In the heart of Malmö, a city where myriad cultures interweave with the rich blend of traditions, Moose Dawa emerges as a seminal figure in its urban music scene.
His journey, firmly rooted in the soil of this eclectic city, mirrors the genre that blends the laid-back vibes of instrumental hip-hop with the soul-stirring rhythms of jazz and soul. On Friday, February 9th, Moose Dawa will join a consortium from the Nordic musical underground at Control Club as Black Rhino Radio presents the latest edition of its residency.

Since his emergence in 2011, Moose Dawa has carved a niche as a storyteller whose medium of choice is the beats he crafts. It was 2014, however, when Moose Dawa really splashed onto the scene with his Felia Mea EP. Since then, his output spans a selection of versatile and globally recognized labels like Chillhop Music (now a genre he has since become synonymous with), Ninetofive Records (The Swap, 2019), and Urban Undergrounds (All Things, 2020). But with over 60 million streams to his credit, Dawa's influence extends far beyond his local scene, evidenced by his collaborations and accolades, including a "Music Of The Year" award by Swedish magazine Nöjesguiden. As a co-founder of Alleycat Anthem, he also plays a pivotal role in fostering Malmö's musical community. Now, with his Bucharest appearance imminent, we spoke with Moose Dawa en route with a busy travel schedule. Here, we touch on his cultural roots, hip-hop influences, and approaches to both Djing, crate-digging, and production.

Roots and Passion

Reflecting on his roots in the southern Swedish city, which currently holds a 37% population of foreign background, Moose shares, "I was born and raised in Malmö, my parents came here from Iraq in '89, and I was born the year after. In the early 2010s, the underground scene flourished, and different collectives started to create alternative scenes in the city." As the years progressed, Moose Dawa recalls his early forays into his local scene, "I mainly started to do beat-sets with a collective called ‘Dubkulture’ (later on renamed TV FEH) and that evolved into DJ-sets. I also became interested in record-collecting and DJing in general, mainly in the underground scene and DIY parties in the industrial parts of town."

Moose's passion for music was also ignited by production legends like DJ Premier and J Dilla, whose craft in reviving old soul & jazz records inspired him to explore the depths of sample-based hip-hop. "Growing up listening to artists such as DJ Premier, 9th Wonder, J Dilla & Pete Rock made me curious about the craft behind their productions," he explains. For Moose, however, these artists also "introduced me to a world of music I didn't know much about and inspired me to do the same. In a sense, it's about keeping that flame alive and reminding listeners about the history."

Creating Chillhop

Keeping this flame alive would ultimately align with the creation of a new genre of hip-hop-inspired beat-making. On defining "chillhop," the genre introduced by Rotterdam-based imprint Chillhop Music, Moose notes, "Chillhop as a genre is relatively new... it differs in its more laidback and chill approach of the traditional sound of hip-hop, but it's still hip-hop because the origin comes from there." Upon any listening to Dawa's music, one immediately sees it embodies this philosophy, offering a serene yet engaging experience paying homage to hip-hop's roots while exploring new terrain. This is particularly evident on his well-received 2018 album Reflekt on Chillhop Music.

Delving into his creative process, Moose reveals his affinity for Reason, a software that complements his production style. "Reason has always been my go-to DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) when producing... It's a bit of a nerdy program, and you can either make it super advanced or use it in its simplest form." Since 2008, Dawa's knowledge of the DAW has found him collaborating with the brand, which also happens to be based in Sweden.

When not producing, as a crate digger, Moose's approach to music discovery is driven by curiosity and a love for melancholic melodies and nostalgic chord progressions. However, in the sometimes overwhelming world of vinyl exploration, one is advised to navigate its complexities. "My approach has always been to go out searching with curiosity... if what I'm listening to is speaking to me in a sense, I'm buying that record," he shares on his approach to music discovery. 

Moose's approach to DJ sets and production is characterized by a desire to tell a story and create a vibe that resonates deeply with his audience, differing slightly from his production approach of putting "my own flavor to the production when it comes to what type of soul or jazz I'm sampling and the way I chop it up and integrate it.” On DJing, he explains, "I usually try to adapt the set list depending on what type of gig it is... I combine new finds, both from the crates and digitally, with favorites from the past."

What lies ahead…

Looking ahead, Moose is excited about his upcoming projects, with two albums slated for release. "The first release is titled February Sepia on Beatjazz International/HHV in Berlin. It's a 14-track instrumental album where I dig into the sphere of sampling jazz" Furthermore, "the second release is a mini-album of 8 tracks with the working title Paramnesia," he reveals. The Dezibelle Records released album tells the story of" blurred memories of a love relationship."

Through his role curating the monthly Tuesday Black Rhino Radio show, Crates & Waves, Moose continues to share his passion for music with global audiences. "The music I find comes both from records from the crates but also from the digital sphere with 'wav'-files", he explains of the show’s curation approach. In inviting listeners on his journey through sounds he is currently listening to, older favorites, and newly found gems, Dawa proclaims, "It's been fun so far because it also allows me to continue to search for new music and share it."

In cozy, eclectic Malmö, Moose Dawa weaves together the threads of his heritage, passions, and inspirations to create a universally resonant musical array. As he continues to explore and expand his music, Moose Dawa’s story remains a beacon for the potential of creativity when fueled by passion and nurtured in a rich cultural milieu. But don’t take our word for it. Come witness this for yourself at the next Black Rhino Residency.