Rob Mozell's family moved from New Orleans to Houston when he was a kid, and he grew up in Missouri City. He had a full musical diet, and started music as a teenager, recording guitar and drums into into a dual tape deck. But it wasn't until after he went away to college to Southwest Texas in San Marcos that he would start making beats and get his hands on a full DJ setup. Houstonian Jerry Rios was also taking classes there, working on music in his spare time. Rios would go on to call himself On Hiatus, and as far as gear was concerned, he was a step ahead of Rob, who had wired up two tape decks and one turntable for his home setup. Rios showed him cut records, and let him get on a real set of turntables where he learned how to mix, and appreciate new sounds&emdash;wherever he found them.

"I've never been mad at like background noise or hiss as long as it sounds good. I think it just comes from growing up recording and not having a bunch of the best equipment, and you make do with that shit and you learn to love it. That’s how my stuff is now! All my equipment is hodge podge shit like Sound Exchange had a receiver or extra turntable, and you know somewhere it’s just old shit that’s been bought and cobbled together."

Mozell was big on local Houston hip-hop and punk rock both, mixing mostly the former into his sets with lots of ambient and downtempo tracks that relied on big heavy beats coming through disparate sources, all finding a threaded rhythm to uphold, a familiar crack ever present in every track, manifesting through a different sound every time but summoning up the same ripple to the surface.

He moved back to Houston in 2003. "I was tryin' to see if there was anybody here doin' DJ stuff like more downtempo and cuts and scratchin’ and shit. And that’s when I saw Ceeplus. I met him at Helios and he had some open turntable night and I brought a bag of records and started playin' and I started DJin' with him every week, and that's when Jerry started DJin' with him, too, when he moved back. And we started makin' a lot more music then but it was really just me and Jerry doin’ our own thing with samplers and breaks and then I started working with Yppah Joe and we did some work together. I was really making my breakbeats as a canvas for people to rap on, and I didn’t want them to be overproduced like, some kind of shifted to more ethereal, downtempo beats that people could still rap on but I'm doin' it more for just the love of me wantin' to listen to beats now. I don't care about the rest of it so much. I just want them all to be a reflection of how I feel at the moment of when I record them. That's all that I want out of them."

The move back to Houston was when Mozell started calling himself MAKESTAPES, and thus began the journey that led to Landing Signals.

"DJ Witnes was one of my most influential DJ friends with the most genuine heart. I had been listening to Ukalipthis tapes since the late '90s. Once I was DJing in Houston, I met Witnes in person at Walter's On Washington after a set and after talking to him for a few minutes I realized who he was. Then I mentioned how the green tape had influenced me. It kept me home when I was away. That music had soul, and it was undeniable. The friendship grew from there, and through Witnes I met The F.L.Y., and Kwame of Freedom Sold. Through Fly, I met all the rappers worth messing with."

The album is the result of studio work between 2008 and 2021, and is his first release since the 2012 7-inch record he did with Galveston/Houston’s Birdlikebats (whom Witnes introduced to Lance Scott Walker in 2009, helping to form Bull Thieves). Landing Signals also marks a posthumous appearance for David “The F.L.Y.” Landry (1974–2021), who is memorialized as the vocalist of the only full vocal track on the album, "All In All." The album is is dedicated to his memory.

MAKESTAPES also works together with MC Kwam in a group called Construct Collapse. They have plans to release music in 2023.


Stenographer, another Houston/San Antonio producer you'll be happy to discover if you don't know him already, appears on the A-side of the cassette. Susan Jane Tape Players is his album.