INTERVIEW – Locked Groove (English Version)
Photo : Joris Couronnet
Some of you may remember seeing Locked Groove spinning during the last Haste gig. So do I, taking this opportunity to ask him a few questions (and dance, that goes without saying). If you have no idea who he is you very well might be interested.
Locked Groove, the endless loop, the never-ending tune that keeps the music going long after the last track ended. A rather defining moniker for an artist who has been devoted to music from a young age and who seems to keep coming with these minutely crafted tunes. Seamlessly mixing all kind of influences with a House and Techno feel, Locked Groove provides us a truly refreshing sound that will make your head spin and your feet stomp.
To get you in the mood and enter Locked Groove’s universe, several players are scattered throughout the interview.
Let’s kick it off with some killer tune he recently uploaded to Soundcloud, this whole track has been locked to my mind upon first listening. It may be not Locked Groove‘s most representative track but it does reflect his musical diversity and ability to create catchy beats.
Learning piano at 11 years old, working in a local record store, formerly studying music, Antwerpen-based Tim Van de Meutter (aka Locked Groove) is obviously a sound-obsessed character.
Starting producing his own music making Dubstep beats, Tim quickly found his musical way by producing music closer to his heart : House & Techno. This change of style has been a revelation for this young artist who got almost instant recognition when his first Locked Groove track, “Drowning”, got released on Scuba’s DJ-Kicks Selection.
Followed several releases on Hotflush (Scuba’s highly praised label) and Turbo Recordings that got Locked Groove‘s name and style a few steps further. After a full year of intensive touring and producing, we catch up with Locked Groove to talk about his young career and perspectives.
‘Drowning’ going out on Scuba’s Selection has been a great breakthrough for you, how experienced were you back then ? Were you regularly spinning already ?
I wasn’t experienced in producing back then, Drowning is a very simple track, it’s like 5 channels or something.
I wouldn’t say I’m experienced now neither, I didn’t know what I was doing, I was just doing something I thought sounded right.
As far as Djing I was pretty experienced because I was doing it for a while already. I always say I was a DJ before I was a producer, which is something I find very important. It’s getting lost these days, people usually are producers before they’re DJs and then become one to make money.
Were you doing any gigs in Antwerpen back then ?
Yeah, I used to run my own nights and was working in a record store, doing some booking for a club also, so I was really involved in the scene.
I started out doing 8-hour sets in a small bar in Antwerpen called Bar Tabac. I was playing all night long and that really taught me a lot, like how to work and hold a crowd.
There was a lot of stuff going on back then so if you wanted to run such shows you had to know how to keep the crowd interested. They shouldn’t get bored and go somewhere else. That’s where I got a lot of my experience as a DJ from.
You’ve started out making dubstep tracks before becoming Locked Groove and producing a subtle mix of Deep House and pounding Techno, would you say those early experiments somehow still have an influence on your new sounds ?
I admit my dubstep tracks were never the same quality as the stuff I deliver now, definitely not. It’s not an easy genre to produce because you have few elements to work with. It’s quite minimal but you have to make everything sound really right. I learned a lot from that, I always try to make everything sound as good as possible so I’d say they still have a technical influence on me rather than a musical one.
I also noticed when I started producing House and Techno that I wanted to have lot of sub in a track, like in dubstep, but i’m moving away from that, there’s still bass in my music but it’s in other places, it’s not always in the sub bass.
Do you ever feel like going back to dubstep or experiencing a whole different style ?
Going back to dubstep, I highly doubt this is ever going to happen. You have to accept what you’re good at, once you’ve find it you’ve got to specialize in that and not try to do something that’s unnatural to you.
I might do a live show sometimes but it’s not gonna be me on a laptop clicking, it’s gonna be something else.
I’m also thinking about writing acoustic music, like piano or small orchestra but it’s not going to be Locked Groove then but a different project.
With a growing number of releases on Hotflush and Turbo Recordings, you’re definitely an international producer but what’s your take on your homeland current musical scene ?
Everyone’s really spread out, there are a lot of interesting people and projects but I don’t think there is such a thing as a scene now.
It’s a small country and a lot of people know each other from one point but we don’t have a solid House or Techno scene. Also, I feel a bit detached from that because I travel a lot during the week-end and don’t really go out to those parties.
The only thing we’ve got since the 80′s though is an EBM and Minimal-synth scene, like synth-pop and very dark experimental music. We have a very tight experimental scene thanks to people who’ve done a very consistent job, putting on shows, releasing records, …
Obviously we have a very rich heritage, legendary labels, legendary tracks that came out of Belgium, that’s actually what inspired my new EP.
I included some really small samples from legendary tracks that people won’t probably hear but I like to put them in anyway.
I’d say that what I try to do now is have my own personal take on what was made in early to mid nineties in that scene, Belgium that is but also Netherlands, Germany or even France.
Would you say you’re old-school then ?
Some people see me as the old-school analog guy, that’s quite the opposite actually. I do know and love a lot of old tracks and play them because they still sound new but I wouldn’t play something for the sake of playing something old, you’ve always got to bring something new to the table. I was 5 years old back then and wasn’t partying to those tracks so it’d feel kind of hypocrite to say I’m old-school, i’m not.
You’ve been touring quite intensively in 2012, playing alongside the likes of Joy Orbison, Gingy & Bordello and much more, what have been your most memorable moments or encounters this year ?
This is actually the year my life changed so I couldn’t possibly pick one moment. The whole year is memorable, people liking my music, me starting playing out, meeting new people.
What I definitely enjoyed the most was making people happy playing my music. Touring might be really lonely, you’re bored sitting in an airport, waiting for a flight, waiting in a hotel room, waiting for someone to pick you up… So that moment you have when you’re in a club and get to play the music you love, it’s the most memorable moment, always.
As much as I love and feel the need for making music, I’m not doing it for me, making people happy is what gets me going.
After spending this whole year touring and producing, what would you say is your favorite aspect of being a music producer ? Is studio time still your favorite time ?
Studio time was never my favorite time. I love making music, to me it is something that has to get out. I’ll never say I’m an artist, it’s a weird thing to say. Most painters would describe themselves as painters and not as artists because then they’d sound blasé. I simply have to make music because it’s a reflection of my daily life.
Studio time is a time when I can be alone. It started out as a hobby, a passion, making music in general. And then I started making money with it but it didn’t change into a job for me, I still love making music.
My favorite time though is when I meet friends on the road, when I get to share beautiful moments with people I love. The best times are like really cheesy sunsets, taking stupid pictures of you and your friends.
The personal experience you have, not sitting alone in some dark room making music, which I love as well but isn’t my favorite time.
How well are you adjusting to this new life of yours ? Touring and producing non-stop.
And what did it feel like getting international awareness after “Drowning” got released ?
It’s a weird thing because it all happened really fast so I got really bombarded into touring.
No one can or should prepare for that, because if it fails you’re disappointed so I never took this life for granted.
It just progressed that way and I can’t say it was easy because it’s a real change of life, you’ve got to adapt and it’s a lot of stress sometimes. It’s been a source of trouble with the girl I love because it was too much stress but it’s all good now.
Ultimately you’re also dealing with a lot of money, and with money comes responsabilities and accountants and paperwork and managements fees and booking fees and all that shit.
So the transition was really hard in the beginning but it’s all for the best, you learn really quick.
Being internationally acknowledged is a weird thing because you don’t really realize how far you’re spreading your stuff until you go to a country which is a 6-hour flight away or you cross the Atlantic Ocean and people are coming up to you and are asking for pictures.
I can’t say if I like it or dislike it. Of course it’s like an ego-boost if people like your music but it’s also really hard to know if people like you because of you or because of who you are, which is a real pain. You can talk to someone all night long, getting to really like him and then find out he’s just talking to you because of who you are, you’re a DJ, and he wants to show you off to his friends or whatever. Which isn’t exactly painful but you realize you have to keep the distance.
So yeah, it’s a weird life. :laugh:
You’ve been releasing tracks on Hotflush and Turbo so far, what should we expect next ?
I’m gonna do one more release on Turbo and then most of it is going to be on Hotflush.
I’m getting my own Locked Groove sublabel for Hotflush soon so I’ll start introducing young talents by late 2013. First, the sublabel will feature a few of my own tracks to get things started and then i’ll slowly introduce guest releases.
I think this is what I have to do and this is my duty as a young artist, I have to help out other young artists to get there as well because it’s a really tough world. I’ve been given this opportunity to spread my own music and I need to give other people the same opportunity because I don’t see myself doing this until i’m 50, i’m doing this until i’m 40, tops. And then it’s time for the next generation and I’ll probably still be involved in the scene but in an other way, running a label, helping out young artists with management or whatever.
But I’m not gonna be the guy who’s gonna be in the spotlight forever. I wanna go out at my best because that’s how you want people to remember you, I don’t want to be 55 and balding.
This whole nightlife is based around youth and young people and young fresh ideas.
Even tough I do respect older DJs who are still doing things for the scene, I don’t see myself touring 4-5 nights a month and having a family.
Do you still find time for other musical projects or is it just Locked Groove these days ?
It is just Locked Groove these days, I do still play a lot of piano though. Whenever I get the chance I’ll make a 2-hour session of piano, like old time. I still learn a lot of piano because I think it’s important. It’s also some sort of relaxation from electronic music.
Could you tell us how your featuring with Gingy on Turbo came to be and was produced ?
The production of Tie Dye is a funny one.
We were both signed on Turbo and we met and started chatting.
We started sending some parts across the internet and in a few hours we had the track basically, I did the vocals. So it was all done in a day.
If your sound is already so mature it is probably partly thanks to your former boss, from back when you worked in a record store, who filled you in with a lot of his own musical knowledge. Do you still have time to check out older, more experimental or casual sounds ? What have been your latest unexpected discoveries ?
I do have time for that and still research a lot of old stuff. It is part of my job. If I have some extra time, I’d look for a record store. My latest find was actually in a record store in Rotterdam, a really small second-hand store. I find a record in there by a band called TIM -which is also my first name- and it was called “The Sun Will Win” (in Dutch) and it’s like this post-punk record which is absolutely fucking insane. The funny thing is there was a contact data on the back so I found this guy on the internet, e-mailed him and bought all the records he still owned because they didn’t sell a lot. I sold them on discogs for like 60€ apiece, which was pretty amazing :laugh:
I’m pretty connected with the art scene so I buy a lot of art records as well, the last one was Le Corbusier’s which i got for a very decent price.
I also do check out new experimental music but a lot of it is shit as well.
I’m eagerly expecting your Heritage double-pack EP revisiting Belgian musical history, do you have any insights for us ?
Well the artwork is a French artwork actually, I took a painting from Rousseau called “The Dream” and it’s gonna be the artwork.
Heritage is out on the 25th and you can already catch a preview of the whole EP. Locked Groove is once again demonstrating his composing skills by delivering deeper and more ambient tunes that will surely get your eyes closed and your head tilting to the pace of these epic tracks. Can’t wait to hear them properly to get boarded for the full musical and physical voyage.
You might also want to catch Locked Groove in tonight’s Boiler Room session playing alongside other Hotflush members (including South London Ordnance, Haste next guest on the 19th of April, don’t miss it).
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