What if I asked you the same question 10 years ago? Would you have a similar response?
15 years ago, no, but maybe 25 years. I used to be a programmer for pop music and was quite good friends with the programmer who did all the Pet Shop Boys stuff. They used to leave all their gear at my house when they went on tour, so I had multiple synths around all the time. The funny thing is, 15 years ago you would spend a lot of time making sure everything was really tight and exact. Now we are back to the point where we think, “that clap is far too in time!”
What about the title, “Modular Baptism”? I can understand the “Modular” part, but what about the “Baptism”? Who are you baptising? The listener, to this approach to production?
No no. We are baptising the synths for the first time. I came up with the name and Igor said it was weird. I then explained the concept and a day later he said he liked it.
What’s funny is, the guy who did the artwork elaborated on the idea. It’s two drops of water modulating. He did a study on the modulation of water drops. The two drops are Igor and I, dropped into the water, modulating. The actual study looks at how the ripples of water modulate.
As a production duo, how do you guys bounce ideas off each other?
Both of us try ideas, whether it’s together or separate. We often sit on planes with two Macs running and working on tracks, passing the computers to each other. For example, Igor wrote the riff for ‘Growler’ at home and sent it over. It was a bit of a mess, so I cut it up to more of an organized mess and added the kick and the hat. I then took an octave and put it beneath the sub bass to make a much wider, thicker sound. I always complete the records.
Igor is the chaos, and I am the musically trained nerd. This album, though, was very evenly written. Some of the tracks, Igor had nothing to do with; some I had nothing to do with, but most were both of us, hands on, having such a laugh!
Tonight you will be at Gashouder here in Amsterdam. What are your impressions of that space?
It’s mindblowing! You are talking about the dream space for a DJ. It is industrial. It has incredible production, which sometimes can be overpowering, but not in there. A circular space is always special. I am very much an old school, acid house raver who came from the warehouse background, so I love it!
Im sure the circular aspect, and the metal it is constructed out of give a few intangibles to the sound quality, which couldn’t be recreated..
…Yeah, for sure! It’s the reverb. It gives you that feeling of largeness. It is about getting lost in that sound in a massive room, not thinking about religion, color, nationality. When you have that massive reverberation, it gives you that feeling. I am very much looking forward to it! I still get nervous, but in a healthy way. When you don’t get nervous anymore, it’s time to quit because you don’t care anymore, but tonight we are nervous in a good way.
When did you first come over to Amsterdam for a gig?
In the 90s I was a Drum & Bass DJ and I had a long career alongside LTJ Bukem. We worked closely on Good Looking Records and events, and would come and play Melkweg. It’s always been one of the best places to play in the world.
When people talk about dance music “meccas,” many speak on Berlin and London. Where do you see Amsterdam fall in this spectrum?
I would actually say that Japan, Argentina, and Holland all battle for first place in that conversation quite regularly. They have crowds that are open-minded, energetic, and up for it. Sometimes, when you play Berlin, you are studied. It is amazing that they are that knowledgeable, but they expect so much from you. Here, it is a more let your hair down kind of place, so I find it a nice balance between education and fun. In two weeks we will be back playing Nieuw Licht…
…a charity event…
…Yes! It is very important to us to be part of charity events like that. One of most important parts of entertianment industries is the ability to open eyes to issues around the world.
Do you have specific causes you are most passionate about?
This festival is for children in Guatemala, building schools where kids can’t afford to be educated. I think, if anything needs to be supported in this world, it’s education. It is the biggest downfall for areas of the world that do not have enough money.
Well, looking at the US election cycle this year, it’s also the downfall of places that do have money…
…man, I’m not even touching that one..
What about non-music related activities in Amsterdam? What do you enjoy when you’re here?
There are two places I would live in the world. One is Majorca, and the other is Holland. My girlfriend is German and we are in love with this place. I have always said that the Dutch have the most open culture on the planet. You can sit down on your own in a bar and someone could come up and talk to you. If you did that in London or New York, people would think you are crazy. The quality of live here is so high! If you want to eat great food, hear great music, smoke a joint, whatever, and it works so well. Its an amazing platform to show the rest of the world how society should work.
“Modular Baptism” is NOW AVAILABLE on Elevate Recordings