Home Interviews Feature: Madloch [Interview]

Feature: Madloch [Interview]

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Sound Avenue celebrates their milestone 100th release this week with a new single from label boss Madloch and frequent studio partner Subnode. Founded in 2011 by the Belgian DJ and producer, Sound Avenue has carefully forged a path to multiple musical dimensions. As the label has grown so too has it’s ethos, blurring the boundaries between genres, now sitting in the creative space between house and techno. On the cusp of this monumental release we had a chance to catch up with Madloch and talk about his journey with the label, his evolution as a producer, DJ and more. Enjoy!

Hi Dominique, thanks for joining us, how are you today and what are you up to? What are your plans for the week?

Hello, I'm doing fine! Thanks. It's Monday so I'm preparing a lot of work for this week. Scheduling posts on social media for all the labels, contacting artists for upcoming releases, preparing artwork, doing some administration work, listening to tons of new music. A few days this week I'll make time to go out for running, cycling and a yoga session in the evening. Think I'll not gonna be bored this week :)

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a DJ and producer?

I discovered electronic music around 1991 via a local radio show. Every Saturday evening I was ready with my cassette deck to record this show. After a while, I started making my own mixtapes with my favorite music from this show. I remember creating artwork for each tape with markers & pencils.

The genres I listened to at the time was a real mishmash. From house, dance, disco to techno & even hardcore! I simply liked everything. I had guilty pleasures such as 2 Unlimited & Snap! but also appreciated stuff from The Prodigy, The KLF, Slam and Plastikman.

Back then there was no internet or much information about dj's so I didn't know much about dj'ing, but always knew I want to do this for the rest of my life, for the love of music. There was no other reason behind. Producing I started very late, about 10 years ago.

Name five tracks that were most important in your musical development and why are these pieces so significant for you.

Always difficult to stick with only 5 tracks, but I'll give it a try:

Cosmic Baby – Loops Of Infinity
This was the first 12" I've ever bought! Pure German trance, incredible this BPM was normal back then!

Secret Cinema – Timeless Altitude
Timeless techno!

Mackenzie feat Jessy – Without You (Long Trance Mix)
This was a legendary Belgian production duo in the mid-nineties who made several classic trance cuts. "Without you" was a haunting 13-minute epic trance trip which I listened & played over & over again for many years.

Push – Universal Nation
A throwback to the summer of 1998 when I went clubbing every week & started playing more & more party's myself. This track was a must play in every set. Goosebumps every time and I still can enjoy this more than 20 years later.

James Holden – Horizons
After the trance of the 90ties, this was a hugely innovative sound in 2000. Looking back in a way this was the start of the progressive era we know today.

How has growing up and living in Belgium affected the music you came to love and now produce?

Like I mentioned in one of the previous questions I played a mishmash of genres in the 90ties, back then you didn't have a label on your head because it was normal to play more "all-round". I remember the shop where I started buying vinyl they had their own labels, so they pushed those vinyl. Typical Belgian trance-music so these were always a big part of my sets. In 2001 I discovered the legendary Sunday nights at the "La Rocca" club in Belgium. The resident "DJ Marko" played all night sets every Sunday, mostly 10 or 12-hour sets and he played a lot of great deep house & progressive stuff which totally changed my style & vision on music as well. This in combination with the discovery of the Global Underground series, the weekly radio shows from John Digweed Hernan Cattaneo, Martin Garcia which I found on Mercuryserver. Looking back 2001 was probably the big change for the DJ I am today.

Sound Avenue celebrates its 100th release this week, congrats! It's a single from yourself and another fellow Belgian artist Subnode who you have recently been working with a lot. Tell us how that relationship came to be.

Thanks! One day in June last year I got a friend request on Facebook from this guy. I heard of his name before but we never got in contact or seen each other. So he told me he was a producer as well & followed me already for a while and asked if we could meet for a talk. A day later he came to my place and there was a direct connection between the two of us. We talked hours about music & 2 days later I went to his studio with some unfinished tracks. Since then it's my second home over there & we became best friends. Nice bromance, isn't it? :-D

The single is entitled 'Lion's Mane', tell us about the track and the production process behind it.

I started this track early August last year just before my Argentina tour. While I was touring Tommie (Subnode) worked on his own & added some stuff like that haunting vocal. When I came back we spend a lot of time on the arrangement & finetuning the mix. The title comes from a mushroom powder we sometimes drink which is perfectly legal & has a lot of health benefits.

A successful partnership is generally based around balance and compromise; how do you manage these things within your dynamic with Subnode? And do you have different roles in the production process? If so elaborate please.

I think we're a good team together. So usually I start working on tracks in my own studio. I go to Tommie with these ideas. He adds or deletes elements from the track. He always comes up with some great extra elements I was missing. Then I start building the arrangement, and together we puzzle until we're both satisfied with the arrangement of a track. Tommie is also the guy who can spend hours on finetuning the kick, snare or other elements which is great because doing this you can make so much difference for the end result. He learned me listening differently to the mix of a track. I learned him more about the perspective of how a DJ watches & listens to a track. So I think we can see we complement each other nicely.

Does Tommie have a role in the label also?

I mainly involve him in listening to demos. Sometimes I think a track is great but he says the mix doesn't work. His technical insight helps me a lot making better choices.

There are also two excellent remixes from Navar and Bookwood, what was the thought process behind those choices.

I already worked before with Navar some years ago for a remix on the label. We have always kept in touch so it was only a matter of time before we would work together again. I knew this track would be something that triggers his creativity. If you listen to his +10min remix I think you can agree it was a good choice picking him for the first remix.

For the second remixer, I wanted to have someone who could deliver something very different from the original & Navar Remix. Last year I discovered Bookwood with his productions on the Cosmic Society & URSL labels. Loved playing those tracks so he was on my radar to do something on the label asap. We're very satisfied with how the remix finally turned out. He added so much warmth & soul to the track. Tommie & I said we wish this was the original!

How do you feel about your music being remixed in general?

I love having remixes from my originals. It's always very interesting to see what other producers are doing with the same elements. Bookwood for example only got the remix package from us, he could not hear the original. We thought it could be interesting if the producer was not influenced by the original. With 1 or 2 good remixes it's also possible to reach so much more people than having only one version of your track. That's why I try to always pick 2 different producers for the releases on Sound Avenue so you can reach people who only love deep house, progressive or techno as well.

How much of an influence does music outside of the electronic spectrum have on your productions?

I think every artist is inspired by everything he listens. 90% of my time I'm listening to all kinds of electronic music. But I can enjoy all other genres as well. While cooking I sometimes put on some jazz music. On my Spotify playlist very diverse stuff such as The Doors, Max Richter, Olafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, Hang Massive, Chromatics, Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac, A Tribe Called Quest, Agnes Obel and Serge Gainsbourg.

Are you musically trained? And do you think it’s necessary for success in writing electronic music?

Unfortunately not! In the first place I'm a DJ, so when I was young I never had the ambition to make music. I don't think it's necessary to have success in electronic music but it can give you a benefit for sure!

100 releases is an impressive milestone and what a catalog of music to look back on, what projects or tracks stand out as perhaps being the most significant in the evolution of the label?

I'm still very proud of the very first release I made with my former partner Dimitri as Mitrinique with the track “Earthbound”. Both remixes from Petar Dundov are in my top 10 as well. Almost all the original tracks from Antti Rasi, Agustin Basulto, Giddyhead & Matias Vila are standout tracks for me. More recently the remixes from Dahu, Stelios Vassiloudis & Charles Webster are tracks I wish I produced them myself. So to all artists out there who send me demo's, try to create more stuff like this, your chances are much higher to get on the label with this kind of quality :)

What are the best and worst things about running a record label in 2019?

Best thing is without a doubt working with talented people you admire. Having the chance to work together creating a nice release. The most pleasant thing is without a doubt the moment when you see the first feedback report of a release. It's always interesting & exciting to see who supported which version. Even better if you find video's or sets of them playing your stuff.The worst thing is finding remixers! I always try to contact people with music I play in my own sets. So it's always a pity to find out they can't do remixes because of a busy schedule. Some guys are very picky which is also a good thing in my opinion. Producers who only do a few remixes every year. Then you can be sure you'll get a special remix which was created because they loved the original & not because of the remix fee. Getting no reply from your remix request is also very frustrating. For a lot of guys, it's very hard to send you a short reply.

The majority of the attention/hype on Beatport at the moment seems to be in Melodic House and Techno section, yet you've stayed away from this and focused more on deep styles of house, is that where your biggest passion lies at the moment?

My passion was always the deeper & darker stuff. I never followed trends, not with my own music, not with the labels. Everyone should create what they really like, what comes from their heart, not what's doing good in the charts. It's good to work with reference tracks because you love that music, but it's wrong to start creating templates and copy tracks & over & over again because it's trendy. Try to come up with something new, try to create your own trend and don't sound like 1000 in a dozen.

You're quite well traveled as a DJ, in 2018 alone you had extensive tours in Argentina, Mexico, North America along with one-off gigs across Europe. What were some of your 2018 highlights?

It's so cliché, but touring in Argentina is always one of the highlights every year! Last year I had the chance to play some gigs in Patagonia. This region is one of the most beautiful places in the world & I had the luck to combine this with a few days of skiing, my other passion. On a Wednesday I had a small terrace gig in Bariloche, surrounded by beautiful mountains, moonshine. Definitely one of the best experiences in my career so far.

Another highlight was an allnighter I played at "Süss War Gestern" in Berlin. It's another cliché but the crowd in Berlin is just like the Argentina people very open-minded. On this occasion, I had the chance to play more of my techy side.

Last but not least was my all night set at "Do Not Sit On The Furniture" in Miami. It was something on my DJ bucket list for a long time, so I'm glad I got the chance to play over there. It's a very cozy club with a fantastic sound system.

You've mentioned some long sets in there, is this something you love doing?

If it was possible I would only play allnighters. When I started in the 90s and even early 2000s it was normal that you could play extended sets as a DJ. I really regret we don't have so many chances anymore to play for 6 or 8 hours. Nothing better than doing your own warm-up, starting slowly with (depending on the venue) ambient, electronica, downtempo or dub techno & build your set to a first climax, taking the crowd into a magical journey through different genres of electronic music. I don't like playing short sets, as a DJ you should have the chance to play at least 4 hours in my opinion. The longer the better. I also enjoy the preparation of such sets, going through your music library, finding tracks you kept specially in mind for this kind of sets.

I think for a lot of artists music allows you to write a sketch of your own personal universe in a way; your travels, life experiences etc. Is this something which is true of yourself?

I think so, traveling & playing abroad gives you so much inspiration. Every trip is always different than the one before. You always meet new people, new places, you get to know yourself better because you are dependent on yourself so much. After each trip, I usually start several sketches in the studio with all the energy I took with me from abroad.

3rd Avenue would be considered a more progressive-minded offshoot of Sound Avenue, although a bit quiet over the last year the label appears to be picking back up again, are you actively looking for new music for the label again?

Due to several reasons, I could not spend enough time into the label last year. But for 2019 I already scheduled a lot of new exciting releases from new & established names! This year the label will have bi-weekly releases again. There's also the return of the "We Are The Future" series. It serves as a great introduction to many artists who are making their label debut & sometimes even their first release. In the past, I had guys like Agustin Basulto, Lucefora, Ubbah, Exe Bunge, John Cosani, Rafa'EL on these with some of their first productions.

Another compilation I look forward to is one with chillout/ambient/downtempo music. It doesn't have a name yet, so if someone has a good idea let me know! So far I already received some great music for this first edition. It also includes some reprise versions of already released tracks such as the 2018 'hit' Eric Lune's "Benji", Mir Omar's "Until November" & Juan Sapia's "The Lonely Mountain".

I know you've been an advocate for blockchain platforms like Choon, do you think this is where the future of music lies?

Blockchain will change the world, not only in music but in every field of our daily life. It's still an emerging new technology but slowly but surely it's getting more popular for a lot of uses. You can compare this with the early days of the internet in 1993-94.

Choon is one of those promising start-ups. I discovered them last year in May 2 weeks after they launched their beta-version. It's a streaming service with a digital payment system where independent artists & labels can post music and earn daily "NOTES" tokens for every stream. On traditional platforms such as Spotify or Apple Music, you have to wait many months before you get your royalties. With Choon you get paid every 24hours. These notes which are actually some kind of crypto-currency you can exchange for Ethereum & real money. At this moment it's still very complex to do this, but I know they are working hard to give users the chance to cash out their notes for fiat currency (USD/EUR) in a later stage. Once the entire crypto market will recover again the value of those notes could rise significantly.

I think we're on the eve of great technological changes. Another nice example are decentralized platforms such as dsound.audio & Steemit. You can compare this to Soundcloud, but the big difference is you get paid in Steem dollars (another crypto-currency) which you again can trade for real money. It works very simple: you post your track or DJ-set, people give you a like & those likes have value.

Many people are skeptical towards all these new platforms but I'm a big believer in all these things, they are here to stay. But I admit it's still a long road before it will be attractive for the mainstream user.

You have not done many remixes in the last few years and it’s obviously not from a lack requests, what do you look for when deciding on a remix project?

I'm not the fastest producer and now with Tommie, we are trying to focus as much as we can on original productions. So it's not easy to find enough time to do remixes at the moment. We don't like to deliver half work, finetuning demands a lot of time. In the (near)future we're sure to accept remixes again for tracks we like.

Politics of the scene is something that generally annoys us, it would be nice if good music could just stand on its own but nowadays there seem to be so many other factors which affect perception, social media being one. What are your thoughts on the current state of the industry?

Social media is a blessing but also poison for many of us. Nowadays for a lot of promoters, it doesn't count anymore if you're a good artist, but it counts how good you're at social marketing & how much (fake)followers you have.Fortunately, there are still clubs & promoters who are doing it for the right reasons: pure for the love of music.

Being in the music industry so long, from being a DJ who only had to take care of buying quality vinyl every week I now also have to manage a dozen social media accounts both for myself & the labels. You're almost obliged to do this. Fans appreciate seeing artists behind the scenes, working in studio's, traveling etc. And artists on your label expect enough promo for their tracks.

What’s the thing most people think they understand about being an artist but don’t? And what are the biggest challenges you currently face as an artist?

The oversupply in music every week. Quantity above quality. There's so much music released on a weekly basis. Some artists having a release every week, that's simply too much. Many guys are working with templates only changing a few things. Labels sign these artists sometimes for the wrong reasons which affect again the quality of certain brands because they become cash cows. That's a reason why more & more smaller boutique labels becoming so popular. They don't care too much about sales but they only want to release original & creative work from artists who are producing stuff outside the box. I never worked with templates, everything in new tracks is made from scratch. That's why it also takes longer to finish products but it gives so much more satisfaction than quickly finishing track after track. I already gave many guys the advise it's better to release less but focus more on the quality of your tracks.You already heard or read this many times before but 20 years ago it was much more difficult to release music because there was more quality control by what a label decided to print on a 12". The market was not over saturated with so much mediocre stuff like today. It was so easy to buy stuff blindly in your local record shop from certain labels because you were sure you had quality in your hands. But I try not to complain, we never had so much access to good music today. It's only more time consuming to filter out the stuff you really like!

What does the future hold for Sound Avenue, you've done label nights in the past, is this something you're aiming for going forward?

First of all, there are a lot of exciting upcoming releases. In April we'll have the debut track of Paula OS, a beautiful vocal song that got remixed by Powel from All Day I Dream and another new artist from Canada: Adam Nathan.

In May there's a 4 track original EP from "Fermata Duomo" which is a new alias from an Israeli producer who took a 10 years break from releasing. He sends me a demo end of last year with 4 beautiful composed analog tracks which are a nice fusion between techno & prog. And in June there will be the second edition of "Correlation" with some great tracks from newcomers such as Khetouin, Naethan, Lèrr, Pedro Sanmartin, Gabriel Nery.

In the past, we had some great label nights both in my hometown but also in cities such as Barcelona, Buenos Aires and Toronto. The plan is to do these again all over Europe & overseas in the second part of this year.

Who are some new artists to watch out for in 2019?

Bookwood, Naethan, Salski, Lèrr, Juan Sapia, B.A.X., Eric Lune, Khetouin, Buba, Mir Omar and so much more, the future looks bright!

'Lion's Mane' is out now on Sound Avenue, you can purchase the release here: https://www.beatport.com/release/lions-mane/2530776

Release Promo: http://releasepromo.com

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One Comment

  1. Biotech patagonia

    25th March 2019 at 21:56

    Great interview!! ❤️


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