned to electronic music for inspiration. “I went from Hip Hop to stuff like Aphex Twin, Authecre and Boards of Canada”. Everything was new and exciting again and “discovering all things electronic was like reading a new book” for Sebastian. He would consume it all for the purpose of stripping it back to its origins, going from the likes of Aphex Twin to “Techno and from Techno to House” where he came to the primordial ooze of it all, the origins of this electronic music, from which Moomin would gestate. From Hip Hop there would no-doubt be some similarities to House music’s sampled nature and it’s quite obvious that as Moomin, Sebastian created something very unique within the House paradigm, perhaps from these roots, but also in the fact that he never wavered from his ideology to remain true to himself.

What was meant as just a personal endeavour, some fun to be shared with friends, could never quite be contained as such and Moomin’s music eventually found a much larger audience. Amongst others Moomin found the ears of Julius Steinhoff and Just von Ahlefeld from Smallville and after a couple of EP’s on White and AIM, the artist was inducted into the Smallville family with “The story about you”… and what was quite remarkable about that album, was that it featured some of Sebastian’s first musical attempts as his House alias. It was an album “that was never planned” and came together organically from tracks made during the initial stages of Moomin’s development, presenting an artist that projects a confidence in his sound, one that’s devoid of any artistic insecurities, and puts everything out there on the surface for the world to take from it what it may. More significantly however is that this debut also featured the first track Sebastian made as Moomin, “Watermelon” – a track that is the blueprint from which Moomin’s sound can be distilled into its fundamental parts. Sebastian seems to graft House music’s roots onto an attainable humanity where restrained percussive elements play amongst pervasive textures, with results creating amiable atmospheres that are unavoidably pleasant and engaging. “The biggest challenge is not to get bored while making music”, explains Sebastian about his own engagement with the music, something that he’s continued to carry through to this day with his latest LP, “A minor thought”.

It’s also an album that, more than anything emphasises the special relationship Moomin has with Smallville. Unlike “The story about you” Sebastian, on this occasion knew that he would be making an album, and although “creatively there was no difference” for the artist, the decision of which tracks would be included in the final product fell not only onto the artist, but also to the label. Still, “there was no pressure, so I just made some music and when I thought it was the right time I passed a collection of tracks on to Julius and Just.” Sebastian left it then to Smallville to pick the tracks that would eventually make it on to the album, showing a level of trust and dedication to the label that recording artists very rarely do today. “Smallville is more than a label for me it’s a family, a friendship and trust. I am very thankful to be part of it, because they’ve put me on the map.” It’s a very deep-seated trust, one that would even see Sebastian go against his own decision not to include ”woman to woman” in his final selection for the album. He was never quite “happy with that one” and “found it kinda boring”, but respected Smallville’s decisions to include it and since, it has been “one of the most loved tracks on the album”.

That song, like much of this latest the album, appears on the surface to put more focus on the sample, with Sebastian’s Hip Hop roots more prominent than ever on this record. It only goes to aid in his efforts to relay that sense of feeling he maintains at the centre of his work, something that seeps through to the listener, and at the very least sets an emotive scene, from which we can presume our own feelings. It’s unsure how Sebastian instils the same sense of feeling through his DJ sets and when I ask him about it, he is unable to give me an answer. But like his music there’s an unpretentious ability behind it all that Sebastian explained earlier is about being honest with your self. It’s that sense of honesty, and communicating something personal like a feeling, where Moomin indeed finds its charm and like the cartoon characters of the same name, it’s completely irresistible, at any level. It’s a charm that stems from the man behind the artistic moniker and something I even discern through our very brief email exchange. More than anything it seems to be grounded in a genuine excitement in the music and playing it for other people, something that hits home, when at the end of exchange he signs off with: “I am really looking forward to playing at Jaeger, and to be honest it is one of places I’ve always wanted play.”