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Drifting on Cloud Nine

mMega’s cloudTherapy EP is transcendental…

We spoke with London-based visual artist, producer and CSM student Archie Taylor (alias mMega) – discussing the eternal narrative-bloom of a digital world. In an age orchestrated by the capabilities of technology, electronically produced beats and virtual imagery, it is in the here and now where we cultivate our artistic identity. Having just released his EP cloudTherapy, this digital artist is definitely on our to-watch list! Translating his visual eye into the artform of ASMR music, we have been blessed with a new sound for our ears to listen to. With Friday (finally) upon us, and in honour of Bandcamp Friday, we had a chat, got nosey and began to grasp his futuristic and quintessentially British attitude to art.

Hi Archie! First of all, congrats on the release of cloudTherapy. What inspired you to make this ASMR-based, ‘inside-of-a-vape point of view’ EP?

Hey! Thanks for having me. I’ve had a fascination with vapes for a couple of years now, they just strike me as such weird futuristic objects. They’re like mini pocket robots and they’re literally everywhere. There’s a vape shop on every street in London and the Internet is full of little corners of vape culture. They all use such brilliant language to name the shops and products and I don’t think anybody really notices, so it made sense for me to try and regurgitate the culture that I’ve spent so long digesting somehow and experimenting with the vape as a musical instrument evolved from that.

The result is captivating and multifaceted: could you talk us through the creative process? 

I didn’t really have any intention of it being a music project to start with. I was primarily interested in the visual cultures that surround vaping so I always figured it would be an art thing… but I found myself pretty deep in a YouTube hole and came across the cloud therapy ASMR subgenre. There’s just something so textured and percussive about the way e-cigs gurgle and zap, so I spent a couple of days chopping up rips of YouTube videos to make a sample library. I tend to build my songs from the drums upwards and I treated the vape samples in the same way so the skeletons of all the tracks were made of little clicks and puffs of vapour. From there it was just a case of working on top of the vape structures to make the tracks a bit more glitchy and melodic.

The track, The Tiny, also has a visual component, portraying a robot-esque game character. Is this mMega – your musical alter ego?

For this project the little man is mMega for sure, but I would image he will evolve into something else over time. I think the main reason I’m using an alias in the first place is because of the freedom it provides in how I’m able to represent myself and in this case the character from the video felt right, I like to think he looks as though he could have made all the noises himself.

Could you tell us more about the making of this audio-visual piece?

The whole project was kind of a world-building exercise and I really wanted to use the video to try and imagine the context that the orchestra of vape feels native to. I had this image bouncing around my head while I was making the tracks of a little person being birthed from an e-liquid bottle. I didn’t have much of a narrative planned when I started animating so the journey through the vape architecture followed on from that first scene of the character being born into this cloud city and living in a vape, kind of like the old woman who lived in a shoe, but make it … vape.

The title cloudTherapy really encompasses the work. All four tracks stimulate the audience to sit down, unwind, and lose yourself in the moment. What is the key to creating this specific atmosphere? 

The samples! I really owe it all to ASMR Izak, he’s a YouTuber from Birmingham that kind of set the whole concept rolling for me when I came across his channel. The title of the EP comes from him and most of the noises I used are sampled from his videos. I wasn’t even aware of vape ASMR until I found him online and I definitely think it’s the clarity and richness of his noises that give the tracks their depth so shout out to Izak (please don’t take me to court for using your audio xx)!

Did you begin your journey with this same peaceful intention, or has this been a gradual process of learning?

Not at all actually, I haven’t been making music for that long and I was in a big gabber phase when I first started producing, so I always thought I would be making the hardest, fastest music on earth – but it really hasn’t turned out that way. To start with everything was pretty brutal, but over time I’ve gotten a bit better at sensitivity in the sounds I’m making. I think for me it’s just about finding a balance between the two ends of the spectrum and that’s definitely something I’m getting more comfortable with, although I will forever have a soft spot for doof doof music that makes me want to stomp.

With this in mind – what else can we expect to see from you in the future?

Hopefully some more music soon. I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately, so once I’m out the other side I’m sure there will be some cool stuff for me to share. I produced a piece of music for Tom Kindon’s fashion film, so that should be surfacing pretty soon. I have a lot of ideas that I’m sitting on but now doesn’t feel like the time to make them happen, I’ve been living at my desk and interning remotely for Weirdcore since September, so I’d like to think I’ll have the opportunity to make some more self-directed physical work soon before I turn into a hunchback humanoid.

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Listen to cloudTherapy here!

Words by Brechtje Polman