About the author
Whether you went out last weekend to check out an uber-geeky beat magician or a depressingly awesome indie rock band, we all know there’s always some serious musical talents rocking around the Dam. You might not recognize them all yet, but don’t worry, you will soon. In this series of interviews we talk to remarkable artists about their music and their inspirations.
When Pim van der Burgt (El Mundo), and I met and started talking about Max Cooper’s live performance and artists that try to challenge themselves (such as Henrik Schwarz who has so many intriguing projects) before we even officially started the interview I knew that this was going to be a good conversation.
Your roots lie in trance and house but you didn’t really feel at home in that scene. Tell me about that period.
“It’s a long time ago. I started playing in 2002, went to parties like Innercity and got addicted to harder music with certain touching melodies. I lived in Nijmegen and started making trips to Eindhoven, where I came into contact with house (the Defected kind). In 2006 I got a residency in Matrixx (1200 people), meaning you have to please a big crowd. After a while I needed more as an artist. People didn’t pay attention to how I mixed or is there was a certain line in my set. I tended towards the underground side, and ended up having a minimal sound. That’s when I started with Satori in 2007. My DJ skills and his piano background resulted in a fruitful collaboration. I taught him to make music effective for a dance floor and he taught me about chords and rhythms.’
Satori released an album recently. In an interview he says that he didn’t feel musically free in your collaboration in the end. How did you experience this?
“I didn’t see the end of the collaboration as a break up because it was a positive thing. It’s important to know who you are and what you stand for. In the end we had different visions and both felt like pursuing those. It really empowered me although it’s been a struggle. People followed us as an act but alone I was nothing yet. I really like the social aspect of working together. Because we split I suddenly had all responsibility, instead of sharing it. This was really positive. It made me think about who I am, my strong points and what I can improve. I recently moved to Utrecht and the new environment has been good for me.”
So you started to become an individual as an artist?
“Yeah, it has to do with finding maturity, your own identity and knowing what you’re good at. I started taking piano lessons because I wasn’t musically schooled, just like Henrik Schwarz. I see music as a totality now. Why couldn’t I just learn? This is a common thread in my life. I’m not just the way I am, I am who I want to be. If I can’t do something I’ll try, practice and work hard until I can. My third EP is only a beginning, I will never say that I’m done learning. I used to think that I couldn’t really change who I was so I missed out on growing, but now I focus on possibilities and invest time into getting somewhere.”
You say your sounds didn’t match any more. How are they different?
“Because we worked together you can still hear we influenced each other in our current music. We both have an emotional element and a certain melancholy. The difference is that Satori is more atmospheric and down-tempo. The grooves support the themes in his music and in my music they have a central role. My music has a consistency which makes it danceable.”
Your upcoming release is on Berlin-based label Bondage music and you have a few gigs in Berlin coming up. Would you consider moving there in the future?
“I’d consider moving anywhere in the world. Berlin is good for electronic music. Ten years ago I was completely focused on my direct environment, going abroad didn’t interest me that much. But my world has broadened. I value a place that stimulates me, so I see no reason to leave Utrecht. A flight is booked within a second. Music has brought me to places I’ve never been before so I keep that thought with me.”
***(We were given an exclusive preview of his upcoming release, out next week!)***
Tell me more about the release.
“The first track has a melancholic vibe and I sample a hang-drum which I heard in an Iranian film. The second has a beat but in the middle I used violin samples. I really challenged myself for this track by using chords that I had never used. I surprised myself and wouldn’t have done this four years ago. The third came out two years ago on a vinyl-only collection EP. I wanted to release it again and improve it. This was a nice process and it took me months to fine tune it because I learned to apply new techniques. Krink made a remix that’s less dance floor orientated that I’m really happy with.”
If you grant worth to your music by pressing it into vinyl you take your own music seriously.
Tell me about your love for vinyl.
“I lost it a bit a few years ago. In 2002 I spent all my money to records but then I started playing with CDs. It has to do with that phase of my life. I started to appreciate it again because it’s something that you can carry with you your entire life, digital music just floats around in the air. I read an interview with Laurent Garnier about him letting Derrick May hear a few of his first records. He made them just for fun and Derrick got mad because you don’t make records for fun but to let your children hear them. I fully agree with this; music is transitory nowadays and I don’t want to contribute to that.”
You say you think it’s important to make music from a certain ‘why’. That’s pretty deep. Are you interested in philosophy?
“I’m someone who thinks a lot, likes to reflect and go back to why I do things. It’s the essence of an artist, and everyone who practices a profession in the world. People could contribute to the world much better if they stand for something instead of just doing what they’re ‘supposed to be doing’. It doesn’t help anybody when you do things you don’t really feel good about. You call it philosophical, I just like to look at things from different perspectives and don’t assume things are necessarily the truth. I can be all cool saying this, but this is also something I learned along the way.”
You make music because your head wants to, not to become famous or to make money. I think that’s beautiful but maybe not realistic when you want to live off music?
“I work part time in health care. The business aspect is something I still have to learn. You can’t just make music and think everything will happen automatically, there’s more to it. I needed to know myself better and learn what I could bring the world. I’ve arrived at a point where I’m not as reticent. I used to be pretty modest but now I realise you’re allowed to think something of yourself and carry that out. Some will like it, others won’t, and that’s fine. It’s about maturing as an artist, not people’s opinions.”
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