Reinier Zonneveld talks Church of Clubmusic, Filth on Acid, live improvisation and what sets him apart.
The exceeding gifted Dutch musician, DJ and producer kick-starts a busy tour season in support of his third and most notable album to date “Church of Clubmusic.” On July 28th, the 28-year old will showcase his musical prowess, playing a 10-hour live set with only his music at Thuishaven — Amsterdam. Followed by a two-day (Aug. 24-25) appearance at next month’s, Drumcode Festival in his hometown. Embarking on a “Filth on Acid” label worldwide tour, thereafter. Charting into new territory, Reinier will host his label’s showcase with a (day to night) 12-hour live takover at De Marktkantine during ADE.
Hello Reinier! Thank you for making some time to speak to us!
For our readers who aren’t familiar with your music, can you tell us a little bit about your path to becoming an artist?
I started playing piano when I was 3. I’ve been basically listening and playing around with music my whole life. When I was around 10 years, I got my hands on a copy of Reason 1, and in the beginning of course had no idea how it worked. But with playing around with the functions which I really liked, I began to make some recordings. This was all just on the side as a hobby, but when I went to my first real techno party when I moved out of my parents house, I was 16 or just 17, I knew that that was what I wanted to do. The very next day I started working on it, and since then I’ve been producing and playing techno (and sometimes other electronic music styles to keep it diverse). I used to play a lot of illegal raves all around the Netherlands, and from time to time official gigs at clubs and festivals. By 2011 I did my first release, and in 2015 my music got played by a lot of the biggest names in the scene; Carl Cox, Adam Beyer, Richie Hawtin, etc. In 2016 I released a record “Rushchamber” which included “Sharp Bust” on Oliver Koletzki’s Stil vor Talent. Suddenly I made the step from sporadious gigs to touring full time, and I’ve been touring ever since.
Some of your work marries your classical background with detailed elements. How much experimentation does it take to create that balance…or do you just manage to do it instinctively?
I think this came as a result of playing (and writing) classical music, these influences will always come out one way or another. To get it right is another thing, I spend a lot of time trying things and also thinking about how you can combine melodies on the foreground with something that also bangs on a dance floor.
You recently released your third album “Church of Clubmusic.” What’s different this time? How has your process changed, if at all?
My first album, Reverse Psychology was very much focused around hypnotic / experimental techno and ambient. My second album Megacity Servant was build around melodic techno with some tech house influences. For my third album “Church of Clubmusic” I really wanted to showcase a more diverse album, that takes the listener on a trip and showcases the many electronic styles I love to produce. Something very suited for home listening, while also having tracks on it that work good in clubs and festivals. I included reworks of tracks that I made over 10 years ago, but also fresh cuts from half a year old.
On the most notable track on Church of Clubmusic…
I think that ‘Hard Gaan’ is definitely the highlight. It once started as a live improvisation in a dark club in Berlin, somewhere in the morning at the end of 2016. I suddenly turned the BPM up to 145 during my set, put an extreme distortion on the kick drum, and played the sequence of the track from a synthesizer. People started asking me at every show if I would do the crazy thing they heard or saw online from that night. And it happened that every show I did a completely live variation of just that. The track evolved and every version was different. Then at Awakenings festival in 2017 I closed the set with it, and it completely blew up the crowd (this video went viral online and is seen by tens of millions of people now) and decided to give it a name: ‘Hard Gaan’ — which means literally going hard.
On how Filth on Acid started…
Together with my very good friend Axel (who is now also my manager), we were always talking about how we would like to start a label. We got the idea for the name from a track we did together back in 2014 (Reinier Zonneveld & Axan — Filth on Acid). Axel focuses mostly on the backside of the label, but we always discuss all the ideas and plans we have together. The A&R I always do by myself alone, I like to have full control over the music we release. We knew one thing for sure: no compromises on quality, put in maximum effort and try to get people and other artists involved into the sound I was doing. No compromises for us for example means that all our cover art is hand drawn by a dedicated artist, for every single release. In the beginning this approach was a bit stressful, since a label only costs money until you stream / sell a lot of music, and especially so if you want to everything the best as we could. We invested all our savings in it. Then we’re super happy to see immediately from the first release on super good support from artists and the audience on what we were doing, and I could invite some of my favorite artists to do a release together or solo, with as the big highlight the collaborations with Carl Cox; last year Inferno and this year a 3 track EP in June that is released on 28 June.
Can you name some notable artists on your radar right now? What draws you to their work?
I really love what Mees Salomé is doing. For me he is one of the producers in the electronic scene with the best feeling for melody; the perfect balance between emotion and danceable music. The music can really grab you, while at the same time exploding a dance floor at a club and festival.
Your music is usually a melting pot of genres, do you have a vision for the final product when you start, or do you discover it during the process?
Usually I start a track when I already have an idea in my head. This could be a melody, a sound, a rhythm. Whenever I get an idea like that I record it on my phone (imagine me singing a techno track in a full airplane at 8AM) or better; I take out my laptop or quickly go to my studio to start sketching out the main ideas of the track. This doesn’t have to be techno, if I get a nice idea for a hip-hop track or an ambient piece I would do the same.
What did you learn while making ‘Church of Clubmusic?’
I really learned to think more about track order and storytelling with a lot of tracks combined. Instead of just putting the most popular tracks on top (which is often done with regular club EPs), for an album you really have to think about the path a listener takes through your music.
Reinier Zonneveld – Church of Clubmusic
Arguably, there are a lot of producers in the scene. Your work, however, always stands out to me. How do you feel you’ve been able to create a unique “sound” and style with your body of work over the years? What sets “Reinier Zonneveld” apart?
Thank you! In the past I used to hear from a lot of people that I should focus on fitting my music into a certain sound of a label. I tried to do this, but it killed my creativity. At some point I started to let this idea go, and that’s when for me a whole new world opened. I just make whatever I feel like and I’m way happier with the music I make now because of it. By working this way you really open up the way for getting the sound that is inside your mind out in your recordings. Next to that I think the fact that I play only live, touring a very big amount of gigs every year, means that I have always feedback from the crowd on all the techno tracks I make. Some of them I might play 1 or 2 times to be just used for some obscure loop in my sets later on, some I feel really work and these get adjusted by remembering how I change during my live sets and implementing that for the final release. Finally, I think an important aspect in my sound is that I do everything on my own: writing the track, producing, sound design, mixing and mastering, so you very much hear exactly how I want my techno tracks to sound, without the influence of for example an external mastering engineer.
On his favorite space at home…
In front of my speakers in the living room.
On essential tools in the studio…
Good monitoring and room acoustics.
To cap off our interview, what does the rest of the year have in store for you?
There are so many good things coming, which I’m really happy and thankful for. My touring schedule is very, very busy and I’ll bring my music all around the world for the rest of the year. Some highlights for me are definitely being a resident for Awakenings, Cercle on the 1st of July in Kiev, and also my own Filth on Acid parties. On the FOA parties, I play all day or all night long live. I bring out a lot of machines from my studio, like the classic Roland gear: TR909, TB303, TR606, SH101, the Moog Sub37, and some boutique synthesizers and drum computers. I will play only music by me (with the occasional remix I did of course), showing the full spectrum of my sound. At Thuishaven Amsterdam I’ll play 10 hours all day long, and at Amsterdam Dance Event I’ll do 12 hours all night and morning. We’ll bring these shows after the success of Filth on Acid Berlin also to the rest of the world (more cities to be announced soon).
There you have it folks. Electronic music’s modern day Mozart is on a field of his own. Don’t take my word for it, go see for yourself — catch the cerebral sensation live.