While in India as part of his massive Space Jazz tour, The Sherp managed to catch up with the chatty and incredibly unassuming bassmaster Michal Menert to talk music, NH7 Weekender, his Pink Floyd influences, Kanye West and much more!

For those of you who don’t already know, Michal Menert is an electronic producer and a founding member of  the Pretty Lights Music  label.  He was also founding member of the Nu jazz and trip hop electronic act Pretty Lights (along with his childhood best friend Derek Vincent Smith) producing the groups debut album, Taking Up Your Precious Time. Even after his official departure from the project Michal has contributed to several Pretty Lights tracks. Now Menert’s gone solo, still signed to the Pretty Lights Label, Menert released his first album in 2010 and is currently on his Space World Tour now.

Hey Michal! How is your Tour going so far?
Menert: Its been phenomenal.  It’s the first time i’m here by myself and i’m having the best time.

You played at the NH7 weekender Pune, how was the experience like?
It was amazing. Playing and BEING at the weekender was such difference experience. I really love how So much attention is given to details of the festival.  It was comfortable, entertaining and for place where i’I’ve never been before the people seemed really responsive to my kind of music.

You collaborated with Aditya Ashok  a.k.a Oxygen last year. Is there anyone from this festival you’d like to collab with?
I am trying to reach out to some news artist and did meet some individuals form Nh7 to perform with it, who are doing some cool stuff. Dualist inquiry and I have been working on something  since the last time ive been here, we’ve already played around with a few sessions. I’m excited to see how it turns out!

Your space jazz tour is massive. Why call it Space Jazz?
When people  ask me what kinda music i make, i often say my stuff has a  ‘jazzy sound’
Also, when i’m working on music it reminds me of being in space. (laughs)

What has been your biggest influence in your musical career?
Conceptually – Pink Floyd. I mean ‘Pretty lights’ is a name from a pink Floyd flyer ya’ know? I  just what they do with albums and how they put together shows. Also, my dad was really into music and I picked up on the things that really meant a lot to him, like Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were. Just the way that it flowed and the way it had themes and concepts inside of it but it wasn’t based on what was going on right then. It was more like human things that go on, and it kind of made me think of the timelessness of music, you know how things can be not so much based on the moment that they are made, but like how you can speak for generations and the endless human struggle of insecurity and greed and trying to balance everything from love and hate y’know? For me that group (Floyd) really tipped the scales of making music that people can enjoy but also making music that people have to kinda think to enjoy. They were big enough to do what they did with their arenas and stuff y’know? I think that’s harder to do that these days.  Today, only Radiohead does that..

Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood are just geniuses in the music field. Radiohead can put out a song that’s acoustic but can make an electronic song that’s instrumental. The sound is not based on their style but on their signature, y’know? And I really like that about them. You can hear what people do based on their own voice in it rather than the techniques used to make their music.

What about your contemporary influences?
Well like I’ve said before there’s Radiohead, but i guess you can’t really called them contemporaries. There are also that are recreating the vintage sound but doing it really good in a way like  being able to recreate that almost lo-fi sound but have it be very crisp. It’s a hard balance because studios nowadays  want you to have everything sound clean and polished…and have that grit and psychedelia  around it. Toroymoi or Chaz budnick – He creates this amazing new sound kinda like Prince meets bubbly Synth. And there’s more contemporary stuff like Cashmere Cat and Flume and stuff.

Yeah, Flume’s pretty great!
Flumes great because he can do that boom bassy hip-hop stuff but then he has the really electro stuff. He can run anything within the spectrum of production. He’s really experimental and versatile like that.

A lot like Pretty Lights you mean?
Haha, maybe. I guess it’s like how we drew inspiration from Floyd and Radiohead.  And, I think a lot of it was just having to listen to rock music growing up, and indie rock and emo and punk and funk and all these different genres. And going to the record store and being like ‘I want this, and this, and this – put all in one album!’ and at one point me and Derek both realized that if we want this we are going to have to make it. It’s like it doesn’t exist out there. You don’t have to wait anymore now for releases. Kids nowadays are blessed, but at the same time it’s almost a curse, because they don’t get to really WAIT for something and find songs they like. ‘Cause now it’s like you download it for free.

And some of my favourite songs on some of my favourite albums were songs that took me six months to finally like that song. And then all of a sudden the songs I liked in the beginning I don’t like anymore, and the ones that I thought I hated are my favourite songs, you know its like albums kind of grew with you. And I feel that’s one thing I want to bring back – the timelessness and intimacy of an album. I feel there’s still value there, because so many people are making music!

You talked about collaborating with Dualist. Tell us more about your plans for India.
Yeah, I’ve got some new songs – I’m also going to rap. When I was 19 I was a signed rapper. I started doing it more and more on my tours – like last fall and then when I was on tour with Bassnectar. I had my own tour and I was rapping like 3 or 4 times in the night , and it’s weird because at first a lot of people were just thrown off by it and it was crazy because I got a lot of people on my twitter telling me to get off the mike & I would just respond to them asking them “what about it didn’t you like?” and once they got the attention then immediately they would be surprised by my response and be like “Oh, that guy responded to me / Oh, actually I loved it/ I was waiting in line for a drink and I was upset” they had excuses for why they were venting towards me. I’ve won people now 7 its crazy because when I was rapping it was really pulverizing. My dad,  having grown up with really cool psychedelic & poetic music liked songs which have  2 or 3 lines of lyrics because you can say so much with so little whereas with hip hop  they’re saying so many things. But at the same time I think hip hop’s a great voice for people that have rhythm but don’t have a singing voice. Like the way folk music for people like Neil young, Bob Dylan – where they could sing and not be the best singers. Hip hop is like urban folk music or international folk music .You can go to little tiny communities and there’s a rapper there! (laughs)

Speaking of Rap. What do you think about  Kanye and his Yeezus tour?
I just watched a really good interview with him on the radio and its funny cause he has no response to it and he’s like “You don’t need money to be free you’re already free, do what you want.” When he started, he really had to prove himself & I think that built a lot of character for him and I think that him going from there and now being equals with Jay Z – you can hear the change in his tone. It’s like he’s too in the middle of himself and when you reach that level everybody in your teams going to be like “Yes/You’re great”. I’ve seen artists that have drug problems and no one from their team will stop them because the trains running and they’re making money so no one wants to be like “Hey man, maybe you should get help” because it’s like 6 months off and then no one gets paid and it’s just that funny thing where it’s like how many people on your team are working for you but none have your best interests in mind. People just want to get it on their resume. For me it’s a big part, for example the space jazz tour that I had mikey thunder who did the visuals for Derek. And he’s a great DJ who I grew up with. He’s been a DJ for like 20 something years. He’s done national tours here & there and I was like ‘ I wanna bring you out and DJ, coz that’s what you do best”. He’s just amazing, and then I brought my drummer AC and I brought my driver as well. So basically there’s a good team around me who will calm me down when needed. They’re more like friends than counterparts and it was really cool to have that sense of home on tour.

I knew that if I was doing something stupid, something that wasn’t me, they’d be there to straighten me out and be like “who are you?”. You need people like these. Music is supposed to be personal. It’s hard but it’s also commerce, you’ve got to find a way to market it & it can’t just be for you cause no one’s going to get it. Looking back you can feel, regardless of whether you’ve had success commercially with the album you can feel like “That’s what I wanted to do” and I didn’t sacrifice any of myself to put that out other than the things I wanted to sacrifice.

After your split from Pretty Lights have you ever had plans of going back?
Derek’s Someone I’ve been making music with since 8 grade and we work very well together. You could say we have and i have a bond, musically.  But y’ know with the new live album he did he’s trying to find himself just like  i am trying to find mine.We’ve been talking about it and its gonna happen in the future.
We definitely want to get into the studio together soon but  want to do it right and not have to rush it.  He’s one of my best friends. A very few people have the kind of musical bond that we do, y’know?

Convince him to come here!
(laughs) I have been planning to do that, yeah! He’d be surprised by how much he’s liked here.

What is your perception of the Indian electronic scene?
It’s amazing. I think it’s very well developed , because it’s been underground for so long, it’s like what I was saying about Colorado – where people were fighting for a venue or a place to play for so long, that when they finally get it you do what you want with it  and you care about it more. I think that because a lot of promoters and the people that are involved right now because they have the best interests and they care about the scene and they’re genuine. It’s hard to find genuine people in music

Metal bands and rock bands here are coming from the right place and that’s the most important thing about the scene  – people who are trying to be a part of something are a part of something.

On that note. Thanks  so much for talking to us, Michal!
Anytime , it was great talking to you!