Ambient Music Creates a World of Hope - How Moa Finds Self-Worth Through the Music Mastering Process
By Trey Cardi
“Music keeps me going” says upcoming electronic musician and producer Moa, “I feel a need to get my feelings out there about the problems in the world through my work, as it helps me cope and learn to live with the reality we face”.
Moa specializes in mixing and mastering music for the online collaborative group Dismiss Yourself. Moa also creates their own dreampunk and vaporwave music under this unknown and mysterious moniker, utilizing real analog synthesizers and a minimal composition style. They are super well-versed in the music engineering field, as well as the creative aspects.
Before Moa ever became the young and sought-out producing engineer and musician in this underground scene, they loved seeking out high sound quality in anything they could find, still calling themselves an “audiophile” to this day. Soon enough, they started collecting and comparing different CD masters of their favorite records. Moa contemplates the many opportunities they had gotten to compare different releases, citing the original issue of “Hex” by Bark Psychosis as being “beautifully mastered”, and it “never failing to amaze” them. They also cite widely-hailed producing engineer and musician Stephen Wilson as being one of their main influences: “He has the beautiful ability to revitalize old music and make it sound really good through his mastering”. Moa began to realize just how important the mastering process should be, citing “Anastasis” by Dead Can Dance and “Death Magnetic” by Metallica as being “some of the poorest sounding masters [they] had ever heard”.
Moa released their three track debut EP entitled “Step” in August of 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Seeing all the chaos and death in the world pushed them to create their music, as they add that the all-encompassing idea of the life cycle influenced much of their early works (including the EP). When referring to the composition of “Step”, they considered their thought processes at the time: “I love ambient and cinematic music, so I wanted to combine the two by using simple and powerful chords with a more complex atmosphere.”
Now that Moa has become the mainstay mastering engineer for the online-based indie group Dismiss Yourself, they “love to work with the label”, and consider themselves a good match because of the more electronic based music stylings that the label pushes. Moa revels in the challenge of trying to “make the music sound as best as it can” before its release, and “the results can be surprising as well”. Having worked on roughly 4 total projects with Dismiss Yourself, Cartier God’s “Cartier’ in Da House” stands out as one of Moa’s favorites.
Moa’s mastering process, while drawn-out in practice, is made up of various phases. The process transitions from previewing the project and coming up with an audio picture in their mind of how they want a particular track to sound - “I do whatever I can in post to make the music really shine. While I always try to respect the wishes of the artists, when you’re mastering, you can only do so much”. Then, once the process is wrapping up, Moa says that they always come to the sudden realization: “A lot of artists I work with can be surprised by how a proper master can really breathe new life into the sound of their music”. Moa takes almost every project that is handed to them by Dismiss Yourself because they love to work with the label, and want to continue the strong relationship they share.
Through both their mastering works and solo projects, Moa enjoys the focus on existential topics. Citing the life cycle as being a core focus of the Moa moniker, they also find a major importance in man-made climate change and its effects on the world: “I feel like climate change is something that will affect each of us differently, and my way of coping with this reality is music”. Moa feels that there isn’t enough genuine art being made about the topic at hand, and greatly respects Greta Thurnberg and her never-ending fight for the fate of the world.
Producer and musician Moa loves their line of work as a whole. From their humble beginnings of those wannabe “audiophile” days to their well-practiced Dismiss Yourself era, the inspiring and gradual rise of the young artist Moa is strongly influential and apparent in this well-saturated internet age in which the world is engrossed at this time.
“I try to live each day to the fullest and see the beauty in everything. I look forward to continuing my adventures as a musician and mastering engineer.” -Moa
Interview Date: 10/25/2021