Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Dimitri. Let’s start with your label Lowendcommunity. Can you tell us about its ethos? And how would you describe the highs and lows of running your own label?
Hi Greg, thanks for having me! The initial idea for the label started in 2003 when I was running my own club in the Netherlands, in my hometown Eindhoven. I became really close with a guy named Ivo Rotteveel who was one of the resident DJs in that place and with whom I started the label. Due to personal circumstances it was not until the year 2010 that the label really saw the light of day. First of all we weren’t sure if anybody would ever consider releasing our music and with the basic know how in the pocket we decided to do everything ourselves. We really wanted to have a proper release with beautiful artwork which was done by Christoph Voorn (Joris Voorn’s brother) and approached already respected producers like Dimi Angélis and Jeroen Search for a remix of our first ever release called “Waking Up Benirras” (as The Low End Theory). On top of that we did very heavy social network promo to build our base. There were not too many labels and DJs doing so we kind of stood out, I guess. This first release instantly got picked up by the legendary Laurent Garnier who put the track on his PBB online radio playlist for many months….This really encouraged me to explore the boundaries of my producer skills and from that point on we just kept on doing the things we love and are facing our 10th birthday next month!
The Low End Theory – Waking Up Benirras (Original Mix)
Since running a label is not our core business and we still have daytime jobs there hasn’t been a constant stream of new releases and at some point I could not find the time and inspiration to produce new stuff myself until 2017. That year my wife Melanie encouraged me to pick up producing again under a different alias and with a new sound, so I started my Tencion project with which I aim to focus on the emotional aspects of music. The first track I did as Tencion called “Dancer in the Dark” got picked up by Terry Francis and got signed to the Fabric label to be part of the last instalment in their Fabric mix series. Eventually the track did not appear on the Fabric 100 mix album – so as you can imagine, I was a bit disappointed…
But….The fun I had with producing, making music and being a DJ every now and then was back. After ten years of searching and shaping you can say that I found my identity in this crazy and so often beautiful electronic dance community.
You are about to release your stunning new album: Culture Club on Lowendcommunity. It’s an atmospheric selection of titles which covers all aspects of music. Can you talk us through some of the influences which helped inspire such a diverse collection of sounds?
When producing: Emotion and Life itself are most influential to me, I guess. I’m also heavily influenced by 80’s bands such as Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode and Simple Minds. I really like certain aspects of the ambient/chill out genre. This has also been a big influence on my musical upbringing. I have been going to Ibiza every year since the year 2000 and it was at places like the old Café Mambo where I really started to appreciate the sound they played at sunset. One night, Pete Gooding, a resident DJ who used to play there often, dropped the track “We Have All The Time In The World” by Louis Armstrong right before sundown…and the track: A Brass Band In African Chimes by Simple Minds right after it. I still remember It brought tears to my eyes and I really felt the power of emotional music and what it could do to a person’s heart and mind. I guess I try to create the same mood and atmospheres in my own music nowadays.
Can you talk us through the process of how you created one of the tracks on the album from the initial idea through to its final production? Do you have any favourite software/ hardware that you like to use?
I had the idea to build a track just around a simple bassline in Ableton, together with the Sylenth1 plug-in. When I created the bassline I started searching for some simple tools to create emotion into that track. Just some simple string-and synthesizer notes combined with a piano chord in the middle really set the tone for this Hyperdawn track which really is a slow burner in my opinion. You have to listen multiple times to the track before it really grows on you. I really like it when there’s more to a song than you initially think. Of course everybody has its own emotions, feelings or demons you can say and of course not everybody might like it, it is something I connect to. I always try to create a song that will stand the test of time. One that can be played after 20 years or so and still will sound relevant.
listen to Hyperdawn https://www.beatport.com/track/hyperdawn-original-mix/14013719
What are your feelings on song writing in 2020 and do you feel that the power of music can communicate the same things through instrumentation alone?
I guess there hasn’t been much change in song writing the last couple of years for me. I think more and more producers go into the direction of writing more pop songs instead of doing only dance-floor bombs. This is also a result of the pandemic of course. In that light it can be really interesting to see how some producers change their sound and come up with fantastic new projects, apart from their usual four to the floor bangers. I do think that you can communicate the same emotion with instrumental tracks alone, although I have been working on some vocal cuts as well lately. My daughter Doris is a very good singer herself and I would love to do some tracks with her in the near future.
What is your favourite instrument?
I love to play the piano. Although I am not a schooled player, I can fool around all the time with my midi keyboard, trying to create new and interesting melodies for one of my releases.
How do you see club culture changing as a response to Covid-19? Do you think it will provide a chance for positive change in terms of giving more people the opportunity to be heard at a local level?
Of course! A lot of bedroom DJs can be stars at their home-parties nowadays! Nobody knows how long this crazy virus will still be with us and right now a lot of clubs and artists in the industry are having a difficult time. Clubs in the Netherlands aren’t allowed to be open so there are more and more illegal parties at home, I guess. It really is in our nature to party after a week’s work so when everyone is healthy and keeping their distance I don’t see anything wrong with that. In the end the crowd (alongside the technical equipment) is the most important part of the party. You can play at the shittiest place you could ever imagine but if the crowd is connected with you and the music it will always be a good night.
Outside of electronic music who are your most important influences?
I have to say: Life itself and my children are most influential to me. I also get a lot of inspiration from bands like Radiohead and Editors nowadays, apart from my love for 80’s bands of course…
And finally. Can you share your forthcoming plans for 2021?
I am currently working on a new Tencion EP which will be more dancefloor connected than my Culture Club album. I am planning to release this in the early spring of 2021. Hopefully the clubs will be open then!! I also love to do a release with my label partner Ivo Foreal to celebrate 10 years of Lowendcommunity.
buy Tencion – Culture Club https://www.beatport.com/release/culture-club/3072246