Melbourne based producer, DJ and singer/songwriter Mha Iri possesses a distinct sound and a raw passion for music. Her strong musical style and powerful connection with her audience have allowed her to quickly carve out a name for herself in the Melbourne underground music scene.
Her production style is melodic yet driving with tough basslines and kick drums paired with dark synths and ethereal vocals to give a unique sound that is as captivating as it is dance worthy.
Mha Iri is most known for playing melodic techno that evokes emotion in the crowd and drives them into euphoria before dropping a banging track with a monster kick drum that gets the dance floors stomping.
Many of us that DJ and compose dance music also come from a traditional music background and for you it’s as a vocalist. What is the difference between dance music and traditional music from a composition technique perspective?
Oh that’s a tough question as I guess it depends what traditional music means but if we look at pop music for example, a lot of pop is geared towards a more simple track which works more as a backing track in conjunction with a vocalist. In most dance music not all but techno specifically there are no vocals or there are minimal vocals and they are not the main driving force of the track. Composing dance music is different in this way because you have to create tension, release and lots of energy without vocals.
This means using FX to maintain interest, modulating synths so that they increase in intensity, adding and taking away elements such as percussion to keep the listener interested. Another thing you will notice with dance music is it is usually structured in phrases which means every 32 hits of the kick something usually changes in the track. It also tends to be more repetitive than traditional music which is why it’s so important to make little changes to how the elements sound so you can keep the listener engaged with the song.
How do you maintain good ear health?
I wear ear plugs whenever I am at a gig or festival. I take them out when I’m playing because I feel disconnected from the music if I leave them in but as soon as I finish I put them back in again. I also stopped listening to music on headphones around 9 months ago. I was producing solely in headphones whilst travelling and it had a detrimental effect on my ears and that’s when I started taking my ear health much more seriously.
I think it’s so important that not just DJs and producers but anyone who goes to events regularly should wear earplugs. I don’t feel that many people consider how much they are putting their ears at risk by not wearing ear plugs when they go out clubbing.
About a year ago you made the decision to quit your job to fully focus on music production. What made you take this step and what has been the biggest challenge in this change?
I was going away travelling which is when I started doing a production course online and I made the decision when I came back that I would continue DJing and producing as much as possible during the week. I felt that if I went back to working I wouldn’t progress at the rate I wanted to. I’m glad I did take this step because it did help me to focus and hone my skills in production.
I definitely believe that if I hadn’t done this I wouldn’t have made so much headway with production. The challenges I faced were mainly self doubt. Production is really bloody hard and it takes a lot of perseverance to keep motivated when you don’t feel very skilled as a producer. Luckily I kept going even though there were times I wanted to quit and I’ve managed to make a few tracks that I am really proud of. Since then I have started working part time again 4 hours a day so that I can save some money but once I have enough money saved I’ll go back to solely DJing and producing again.
KONTRAST COLLECTIVE is a group of creative spirits who loves to combine raw sounds, dark, thumping beats and intense, edgy musical experiences with extraordinary visual elements in an experimental and innovative way. Apart from organising events we love to shine light on Australia’s best upcoming and veteran DJ’s. The fourteenth round of the KONTRAST Mini-Mix Series will run from December 7th to 28th, with an exclusive podcast from each artist along with a short interview to get to know them better.
Mini-Mix Series #14: