An Interview with Mijk Renaux of with NYC-based Eclectronica Duo Umuvova

Ohio Interviews


Where does the name UMUVOVA come from?

It comes from a combination of trying to negotiate individualistic space as a team.

Your debut EP, Matter and Masks, is “inspired by the religious ceremonial preparation of a Virgo Supercluster sub-culture in the common-era year 2793.” Could you expand on this?

We channeled part of an alien society’s attempt to commune with a force beyond their corporeal existence, where use of a particular drug analogous to Earth’s DMT bridges the gap between human and the divine. It was a confusing transmission, but our song “Oviri” is our closest translation of it.

You’re in the band UMUVOVA with your husband, Renatus Sauntz.

Yes. Renatus and I were married in a cave. Then, years later, we started writing music together.

Have you had any live shows? If not, do you plan to have any? Will you be in costume?

Renatus and I have both performed live, but never together. Since UMUVOVA is so new, our focus right now is on songwriting, and creating the follow up to Matter and Masks. When UMUVOVA eventually performs live, I will definitely be in “costume,” if by “costume” you mean “something different than what you normally wear on a daily basis.”

What are your musical influences?

Music that has made a difference in my life were Julie London, KD Lang, Michael McDonald, Nine Inch Nails, Celtic Frost, Black Sabbath, King Crimson, Dream Theater, Ice Cube, AtomTM/SeƱor Coconut, Tim Exile. I can go on. It almost hurts to stop listing influences… you worry that there’s something critical you’re missing.

Broadcast, Mark Van Hoen, Mid-80s 4AD, The Pioneers of the Hypnotic Groove, Siriusmo, Radio Dept, Various Production, Son Lux, Heaven 17, Blancmange, Eleven Pond, Burt Bacharach, A Certain Ratio, Olafur Arnalds, Benoit Pioulard.

Our “musical influence” intersection is our great love and respect for all things Depeche Mode. Also, we both really like Chilly Gonzales, The Knife, and Emika.

What’s your creative process?

We take turns. We tried working together, on the same thing at the same time, and it just didn’t work. Now, each of us will work on something, and then hand it off to the other person when our own progress slows. It works very well for us, because we focus on different things and don’t get in each other’s way. Renatus is a wonderful crafter of sounds, has a great ear, rhythmic sense, and admirable attention to detail. I gravitate toward arranging, song structure, combining disparate elements and production techniques.

What’s a good diet for a musician?

Intermittent fasting for idea generation and endurance, keeping alkaline to reduce stress and encourage clarity, avoiding sugar to foster confidence and maintain focus, and staying hydrated to keep everything flowing.

What do you see in the future of music? In the future of your music?

The near future (next 50 or so years) will continue to bring huge leaps in music production and experience, and a slowing of innovation in musical expression.

Music has been increasingly commodified for decades, and as such, pop artists and their agents search for differentiation. Within popular music especially, production is of critical importance, and will continue to be a driving force, as well as an ever-rising standard for two reasons. The first is that the rate of change in production technology is outpacing that of artistic expression, and the second is that production techniques enhance the environment or the “space” of the music and contribute much to the experience itself. With more music being made, released, and shared than ever before, it is the experience that is sought after, moreso than active listening. This is why the popularity and take-home pay of DJs have overtaken that of the artists they play, because curation has overtaken creation. Therefore, we have seen and will continue to see a decrease in the overall uniqueness of musical expression. Recycling of previous musical ideas will continue and increase. Of course, there are still musical artists doing cutting-edge work, but I’m talking about mass consumption.

In the further future, when experience itself has been commodified for at least a generation or two, a backlash against the lowest common denominator approach to a “music experience” will cause a complete collapse of whatever remains of a music “industry” per se, and all “popular” music will be steadfastly rejected. Individuals and small ad-hoc social groupings will begin to construct personal artworks that will include music, at first nearly indistinguishable within the mixed mediums of expression and experimentation. Within that construct, a universal vibration and/or frequency will be discovered, and that will spawn a new and intrinsically collaborative form of communal experience unlike any other humans have previously encountered.

As for the future of UMUVOVA, we will continue to channel transmissions from afar, and see what happens.
Buy Umuvova’s debut EP, Matter and Masks, here.