The Mole steps up for Nightclubber 196 »
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Colin de la Plante, better known by his stage name The Mole, is an electronic music artist who has consistently delivered multifaceted gems since his emergence in 2005. Unlike many in the music industry, his work does not cater to trends and fads, but instead is guided by his own, often esoteric style. His patient and deep tracks immerse listeners in weird and wonderful places, bridging house, ambient, and everything in between – as is befitting of a man who’s released music for the likes of Ostgut Ton, Perlon, Kompakt, Wagon Repair, Circus Company and more.

While The Mole has always surprised his fans with his work, his latest LP, “The River Widens,” feels like a significant departure, with a series of tracks that rarely topple the four minute mark. Now back in his native Canada after a lengthy stay in Berlin, we certainly caught the man at an interesting – and reflective – juncture in his career. We’re really chuffed to host Colin on our mix series, which you can listen to here. And before you do, head over to the site to read our in-depth interview with the man himself.

Over the years, you’ve earned a reputation as someone who makes out-there, ‘oddball’ house and techno. Do you feel this is a fair description of the music you make?

Is that my reputation?!? hehe… That’s entertaining, and kind of a relief, I’d hate to be known as a villain, or the bad drunk, the sleeze. Yuk. I’m not huge on describing my music. I made it. I prefer when others describe their feelings. Mine are already on display.

Do you genuinely go out to create music that’s a bit different and difficult-to-pigeonhole? Or does it kind of just come naturally to you?  

A successful friend of mine once told me my problem was that I wasn’t pigeon-holing myself. He was killing it in Nu-Disco, but playing all kinds of music. I think djing in particular is all about pulling from all available sources. One cannot be limited by genre. Makes for shit marketing though. 

Anyway, my music just kinda comes out of me. Lots of it. I get in there and cut away the fat, do my best to edit out something palatable. Making due with the results while I continue to try and get the sounds out. I’m very intentional in my editing, lucky in my jams. 

Going back a bit, what really excited you about your early forays into electronic music? 

In some ways the same things as now, the surprises. The learning. There’s still so much I don’t know, mysteries of music waiting to be discovered. Electronic music was the first music I made. It was very nice to learn about rhythms and melodies visually, as a total beginner. A sampler, the S900 was my first sound source. Simple yet powerful editing. It was a thrill chopping and looping. Still is if I’m honest.

As an early fan of electronic music, I was really drawn to the facelessness of it. We, as an audience, weren’t expected to face the stage, like the rock shows. We were together and, often the DJ or musicians were somewhat hidden. The stars were each other, or the sound system. After years of rock and hip hop shows, the lack of spotlight was deeply refreshing. Of course this all changed when I started to experience Europe’s version of electronic music For example, I was convinced I was selling out when I did my first press photos. I resisted like crazy. But the label needed them. Heh… seems ridiculous now. But I honestly thought this particular kind of dance music really was underground. 

The Mole

Did you always envisage becoming a professional DJ/producer? Has the road panned out as you expected? 

I had a very vague idea of a direction I wanted to go. Deliberately hazy goals. I had no real idea what was actually possible. A career in music, where I’m from, is not as common as, say Berlin. I couldn’t imagine what lay ahead. I surpassed any dreams I had, and then some. I’m still amazed at how lucky I’ve been. I’ve been all over the world. Met so many amazing people, so many beautiful freaks. Had SO many nights !!! All with this so-called ‘oddball’ music. Most importantly, my mom is proud. That feels nice. 

Speaking of inspiration, how important is it to you to feel inspired before you get to the studio? Or can you generally make music regardless? 

The studio ebbs and flows for me. I go through bursts of output. The pacing is very irregular. I try not to force it because, when I do, I generally end up wasting my time. It’s like breathing. I ingest music, listen to everything, and then exhale in the studio. Music is all about the ebb and flow. The soundwaves, the speakers. In and out. Just like the burger. 

Talk to us a bit about your latest LP, The River Widens. What was the vibe you were going for with this one? And where do you feel it stands alongside your other work?

The River Widens was made for cassette. This change in medium, I was always very focused on vinyl, was quite liberating. I made choices I wouldn’t normally make and I think if you ask any artist, they are always trying to break out of their habits, to do something new. I had a great time making this and am terribly proud of the results. It’s not like anything I’ve released in the past, yet it still holds that unmistakable ‘mole’ quality. 

The tracks on the album rarely topple four minutes. I’m guessing this was a conscious decision throughout? Do you feel audiences are less likely to immerse themselves in longer tracks these days? 

I think this second question is far too broad to really answer. The expectations of audiences are as varied as the audiences themselves. I find my audience has a refined palette. They are up for anything, long twisters and short cuts. Whenever I visit their homes or talk about music, they always have broad tastes, like me!  As far as the track lengths are concerned, I simply did my best to do right by the music. Music demands and I try to do my best. 

Do you put pressure on yourself to ‘better’ each record you put out each time? And what constitutes ‘better’ and indeed, ‘success’ in your eyes?

I always strive to be better, success in this endeavour fluctuates. But what indeed is better ?!? 

When I surprise myself, when things go smoother than anticipated. When my audience accepts and validates my efforts. I see success in music much like George Clinton described in his autobiography Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?, any work in music is a success. There hasn’t been a day that passed that I haven’t been thankful for all my successes. 

You’ve released on some of electronic music’s foremost labels, from Ostgut Ton to Perlon, Kompakt, Wagon Repair, Circus Company and more. How do you stay motivated to progress more? Do you still make goals and are there other goals you’re still wanting to fulfil? 

I stay motivated because, like Moodymann said, I started this shit before I got paid, and I’ll keep doing it long after I make my last dollar. What I mean is, I make the music for myself first, because it helps me stay stable, to be comfortable in my life, to stay sane. Music heals my spirit. Not being concerned with the popularity contest of maintaining a meaningful profile has liberated me to continue to just share, honestly. And it’s the sharing that’s been rewarding beyond my understanding. I’m forever blown away by the reactions people share in return. 

I still make goals. I find them lofty. But I get ever closer. Moving back to Vancouver Island has allowed me to get closer to some goals I set over a decade ago. But all my goals are now, thankfully, process related. Income/money for music polluted the quality of my output. Focusing on my process… this is rewarding! 

I read that you left Berlin and are now back in Canada. How do you reflect on your time in Germany? Is it very much a case of you got what you came for? Was the intention always to move back? 

I’m a super mega fan of Berlin, I had such a good time being trapped there. It truly is like no other city.  It will always be very dear to me. Did I get what I came for? This assumes I had a plan in moving there, and I most certainly did not. My friends convinced me to move there. Told me I wouldn’t have to work anymore. They weren’t wrong. Honestly, it couldn’t have been smoother for me. I really did retire. Nothing but music! For a kid with my background, this is pretty crazy! 

Ever since I left the west coast 24 years ago, I’ve always wanted to move back. I just didn’t know how. I kept moving further away in fact. I’m deeply thankful that I finally found a way, my family. 

Is Canada as supportive of artists as Germany is? 

Sadly, no. 

In terms of moving back, has the adjustment been as stark as when you first moved to Berlin in its own way? 

Not really. This is home, familiar. It may have changed, but the air smells the same, there’s familiar faces and places. The magic remains. 

Berlin was like landing on the moon, or rather, the set of The Live Of Others. Alien worlds. Plus, when I arrived it was bubbling like nothing I’d experienced. All the toilets had stickers: Wasted German Youth and Don’t Forget To Go Home. There is a comfort in knowing it is still bubbling today. Tonight! 

You’ve also done a mix for us which we’re really delighted to host. Can you tell us a bit about what listeners can expect from that one? 

Honestly I was surprised when I heard it. HA! I knew it was deep but…  

It’s a bunch of records not very well mixed, like I held onto each mix exactly too long. You can feel them fall apart, and then they go a little farther and… sometimes it works. hooray!… It’s far from my best work, but god damn there are a lot of good songs on there. I love each of these records! Deepness! 

Finally, I guess you’ll be touring the album over the next while. Where can we expect to see you and what are you most excited about the summer ahead?

The only upcoming gigs I can tell you about at the moment are local, a hot party here called  Love Island. Oh and Uruguay this month, very excited about Montevideo and La Paloma. I’ll likely be giving another workshop in Montevideo which I’m looking forward to. Bettering my Spanish in hopes of getting that info out properly! The rest is all still being sorted… frankly I’m looking forward to it all.

Keep up with The Mole on Instagram, Soundcloud and Bandcamp 

Listen to The Mole’s Nightclubber mix here 

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