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Fouk’s studio tips: Relaxing and trusting instincts in creation

The dynamic duo Fouk, comprised of Daniel Leseman and Junktion (Hans Peeman), is known for their unique disco-funk house sound. Their significant impact on the music industry stems from a collaboration that began from a childhood friendship.

Photo credit: Lennard Heijer

Their breakout moment came with the release of the much-lauded ‘Kill Frenzy EP’ under the renowned Heist imprint, established by Dam Swindle. This led to an expanding fan base and a surge in DJ set invitations from across the globe. They’ve since graced stages at notable venues and festivals including Glastonbury, LoveBox, Concrete Paris, Output New York, Club Space Miami, Claire, and Amsterdam’s De Marktkantine.

Fouk’s first vinyl on Outplay Records, featuring ‘Stuff Your Dad Liked’ and ‘Cat Lady’, was well-received. They’ve added to their discography, with EPs on various labels and esteemed artist remixes. Recent EPs include ‘Release The Kraken’, ‘Truffles’, ‘Blue Steel’, and ‘Paradise’ on Shall Not Fade in 2022. In 2023, they remixed Reel People’s ‘I Never Knew’.

The duo’s most recent release, the ‘Mirage’ EP, came courtesy of Heist Recordings. With this new release, Fouk offers an intriguing glimpse into their creative process, sharing wisdom drawn from years in the industry. They underscore the importance of a relaxed approach to creation, letting the music flow naturally, and trusting one’s instincts.

1. Avoid Looperitis

Stay away from what we call “looperitis”, and start working on your arrangement ASAP! Once you get a good groove or idea going it’s easy to get stuck listening to that loop over and over because it sounds so good. The danger in this is loop burnout. It’s super hard to see a full arrangement happening after getting stuck in the loop. You may even get disinterested in an amazing idea, which may then never reach its full potential. We’ve had this happen to us so many times! Also, now we’re mentioning it: don’t forget to check your unused projects from time to time, you may end up finding something great!

2. Step away from your screen

A good idea for any creative process: step away from your screen! Go for a run, take a shower, play with your kid, or read a book; for instance, I (Hans) have gotten the best idea for a bassline while relaxing in my bath at home. We were stuck for a while on a remix which needed that one special thing. So bath time ended with me sprinting towards the home studio to finalize that idea. End of relaxation, but a kick start for creativity and a finished remix.

3. Embrace loose, humanized sounds

For our kind of house or disco: embrace loose, humanized sounds, and get off the grid. When recording a take don’t quantize the whole take, only the parts that really need a bit of attention. Keep it loose, let it breathe, if it sounds good to your ear let it be. Not everything needs to be quantized. Place a bass note just a few ticks before a kick, for example, to get interesting results. You can straighten out the bass a bit using a sidechain reacting to the kick. Or not, whatever sounds best. Same principle: not everything needs to be sidechained.

4. Create musical textures with drone looped samples

Create textures with a drone-type looped sample, and use an eq to remove unwanted frequencies, usually, we only keep the higher frequencies. Then you can harmonize that drone sound with your synths/piano/instruments, and fill in the sound palette. You can create interesting movement with a high or lowpass filter or a phaser. It works great for house music!

5. Don’t be scared and try to do stupid stuff

Don’t get stuck in music theory from the get-go. Start a project doing the “wrong” thing, chuck stuff together in different keys. Then fiddle around, repitch it, or use eq’s to remove unwanted notes (frequencies). You can get interesting results even if it doesn’t amount to usable things immediately. It’s a good tool to kickstart an idea and steer your mind in different directions. Don’t be scared and try to do stupid stuff, it might just work!

Fouk’s ‘Mirage’ EP is out now via Heist Recordings. Stream and download here.

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