The ultimate form of self-expression is transforming emotions into art. The painter doesn’t just paint but interprets their world onto their canvas by digging deep into the self. Rita Mucavele, who goes by the stage name CANVAS, acts as a painter of sound as she reconstructs her experiences into sonic vibrations. By harnessing her emotions, the Atlanta bass producer creates a form of dubstep which she termed gut music. Music that’s designed to stimulate not only your mind but all of your senses through deep bass and mesmerizing frequencies, resulting in a sound you can feel.
While finding solace in creating, CANVAS turned all the negativity that came with 2020 into positivity by simply focusing on the music. Releasing tracks with Electric Hawk and taking full advantage of live streams, she used her downtime to master her craft.
Now riding that momentum into 2021, CANVAS shows no signs of slowing down and proves to be a force in the bass scene. The Daily Frequency had the opportunity to talk to her about playing The Untz Festival, what’s to come, and much more!
Read the full interview below!
How did you get into music production, and what drew you to bass music in particular?
I’ve always been obsessed with music from an early age. It’s in my blood. Since I can remember, I’ve been playing some type of instrument from the drums to euphonium to bass guitar. I thank my mom for constantly pushing me towards these opportunities and fighting for them.
While in college, I worked in the music building, helping my fellow students check out and rent instruments. I learned about a music synthesis class and would spend my downtime at work exploring different analog and digital synthesizers. This ultimately lead me to deeply discover electronic music, DJing, and, subsequently, music production.
I’m a huge fan of music in general. I can always find a track I truly enjoy in any genre. Bass music is so special to me because it’s a melting pot of influences. You can take everyday sounds and extract the music within. The experimental nature of it lends itself to opportunities to find music with everyday sounds. Plus, I’m in love with the feeling and sound of a nice, deep sub. I blame 90’s southern hip hop, ha! Our bodies just resonate so well with lower frequencies.
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
Talking big picture, Missy Elliott and Imogen Heap, hands down. Both women transcend artistry. They are simply phenomenal creatives who have had a significant influence over my musical tastes and aspirations since I was a little girl! Shoutout to fans of Frou Frou and the nearly 25 years of us being blessed with the Supa Dupa Fly album from Missy!
I should also give thanks to 90’s & 00’s southern hip hop in general. It’s undeniable in my sound and influence.
You can tell there is a lot of emotion and energy put into your productions. Where does your inspiration come from when you’re in the studio?
Thank you for feeling it! It honestly comes from my life experiences. Music has always been my escape, therapy, lover, and friend. My childhood and youth were hands down the most difficult times of my life. Growing up in poverty as a child of a single mother immigrant, grappling with my ADHD and struggling to come out…. there was a lot for me to unpack there. Music was my coping strategy. I could feel heard, seen, loved, accepted, unlimited, whatever I wanted and needed to feel, music, she had me covered.
When I produce, it’s the same thing. I’m looking to shine a light on my emotions. What needs tending to, what needs to be expressed, what is crying out for attention. I sit with that feeling and write, create, edit, and something new is born. Sometimes it’s very heavy, sometimes I just need to feel silly and ridiculous!
I really love your style of bass music and your ability to incorporate a ton of variety in your productions. How are you able to create such diversity while stay staying true to your sound?
It’s definitely a balancing game. But again, it all comes back to the emotion for me. I’m making music with the intention of giving energy to a certain feeling, so I follow that feeling. I reflect on memories where I’ve felt that emotion the strongest and rebuild that feeling into a new, imagined scenario. I then create the soundtrack for that imagined moment. To me, that’s following my gut. That’s my sound.
You recently coined the phrase gut music. Tell us more about that and how you came up with it.
Yes, Gut Music! You know that feeling when you hear a song for the first time and are immediately obsessed with it? Or that immediate bass face reaction you can’t help but make? What about feeling like your soul was touched? That’s gut music. It’s visceral. It transcends genre because it hits us at our core as human beings, and that’s universal.
It came about in a discussion with my manager (and one of my best friends), Scott Steiner. He said “Gut Music,” and it was born!
The pandemic hit everyone hard and flipped the music industry upside down. You, however, seemed to thrive, releasing a ton of new music, mixes, and playing a bunch of live streams. How important was it to stay busy, and how were you staying positive in such trying times?
It was EVERYTHING! Music was my mental sanctuary. Creating gave me something to believe in and hope for. As an artist, you know deep down that you MUST create to feel connected; we must create to feel realized. That need just became more evident as life was stripped down.
Staying positive was a challenge, no doubt. Step one was recognizing when I needed help and then seeking out that help. I’m so thankful to my therapist, my phenomenal partner, my two wives, and my community of friends who are family! I leaned into them to share the burden, expressing our fears, anxieties, hopes, and wishes for the future, just holding space for one another. I am very lucky and thankful to have so many genuine, amazing humans in my life (s/o to Team Palm Tree). I cannot stress enough the importance of COMMUNITY! It takes a village.
Not only do you rock the stage, but you’re also an avid fan of the scene and attend music festivals such as Okeechobee and Imagine. Would you say experiencing the music in the crowd from the fan’s perspective impacts how you play your live sets?
I’m a fan first! It absolutely does! Going back to chasing a feeling – being in the crowd, experiencing live music from that perspective comes with a wave of memories. Just think about all of the kind strangers you dance with, the overheard conversations, the ridiculous antics, getting lost in a bass line with your eyes closed… ugh, I could go on and on. I want to capture that experience and give it right back to my audience. I want you to know that we are creating this set, this moment together. I’m just your mirror.
Just like your music, your visuals are next level. Would you say visuals are just as important as the music for the overall experience?
You’re too kind! I believe that visuals, for my project, are there to enhance the music and help tell the story. It’s another way of engaging the senses to bring the listener that much more into the present. It helps to solidify the experience. Expect to see more of my curated visuals at my upcoming shows!
You’ve just played The Untz Festival alongside some great names in bass music. Now you’re headed to Rebirth Festival in Georgia. What can fans expect once you take the stage?
The Untz was a wild ride! Great time connecting there. Rebirth will be a very special series of performances. I’ll have longer sets, so I’ll really take us on a ride. It’s no holds bar, full freestyle music! Expect bass, but be ready for anything. The goal is to feel rinsed, washed, and reborn mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically! Hydrate before!
Lastly, if you could accomplish one thing in your musical career, what would it be and why?
To give back! I’m cheating with this one because it’s really a few things. Emotionally, I want to give every fan what music has given me: a space for all of my emotions, struggles, and triumphs. Someone to say, “I see you, I feel you, you’re not alone.”
More tangibly, I want to create full-spectrum music programs (that incorporate electronic music and music production, of course) for young kids in underprivileged areas and challenging circumstances. Completely free for students and properly compensated teachers. Everyone needs music, but for some, that music helps a little more. I know how it impacted my development, I want that options for others.