Exclusive Interview with MING – 08-13-2012
Recently, we were able to catch up with MING (Aaron Albano), who is a true pioneer in the EDM world. With a career spaning over 15 years, he has been there and back and was able to share with us some insight into his early career, his current endeavors – including owning his own company – and a bit of what we can expect from him in the rest of 2012. Speaking of which, he has a new EP coming out on Aug. 21 (King Kong EP on Dim Mak Records), so make sure to check it out. Without further ado:
Q: How did you get into the EDM scene?
I was a fan of early industrial / dance bands like Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, Ministry, Skinny Puppy and NIN. In high school, I began producing guitar-based industrial music and started listening to more aggressive dance-oriented sounds. From there, the industrial/dance scene morphed into early break beat / Jungle groups like Meat Beat Manifesto, Acen, The Prodigy & Mickey Finn.
In college DJ EFF and I bought a pair of turntables from DJ Stryke and started spinning early Jungle and Drum and Bass. I was mainly just trading mixed tapes with other DJs and throwing small events. I got in real early in the American break beat scene.
Q: We know you used to be part of MING+FS back in the 90s and early 2000s – a group that really was ahead of its time. Can you talk a bit about your time with that project, your transition from that group to opening your own company – Hood Famous Music – and then coming back into the scene with the “rebirth” of dance in the US?
For me, Ming+FS was all about mashing musical genres and pushing the boundaries in a scene that was supposed to be open to creativity and experimentation. Unfortunately, as EDM grew, the industry really wanted us to do one type of music like drum and bass or hip hop or break beat and eventually we both got tired of the struggle. Sonically we weren’t feeling challenged and relentless touring put a strain on our personal relationship. If we had continued with Ming+FS, we probably would have been credited for originating Drumstep and Dubstep in the US as we had been playing Jungle records at 140 bpm and were the kings of the halftime drum and bass break.
I launched Hood Famous Music in the summer of 2011, and have been releasing a track a month since then. In 2012, Jumpshot came on board to help with A&R and to run the label with me. We plan on building the roster with quality EDM artists of all genres. We’ve signed some nice tracks and have received great remixes from producers like Lion Dub, Jahdan Blakkamoore, Flynch, Gridlok, 2Beeps, and of course, me and Jumpshot.
Q: Who are some of your influences?
Early influences include people/groups like Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Iron Maiden, Run DMC, Slayer, The Beatles, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Howard Jones, Metallica, Africa Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone and Skinny Puppy.
Now I’m really just influenced by any form of greatness. Whether it is a Basquiat painting, some amazing street art or an Olympian breaking a world record, true innovators really inspire me.
Q: Who are you listening to now?
I generally listen to reggae when I’m not making music. I listen to The Joint on Sirius XM radio and I’m really feeling some of the new roots revival stuff like Busy Signal’s – Reggae Music Again and the classic stuff from Capelton, Steven Marley and Black Uhuru. I find listening to other types of music really helps me keep my productions fresh and original.
To hear what’s bubbling up in EDM I listen to BPM and Electric Area on Sirius. I’ll also tune into a couple of iTunes electronic podcasts and try to catch some BBC radio online as well.
Miike Snow is one of my favorites and I wish Finley Quaye hadn’t fallen off because I really loved his first two records.
Q: You’ve been in the industry for quite some time (two decades, really); what is your take on the current state of the music industry as a whole and then more specifically, the EDM scene?
Production styles have changed and the cost of production gear has gone down, which in turn has made producing and DJing within reach of a lot more people. But regardless of affordability you still need to be musical and have the talent to write and produce great music. There are a lot more flash-in-the-pan artists and producers these days, but I don’t really pay attention to that. I’m just glad that EDM is finally having its day in the US and hope that producers can take advantage of this moment and create great music for a much larger audience.
Q: With such an array of remixes (like Headstrong and Our Moon which you recently released – which we love) and original tracks (like Make You Stay w/ 2Beeps and Victim), are there any plans for an album?
I think today’s listeners want quick doses of music like a four song EP or a bunch of singles scattered throughout the year. We’ve moved back into an era of the single or EP so making an album may not make sense for me right now. I’m always working towards an album but until that time, I’ll just keep it fresh and consistent with remixes, originals and collaborations that lead to singles or EPs.
Q: What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t making music?
I have degree in electrical engineering and I’ve done a bunch of web work and software development. Architecture has been tempting, but music has always been my first love and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to pursue it full time since 2000.
I’m also really into photographing graffiti when I’m on the road and have a pretty extensive collection of pictures from cities around the world including Sydney, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and London as well as from my own backyard in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. Maybe someday I’ll put a book together.
Q: What’s something fans might not know about you?
I’m married with a nine month-old son named Miles. I get up early (no alarm clock necessary with a baby in the house) and spend mornings playing with Miles. We live in Harlem and, if the weather is cooperating, I’ll ride my bike to my studio, which is in the Flatiron district of Manhattan.
Q: Favorite non-EDM artist?
Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
This may not be a traditional ‘superpower’ but I wish I had the ability to make the world’s population aware of the need to redirect our collective energy to preserving the planet and making our society a better place to live. At the rate we’re going, humanity is not going to live for very long on this planet.
I guess music is the unifiying tool that I get to use everyday and maybe it’s the closest thing to this magic power.
Q: If you could do a collaboration with any artist (EDM or not), who would it be and why?
I’d like to do an album with Damian Marley. I love the collaborations that he’s been doing with NAS and Skrillex and I think we’d come up with some amazing tunes. I’ve been a fan of his work for a while now and with our powers combined…
Q: What can we expect to see from your in the remainder of 2012?
I have a four song EP with 2Beeps called KING KONG that’s coming out on DIM MAK on August 21st, followed up by a EP with some nasty remixes from Jumpshot, Sluggo, Will Bailey and a bunch of other great producers. Also on DIM MAK, a handful of remixes including a Moombahton remix of Proxy ‘s “Shut Up” and big room progressive electro remix for BOOTIK & Silverongue’s “In My Head”. I’m working on a bunch of collaborations with great producers like Le Castle Vania, Digital LAB, and my side project with Jumpshot called Some Swans Are Evil (SSAE) as well as a number of singles on Hood Famous Music and DIM MAK. There’s my monthly HFM podcast and I’ll be doing a bunch of tour dates starting this fall. (Circle Talent Agency just picked me up for bookings.)
Maybe my super power should be to never have to sleep.
We just want to thank Aaron for taking the time to chat with us and we’re really looking forward to that new EP. Make sure to check it out on Dim Mak Records and show some love! You can follow MING on Twitter and Facebook and of course, keep an eye out for some more content from MING right here at Mixjunkies.