[MEET THE ARTIST] Signals from the Moon with Teluric
A few years back, I had the chance to meet Mihai Mihalcea, aka Teluric. I didn’t know that much about him but was quite familiar with his music. What impressed me the most was how honest he was about himself as an artist, needless to say, how humble. He had a clear and strong opinion about the Romanian scene and was then thinking about moving out of Bucharest. I thought oh, I totally get him as I feel the same. Years passed by and I couldn’t possibly think about how did this change influence his production, his vision, his work overall:
I considered this step to be necessary in order for things to evolve. The most important I guess was my belief that I needed to fully focus on this. And I felt that I was being easily influenced by the scene and everything that Bucharest brings along. It’s been already three years since I left Bucharest and, to be honest, I sometimes miss the life there. However, time passes differently when living in a smaller town. Now I have more time and energy to take care of my things. The days at the studio are more productive and my ideas flow more easily I am not so connected to what is trending anymore. It is true that I don’t always feel inspired but that is also because I am constantly polishing and finding myself. What influences me varies so much that I find it hard to put the finger on a single genre and say: yes, this is what I want to do.
I try to bring all these influences together and see where it can lead to. I can’t say that I have very clear objectives because I know I still need to work and apparently this process requires a lot of time and patience. What I can say for sure is that I have lots of materials ready to be released and all this mistiness regarding what I want to do seems to fade little by little.
Teluric @ Undertheivy Timisoara, Summer 2018, Photo George Noroc
Then one day I wrote to him and proposed an interview. It didn’t happen right away, as I so many times have said that everything should happen at the right time. And the right time came. It might have been some signals from the moon or something. Unlike any other interview, this time I really knew with whom I am going to have this conversation: a dedicated and polished producer, a man who is the forefront of his own movement, one who has shown how far he can go and keeps on going, apart from other protagonists in any electronic music subgenre.
Have you ever thought about moving abroad? Do you think you could accomplish more if you moved to a different country?
It’s not something I would do now although it sometimes crosses my mind. After all, I’m just another one out of thousands of people trying to make an impact on this fervent music scene. Now, for me, what matters the most is to be able to do something that will leave a mark on the scene, to have a good influence on it. In order to do so, I need time and energy and the context in which I find myself brings these advantages along. Moving to a different country would mean to pause and maybe to even lose the momentum, so I don’t think it would help. Romania is a beautiful country and, with no pride at all, I can say I like this land and living here. It is one of the places that can inspire and nurture you from a spiritual point of view. All you need to do is to take a break and see that there’s potential here and it can be used very easily.
Speaking of which, being one out of thousands…what’s Teluric’s position in the current scene and how do you look at the scene? From what perspective?
Lately, especially since I lost direct contact with Bucharest, I’ve been trying to stay in touch with what is going on with the help of the press and the social media. Which is the most obvious thing that I notice from the perspective of a spectator? The hate speech between the two categories, the “micro housers”(I don’t like this label but I’m going to use it in order to deliver my opinion) and the other ones. I’ve noticed that on Facebook there are some popular memes mocking the first category. It’s true, some are actually funny, but a lot of them are quite bad and offensive for no reason. Not to mention the comments. The most recent argument that I can think of is related to the Boiler Room streaming session taking place a couple of months ago in Bucharest. It’s shocking to see how much hate some people can spread in writing on social media. Apparently, the internet has become the place where people drain off their emotions and, unfortunately, the loudest people are always the ones that have something bad to say.
I’ve noticed that the reason why these talks keep on happening is because of diversity. In my opinion, there is diversity indeed and you have a wide range of events, festivals and parties you can choose from. In other words, if you don’t like microhouse or any other musical genre, nobody will make you listen to it or go to this type of parties. Luckily, we live in a free society and you can always choose to do something else. I can’t deny, however, that this music scene is more successful, and it’s easy to understand why: a group of people with a vast experience, with the right connections and with a business-oriented mindset managed to create a trend that impacted an entire generation, and not only in our country but on an international level. And I don’t see absolutely anything wrong with it. Mediocrity exists in any field but to discredit a whole movement is either pure envy or something else not worthy of attention.
What type of relationship do you have with Social Media and what impact does it have on both your private and professional life?
I have a long relationship with social media. At first, when Facebook surfaced to light, I used to be pretty active on my personal profile. Afterwards, I created my artist page and I started using it for marketing purposes. In time I sort of got in the public eye and I ended up receiving a lot of requests for releases and gigs. About a year ago I also made an Instagram account. At the moment I am not so active on any of these platforms because I don’t like spamming with all sort of insignificant posts. I may be posting once a week and only what is necessary. I consider it is more important to let the music speak for itself.
The social media has, however, a dark side also. Lately, I have learned to limit the time I dedicate to it, but not so long ago I had some sort of anxiety experiences. Since I follow many extraordinary artists, I started feeling what I do is not good enough. I started feeling superficial and insignificant and started walking right into the trap of comparing myself to artists that I admire, which affected my studio work. So, I decided to find a balance between consuming Social Media and using it as a marketing tool. It represents a necessity for us, those who want to share our work but it can become a problem when you start looking for validation or being afraid you might become irrelevant.
A lot of new DJs are breaking through. What do you think about what people are saying about how nowadays you can succeed in the electronic music scene if only you are also producing, rather than just simply DJing?
It’s not something I would totally agree with. It’s true that producing music can represent an advantage but there are also other countless scenarios by means of which you can stand out and some I can think of right now are: 1. You can be a very passionate collector or digger and you can stand out through the selection you bring at the party; 2. You can be a prolific producer and you can play only your tracks (without being extremely active in terms of releases); 3. You can be both a very good selector and a very good producer; 4. YYou can perform a live act with a complex rig of outboard equipment or only with a laptop or a combination of the two; 5. You can own a label and be a promoter and you can create a platform where you can connect and associate yourself with other talents, and so on and so forth.
I think that more important and more difficult is finding an area you feel comfortable with, where you can feel yourself and above all, realize that at the end of the day it is not only art but also entertainment and if you want to follow only this path, sooner or later you will have to bring art and business together.
Teluric, shot by Diana Barbu
ART and Business. The music must describe an artist but to what extent must he also be described by his personality?
People find it harder and harder to separate art from its creator. We live in times where the information flows freely and quickly and recent examples such as the documentary “Leaving Neverland”, about the abuses of Michael Jackson or the phenomenon “#metoo” depict a reality hard to ignore. I believe I can answer your question in two ways.
I am able to separate the art from its creator, this meaning that I cannot contest the fact that Michael committed unforgivable abuses but at the same time, I believe this is not a reason to wash out his talent and work. Unfortunately, the media and the public focus very often on negative emotions and we tend to forget that the person in question has brought also something good to this world. Even though there have been people over the years whose actions in their private life were against ethics and morality, I am sure that they tried their best when it came to art.
My second answer refers to the artist as an integral part of the whole mechanism defining the scene or niche their work belongs to. I always turn to this analogy because I like to think of culture, in general, as a mechanism or system in which each of us represents a part making that system work, making culture move forward. Here is where I believe that the personality of the artist plays an important role. I strongly believe that people tend to exclude deviant behaviors from our little scene, just as in any other field. So if you behave in a certain way when interacting with your work fellows or with the scene itself, be sure that the feedback will measure up to it. It is pretty much like when one of the wheels gets rusted and interferes with the smooth functioning of the mechanism. What happens then? The wheel is either replaced or repaired.
Beyond the hedonistic nature of the clubbing scene and its ability to sweep you away from the ordinary, what else do the electronic music and everything related to this culture mean to you?
I’ve always tried to figure out why I’m so attracted to this culture. Although I admit having my times of “partying hard”, those times are over and now what’s left is to figure out why I am still here. Of course, I love music, I love to make people happy at parties but there must be also something deeper that explains my attraction to these repetitive beats. I approach this subject from two perspectives.
The first one, from a physical and chemical point of view. As we all know, the concept of the beat and repetition is a feature of the entire matter of the Universe, from a subatomic level to the human being and the cosmos. From the day-night shift, the rotation of the planet around the Sun to the beating of the heart, breath, metabolism, everything is cyclical and rhythmic. No wonder there is a certain guidance inside the human being making him relate to these repetitive music beats.
Another perspective is a sociological and psychological one. The human being is to a great extent a gregarious species, capable of interacting on a more complex level with a small number of fellow men. But it is in our nature to seek the feeling of belonging to a group; we have the ability to transcend our selves and get lost into something much greater than our own existence. If we start from this feature and add to it the hypnotic music, the visual effects and, sometimes, the substances that amplify the energy and the feelings of love and affection, we’ll get the perfect recipe for an overwhelming and even revealing experience.
I am curious about the other types of music genres that you listen to.
To be honest, I haven’t had time lately to study artists from other musical areas so I couldn’t give you exact names at the moment. But when I do something else apart from working at the studio, like for example now, as I am answering the questions of this interview, I listen in the background to an online radio station. It’s called Radio Meuh, it’s French and it covers a wide range of music genres – from electronic music, rap, trip-hop, down-tempo to jazz, soul, funk, rock, reggae, world music. It has a very diverse playlist and it varies according to the time of day you’re listening to it. I recommend it!
I believe that each of us discovers that particular passion for a certain thing during childhood. Where did this connection you have with music come from?
It was just like an instinct, an immediate attraction. I don’t necessarily have a strong musical background knowledge, my parents are teachers. I have some funny stories from childhood, back from when I traveled to the seaside with my family at the age of 3 or 4. At restaurants, or on the beach, wherever there were speakers giving out loud music, I used to run right next to them and get crazy. Imagine a three-year-old boy dancing with much passion. It was a delight. At home, there was always a turntable and a cassette player. No matter if the classic old vinyl stories, the 80’s music or later the 90’s tapes, there was always something coming from the speakers
In primary school, I got crazy about Michael Jackson. I used to ask my grandma to make costumes like his for me. I was insanely dancing all around my house. I literally adored him. My parents saw that I was in love with music so my father came up with the idea of me taking up violin classes. It lasted less than a year. I remember I hated going to classes.
Afterward, in secondary school, I discovered hip-hop. This scene was burning in Romania in those times – late ’90s, early 2000. In the meantime, I discovered break-dance and I believe that was the first time I ever came across a CD with electronic music – Flying Steps, ‘Breaking it Down’. Shortly afterward I discovered ‘Super Sonic’ and ‘Get Freaky’ by Music Instructor and Boomfunk MC’s with their tune ‘Freestyler’. It was something electrifying about that music – for sure the coolest thing I had heard till then. I was amazed. If I were to look back, I think this was the key that triggered my love for electronic music.
What do you think that was the greatest obstacle you faced so far?
Fear of failing. I think I have always fought the feeling of insecurity although I believed it was natural for me to choose a career in music. In time I realized, however, that what I do is appreciated, that the energy I get from the public is mostly positive and I started handling these emotions better and better.
Do you have any objective, some sort of ultimate goal as a producer?
I am mainly focusing on my mental health. I often ask myself how I would handle the situation if I suddenly became successful on an international level. This “take-off” fueled by fame is not the best since it can bring along addiction. The risk of success is that it may not always be steady, or even worse, it may even disappear completely. When you’re no longer able to have it you end up drinking, taking drugs, suffering from depression and other problems. I’m not saying I wouldn’t like to be more active because it would be a lie. I would like, however, to build something steady, step by step, with no sudden hops.
As I was saying at the beginning, this process takes time and even if we live in the speed-driven age, I would like to make this happen by taking baby steps. It’s like a promise in my relationship with music and I would like to keep it. I believe that the goal is to keep on moving and inspiring people by what I do but try staying away from fame.
I was never that kind of music lover that tends to judge artists. I do have my strong opinions regarding the “fame” of some DJs or producers, one that it’s not quite of fair attribution. Teluric to me is an artist that sticks to the true values, and it is one of the few reasons I admire him and propose him as an example to many others. And now, I couldn’t be happier that I got the chance to introduce him as an artist and as a person to you. Besides that, his new LP SIGNALS FROM THE MOON is now in stock and available for order. You got to know him through words, and you get also get to know him through music.
Featured image shot by Diana Barbu