Wouter De Moor talks about his latest release, producing, and his love for music tools and instruments.
EG: How are you, how has 2016 been so far, do you have any hopes and dreams for the year ahead?
WDM: All good over here! At the moment I’m spending a lot of time in the studio finishing tracks / releases. Last two months were cold and grey here in Amsterdam, so perfect for cocooning in the studio. January was a bit weird, because our beloved club Studio 80 closed its doors. I’ve been playing there for nine years, met a lot of friends, grew as a performer, and above all I had a lot of funny and crazy times there. This is one of those clubs where it was really hard to go home, even when my bed was literally at walking distance.
About hopes & dreams; well, my dad is recovering from cancer treatment, so on a personal level my hope for this year is that he will fully recover from that! Music wise I want to define my sound more.
EG: How long did it take you to find your own sound as a producer? When did you first start making music and why, and how long till you were happy with what you made?
WDM: Honestly, I’m still developing my style! I feel I’m getting closer, especially last year, but I’ve been in weird places with my productions. I like a broad range of (electronic) music and I have all these ideas I want to work on, so sometimes I get a bit lost in the whole thing. I think this ‘focus’ part of making music and developing your own sound is important, at least it really helped me a lot when I started to focus more on certain projects. The fact that I’m really messy and chaotic aren’t helping in getting a certain structure in making music. I started out in techno, but I love house and the slower more melodic stuff. They’re just different kinds of energies in which I’m trying to find my own voice.
I started about ten years ago with an MPC2000xl, because I was fascinated how some of the music was made. The idea you can tweak all these crazy noises and sounds was something that appealed to me. Besides that, it felt like the natural thing to do, developing your own sound. At the time I was more busy with dj’ing, school and other stuff, instead of investing all my time in music. Probably seven or eight years ago I really got dedicated. It was (and is) taking up all my attention and time.
I’m curious by nature, so I’ve spent a lot of time reading about sound and recording. The moment on which I thought I was happy with the results is not so long ago, maybe three or four years. That was because your learning curve is so steep and almost every project you get better. But then you look back and think: “What was I thinking?”.
EG: Talk us through your latest release – what inspired or influenced it? Where did you start and what gear did you use?
WDM: Normally I start out with just playing a synth or the modular, when I have something that tickles my brain I get inspired and this is where I start recording long takes while playing / painting with the sounds. This is where I think funny and good things happen. It’s really like dj’ing, where you can be in the so called “zone” and feel the flow of the music. This happens for me when I’m recording these long takes and twist knobs and faders. You can always edit later or use a small part, but for me most of the times the first recording is the best and I just leave it. Obviously, in that moment you were feeling it, so it’s ok.
I think you can clearly hear with Pinolini, that Robert Hood and Steve Rachmad have influenced my music. I got the chord sequence from my MFB Urzwerg –> Midipal –> Roland MKS-80. I was editing for a while before I got that sound, which is the main feel of the track.
It had been a while ago, but I think I used the Moog Voyager, MKS-80, Dave Smith Prophet 8, Eurorack, 909, Omnisphere, DP4, Eventide Eclipse, Space, Mutator
EG: Where was it written, when, and where did you start on the tracks? Does all that effect the end result?
WDM: I recorded the tracks in my studio at home in Amsterdam, I think in the first part of 2015. The initial sketches were made right after each other. I finished mixing and editing sometime in the spring. This works for me, because when you’re in the moment you can record special things, but you can also add something that maybe doesn’t make sense at all. A few weeks of listening on other speakers or not at all can help you get a fresh perspective on what you actually made.
I also noticed that my ears are getting used to the contour and timbre of a certain track, when you work on a new piece of music with different instruments or sources, your ears adjust the new project. It’s interesting to go back to your old track (which was giving you natural highs for a while) and check if you notice stuff you want to change with “fresh” or “recallibrated” ears. For sure your place (room acoustics) or city (your feedback peers) have effect on the end results.
EG: What sort of gear have you got in your studio? Are you a hardware or software fan? Are the tools important to you?
WDM: I’m more of a hardware producer! But I live in a healthy mix of both worlds. I enjoy the differences in all my machines. Each has its own little character and vibe, but when you mix and match them they can compliment each other.
Often I know which type of instrument I want to add, in terms of vibe / timbre / soft / hardness. It’s a kind of feeling I developed during the years, and even now I re-value some of the instruments. They grow on me, that for sure.
Tools are really important for me! You have your tools for your tricks / workflow, besides all the gear I have been using Max4live for years now. There are so many cool, nerdy peeps that invest a lot of time in making these instruments / tools for us! I think that’s amazing. Hot shot James Holden made a cool device called “Humanizer” together with his brother, who is a software programmer. This device delays midi notes in a way that corresponds with how our brain perceives fluctuations in human musical rhythms.
EG: What sort of things are most important for you when making music? Are you a bass head or a melody man, for example?
WDM: Oof… I can’t choose here. This totally depends on the type of track. With my track “Brain Fog” on Ovum, I didn’t use any kicks, which leaves so much space open for a different groove and focus on the bass. For me, it’s important that every element I add to a project is something that I feel, if not I have to fix it or remove it. Sometimes this habit can slow down the process of making music, but I’m getting more and more control on this.
EG: You release on labels like Ovum and Rejected – do you tailor the sounds to each label or…? What is in your head when producing, a certain club, moment, time of the night?
WDM: I don’t tailor the sounds to fit the labels, but I’m highly sensitive for a good weekend of dancing and soaking myself in fresh and inspiring music. As an example I can use the “Brain Fog” track again. When making this track that is waiting for the kick that never shows up, I was imagining the vibe I experienced the weekend before in the Panorama Bar. The weird thing about that was that Josh Wink mailed me, explaining he played it in the PB with exactly the vibe I thought of. Other times I’m just in the groove without any external thoughts.
EG: As a Dutchman what music did you come up around – do you think anything about your sets or tracks is specifically Dutch, as it were?
WDM: I don’t think I have something typically Dutch in my sets. I do play a lot of tracks from Dutch producers, but the sound they produce is not typically Dutch.
EG: What else have you got coming up/are you excited about?
WDM: Next week I’m getting my new Moog VX, a small box that connects my modular with the Moog. That is really exciting! At the moment I’m finishing up tracks for my second EP for Ovum. Besides that, I’m busy with other labels, some small some big but nothing 100% signed yet. I have collaborations going on with Boris Werner and Kabale Und Liebe and this year I’m going to release a deep hard techno track under an alter ego called MOOR, my last name.. :-)
EG: What do you like to do away from music, how do you relax and spend your cash?
WDM: Away from music?? Huh?? what do you mean?? Is that possible? I like to go out to dinner with my girl or friends, and I love to cook. I learned to watch series, because I never did that, but now I like to do some proper couch surfing. One of my friends has a nice boat where we do some BBQ’s and long talks when the weather is up for it.
Wouter’s ‘Pinolini’ is out on 11th March on Rejected