If you're into lofi music, smooth beats and hazy vibes, you certainly already know Mounika. Hailing from Tours, a small city in France, Jules is a beatmaker that crafts beautiful sample-driven pieces that convey cosy nostalgia and sweet melancholy - and probably the best example is "Cut My Hair" with Cavetown that simply blew up 3 years ago, generating millions of streams across platforms.
A relatively mystical figure, he's rarely talking about himself - with words. But rather lets his music speak for him. And there's a whole amazing project that just came out - his new LP I Need Space, because of which we crossed paths.
I'm super happy we got the chance to chat about his background, sample-digging, melancholy and this gorgeous album in particular.
I encourage you to stream it while you have a read:
Hey man, how do we find you today?
I'm fine, I feel maybe a little anxious at this moment, but it's surely 'cause of the coronavirus crisis.
How did you get involved with music?
Like most producers, I started music just with listening. My father is a passionate lover of music and he gave me the same mind. Since my childhood, I tried to learn different instruments (drum, guitar and piano), but when I downloaded some software (Reason and Fruity Loops) I really tried to learn more about music. The first test was with Reason, I tried to understand it for so many hours... and then I quit. It was too hard for me! So I switched to Fruity Loops. I remember the first time I used it, I was thinking I wouldn’t stop until I got a ten minute song. I don't know why, but I just did it. In reality, it was 3 tracks in this 10 min project, but in my mind, it was "ok, that's it". It was seven years ago, and I still use FL in the studio now.
There's so little information about you on the internet - is there a particular reason you're trying to keep a low profile?
There is no particular reason for that, I'm just not someone very active on the internet, both for my personal social media and my artist profiles. It's surely due to my introvert personality. I'm maybe a bit uncomfortable with the idea that people I don't know know things about me. I don't feel special about anything. I just create what I like.
There's certain lovely melancholy in your tracks - why is that?
Since I was a kid, my favorite tracks from every single album were always the most melancholic/saddest ones. I know a lot of people are like that. When I got my first mp3 player and had a way to make a playlist, the first thing I did was to put the saddest tracks from every album in one playlist, which is basically what I'm still doing. I don't know if it's the reason, but I just try to make music people are going to put in this kind of playlist.
What's so special about samples?
Digging is beautiful. And the quest of finding the perfect sample is a nice challenge. Before I started finding samples, I did exactly the same but on my playlist with my ears. Now I’m trying to stop using samples, but I will never stop digging for new tracks. I dig for samples the same way I dig for music. All the first samples I used were simply from my favorite tracks.
How would you say your sound evolved through the years? Your music varies from boom-bap beats ("I Feel Love") to future beats ("Lost With You") and lo-fi ("Long Silent") and that's quite impressive.
I got involved with music with the idea to make trip hop, and I think it's still the same now. This movement is not very defined, I just make my own trip hop, with my own borders.
I don't know if I make boom bap or lo-fi, etc… I just make music based on what I like to listen to, which is mostly trip hop.
Did you expect "Cut My Hair" to become such a popular track?
Not at all. The track wasn't supposed to be in the album. One week before the release, I contacted Cavetown and I just put it in at the last minute. We both liked the track but we never thought about what was about to happen. And I still don't understand.
"Intro (i m sorry)" was the first taste from your brand-new LP I Need Space. What's the story that the album is telling?
I consider this project a mini-album. I feel it's more like a transition because since I started seven years ago, I always used samples in every track. In this project, most of the tracks don't have any samples. I recorded my piano, my guitar, my voice, and used it like that. The project is important for me because I want to know if I can make music without sampling. I feel stressed about how people are gonna react.
"Tender Love" is the second single from the album and it's quite different than the first one. How did you get together with Ocie Elliot?
It's a particular track. It was made two years ago. All the other tracks in the project were made in the last year, that's the reason there is a difference between this one and all the others. After two years I wasn't sure if I wanted to release it, but I feel very surprised that I still like it. Usually, I can't listen to what I've done just a few weeks ago.
How's the French beat scene, from your perspective?
Maybe it's just because I'm French, but a lot of my favorite producers are French too (Al’Tarba, Air, Wax Tailor, Chinese Man...) In my opinion, French producers got something special. I know it's something I always thought since I was young, but I couldn’t explain why. But I also love many artists from many different countries.
Which artists should we listen to? Who inspires you?
It's hard to only talk about one or two artists. My answer will probably be a playlist I made a couple of months ago. This playlist represents all the tracks I listened to and inspired me the most during the last two years.
What's next for Mounika.?
I got a lot of projects. I'm already cooking a new album, but I would love to add different perspectives in this project, like a book, some drawings, photography, а little movie... Music is an important part of my life but it’s not the only thing. I hope I can have time to accomplish everything.