If you happen to be awake between midnight and 1am on a Monday night (GMT), then you may have stumbled upon Mokona’s Nocturnal Meditations radio show.
If you’re asleep like you should be at those times, then you won’t have: unlike most of Radar Radio‘s broadcasts the shows aren’t uploaded as podcasts. If you miss them, you miss them, basically.
Some background: Mokona tends to keep himself to himself, but has low-key released some of the coldest tracks of the last few years. ‘Stewardess Rush’, from Templar Sound’s first compilation, was a favourite of Ben UFO’s, while ‘Untitled’, featuring Ruff Sqwad’s Rapid, was a grime anthem for insomniacs (the same people who’re awake for Noctural Meditations, we guess). [disclaimer: Templar Sound is a label operated independently by FACT’s Australian editor Aidan Bennison]
Mokona’s music has always been heavy on atmosphere, and on Nocturnal Meditations, he shows the full breadth of his ambient collection, from new age tomes to video game OSTs. After weeks of FACT (and plenty of others) bugging Mokona to make these radio recordings available to hear again, he relented. Below, stream a playlist of some of his favourite Nocturnal Meditations epsiodes – the first time they’ve been available for playback – and read our Q&A with Mokona about the show.
Why did you start Nocturnal Meditations, and what’s the concept behind it?
I got a call from Ollie [Ashley] asking me if I’d be interested in doing an ambient music show for Radar Radio. This was about one month before the station would actually go on air. The conversation we had on the phone was almost a direct continuation of the one we had earlier that year, when I was visiting in London. When I was visiting he played me a lot of records and we were basically exchanging and discussing all kinds of ideas. I think based on that he asked me to do a radio show with ambient/calm music only. I was sitting on a lot of music that I wanted to share so I agreed on doing it. The show is for everyone who likes or wants to get into ambient music. Additionally it is also an opportunity to relax. One hour a week that you can fully dedicate to yourself.
You’ve obviously got a massive ambient collection, how did you fall in love with that kind of music?
I think it started with Chinese classical music. When I was 13 my father gave me a tape he found somewhere around the house. It was mostly zheng and flute solos on that tape. I played the tape to help me fall asleep. Alternatively I would listen to discussions or audio plays on late night radio. I realize that’s not ambient music but the effect, for me at least, is more or less the same. Usually I just stumble upon albums while looking for something entirely unrelated. Ambient is the only genre that I don’t really look for actively; often it somehow finds me first.
Yamaneko said in Dazed that he’s drawn to ambient music because of the constant buzz/noise of London, work and the internet. Does it serve a similar purpose for you – albeit in a different city?
Both my hometown and the city I study in are relatively quiet and not at all comparable to London (or any capital city) in terms of density. Everything feels really open and there is a lot of surrounding nature. I think in my case ambient is a nice complement to an already serene environment rather than a form of escapism. I love listening to ambient music at 6 or 7am while in the train home after a club night. Especially during spring/summer when the sun is shining but the streets and train stations are completely empty. Those are always very pure and otherworldly moments to me.
Nocturnal Meditations is quite obviously related to the music you’ve released so far, but you’ve never gone full ambient on record. Do you see yourself gravitating that way in future?
Who knows, to me it’s just another influence on the list. Keep in mind I was specifically asked to do Nocturnal Meditations. Though I came up with the name, the format wasn’t my idea. I’m noticing that people expect me to be a grime producer or an ambient producer based on either the untitled 12” or Nocturnal Meditations. That’s fine, but in reality I’m just connecting dots between all the things I’m interested in. For example, I absolutely love and get quite some inspiration from Chicago house and Detroit techno. Those genres arguably also contain ambient elements at times, so where do we draw the line? I suppose if your definition of “ambient” includes anything that’s atmospheric and/or minimalist then sure, you can expect me to stay on that wavelength for a while.
What else do you have going on at the moment?
I’m currently nearing the end of an intense yearlong university wave. I had to put music production on hold for a minute so I’m looking forward to recording tracks again. I’m doing a release with Templar Sound which will be properly announced soon. Of course I’ll also keep doing the Nocturnal Meditations shows. Other than that I have a stack of books at home that I’ve been dying to read.