M!NGO might be a name that does not resonate with those who are unfamiliar with the wave scene yet, but for everyone else, M!NGO is literally synonymous with the genre itself. His footprints can be found everywhere down to the very foundation of the movement and, up to this day, there’s no doubt that he’s one of the most industrious figures within the wave community.
Producer, DJ, A&R, curator, podcast host, he does everything, and it does it well. He’s one of the minds behind vibe.digital and the entire universe that gravitates around the record label but, as I previously mentioned in a recent premiere, tying his name exclusively to the label is restricting. M!NGO’s own creative output has gifted us with an extended catalog to explore, not to mention classics of the genre to rinse on repeat, and in the past month, he was able to bring his vision to the dancefloor thanks to a run of shows alongside some of his closest friends.
To learn more about the person behind the artist and the businessman and to access his inestimable wealth of experience and knowledge, we managed to distract him from his busy schedule and lock in for this guest and interview that I’m sure will not disappoint anyone.
Let’s start with the most recent news. At the moment you’re looking busier than ever. We recently premiered your double release La Morte / Botnet but I saw you’re also in the middle of a streak of shows and, on top of that, vibe.digital is putting out (as always) first-class releases. Am I missing something?
Man these last few months of summer have been wild, I feel mad blessed. Started off the year with a goal of producing and mixing lots of different genres and was able to put together a nice run of shows this summer. Was invited to play a few stops on the Ryan Celcius’ END OF THE UNDERGROUND Tour with my brother Backwhen. Man I’m still hyped from those shows, the experience was so inspiring. Got to make my LA debut with the Tears in the club crew, alongside Heimanu, Bafu, and Barnacle boi. That show was so MAD man, I couldn’t even breathe. It was so packed. And finally got to play a few festivals this summer, and still have a few left to go. beyond blessed this year, so stoked. Releases wise, I have a new release on Wave Stage coming up next, I’m really excited about. Lots of new phonk stuff coming out with BACKWHEN And WRCKTNGL and lots of new tracks will continue to drop for the remainder of the year. Stay locked!
Now let’s go back to the beginning and tell us M!NGO’s origin story. Who was born first, M!NGO producer, A&R or DJ? But most importantly, why the name M!NGO?
M!NGO the producer was for sure my first focus, creating sounds has always been my main expression outlet. If I’m not creating something I feel this massive void. I started making music as a way to release feelings I had trouble expressing with words, it kinda just started coming out. I grew up with a bunch of homies that love to freestyle and I was like “man, lemme make a few beats for y’all to spit over” (this would’ve been in like 2012-13). Then I moved to Colorado in 2014 and started handing out flyers after shows and promoting events and fell in love with wanting to create my own vibe to play. Started submitting music to Plastician for Rinse FM and Terrorhythm and a few other UK labels in 2015 and to be honest, if it wasn’t for Plastician, Skit, Kareful, and Klimeks who took a chance on me and included me in the Wave scene, I wouldn’t really be anywhere close to who I am now. Fyoomz and I became friends through the Rinse FM show. We started by working on collabs while we barely had like 120 followers each on SoundCloud. Great times! Together we landed our first official release on Wavepool 1, via Terrorhythm. I still remember how excited we were, man, beautiful memory. That led to us starting vibe.digital. There was a firm void in the U.S music scene as far as Wave was concerned and it needed to be filled. Later, we got lucky enough to snag Djedi to be a part of our team, and what an asset he has been. Some of the first tours of wave artists in the US have been on this man’s back. He is a monster. The rest is history at this point. Can’t even fathom how many wonderful souls we have had the pleasure of releasing tunes and mixes of.
Do you think these three roles (producer, DJ, A&R) have influenced one another over the years?
Not really, I like to give each role the full attention it needs per day. I really try my best to be 100% present for each situation so I can create the right vibe for the setting.
So many amazing people from city to city have helped create this network of Wave families. It’s been years of this routine that has built what you see as the current wave scene.
M!NGO is one of the names that is literally synonymous with the Wave genre itself. From your privileged point of view as a longtime insider, how do you assess the state of the scene at the moment?
I’m really proud of the scene now. It has been through ups and downs like any other genre that starts in the underground and makes it to a real genre name. Lots of people all over the globe have worked hard and put up their own cash to make a lot of what you have seen over the years. So many amazing people from city to city have helped create this network of Wave families. It’s been years of this routine that has built what you see as the current wave scene. As far as the music itself, I’m immensely proud of how diverse each pocket of this scene has developed from country to country and yet how open-minded the fans have stayed over the years to allow us to grow and try new styles, bpms, and vibes.
Your creation, vibe.digital, has hit the 5-year-old milestone this year. Based on your direct experience, how has the role of A&R changed over these years?
Brett, Donny, and I have always had a really good balance at this, pretty much every decision that has ever been made on vibe has been filtered through all three of us equally. Doesn’t matter what the topic is, little or big, it always gets heard by all three of us. That way we have a perfect blend of what is being represented via vibe.digital. It is an equal expression of all our visions for this beautiful label.
After seeing the energy at this show in a hot sweaty club with lowlights and riddled with the smell of beer, I knew at that moment I was in the right place and this sound was gonna become my obsession.
Do you have any anecdotes from these five years that come to mind?
I was in London to play a show with Skit and got invited to the Glacci release party by Plastician and that show was life-changing for me. Every key player from the UK wave scene at the time was at this show and made so many lifelong friends that night. Kareful, Cardio, Klasey Jones, Glacci, LTHL, Five Suns, just to name a few. After seeing the energy at this show in a hot sweaty club with lowlights and riddled with the smell of beer, I knew at that moment I was in the right place and this sound was gonna become my obsession.
With such an extensive discography, not to mention all the label releases, how do you approach the track selection for your DJ sets? Do you want your gigs to be strictly a showcase of your work or do you include music from other artists?
First, I always ask the promoter what kind of vibe or genre the event is going to be. Second, I like to look at the lineup to see who I’m playing with to gather a taste for what I want to load in my crate for that set. I try my best to play at least 50-60% of my own originals, and leave the rest of the crate for label releases, and songs from artists I’m currently obsessing over. I love to support my friends so I always make sure to leave slots to expose artists I think people need to hear.
What about this mix instead? What are we about to experience?
Because this is an interview about my project, I’m gonna be playing a lot of originals and collabs with my best friends, as well as a few tracks I’m obsessed with at the moment. I really hope you like some of the new unreleased tracks I’ve been hoarding. Keep it vibe, keep it locked! Love yall.
FUXWITHIT Guest Mix: 230 – M!NGO – Tracklist
Backwhen x M!NGO – twin
Backwhen x Everyst – war cry
M!NGO – Booo
M!NGO – Came from Nuthing
M!NGO – pick em up
M!NGO – step
Backwhen x Everyst – Cameras
M!NGO – Blow Lotta
M!NGO – knocking Doors
M!NGO – Do or Die
Backwhen – ID
Backwhen x M!NGO – zaza
M!NGO – Bloody Red
M!NGO – Ashes 2 Ashes
M!NGO – burnt
M!NGO x WRCKTNGL – Lost in Dallas
M!NGO – Neon M!NGO
Backwhen x Everyst – problems
Backwhen x M!NGO – WHY
Backwhen x M!NGO – MISFIT
M!NGO – 25
M!NGO x WRCKTNGL – Trappin in Japan
M!NGO – Thug From Uh