Emotional. A word completely played out within music journalism, but describing MssingNo's ethereal splicing of R&B vocals alongside richly melodic beats that have reduced club-goers to tears, emotional definitely seems the most apt word. Having rapidly ascended from being named the man behind FACT's Track Of The Year in 2013 with "XE2" on his debut, self-titled EP for Goon Club Allstars, to recently releasing a critically acclaimed EP on legendary label XL in February 2016, a haze of mystique still surrounds the London-born beatsmith. We tracked down the elusive producer and discovered how Whiteleys Shopping Centre served as his first in-road into music and the ulterior motives behind all the emotion.
What was it that first got you into music production?
I remember walking through Whiteleys shopping centre with my Dad when I was about 14. There was music playing, as you'd expect in a shopping centre, and I asked him who makes the backing tracks for the singers; he explained it was a producer. I guess it was something I always wondered about subconsciously growing up. It's never been an artist or a certain period that's influenced me, more the feeling that a song gives me combined with the emotional state that I'm in. I suppress my emotions quite a lot so when I find a song that fits with that my emotional state, I can listen to it for five days straight. I have been listening to the instrumental of Young Jeezy's "Dreamin" for a few hours today. It's the same when I make music: I make it to fit how I'm feeling at the time. It's like self medication or therapy, and sometimes you can only medicate properly when you make the music yourself. I'll either make something that will numb the emotion or stimulate it. It's a very personal process, which is why a lot of the music won't leave my laptop, but maybe surface a year or two later.
Growing up in London, what were the first nights you started going to? What do you think of the London club scene of producers you've been in the mix with?
I spent more time at house parties or drinking on the street or in parks. I went to a bunch of DMZ events which I always loved—for some reason I didn't ever go to the old FWD, I don't really know why. There's loads going on in London, I think most people just go out for the sake of it. People don't have much money and want to escape work life—often meaning they will go to any old night. We've ended up with loads of small clubs that are half-full and playing below average music. There are still some good nights on where DJs aren't scared to play what they want—that's what I like to hear.
Do you class yourself as grime or trap or someone who is just influenced by those sounds?
I'm neither. I take most of my influence from music that I don't like. Un-enjoyable music influences me more than anything because it makes me want to write an antidote for it. I'm influenced by skill and also lack of. I spend most of my life listening to R&B, grime, classical and bossa nova, so most of those are always going to pop up in my music.
I've read that your tracks have made people cry... Have you seen this live? What's it like knowing your tracks evoke that sort of emotion?
Yeah, I've seen it a few times—sometimes it's quite extreme but mostly it's just emotional people crying happy tears. It's not uncommon for a certain type of producer. I'm not trying to make people cry but its quite rewarding since I've put so much emotion into the music in the first place. I'm lucky I have a way with melody, it's the only way I can express emotion. I do want people to have an emotional response to my music—that's what I enjoy music for, so that's what I'll make it for.
The scoring on the Y3 fashion film for Complex x Selfridges was on point! Would you want to work on scoring other adverts or films in the future?
If it feels right, I'll do it. I've done some stuff in the past with other fashion brands and companies, and I've got some more coming soon. I'd like to do films, but I'd have to be really into the idea because those things take a lot of time and effort and I don't want to work on something I'm not passionate about.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? More solo work or any sick collaborations lined up?
I have a mixtape coming very soon and an EP later in the year. And my collaborations with other artists will surface as and when.
Catch MssingNo at Rinse - Born & Bred Festival on June 5.