“You don’t need the fanciest equipment to start”: Miso Extra embraces limitations

On the release of her sublime MSG EP, the producer, singer and rapper gives us a brief peek into her setup, motives and processes

Miso Extra in her studio by Claryn Chong

Miso Extra in her studio. Image: Claryn Chong

Miso Extra, a producer, singer and rapper born in Hong Kong to a British father and Japanese mother, bridges cultural divides through music. She created her musical persona, Miso Extra, as a bold response to past racism, turning a derogatory phrase into empowerment.

Her latest EP, MSG, continues her exploration of identity, blending influences of MF DOOM with J Dilla and anime. It’s incredible, delirisouly catchy and refreshing. We ask her about how she made the EP, out now on Transgressive Records, and she tells us about this and gives a brief insight into some of the gear she uses.

Hey, Miso Extra! Your brand new EP, MSG, is about being stuck, as you say, “in drive” mode. When are you hard on yourself? How are you changing that?

I’m sure I’m not alone in this when I say I get obsessed with trying to get the right take. I’ve been known to take 30+ vocal takes to comp from, but, recently, I’ve been doing my best to try and enjoy the imperfections more.

Dog in Miso Extra’s studio by Claryn Chong
Dog in Miso Extra’s studio. Image: Claryn Chong

Tell us a bit about the studio.

I share the studio space with the producers TrickyNDuke, who worked with me across most of my music for the last four years. I consider the studio to be something of a cross between a spaceship, Aladdin’s cave, and a superhero hideout. It allows me to be transported to anywhere my imagination desires.

What atmosphere do you try and create in the studio, and how does the studio environment help you with your creativity?

I love the studio to feel warm and cosy, so candles and fairy lights are a must. We recently got a Phillips Hue Go lights to be able to create just the right lighting on demand.

What is your favourite piece of gear and why?

I love my Teenage Engineering OP-1! Its versatility is incredible.

Teenage Engineering OP-1 in Miso Extra’s studio by Claryn Chong
Teenage Engineering OP-1 in Miso Extra’s studio. Image: Claryn Chong

What synth or effect can be heard the most on the MSG EP?

The key difference between this EP and the last one is the use of the Antares vocal plugin. Finding a way to level up the vocal production was important on this project.

On this EP, you switch between English and Japanese lyrics. Why?

It feels closest to my internal dialogue and how I would most prefer to communicate, so it’s a no-brainer for me to blend the two.

What can you tell us about the samples in general on the EP? What do they add to the tracks?

MF DOOM is the biggest inspiration when it comes to samples, in the way they help to build an environment and develop the narrative of a song. Like MF DOOM used samples of TV shows that he liked, I try to similarly copy that style, so you can hear talking samples of either myself or shows that I like.

Miso Extra in her studio by Claryn Chong
Miso Extra in her studio. Image: Claryn Chong

Charli XCX recently said that in the future, pop music will be more minimal, “with only 3 or 4 elements + a vocal.” Do you think she’s right?

What we know as pop music is very broad and, personally, I am a maximalist when it comes to music, so I would struggle to agree with this statement when it comes to my own music. As for the future of music, we will just have to wait and see; I can’t wait!

If you were left on a desert island, what one item would you take with you to make music with forever?

The OP-1.

Do you have any frustrations with your current set-up and why?

No matter how good your laptop is, it always struggles to run all the plugins you want to use.

Ableton Push 2 in Miso Extra’s studio by Claryn Chong
Ableton Push 2 in Miso Extra’s studio. Image: Claryn Chong

Who are some other all-rounder producer/singer/rappers we should know about?

You’ve gotta check out Artyn.

What is your top piece of production advice?

Don’t forget to back up your files in more than one place. You don’t want to be faced with a corrupt hard drive.

What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out building a studio?

You don’t need the fanciest equipment to start. Sometimes the best stuff can be made from limitations. Just start with what you have.

Check out the rest of Miso Extra’s music via Spotify.

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