Artist Feature: Mndsgn
Listen to the Mndsgn Artist Feature, here.
This month Carhartt WIP Radio features a musical journey by producer, DJ and Akashik Records co-founder Ringgo Ancheta, aka Mndsgn. Raised with Gospel music at church and B-Boy culture at home in south New Jersey, he began experimenting with beat making when he was 14, before befriending fellow producer Knxwledge. The two would eventually go on to form the influential Klipmode collective.
After moving to Los Angeles, Mndsgn's music flourished, catching the attention of labels such Stones Throw and Leaving Records, who put out his albums “Yawn Zen,” “Surface Outtakes,” and “Body Wash.” His latest project is titled “Snax” – a mixtape brimming with esoteric hip hop flavours and freshly cut Mndsgn remixes, and one which also serves as the debut release for his brand new label Ringgo.
About to embark upon a European tour – presented by Carhartt WIP – which will take him to Lisbon, Madrid, Cologne, Berlin, London, The Hague and Milan, we asked him to prepare a show that focuses on the releases of Akashik Records, the little DIY label he has run with his buddies Alima and Sofie since 2015. The result is a unique, nonchalant mix of twisted contemporary electronics, driving funk, hot soul, agitating hip hop, and silky R&B. Alongside the show, we also feature our usual chat with the host, discussing his music, favorite cartoons, Akashik Records and more.
What was your musical intake when you were younger?
Mndsgn: There was a solid diet of Hip Hop and R&B thanks to my older brother and two sisters. My pops was always bumpin the rock classics like Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Guns & Roses, etc.
What do you find most challenging about the work you do and what is your creative process like?
Mndsgn: Being able to switch things up while still retaining the essence is the most fun and challenging part of the whole process. At this point, there's no consistent formula. A song can start from recording drums or just a few chords on the piano.
Can you still identify with the albums you released between 2009 and 2014?
Mndsgn: I still identify with the sentiment but not so much the approach.
What are currently your main compositional- and production-challenges?
Mndsgn: There's too many options. Having less forces creativity and I feel like sometimes things can be too open ended with too much gear around. I often find myself retreating to the piano because of how simple playing can be. No buttons or cables.
What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments in your artistic work and/or career?
Mndsgn: Mixing records. I'm looking forward to recording the next record just so I can get to that part of the process. That's an entire world within itself that people don't necessarily hear as much as they feel it.
How do you think your generation is going to leave its mark on Hip Hop?
Mndsgn: It already has, in a way. You can hear the footprints in the production level. There's more attention to detail and I think that's partly due to people, including myself, playing closer attention to beats and production in the mid-late 2000s.
Do you have a ‘wish list’ of musicians you'd like to work with in the future?
Mndsgn: I never really give that enough thought. I'm always more focused on just making good music with who's already around me. I think that yields the most organic results.
Can you name us some of things that inspired you for your new album Snax?
Mndsgn: There's a lot of footprints from the Madlib Remixes series. Taking classic Hip Hop or R&B acapellas and reimagining it with different loops, raw shit.
What's the best and the worst thing about the music scene in Los Angeles?
Mndsgn: The best thing is there is so much talent. The worst thing is there isn't enough lanes available. There could be more venues. The entertainment industry out here is much like the traffic.
Since 2015 you’ve ran the label Akashik Records with your friends Alima and Shane. So far you have released on all sorts of formats, from cassettes to vinyl. What’s the labels philosophy and do you have any stylistic limitations?
Mndsgn: It's all about maintaining diversity and integrity. Allowing artists the freedom to shape their own thing in the hope of redefining what it means to be a 'label'. There's no hard line to draw in terms of boundaries but I guess it’s just gotta have that soouuulll.
How do you find new artists for Akashik Records?
Mndsgn: They find us somehow. Oftentimes it's through mutual connection. People get a sense of what we’re doing so I feel like everything just gravitates into our orbit.
Finish the sentence: When I am not making music ...
Mndsgn: I'm more than likely still thinking about it in some shape or form.
How did you select the tracks for your Carhartt WIP Akashik Radio show?
Mndsgn: I always picture someone driving or commuting to the mix.
What was the last thing you downloaded?
Mndsgn: SNAXX masters, notice the extra X.
What was your favorite cartoon when you were a kid?
Mndsgn: There were many but nothin’ topped Dragon Ball Z growing up.
Rate these acts in order of how much you like them: Lil Jon, Nas, Prince and Ned Doheny.
Mndsgn: Prince, Nas, Lil Jon, Ned Doheny.
Who would you want to play you in film about your life?
Mndsgn: It's gotta be animated.
What’s the first thing you’re doing after this interview?
Mndsgn: Cuttin some vegetables and drinkin the rest of this mint tea.