"I always appreciate when a DJ takes you on a journey and bounces from genre to genre somehow making it all work"
Mozhgan doesn’t play the hits. When she’s behind the decks, even her biggest fans often have no idea exactly what she’s playing, and that’s part of the magic. Like all DJs, Mozhgan of course has a passion for records, but she’s also after something bigger, something that’s truly transportive for those on the dancefloor. Mozhgan nimbly navigates electronic music’s darkest and most bizarre corners, sampling different temperatures, different moods and a dollop of chaos, just to keep things interesting. And although she herself doesn’t always know the final destination, when Mozhgan is at the helm, there’s no question that the journey is bound to be thrilling.
Hi Mozhgan! How’s it going?
Hi! It’s going pretty well considering the circumstances…
What was your first foray into the world of electronic music?
I think one of the first times I was exposed to electronic music was in the 90s when my roommate brought home the Plastikman Sheet One CD and we just couldn’t stop listening to it. I had never heard anything like it before! Years later I was in the car with a friend and she inspired me to start throwing parties by pointing out that I had a love for music and a solid network of friends. So there it began. I was booking DJs and organizing events for many years. Shortly after moving to San Francisco, my friend Jason Greer persuaded me to collaborate with him on a new night where I would do promotion/booking but also DJ. At first I was against the idea of me playing the music. I had been collecting music and learning to beat-match, but it was more for fun and I didn’t think I would be playing out to a crowd. He was pretty convincing and I eventually gave in - that’s how We Are Monsters was formed.
In and out of the electronic music circle, who is an inspiration to you?
Chris & Cosey, Alice Coltrane, African Head Charge, Muslimgauze, Cabaret Voltaire, S.M. Nurse, Throbbing Gristle, Brian Eno, Moebius the list could go on and on.
What was the last record store you visited and what did you keep there?
Last time I was in New York I went to Academy Records and bought Heldon Live in Paris 1976 on the recommendation from my friend Ron Like Hell who was working there. It’s beautiful!
Are you particularly permeable to your environment, creatively speaking? If so, how does it influence your DJ focus?
Yes of course. I think the environment affects everything, especially the music I choose to play. I try not to imagine too much what a party may be like because you can arrive and it can be something completely different, but I usually like to consider the size of the venue, the location and the time I’m playing when preparing. Then during the party, the energy of the room and the feedback from the crowd will kind of direct the rest.
When you do b2b with Solar, how much do you change the musical criteria? What unites you? What differentiates you?
I don’t change it too much, I think that’s why it’s so much fun – we’re on the same wavelength. I think we inspire each other to go further in whichever direction the other one is going, whether it’s darker or weirder or more experimental.
How did you both meet and start playing sets together?
We met in 2008 when I was first visiting San Francisco. Years later we were both playing a party called Bionic but not b2b. Once he joined We Are Monsters as a resident Solar, Jason Greer and I all started playing back to back and it kind of evolved from there.
Why do you think it works so well between you two?
I think we share a love for a lot of the same sounds.
You have a really eclectic sound when mixing, what has influenced you to be so musically varied in your approach?
I always appreciate when a DJ takes you on a journey and bounces from genre to genre somehow making it all work. It’s fun to take people in different directions when it probably isn’t an obvious fit yet it unexpectedly comes together.
What makes a good mix to you?
Good music and programming.
For people that have never heard you play before, how would you describe your sound to them?
Dark psychedelic acid space music.
So what music are you currently obsessed by? Have you picked up any records recently that you have been playing in every set or have been listening to every day?
Chris Mitchell SH4, I-G & Pasiphae Sphere of Influence I was playing quite a lot over the last few months. For home listening I’ve been obsessed with Muslimgauze Occupied Territories.
Are there any San Fran based DJ’s that you think should be getting more recognition over here in the Europe?
What is your criteria for selecting artists?
There isn’t a criteria, we just like to book artists that can push the boundaries of music.
What is the craziest party you’ve ever been to?
A couple years ago Solar & I played an 8 hour back to back at Griessmuehle in Berlin for Cocktail d’Amore. The crowd was hedonistic, wild, half naked and up for anything really, it was unreal! After our set, Solar proceeded downstairs to the Cosmic Hole and played with An-I for another I don’t know how many hours !
What are your favorite places to hang out in the city?
I love going to Ocean Beach and the Sutro Bath Ruins when I can. Now that we are under quarantine if I want to get some fresh air I go to Bernal Hill or Holly Park.
How do you deal with C19 confinement with your work?
It’s been extremely surreal. Solar and I just came home from a long European tour and have basically been on lockdown ever since. It’s been an adjustment, but I’ve been staying inside and really slowing things down but trying to keep a daily routine. It’s important to make time for health, music, cooking and art while continuing to remain positive. It’s pretty scary not knowing what the future holds.
Has this situation influenced your creative perspective? What social and musical implications do you think this situation can lead to?
I think this is going to affect everything. Especially if we are in confinement until the summer or even later. It’s such a crazy and strange feeling how uncertain everything is. We don’t even know when or if people will be able to dance next to each other again.
What tracks would you recommend us to liven up the confinement?
Artificial Dancers Waves of Synth comp by Interstellar Funk.
What makes you happy?
Being with people I love, good food and wine, cooking, friends, art, weirdo music
What pisses you off?
Can you tell us something about your current or future projects? Where can we continue to see and hear Mozhgan?
At the moment most of the events up until summer are cancelled, and who knows if those will happen... but I hope to create some music in isolation! : )
Finally, Mozhgan is a really interesting name, what’s the story behind it?
Well my parents love the sound of ZH in names, my sister is named Zhila. In Iran Mozhgan is a pretty common name and it’s derived from the Farsi word for eyelash.