At New York’s Cake Shop during the 2011 edition of the CMJ Music Marathon, Brian Lindgren – the Minneapolis-bred, Brooklyn-dwelling electronic musician Mux Mool – was bent low over a table with his sequencer, sampler and MacBook, explaining, “I don’t usually look this awkward, I swear.” But he didn’t sound awkward in the least, because his set largely consisted of material from his then-forthcoming second album for Ghostly International, Planet High School. It’s a big leap up from his 2010 debut, Skulltaste, which added an electro gloss to IDM tricks. Planet High School is warm and straightforwardly composed – a smart step in the direction of its predecessor’s downtempohigh point, “Morning Strut.” eMusic’s Michaelangelo Matos spoke with Lindgren about CMJ, his hometown and the festival circuit.
On the Twin Cities:
I’m from two different places inMinnesota. I went to school in Red Wing and went to Arts High School in Golden Valley starting in ’99. It seemed like a good place to be just in that I was at least around other artist people. Who goes to art college? Girls who want to, like, change their name to something funny or dress completely outrageously or do a lot of drugs or whatever. It was like that, except ahead of [schedule].
I actually didn’t finish high school, so I had no sights on college whatsoever. I just had jobs. I had every job ever, and I think I’ve been fired from all of them – a lot of coffee shop jobs. I was never cool enough to get hired at [Uptown coffeehouse Muddy Waters]. Those guys were always super-urban. And I was definitely not in with that crowd. I mean, I grew up on a farm or whatever. I never had the “I’m-cooler-than-you” attitude enough to work there.
On early beat-making:
Especially with the music stuff, it wasn’t like I wasn’t just making beats for the one rapper in the area. I had a bigger picture in mind. I started in 10th grade at a friend’s house. That’s a good, what, 12, 13 years now? It was the first time I actually sat down to make music: I had always been curious about things like that, because I always had keyboards. The very first thing I ever did was just, I was finding loops onto this computer. I was putting one [thing] on top of another using Acid 3.0. It was just some foundational work for how computer music is made. I was just very curious about dance music, though, house music. Those songs are terrible.
On playing festivals:
The funny thing is, the labels rarely have anything to do with shows. It’s always got to be done through agents which, if you don’t have that in addition to a label, you’re not playing as many shows. But my feeling about CMJ, South by Southwest, any major festival like that I just, I don’t like that stuff very much. In some cases I feel like it’s the whole music industry getting together, getting drunk and everybody’s patting themselves on the back like, “Oh yes, look at us, we’re a band, we did this.” I don’t really find that there’s a whole lot of value in those kind of things very often but I try and do them because there are people that go, industry people that go to see, check out where everything’s at.
There are a lot more electronic music festivals going on right now, and [at] the CMJ showcase that I played, or places in New York in general sometimes, the show will end up just being me standing there, people sort of standing, staring at me. Nobody’s actually dancing or enjoying themselves. That’s not nearly as fun as it is to play at all the festivals, in the woods, for kids and things like that.
[My performance at Cake Shop during CMJ 2011] was very odd for who I normally play for, how it normally comes across, the reactions, the lights. Just the feeling of getting squeezed between other bands, because everybody’s there to see something – that’s not good for anybody, really. I mean, who excels in that cramped sort of environment? It’s like peeing in a tiny little urinal. That’s what it felt like. Especially with the low table, it did not do well for me. I’m not even that tall, but I had to bend over so far just to reach the controls. It felt like a kid’s table or something.
On relocating to Brooklyn:
I was tired of Minnesota. A year before I left, I had gotten sober, and I wasn’t interested in doing the same sort of circles that everybody else had been doing for a while and that I had been doing for a while: get done with work and go to the CC Club and get really drunk, and then go across the street and get a burger, and then end up home, and do that for the next 12 years. I wanted to break out. L.A. was coming into the radar at that time. I just wanted to avoid going to L.A., because L.A. [has the beat] scene, so I wanted to get as far from that as possible. The L.A. beat scene is great, but then I thought, OK, people will think I’m trying to just follow that, so I’m not going to go there. I had a couple friends in New York, and they drew me out here. [Right now] there’s not enough resources to go around for everybody. We all got to grab what we can and hold on. There’s not a lot of cookies, you know?