If you don’t know who Moon Paw Print is, you’re about too. The young artist recently released his sophomore album – The Importance of Flowers – further enhancing his reputation as one of Ireland’s most exciting experimental beatsmiths.
We first came across his production work when interviewing Leo Miyagee (Moon Paw Print produced Batman on Act 2 B.I.G Walk). On his latest record, he channels a perfectly imperfect state to create an artistic piece that’s as colourful and alive as the paintings that inspired it.
That’e enough from us, let’s get into it.
When did you start producing and how affiliated do you feel with the Belfast hip hop community?
I started producing when I was like 13-14, but I didn’t treat it very serious yet, I was just messing about. I saw Fruity Loops on the school computer and got to work on making these tracks – Death Grips type beats, but it’s MS Paint kind of vibe. I *acquired* FL Studio at home and would make these funny mixtapes for my close friend Stephen who also loved hip hop. For his birthday each year I’d burn a CD of these tracks of beats and I would be on there with this pitched down voice on a crappy USB mic doing this parody DJ thing which was kind of inspired by early Tyler the Creator whom I would listen to a lot back then.
With the Belfast hip hop community, I do feel an affiliation to an extent. However, observing here over a bit of time… the community can be somewhat fragmented in that everyone sticks to their micro-community within the macro and sometimes crossovers happen. It’s a beautiful thing when a gig can bring all these different worlds together and you see the reflection of the community as a whole in all it has to offer.
I have really enjoyed working with some great artists in Belfast, I do all the production for Social Interaction – a duo I make up with Icarus Prince – I did the production for Jack Bashful’s Molotov album and he showed me this beautiful video of him performing the track ‘Death and Glory’ live at this absolutely packed venue (I believe it was Asphyxia and with that beat in particular). I cranked up the bass to oblivion and it looked like the building was vibrating… it was a very powerful moment that I wish I could have personally witnessed live.
You have previously worked with Leo Miyagee and others, are there any Irish MCs that you would absolutely love to get in the studio with?
It’s funny, I was reminded of this recently that I was in the first few studio studio sessions that Leo ever did. We would hop on a bus and go to this guy Darren’s shed/studio and there was a certain magic in the air; you can imagine when you just have so much love for an artform and you’re at the beginning of finding your voice in expressing it. It has been beautiful seeing his progression over the years.
I would absolutely love to produce something for Aby Coulibaly and shiv but I am also very humbled with how well produced their music is already – mannnn it’s beautiful to see how much feeling and vibe their music conjures up. I know they might be classified as more RnB artists, but they are definitely the first that come to mind. I think what Denise Chaila is doing is amazing also.
Tell us about the concept for your new album: what inspired it?
The Importance of Flowers writing process began directly after the release of my debut conceptual album which was based on lockdown dreams, titled Dreams of Ü. This time the scope of inspiration actually went back in time to the life & work of Van Gogh. His paintings hung as decorations in my childhood home, which became very symbolic to me when looking back as around that time I was falling in love with music as a listener. It felt like a complete exposure to art all at once. The painting “Sunflowers” was the one that struck me alongside “The Starry Night”.
I grew up in working class Belfast so art wasn’t really that tangible, in fact there was more of a practice of inexpression going on and ‘acting hard’ because everyone had somewhat of a survival mechanism built in to them from their parents who had seen great hardship in their lives and generational pain being passed down etc. I was incredibly lucky to have good parents who although had experienced a lot of craziness, where able to find a very healthy resolve and growth from it and supported me in what I wanted to do in life.
I became reclusive for years and stayed in my room making music and playing games to find refuge from that external environment, only properly feeling like I came alive at age 18 when I was able to leave and go to uni, and through a string of further luck and just applying to stuff got to see the world through government funded scholarships. I would come home to Belfast and each time someone would say to me “oh.. by the way _____ has passed away” and you start to run out of fingers to count how many young people you grew up with who have left this earth, it’s surreal.
To cycle back to Van Gogh and his relation to the album, I read a lot about Van Gogh and his life and watched the movie ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ which is a great biographical on him. He was an artist who experienced poverty, various mental health illnesses, alienation, loneliness and had never seen any sort of commercial success or much approval for his work in his lifetime, having died age 37 due to suicide (although a conspiracy floats that he was shot). In spite of all this absolute intensified ‘troubled artist’ painful life he led, he was still able to produce what I think is some of the best works of humanity ever, and he could be seen as an inspiration on every level to endure and to make something beautiful out of whatever your situation is.
What else have you got coming up?
I have 3 albums in the tank that follow TIOF. I am trying to get some visuals together to accompany those. We have an upcoming Social Interaction album coming out called Window 2 Soul which Icarus Prince and I made when we lived together for a few months in Stranmillis.