Dave Huismans has been releasing music under various monikers for over 6 years now, first making his mark as a producer brave enough to incorporate continetal Europe's established techno characteristics into the rampant and unruly confines of UK dubstep. As dance music continues to explode across the charts and consume what used to be experimental inclinations and motives, Huismans has steadily maintained his progressive expression, never content to rest on his laurels whilst not necessarily pushing the boundaries of rhythmic music, but choosing to work on another planet completely.
We sat down for a word with the man known to most as 2562/A Made Up Sound, in preparation for his first live North American set at Unsound's Bass Mutations event in New York on April 21. You can check our review of his recent Air Jordan EP here.
Percussion Lab: Hey Dave! I wanted to start off by asking you about your Air Jodran EP, and your experience traveling in Jordan...it seems like you had some good stories to tell from there.
Dave Huismans (2562): What it comes down to is like the music equivalent of vacation photos, a collage...I went there on vacation with my recorder on me, with the idea to get some sounds here or there that I could use later in my music. It turned out to be quite a rich environment for recording because there's so much variation, both in the landscapes and the cities. It's a small country, but quite a bit of variation between super busy, bustling cities with a cacophony of noise from people, cars and mosques...and at the other end you have these super calm deserts, ancient Roman sites, a lot of different animals that we don't have here in Europe... I came back with a lot more than I expected, and upon realizing the amount and variation of these recordings...I felt I could do something with it.
The idea has been ripening in my mind for about a year, with the Fever LP coming first in a sudden rush, and setting up the label as well...but when I went back to the samples, luckily they hadn't lost any of their charm, I was inspired to go back and work with them!
PL: Yes, you can definitely tell from the EP that it was a varied place to record, a lot of different textures...
DH: It was inspiring, really works as a memory refresher and has acted as a good way to remember where I was when each of these specific samples was recorded...just like a photo album.
PL:For sure! One of the things that we're interested in on the blog is in building a culture here in NY, and so when you're bringing these samples back from Jordan, are you attempting to provoke discussion or any kind of commentary in relation to your own culture?
DH: I reckon with this release in particular, I didn't begin with a story in mind, I just wanted to make the best music I could make. The dancefloor was never much of a concern, although I am playing two of the tunes, Jerash Hekwerken and Desert's Lament, out in certain sets when the vibe is right...but no, it wasn't really what I went for, I just wanted to make a good record.
PL: And so the idea of specifically placing these samples in a dancefloor context wasn't deliberate...
DH: No no, it's a matter of the tracks having beats, having rhythms...and I think that it's always going be a part of me, to make rhythmic music, and to rhythmic music you can dance. It's inevitable...I guess with the music I've been making over the years, it's hard to avoid having a kind of swing in there.
PL: With Nocturnal Drummers, where did you get the drum circle recordings in Jordan?
DH: Those were a couple guys playing bongos and percussion at night, in a camp outside the Wadi Rum desert. I'm kind of ashamed, I didn't ask them to record it, I just sneakily put my recorder there when they were playing...now that I've put out the record I'd love to give them proper credit for it, but I don't know who they were!
PL: (Laughs) Dave, you neocolonialist!
DH: (Laughs) No, no...with respect to the original drummers, I did cut up and rearrange the percussion quite extensively when making the track.
PL: Of course! I wanted to ask you, what is the relationship between Europe and U.S. in your eyes, how do you see the U.S.?
DH: Difficult one, because for me the States is one country, but feels so varied...I look at the individual cities I've played in, and which ones I've played a couple of times now, and seeing what styles of music work better in some places and not others...New York is always good to me, San Francisco as well...very open minded towards new music, at least at the parties ive played. In other cities it can be more difficult, for example, I haven't really been booked in the American South yet, which i suppose is understandable, except for Atlanta. Within one country, so much variation with what people like, it's interesting.
PL: And so you're coming to New York to play Bass Mutations at the Unsound festival, what's been your experience with the Unsound folks?
DH: Well, I played Unsound in Poland twice now, and this time in New York will be the 2nd time as well, I played the first NY edition with Cosmin TRG and Dave Q two years ago...it was amazing, I really think that was one of my best gigs, a special night. Just speaking with people at the event, everyone seemed to be buzzing about this new festival in town, and I think it was quite exciting for the city having this kind of music for a whole week. Looking forward to seeing what they've done two years later!
PL: They're definitely expanding a bit more, they have plenty of classes and workshops, and a good amount of high quality nights...are you planning to check out any of these other events?
DH: I'm not sure I'll be able to, I'm playing Washington the day before I play in NYC, so I'll be arriving that afternoon...but that Sunday, the last day of the festival, I'll have sort of a day off, so whatever's happening then I'll probably look to check it out.
PL: So have you been touring recently?
DH: I've been playing a good amount in the UK and Europe, but this spring, New York and Washington are part of my North American tour, doing 7 dates in a week and a half or so. In May I'm having a little tour in Asia, with dates in China and Japan...will be my first time in China, so I'm excited about that.
DH: In Shanghai, yea it's gonna be a new experience for me.
PL: How were you able to get in touch with the promoters, out there in China?
DH: Ah, they were part of the same network as my booking agency, you know...Pinch, who runs Tectonic Recordings, was out there a few years back, so they've already been delving into electronic music...I've heard that modern electronic sounds are getting popular in Shanghai, compared to other cities, like the capital, Beijing, which is more traditional...it's all hearsay though, I've never been!
PL: Will these be live shows?
DH: The Japanese gig is at a festival called Metamorphose, one of the bigger electronic music festivals they have in Japan...but China will be a DJ set.
PL: Since we'll be getting a live set here for Unsound, what's the difference between your performances then, what can we expect?
DH: Yes, New York will be the first live set I've done in North America, and will feature all my own music, rearranged on the fly, different versions...my setup will be a laptop and controller, maybe a lil hardware synth I've been using. Some stuff you'll know, some stuff you won't know!
PL: In terms of your label, When In Doubt, I know you started that with the Fever LP...do you have any plans in the pipeline for the label, with regard to your own music or exploring other artists?
DH: I'm kind of playing it by ear, I am definitely open to the idea of releasing other peoples music in the future as well. With my slighty more techno minded label, A Made Up Sound, that's really for my own stuff... but this time around is supposed to be a more varied platform. I started with my own music, but when I come across something that really hits me I would be happy to put that out. I have a couple ideas of people I want to approach, people I've been talking to...but nothing firm yet, you know. Its cool, I don't want to rush it, I don't run the label just for the sake of running a label, when I hear something that I feel will fit on there Ill be happy to put it out.
PL: Very natural then, this label outlook you have...
DH: Yeah, I don't really approach it as a business or anything...its just something I do because I love it and I don't want to pollute it by rushing things, putting out too much music that could have come out elsewhere, you know? Because sometimes you hear music that is absolutey great, but the artist already releases on other labels and their music fits perfectly there...and so there wouldnt be any reason for me to step in and release something from them too. But what I think would be interesting with a label is to invite people to get out of their comfort zone, to do something that they haven't released so far, something different...just a couple of loose ideas I have in my mind, just playing it by ear.
PL: Do you think that's an issue nowadays, people sticking to one sound or template, afraid to leave their comfort zone?
DH: It's not something I'm thinking about everyday, but as a DJ I do listen to new music a lot, however it's getting harder these days as I'm working on my own stuff. Its hard to check out everything thats happening, so I don't really feel like I'm in a position to say this or that is happening with the scene as a whole, I mean, I don't even know what the "scene" is. By and large though, I come across enough exciting music that makes me believe its possible to find new paths and to make music that can be forward. I'm not worried.
PL: So what records have you been feeling lately, any new or old? Anything in 2012?
DH: For 2012, one thing that immediately comes to mind is a little double 7" pack released by some guys called Data Seventy, its an album with 20 one minute sketches, called Space Loops Volume 3...it's actually nearly four years old, but due to label issues, package problems, etc...they only just put it out. I really love it though because its very spontaneous, naive-sounding music with a warm quality to it. Pretty much all of it is beatless, but its just really nice to listen to.
PL: So its not very hyper-conscious of what its doing, trying to fit somewhere into a niche...
DH: Exactly, to me it just sounds like a couple guys having fun with analog hardware, having talents to write cool little melodies with it....thats one of my favorite releases this year. Ive always been really into Anthony Shake Shakir, that Wild Oats release is older but still sounds timeless, great in 2012...this Daphni stuff too, I got a record of a couple of edits, thats a cool one...an older one by a guy called DJ Skateboard, some Detroit-sounding techno...the Anstam album, that is killer...brutal, uncompromising music, something I always have time for.
PL: Very cool. In going back to the labels you run, what are you getting out of doing the label that producing just doesn't do for you?
DH: I could definitely do without it as a task, its a lot of work! But what makes it really satisfactory for me is the general feeling of being independent, of being in full control of everything, from the music, to the artwork, to the planning...when does it get released, the promotion...I enjoy being able to decide for myself how to present my music. Also the opportunity to release other people's music would be an interesting step for me, as it's not something I've done before.
PL: You previously told an interviewer that your favorite track you've done is "This Is Hardcore"...I'm wondering if any of these tracks from your two newest releases, Take The Plunge and Air Jordan, have become one of your new favorite productions!
DH: Ah, good question. The thing with Take The Plunge is I've been playing that out for half a year, in every set...because people didn't know it, it was nice to surprise people with it, and I'm not going to lie, I was feelin' it pretty hard myself! The trick is for me, once something gets finished and released, I find it harder to enjoy, because at that point, if I can't change anything about it anymore, I have a tendency to only hear the bits I'm not happy with! (laughs) So I try and not loop back to what I've done too much...plus, Take The Plunge was an absolute nightmare to mixdown, eventually that kind of killed the excitement for me a bit but seeing it so well received allowed me to enjoy it more now.
PL: So the crowd helped you get past the painful mixdown memory?
DH: Exactly, yeah, but the arduous session was needed you know...if I've put out a record like that, I want it to be slamming on a soundsystem, and you dont want to be on the dancefloor and someone plays it and you think aw, fucks sake, that sound is not loud enough, or you can't hear the bass well enough...I hate that. So, sometimes you need these struggles to get it out the best way you can and then leave it for a little bit, and once time passes, you can go back and think, ah that wasn't so bad.
PL: I hear you, it can be a relief!
DH: Exactly. Oh I didn't answer your question, the Air Jordan EP...is still too fresh, but if I had to pick, I reckon it's "Solitary Sheepbell", because its the most different from anything I've done before. Melody is always that one aspect of music...and this is gonna sound ironic because to many people music is melody... but to me, its more about rhythms and textures and evoking a certain vibe, but then a melody is right out in the open...I'd like to write catchy melodies, so that's still something left to pursue, "Solitary Sheepbell" was one of the first times I did that. I kind of forced myself to do it, keeping it beatless and with only that one sound, it was a little achievement for me.
PL: One last question, so in terms of the Unsound Bass Mutations lineup, with Sepalcure, Distal, Teeth, Ngunzungu...have you played with these acts before?
DH: Its funny, two of them, Distal and Teeth, have booked me for shows, in Atlanta and with Teeth, up in Helsinki...he was one of the first international promoters who booked me when I began making records as 2562. He promised to bring me a t-shirt to NY this time around from that night, i had one but wore it out, I need a new one!
Go scoop your tickets for Unsound Festival NYC's 2012 edition of Bass Mutations, presented by Percussion Lab & Dub War here. Also be sure to grab a copy of 2562's new Air Jordan release, and his work as A Made Up Sound out earlier this year, Take the Plunge...if you can find one, that is.