Next up in the BB Mixed By series is multi-faceted producer and DJ Unknown Mobile aka DJ Leaves. A staple within the Canadian scene, and eclectic as ever – just have a listen to some of his releases and you will notice how they vary considerably.
From his club stomping EP for Planet Euphorique to the etheral spacey soundscapes found on his Pacific Rhythm LP – the Vancouver native never fails to surprise us with each release, whilst still maintaining his distinctive hazy sound. We are gassed to have had the chance to speak to him, and here is what we chatted about….
Hey Levi, hope you’re well mate! How have you been recently? What’s been going on with you in life?
Hi! Music life has been pretty slow the past year and a bit due to my current studies. I’m in my final year of completing my master’s in Architecture so that’s taking up a lot of my time. Just got a new studio this past fall with my bud Mason next door who runs summercool.com which has been a nice way to get out of the house. Musically I am working on finishing up a new record in a similar vein to my Daucile Moon LP, it will be released in late spring on a new imprint that I am starting called Quern. It will also be featuring some remixes from Khotin, No Joy, Eejungmi, and Motoko & Myers which I am quite excited about.
For those of us who don’t know about you – could you explain in your own words what the Unknown Mobile project is all about? What’s the musical direction you’re aiming for?
Unknown Mobile is something I kind of just stumbled into as a project, I had always fiddled with music and electronic music growing up, but never in any serious manner (I have almost no classical training other than basic piano). Unknown Mobile was a way for me to get my creativity out in some fashion, I always wanted to create my own sounds, and after completing my undergrad in visual arts I had the freedom to explore artistically and just started fiddling more and more with music on my computer which eventually led to Unknown Mobile in 2015.
You’ve had a pretty impressive string of releases on labels like D. TIFFANY’s Planet Euphorique, Pacific Rhythm, SOBO, and Hollick’s No Bad Days to name a few – how did the links with these outlets come about?
The biggest connections I have made have mostly arisen from the time I spent living in Vancouver from 2015-to 2017. At the time I moved there I was just getting started in developing my own sounds, and everyone there at the time Sophie (aka D. Tiff) Derek from PR and Dylan (Khotin) among many others were super supportive of me and very welcoming to the small scene in the city. From there things just expanded, Canada is pretty small (population-wise at least) so you start to make connections outside of where you live.
Musically the releases differ quite a lot – the planet euphorique release is harder, darker, and dancier whereas the Pacific Rhythm album is more of a beautiful ambient soundscape album. Is there any particular identifiable reason for the disparate styles? Was it intentional? Or do you go through phases of being into a certain mood and the music is a product of that?
I am pretty mercurial when it comes to my interests in music-making and listening, I don’t often stay focused on one thing at a time. The Planet Euphorique record happened pretty much in a single weekend session at my home studio at the time and was just a perfect moment that made sense for that type of darker vibe. I am unsure I could replicate the same process again. Daucile Moon was quite different, I probably approached the project 3 times before being able to finish it on a happy note (Big shout to my good pal Mike aka CFCF for that help). It’s always a trick of getting a project finished before my mind wanders to something else.
Speaking of musical moods – people constantly go through distinct musical phases in their life where they listen to a particular new sound and feel inspired. What musical phase are you going through right now? What are you listening to and how is it shaping your own music?
I’m not in a particular mood at the moment I think, but I feel a big house mood coming for this summer. My school work is dominating my brain waves and does not seem to mesh with music-making/listening too well, so I am in a bit of a Hiatus state for the next couple of months until I graduate.
Besides music, a quick look on your insta reveals you’re a massive wine fan and an architect too! That’s sick! How (if at all) have your other interests influenced the music you make?
Haha! yep definitely big into wine (like a lot of DJs these days lol) not sure it dips into my music at all, it’s mostly because I don’t drink beer (other than the occasional corona). Architecture is also fairly separate from my music but there are definitely some subconscious traces touching in on each other I don’t think I am fully aware of. I like to keep things separate (or at least try to)
How do you prepare for your sets? Do you have any unique takes on organizing a USB or record crate?
It’s all situational, but for a club set, I usually create a playlist of my top 10 tracks I want to play in the set and then build a few other playlists of moods/genres that connect or bridge the main tracks. That way there is some structure and path I want to make but still have the freedom to diverge from a strict playlist. If it’s for something like a radio or ambient sort of set I do a lot more planning, but usually does start with one or two tunes and I build a path that intersects with those highlighted tracks and then mix by key or bpm, etc.
Tell us about the mix you’ve done for us! What’s the story? How did you go about curating the selections?
I definitely wanted to go for some uplifting bumping house for this mix, and specifically wanted to work in this David Morales remix of a Mariah Carey tune. I wanted to make a mix to get hyped up about being back on the dancefloor, behind the booth, or in front of it. Just fun tunes.
What can we expect from Unknown Mobile in 2022!?
So far the only thing on tap is my new album coming out late spring, but maybe making a trip over to Europe to play some shows, we shall see!
Finally any advice to young producers? Any lessons in music you’ve learnt over the years that you care to share with us? Also please shout out any underrated talents who we should keep our eyes on!
Have fun, do what you love, focus on your craft and enjoy it. Haven’t had my ear to the ground as of late but loving stuff coming out locally here in Canada from Maara, Honey Drip, Daniel 58, Laced and E-missive.
Interview by Michael D.