Anyone who’s clued up on the techy, minimal side of drum and bass should at least be familiar with the name Wingz. Over the years we’ve seen him appear on labels such as Flexout, Cyberfunk and Context, while ravers all over the globe are likely to have been treated to his crisp, heavy hitting music on a system.
Since the inception of the prosperous Overview Music in 2018, Markus Kocar’s work has really found its feet and he’s now become one of the most exciting names to come from Austria in recent years. With four EPs, as well as a healthy stack of singles and contributions to compilations on the label, Wingz’s work has found a home in the Brighton-based label and his latest EP, entitled Affection, is the latest example of his skills on the label.
Much more spacious than much of his previous work, it’s a five track EP featuring the glossy vocals of Sammie Hall and showcases an even deeper breadth to the Wingz sound that we’ve experienced before. Reaching new highs and setting new bars with every release, we caught up with Markus and had a chat about the importance of community, his inspiration outside of D&B and how a conversation with Mefjus nearly a decade ago helped get him to where he is today.
How have you been?
Pretty good actually, this last year has been my most productive. I have written so much music, it’s pretty crazy.
Is that just a coincidence because you’re at a certain stage in your career, or is it because you have more time as a result of lockdown?
I would like to think that it’s because I’m at a stage where I feel confident in the sounds I make, where I can pull together ideas quickly and flesh them out. I can start something on one night then flesh it out and finish a rough arrangement of it on the next day. I’ve always wanted to be consistent so I’m pretty happy right now.
Have you been doing much else in the last year, or have you mainly been focusing on tunes?
I’ve mostly been working on music. I used to play a lot of video games and I was almost addicted. When I started producing I was playing games more and producing less. Now the balance has shifted and I’ve replaced gaming with production.
How long have you been producing for?
Eight years since January.
I’ve listened to a few of the Must Make podcasts by Workforce and he was saying that it can take you 10 years to get to the point where you can make a tune in one night. It seems like that’s relevant here.
That’s pretty accurate. If I’m not working on tracks then I’m preparing sounds, building drums, basses, digging for acapellas. Then listening to music outside of my comfort zone, trying to make music outside of drum and bass and reading articles. Essentially, I’m constantly working.
What music have you been making outside of drum and bass?
I recently made some deep house/ techno where I’m having loads of fun with a more minimal and progressive sound. It’s not very different from the usual drum and bass I make, it’s just a slower tempo and the rhythms are a bit different. There’s lots of space to fill in and I find it really enjoyable.
What have you been listening to outside of D&B that has inspired this?
I love Rival Consoles, he doesn’t care about timings and syncopation but it still sounds like he does which is mind blowing to me. It’s baffling listening to his music. I’ve also been listening to Burial, who I only started consciously listening to recently but I find his music super interesting. I’ve also been listening to the new album by edIT. He’s one third of The Glitch Mob, who are very mainstream, but edIT’s solo stuff is so sick.
I definitely think that if you’re predominantly making one genre of music, you need to listen to other music to stay inspired but also bring that edge.
Absolutely, otherwise you’ll just end up sounding like everyone else.
If you’ve not been to a club for over a year, you almost need to listen to something else.
Definitely, I’ve been writing a lot less club music. I want to be more mature with my sound. I don’t just want to make DJ tools. I want to have meaning behind my tunes and this is what I’ve tried to do with this latest EP. It’s the first step in a new direction for me.
What’s the new direction?
Making more grown up music. Not just your typical club bangers but something with substance and emotion behind it. Something that sticks to you, more than a one-note bassline and some vocals.
Do you think that the music you made before was less mature than this latest EP?
Not everything was, I like referring to Sorrow. It was one of the tunes that made me realise that I can make more than club music. I want to maintain a balance in my music, between it being something you can listen to at home and also in a club. I love technical sounds, but also simplistic, stripped down and minimal grooves. I want to fuse that together and get the best of both worlds. Simplistic but still sophisticated. Does that make sense?
It shouldn’t make sense, but it does! Do you have any plans for your non-D&B stuff?
I’m just having fun and showing it to friends. I don’t know a lot about the genres I’ve been making. What I do know is from when I used to go to an event to socialise rather than listen to music. When there’s drum and bass in the background, having a conversation can be a bit stressful [laughs]. So I’m just playing around at the moment.
How did you get into producing D&B?
I started DJing in 2008 and I saw Pendulum at my first drum and bass party. I was massively into dancefloor drum and bass, following people like Pendulum, DC Breaks and Sigma. There was also a bit of jump up, from people like Tantrum Desire and Original Sin. From there I got into neurofunk and gradually started discovering more music. I was on Drum & Bass Forum which was really important for me. I met loads of people, got feedback on mixes and things like that.
It seems like people don’t really talk about those sorts of spaces much anymore. Forums like Dogs on Acid seem to have been really important for people who were on those sites. Especially for people who didn’t have many local musical connections or friendships.
Exactly. I was way less outgoing back then and it’s only in the last 10 years that I started talking more to people in the scene in Vienna. I got into producing after talking to Mefjus just after he released Far Too Close and he was saying that you need to produce if you want to stand out these days. I toyed around with the idea of production but never committed, talking to him really made my mind up. I sat down for at least an hour everyday, watched tutorials and recreated what I was learning.
I’ve always wanted to be able to make everything myself, I’m not a big fan of using samples. I understand the appeal because it makes it easier but I want to be able to make everything myself. I learnt that from Mefjus because he makes pretty much all of the sounds in his tunes himself. You want to stand out, even if what you’re making isn’t that unique. If someone comes up to you in a club, says they love a tune of yours and asks you how you made a particular sound, I don’t want to say that it’s a sample [laughs]. I want to say that I made that sound from scratch.
You want to say that you did it all yourself and that tune or sound is yours.
Yeah, I take a lot of pride in it and respect it when someone goes the extra mile. This doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate a good sample, it’s just because the amount of information available these days is insane. If I started producing last year then I’d be halfway there already because so much more is possible now.
Yeah we’ve seen quite a few mentorships and Patreons over the last year.
I’m on a few Paterons, I like seeing how others work and thinking about how I can implement their workflows into my own. It’s a constant grind.
I can imagine, especially if you’re going down the route of making all of your own sounds.
It takes a while to understand what you need in each sound. I find it all really enjoyable and I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t. That doesn’t mean I’ve not been frustrated or demotivated before, but I have this mentality that when I fail at something, I want it even more. You just need a lot of patience and determination.
I have to shout out Music Squad, without them I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am now. It started as NeuroHopForum, similar to D&B Forum but more technical as it was for producers. When that forum closed down, we made a Facebook group and haven’t looked back since. We always help each other out and it’s great to see that a lot of the people who stayed in the group have done really well. People like Grey Code, IMANU, Vorso have all gained a lot of attention and it’s cool to see the direction that everyone is going in.
How do you help each other out?
Production advice, things like feedback on tunes, but I’ve also been able to talk to them about things outside of production. I didn’t used to be very outgoing before I knew the people in Music Squad, so they’ve been helpful in a more personal way too. I would really recommend that community spirit to people. Producing together, pushing each other to new heights. The best thing you can do is to start building a network of producers, like-minded people who are roughly at the same level as you so you can grow together. There’s a healthy competition where we push each other.
That’s important with something as isolated as production, where you’re generally just sitting in a room by yourself for hours looking at a screen. You’ve been putting music out on Overview since their first release and you’re now about to release your fourth EP on the label. What’s your relationship with Overview?
There is no one who has helped me and pushed me as much as Peter has. I’m really happy to be on the label and have him as a friend. It’s amazing to see how the label has grown in such a short time.
Is there a story behind the tracks on this latest EP?
I wrote them all at a similar time and tweaked them over a few months. Initially, I didn’t even think about having a vocalist on any of the tunes. I was recommended to work with Sammie by a friend (big up Jamo). I sent her the idea for Distance Between Us and she came back a day later with the vocals. She then did a second take and it was perfect, so I sent her Affection and she was up for working on that as well. Two days later she sent me the vocals for it. I really enjoyed working with her, she’s super nice and really responsive. I think it’s important for someone I’m working with to tell me if they’re not into the track. Don’t waste your time or mine.
The idea behind Distance Between Us came during lockdown, almost like a long distance relationship where you’re close to each other but physically so far apart. It sounds super cheesy but I wanted to start writing more liquid tunes. It was inspired by Halogenix and I spent a good couple of months learning how breaks work and this was the result. Behind Me is the most clubby tune, it’s got a simple reese and some melodic hits but is still quite dark. I really like the mixture between light and dark in liquid. I then wrote Memories Of You, which is the last tune on the EP. I wrote it as an ending, with a basic groove that keeps on rolling and only has one drop. The last tune I wrote was Unfulfilled, which has a big synth lead. Making a lead isn’t normally my style so that was pretty different for me.
I like having a theme to my releases. The artwork is a frozen rose, which is beautiful and fragile at the same time. Wow … this sounds so cheesy. The EP is about meeting someone, showing affection, and then having distance between each other because of the circumstances. Then there is Behind Me, because it’s over, and then Unfulfilled because you’re feeling empty and everything is grey. Then the last tune is Memories Of You, which is about reflecting.
It’s nice to hear that there is meaning behind the tracks and their order. You mentioned Sorrow earlier and it’s definitely one of my favourite tunes on the label, it’s crazy that it was on your first EP as the standard of production and emotion is amazing. How come it took you so long to release an EP?
Thank you, it’s quite hard for me to write melodic music. These days it’s a lot easier, but back then it was impossible. I was messing around for a couple of months with pianos, melodies, resampling sounds and trying to find the right acapella. Now I can hit up a vocalist, but back then I was not confident enough in my music to bother anyone to collaborate.
So you think an EP like that would come together more quickly now?
Yeah, definitely. My next EP is pretty much finished which has a couple of melodic bits on there.
Is that coming out on Overview?
Where else am I releasing EP’s [laughs]? I would like to release on more labels, I would love to release a tune on 1985 at some point. That’s one of my goals and I think it could break Peter’s heart but I’ll always think of Overview as my home because we grew together. It’s important to remember where you’ve come from.
Definitely! When things open up again, what venue would you like to play at if you could play anywhere?
Hmm … I don’t mind. A dark room with 100 or 200 people in a sweaty club, where the decks are in the crowd and you can see everyone having fun. I don’t like the big stages as much, especially for the music that I play and make. I love the intimate setting, a dark room with a solid sound system.
I like how your expectations are quite simple.
Just like my music, I love simplicity. Not boring, but purposeful and concise. No bullsh*t.
Imagine if you came home one day and noticed that your computer and production equipment had set on fire. If you could only save one thing what would it be, if all of your production equipment was already in flames?
Probably my documents [laughs]. My citizenship, birth certificate and things like that. It’s a weird scenario because I just have a laptop and headphones.
Is there anyone you want to shout out?
Music Squad, Peter and Oli at Overview, all my friends and all my family. Shouts to everyone who has ever supported me or bought my tunes.