The sixth episode of our podcast installment is brought to you by Utrechts electronic boy wonder Frits Wentink. When we got hold of some unreleased material by him, the decision was swiftly made this was to be the first release on our own Triphouse Rotterdam label. The ‘Barry Tone’ EP as it was christened is in the process of being pressed on vinyl as we speak. As an introduction to his amazing repertoire we now present you a podcast containing the recording of his live set during the last edition of the Pakhuis festival, where he blew away a jam packed room full of sweaty ravers. Sit back while this young prodigy demonstrates his abilities on this hour long musical roller coaster ride.
Could you please tell us something about your background and where your fascination for electronic music originates from?
The first record I bought on vinyl was Nils Danielsson aka Hardcell on a now long gone label from Scandinavia, Analog Movement Creations records. Old loop techno, straightforward but meticulous patterns. The first time I checked out the records labelled ‘techno’, I had a vague feeling that music was meant to sound this way. I just never heard it on the radio. Until 2004 when I first came to Doornroosje (a venue in the eastern part of the Netherlands). Since that point it became very clear to me that this was the thing that I wanted to focus on. I started studying audio design in Utrecht, the Institute of the Arts. During my time there I learned a lot about what you can do with sound, especially electronically, and this has shaped me alot. In my youth, I listened almost exclusively to hip hop. Characteristic to the work of such as Madlib or Pete Rock is the original use of samples. It has been a huge inspiration to me that by the use of samples as the only sound source one can produce a unique sound. With this in mind, I slowly drifted into more complex techniques of fiddling with sounds. In this release for the Triphouse Rotterdam label I have tried to deal with samples in a more traditional way.
One of the things that really sets you apart from the rest of the field is that your sound is hard to pinpoint in a particular category. Your livesets take the crowd on a rollercoaster ride through different emotions and atmospheres, while maintaining a hypnotic, deep and steady drive. Could you please tell us where you draw your inspiration from and what you are trying to communicate through your music?
I must admit that I do get bored very easily when dj’s play long mixes. I think it’s important to be challenged by your instrument. I rarely see dj’s play with more than 2 decks. Perhaps there is more challenge in using 3 decks and try to find the right combinations on the spot, then using 2 decks with a lot of time to think of combinations. This is something that I see to little in the current dance scene. I’m not really concerned how the public can be best touched or tickled. I am particularly concerned to put down a complex entity, and if I succeed in this while performing live, I’m satisfied. As long as I myself barely understand what I am doing, I expect that the public has enough to think about. That not everyone is unstructured like this I understand, but I hope that the attention in this way is focused more on the beauty of improvisation than on delivering a clean and steady set. How my live set sounds, often depends on the technique I use that night. Because I trigger tracks using the software, it is often influential for my choice of records. Another thing is that I prefer to use the material that is recently created. The software written that afternoon, or a drum loop here and there. I attach great importance to that freshness and freedom of thought. It’s incredibly difficult to present a three months old set with the same enthusiasm as the first time it was presented.
You are known to perform on stage using an array of selfmade hardware that makes the booth look like the controlroom of the Millenium Falcon. Could you please tell us what it is you are using and what involves the process of making this equipment?
My setup consists of a 16-channel mixer that I take with me all the time. I use it to mix a lot of individual tracks and samples. I render my own productions in 4 or 8 separate channels. That way it gives me much more possibilities to go into the tracks more closely, to freak the individual sounds. Besides the mixer I try to use a device with loads of effects or grid controllers to play synths. On the one hand, electronics form a disability. A classical musician has the advantage that he can learn his instrument very well and ultimately translate musical ideas through the instrument. In electronic music this is different. You can use electronics to make the music ‘live’, but then it will be hard for the audience to really recognize it as such. It took me a long time to realize that you can not just sit behind your laptop and watch the screen, how fat your beats may be. Besides this is use controllers, but I was not satisfied with the controllers on the market. With this in mind, I realised that it was necessary to create something new. I started to rebuild old midi controllers into antique cutlery boxes. It took almost a year to learn al the things of working with wood and electronics, and now I build the hole thing from scratch. It is important to work with playful shapes. I try to design my devices in a way that it is easier for the audience to imagine how I control the sounds. A round mixer works much more imaginative than a straight one. This way, I set out to give the audience a more intuitive idea of what I’m doing live.
Your Barry Tone EP for the Triphouse Rotterdam label includes five tracks (four on the vinyl version, and one digital bonus track). Could you please tell us something about the selected tracks and what the listeners can expect from this release?
With the Barry Tone EP, I returned to the more diy sampling. There is material from Sunra, Jacques Brell and Dorothy Ashby. This is also the first release with Loes Jongerling, who did the vocals. We have a lot of fun working together, and there will be a lot of material released in the next year.