MOA is the alter ego of New York-based saxophonist turned electronic music producer Max Wild. Launching his new live electronic project in 2014, MOA effortlessly merges electronic and acoustic sounds, drawing from a rich sonic palette that ranges from electropop, dubstep, jazz, and African sounds.
Raised in Zimbabwe, it was in Africa that Wild began his musical journey, playing saxophone from the age of 12. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Performance at The Guildhall School of Music in London, where he began incorporating African tones into jazz. After spending a year traveling around the World, Wild received a scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music, earning a Master’s in Jazz, and subsequently going on to release several albums.
Wild’s years in London and New York opened his ears to electronic music, eventually leading to his current project. In addition to composing and performing, he also teaches electronic music production at cutting-edge DJ and electronic music production school Dubspot, in New York’s Meatpacking District. His musical influences are as diverse as his musical background, ranging from Radiohead, Nick Drake, Big Gigantic, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, the Beatles, and Bartok. Among his biggest electronic music inspirations is Manhattan School of Music classmate and fellow sax-player Dominic Lalli, who now heads up Big Gigantic.
"When I first heard Dominic perform with Big Gigantic, I was so impressed by how he was mixing his jazz playing with fat electronic beats and dirty bass, making it work so effortlessly together. It really inspired me."
Wild has released several recordings with his acoustic afro-jazz project and has collaborated with artists ranging from afro-pop icons Oliver Mtukudzi and Chiwoniso, to grammy-nominated jazz tenorist Mark Turner. Under the alias MOA, Wild is now blending elements of his past musical experiences into electronic music. "I had been playing jazz and African music for a long time, my two big loves as far as how I felt I could best express myself musically and connect with the most people. I loved that African music had such a strong dance element and rhythmic feel to it, while jazz had that freedom of musical expression and intricate harmonic and melodic movement. I had already started to merge these two genres, but had never quite achieved the sound I was looking for. When I started experimenting with electronic music it felt like a whole new world of possibilities opened up to me giving me a completely new perspective on how to merge these two sounds and create something fresh at the same time. Transferring the powerful rhythmic drive from African music to an electronic dance context was an easy move, and incorporating some of the melodic and harmonic movement from jazz also made a lot of sense to me. After a period of experimentation and trying to fully form this new sound I decided to team up with a good friend and long-standing musical collaborator Obed Calvaire, who is a great drummer and producer. I really wanted Obed on board because as a drummer he also comes from a background of performing live instruments, and he also had a lot more experience producing than I did. Together we really developed this music to the point where we had produced and recorded a full-length album. As a saxophone player my idea from the onset was to produce music that combined electronic and organic sounds, and that could also be performed live with myself performing on the sax."