Canadian DJ/MC/producer-extraordinaire Rob “Muneshine” Bakker recently wrapped up a tour supporting Blockhead and Elaquent in cities across the US and Canada, but he isn’t your typical, everyday opening act. Muneshine has worked with some of hip-hop’s finest from Pete Rock to DJ Spinna to Guilty Simpson.
He and fellow-Canadian MC D-Sisive received SOCAN’s Echo Songwriting award for their track “Nobody With A Notepad off D-Sisive’s album Let Children Die. His fifth studio album, In Transit, dropped earlier this year and, in an early press release, was described as Muneshine’s “gift to the world.” Check out our interview with Muneshine below to find out more on the tour and all the work he’s put into making a name for himself over the years.
Where does the name Muneshine come from?
I don’t have the most exciting story for it. It’s a name I took way back when I was sixteen or seventeen years old when I first started DJing, and it had a cool ring to it back then. I spelled it like the usual ‘Moonshine’ spelling, and I wanted to have music that was potent and intoxicating or whatever. But for the most part, I just thought it sounded cool.So, I just went with that.
Why did you change it from “M-o-o-n” to “M-u-n-e?”
Well, it was hip-hop, you know? I had to hip-hop it out a little bit. It was a short period where it was the normal ‘Moonshine’ spelling, and then I switched it out, I don’t know, a couple months down the road just to try and make it a lot more unique.
What’s the scene like where you’re from in Canada?
It’s pretty good. I’m in Toronto, and when I first moved there, it was a little stagnant, I guess. That was a few years ago, but just in the last few years, things have really started to bubble. There’s a lot of really talented artists up there. The thing that I think most people kind of complain about with Toronto and Canada, in general, is there isn’t really a big support structure for electronic artists. Not just hip-hop or anything. There isn’t a lot of label support.
People are kind of slow to come around to come out and support events and things like that. They need to see that you go somewhere else, and that someone else is like, “Yeah, these guys are legit” before they get behind anything. So, it’s a little frustrating with that, but as far as talent is concerned, it’s crazy. There’s so much good shit going on. Not just in Toronto, but in Canada, in general.
When did you decide you wanted to make music for a living?
I guess it was kind of a dream when I first started messing around with DJing. I didn’t really have long-term plans. It wasn’t like, “I’m going to take these steps, and then this is going to happen.” Obviously, you kind of have these hopes and dreams. You see these artists that you look up to, and you think, “Oh, I want to do what they do, and I want to be where they are.”
I don’t know if I ever really made a conscious decision where it was like, “This is going to be my job.” I went to school and things like that, and when I finished school, I got an audio engineering degree because I wanted something that applied to music but also to make my mom happy because obviously she wanted me to get an education. So, once I finished that, that’s when I moved to Toronto. Before then, I was living in central Canada. I had to work jobs and things like that after I finished school just to make enough income to keep going.
Finally, I took the plunge in, I think, 2007. That’s when I started doing music full-time, and it was great. I mean, it was stressful. I think, again, because it’s tough to manage in that kind of lane in Canada, it’s not easy to make a full-time go at it. But luckily I had, over the years, released a lot of stuff overseas that kind of built more support in different areas. So, I was able to go out and tour, or I was able to produce for artists. With my audio engineering background, I was able to mix projects for artists. I had a lot of different hats I could wear to kind of make it possible, but it never really was a plan to make it my “career.” It just kind of happened because that’s all I really wanted to do.
Who would you name as some of the early influences that you looked up to?
I think a lot of guys my age probably look up to similar people in hip-hop. I grew up fully with New York hip-hop, so I was a huge DJ Premier fan. Anything he touched was the Holy Grail to me. All of his stuff. All Pete Rock’s stuff. All the D.I.T.C. stuff. All the kind of like traditional boom-bap, jazzy kind of hip-hop is always my favorite shit. A Tribe Called Quest. All that stuff. And then, as time moved on, J Dilla and so much good music. But in the beginning, it was really, I would say, Pete Rock and DJ Premier were my two biggest influences.
You’ve worked with hip-hop heavy hitters like Pete Rock, Guilty Simpson, and Rob Swift. Is there anyone you’re hoping to work with in the near future?
Yeah, I mean, I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of really dope people. A few years ago, that was more kind of what I was going after. I had my bucket list of my favorite artists, and I was like, “I gotta work with these guys. It has to happen.” And that’s when I got connected with Pete and DJ Spinna and Buckwild and D.I.T.C. and Guilty Simpson and Sean Price. A lot of these dudes I ended up working with.
At this point, I’m honestly more excited about trying to find a young, new artist that I can work with to make something new and different. And as I start to kind of transition, I’m doing more electronic kind of based production now. It’s not so much straight up hip-hop shit. As I move into that, I’m more interested in singers and vocalists. It’s really kind of evolving as I move out of this lane that I’ve been in for so long. So, again, I’m just more excited about young, up-and-coming artists.
Your latest solo album In Transit dropped earlier this year. How do you feel it’s been received by fans?
Oh, it’s been really good. You never really know what’s going to happen when you make an album, but obviously you hope people are going to embrace it. It’s been really great. A ton of press kind of came off of it when it came out, which was more than we could hope for. I got to distribute it through Tommy Boy, which was another cool legacy aspect to it. It’s obviously a legendary label, and everyone over there is really great. They were all very excited about the album.
It’s been huge. It’s been great. It ended up connecting me with a bunch of new artists through remixes because I wanted to kind of reach out and find some more young, contemporary producers to remix some of the tracks as leading up to the album. So, it was a great kind of vehicle to get that momentum going in to where I’m headed now. So, I’m really happy with it.
How was your show at Glasslands?
Oh, it was crazy. It was sold out. I mean, it’s Blockhead’s hometown, and he’s headlining this tour. So, I went into it with some kind of expectations, which I try not to do, but we went in, and it was rammed. And it was also really dope to get to play there because they’re closing their doors for good. It was great. Packed house. Everybody super responsive. Great sound. Everything you could hope for. It was a fantastic show. I heard Vice is buying up the entire block there for more office space. Crazy.
What has touring with Elaquent and Blockhead been like?
Oh, they’re great. The tour has been great. It’s been nice because it’s brought me to a few cities where I’ve never played before. So, that was kind of my main goal with getting involved in the tour. That and I’m good friends with Elaquent anyways. He and I do a monthly in Toronto called PRESSURE, which is kind of focused on more of kind of the future music/electronic kind of stuff. So, we all have the same booking agency, as well. We all work with this company called Autonomous Music out of Portland. So, they kind of partnered us together as a package, and then they sent us out and organized everything for us.
So, I had never met Blockhead until maybe three weeks ago when I landed in North Carolina for the first date of this run. He’s cool as shit, super down to earth, dope guy. This guy has a crazy fan-base, super dedicated. Every city we’ve hit, there’s been numbers coming out for this guy. It’s been great to get to know him and play these parties with him. Yeah, it’s been a great tour. It’s been a lot of fun.
What are your plans for 2015?
I’ve got a lot of new music in the pipeline right now that I’m kind of finessing. Like I said, I’m kind of transitioning out of the traditional hip-hop stuff. So, it’s been a bit of a learning curve for me. I’m really trying to master the sound I’m going for, but the problem is, I don’t really know what the sound is I’m going for. So, I’m still kind of just working out the kinks, I guess.
There’s a lot of collaboration stuff. I get a lot of enjoyment out of working with other artists. There’s a couple co-productions that are kind of coming down the line first. The first one, I think, that we’re going to put out may even be before the new year. I’m not sure yet. It just depends on how it works out. I’ve got a co-production with this guy Da-P who’s a producer from Montreal who’s down with Selection. He’s affiliated with them. It’s more like contemporary stuff, Trap-ish. I don’t really know how to categorize it, to be honest. He and I met at a show in Toronto that he was playing and just started working on shit after that. So, that’s coming down the line.
I’m working on some new house kind of music. I’m just exploring all kinds of things. I also had a session with this band called The Darcys who are one of my favorite indie-rock bands from Canada. I did a production with them. It got hooked up through Converse RubberTracks that puts you in the studio for the day, and they catalog everything and document it. So, I’ve got that track. There’s a whole lot of things coming together. As far as the plan of how it’s coming out and where it’s going, that’s still in the works, but definitely there is going to be a lot of new music coming out next year. And, I mean, hopefully more touring, as well.
Is there anything else you’d like to share or promote?
Just, I guess, my social media pages. I post a lot of stuff on my Soundcloud page. It’s kind of like center of operations for what I have going on. If there’s new collaborations or productions, I always put it up there, so it’s just soundcloud.com/Muneshine. It’s the same across all the socials, so if anyone wants to find any information or content, it’s all up there on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, all that stuff.