Jamal Moss a.k.a Hieroglyphic Being has a work ethic and release schedule that is nearly unmatched in the industry. Releasing up to ten albums a year he doesn’t adhere to PR games or label trends, he is simply obsessed with making music and when you dip into his extensive back catalogue you will not only be surprised by the sheer volumes of music, but the quality that underpins all his releases. It’s often said that the brightest talents are born from adversity, and Moss has certainly had a hard upbringing, whether it was being thrown out of his house by his parents and sleeping rough for a few years, or seeing his friends succumb to drug addiction or crime. Having got through the hard times and made a life for himself, Moss is a very conscientious person as a result, and you can definitely sense that this is an artist who has a lot to express through his music. We caught up in a rare interview, which is accompanied by a powerful 80 minute live performance, recorded at Out.Fest in Lisbon.
First, our usual ice-breaker. What’s your first musical memory?
Hearing Mahalia Jackson and other gospel and early blues tunes around the age of two (of course when I was older I inquired about the tunes I heard as a baby to know this now).
Do you think you still would have followed a musical path if you hadn’t endured such a challenging childhood?
Uh I’m a descendent from an African Diaspora legacy. So it was gonna happen one way or another with music.
Can you tell us about your relationship with Adonis and the role he played in finding your sound?
Adonis was a mentor – mentally, spiritually and educationally – in regarding certain aspects of enduring this earthly realm and how to translate those experiences into a sonic diary for those who would listen.
Your music is striking in the sense that very complex poly-rhythmic drum programming and industrial sounds are often juxtaposed against beautiful synths, as recently demonstrated in The Disco’s Of Imhotep. What kind of creative head space were you in during the making of that LP?
Not necessarily in a creative headspace cause I am always in that way 24/7, as a way of being. It was more about meeting the requirements set before me by the label who wanted to give me a hand up in my career and I had to step the fuck up and prove I can be on that level of the industry and meet the challenge.
And did that change at all for your follow-up 12” on Technicolour? Could you tell us a bit about how that came together?
No it didn’t you don’t regress when you advance to the next level, you elevate and progress. I was asked to do a follow up concept after the album and I used some past experiences to convey a message that history shouldn’t repeat itself for the worse with all the rave revivalist hype that’s going on now.
Where is the PLUR at? Especially in the past three years sexism, racism, homophobia and classism is on the rise in clubs and festivals. I call bullshit and this is my way of doing it.
What made you settle on techno as the medium that you feel most comfortable expressing yourself with?
I never claimed to be techno, that banner and heritage belongs to the people of Detroit, so they deserve all rewards and accolades for anything that’s beneficial to receive from that brand. I’m of a House / Gherkin / Jack Tracks / Deep House / Classic House / Jazz Dance / Avant gard improv / Acid House lineage. Miles / Herbie / Roy / Sun Ra / Larry Heard / Quincy / Adonis all from the Chicago area or started out their careers here. That alone gives me comfort to move forward in what I do.
What do you want people to take from your music?
That it’s never too late to create and add to this world something positive and nurturing for all to enjoy.
Having been releasing as much music as you have over the last few years, can you see yourself ever hitting a creative roadblock?
Have you made any progress with learning any instruments, and can we expect to hear any of them in your productions in the near future?
Yes, I have been using them in my output since 2003 in many sound sketches, I just don’t really put it out there like that on how or what I really use.
In previous interviews you talk of not seeing yourself as a musician as the machines make the music, but how do you view your role as a performer, be it DJing or playing your own material live?
I never said the machines make the music that’s kinda redundant. You have to narrate the machines to get something out of them. I said I am a sound composer and I experiment with sound and I use machines as one form of medium in which to do this.
I don’t view or deliberately view what I do as a performer or DJ that’s getting into the ego or vanity side of things, it only comes up when the press or the media or the consumer asks me about the situation.
I’ve read that you feel like there’s a disconnect from contemporary musicians and dancers from the original culture that it was born from. Why do you think this is, and how do you think it can be reversed?
Do I have to really break this down or even try to dissect this? Some people don’t now how to be free or express themselves properly on the dance floor anymore. It’s up to the people to free yourself and the rest will follow.
How do you see clubbing and dance music changing in the next 10 years?
I’m not thinking that deeply or gonna try cause I’m too busy trying to make a difference and change right now.
What new / young talent should we be keeping an eye on at the moment?
On my label Mathematics: Radius / Miles Davis Jr.
But in general any new artists can be someone you can crate dig and find from 30 years or two years ago, It’s all perspective and being young isn’t relative anymore. I have seen artists in there 60s and 80s and 90s put foot-to-azz on stage, and see some one in their 30s just be wack.
Could you tell us about the mix you’ve sent us?
The mix was done in Portugal. It’s just my way of conveying how some Chicago Jocks will take chances and make mistakes and all to build a certain feeling and emotion with the Floor Warriors who are ready to do the dance. Nothing more or nothing less. The party isn’t up for me to judge it’s upon the people to decide, I was there to serve humanity, period.
What’s coming up on the horizon we should look out for?
Enjoying life and living in harmony and peace with other humans on planet earth and what ever transpires from that I will put it out in my sonic dairy for those who wish to listen on whatever medium.
Hieroglyphic Being has two new releases out on Technicolour – The Disco’s of Himhotep LP and This Isn’t Your Typical 90’s Era Techno / IDM Revisionist View 12″.