Fans of Canadian artists like Peaches, Feist, and Chilly Gonzales are probably also joyously familiar with the music of Mocky — the globe-trotting songwriter, producer, and electronica artist who has made a name for himself through his innovative solo work and production wizardry. A remarkably creative and thoughtful artist, Mocky is on the verge of releasing his brand new album Key Change (out digitally next Tuesday, June 30 and on July 24 in CD/vinyl form), a beautiful piece of work for which he scaled back on the technology for a more organic, and surprisingly fresher sound. I caught up with Mocky when he was in Toronto last month and wasn’t shocked to learn that his enthusiasm for music translates to a verve for other great things in life, including food:
Rolling Spoon: Are you much of a food guy or do you live by more of an “eat to live” philosophy?
Mocky: I’m somewhere in the middle, I guess! I don’t have a lot of time to cook because I travel a lot and I’m working on weird hours but when I do cook I notice that it centres me. As a human being I need to prepare myself food occasionally and not just be eating pr-emade things constantly. I think there’s an important element of quality of life to be able to prepare yourself a good meal or prepare your friends and family a good meal with love. It’s a lot like music that way: to make music you need to put together ingredients with love to nourish people.
They both connect people.
You bite into something that is just so scrumptious or healthy or you know someone put so much love into and there is an emotional reaction there. You’re just like “Oh my God! I can’t believe this exists.” And I think it’s the same if someone puts the time into creating a piece of music, you can feel that same sense of care.
Does the food you eat affect the way you work?
Absolutely. I read somewhere that Quincy Jones’ number one rule of production is “Keep the food coming.” I’ve taken that to heart on sessions when I’m a writer or producer for other people or when I’m working on my own stuff. The first thing that happens when I get to the studio is to decide on what time to have lunch. If you leave it up to the musicians they’ll just say “Oh, I’m fine, I’m fine.” The next thing you know it’s 2:30 and everybody is starving and the music isn’t sounding right. So it’s about taking a proactive approach to creating a great meal earlier on in the day and making sure nobody gets to the point of being crabby or hungry.
What do you like to eat while you’re working?
I’ve been making a lot of key lime avocado pies. Just the weirdness of it really piqued my curiosity. It’s my favourite in the evening to make and it ties into my album in a nice way because it’s Key Change… and it’s a change on key lime pie. Taking something that people are familiar with and putting a twist on it and making something new, and that’s kind of what I’m doing with my music too.
I like how you’re tying this into your record — and I like how your record is dialing back the technology, because I think that’s also a trend in cooking and food right now.
Yeah, there’s a real zeitgeist around that because with every passing month we’re finding that technology is racing ahead and it’s an exciting but also unsettling feeling for people. We don’t really know what we’re getting into, whether it’s a food related thing, a screen time/technology thing, or a musical thing. I’m finding that more and more as time goes on there’s a premium on products, recipes, music, things that somehow manage to preserve the human thread lines but at the same time are fresh and new. If someone can just cook something amazing from their garden, suddenly the cutting edge, highfalutin fancy restaurant will want to do that too. Or in my case having worked with everyone across the gamut from pop singers to underground electronica, and my own stuff, now I’m getting to the point where it feels like the most contemporary and relevant thing I can do is put a microscope on the natural and organic elements and make them feel fresh again.
When you’re working with musicians do you use food to help with your human connection?
Totally. That’s where you can just be a human for a second — when everyone takes a break to eat. Nobody can expect you to do anything but sit there and eat. So just for a half an hour or an hour you can just talk and by sharing that basic experience you’re probably doing more for the music than if you’d practiced for that hour. It’s a type of communion. Whether you’re eating or making music with someone, it’s about getting on that same page and getting close to them, listening to them, being able to accept them in their totality. You hear the sound they’re making them and you complement that sound.
This is when I would ask you what is your favourite kind of pie. But I guess it’s the avocado key lime?
Yeah. I’d say so. There’s other pies that are pretty great too and I wouldn’t be mad if I had to eat a pecan pie.
So, I decided to make an avocado key lime pie. Like Mocky — I find the idea very intriguing and I generally love recipes that sub out more traditional fats for delicious creamy avocado. Now, there seems to be two schools of thought on this: I’ve seen some recipes that make a super-vegan friendly health pie with no refined sugar or dairy… and others that essentially add avocado alongside the eggs and condensed milk for extra richness. As delicious and more traditionally key-lime as I’m sure the latter is, I’m guessing Mocky is leaning towards the former. He sometimes makes his crust out of crushed nuts and molasses, but I went with a traditional graham crust and a healthy avocado-centric filling. Feel free to play with it — it’s no-bake, so you can adjust the flavours as you go.
Avocado Key Change Lime Pie
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup salt
5 Tbsp butter or coconut oil, melted
3 large, ripe, avocados
1 Tbsp lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 cup heavy cream
Dried coconut for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the butter with the cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt until the crumbs are moistened. Press into a 9″ pie plate and bake until dry and just beginning to turn golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely before adding filling.
Peel, pit, and place the avocados in a food processor. Add the lime zest, juice, honey, and coconut oil and process until smooth. Spoon into the pie crust and smooth out evenly. Refridgerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Whip the cream (or if you’re going vegan, try whipping coconut milk) and either plop it on the top of the pie (and garnish with some coconut) or serve it alongside each slice.
And listen to some Mocky!