Home Interviews Feature: Namatjira [Interview]

Feature: Namatjira [Interview]

20 min read

Having developed a passion for electronic music from an early age, Joost van der Vleuten aka Namatjira has now firmly etched his place in the history of progressive house. With well over a decade of production credits, the Dutch artist has earned the praise of world class DJs such as Sasha and John Digweed, while showcasing his music on renowned record labels, most notably Nick Warren's Hope Recordings, Hernan Cattaneo's Sudbeat Music, Anjunadeep and Armada. Joost's unique take on melodic house has also seen him remix some of electronic music's biggest stars in Armin Van Buuren and Guy J. Now furthering what has already been a storied career, Namatjira presents his second studio album 'Moons of Yesterday' via Paul Hazendonk's long standing Manual Music. We had a chance to catch up with Joost ahead of the release in this exclusive interview. Enjoy!

Hi Joost, thanks for sitting with us today! Tell us where in the world you are today and what your plans for the week are.

Currently I'm sitting in my studio which is in my house in a little town near Eindhoven, in the south part of the Netherlands.This week I restarted my study, which got delayed because of COVID-19.

Tell us more about your story. How did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a producer and DJ?

I started making music by buying my first pc with a software package called Techno Creator on it. But my first steps in the Dance industry were in 2004 with my first release 'Latigidi'. It's funny that you mention “DJ” since I've never been one. I'm one of those rare not djing producers.

Tell us about your record/music collection, where do some of your early influences live? Or can you name few tracks that were influential in your musical development?

My early influences lay in trance and progressive music. Tiësto's ISOS collection but also most of the Global Underground episodes I've played a lot.

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

I'm not musically trained, it would have been handy though, since in the early days it took for ages to write/play melodies I had in my head. Nowadays I've accepted I'll never play my melodies, but that's ok.

How have you been dealing with COVID-19? It’s had a huge impact on travelling DJs obviously. Once nightlife eventually resumes what kind of effect do you think this period in our history will have on the clubbing experience?

As I mentioned earlier, I'm starting to pick up my study again. I'm studying to become an anesthesia worker. Because of Covid-19, I worked 8 weeks on the A&E department. You can imagine how that was.

Your second studio album ‘Moons of Yesterday’ was recently released on Manual Music. It’s a stunning collection of music. Tell us how it began to take shape? Was there an initial goal of writing an album from the beginning or did this happen organically in a way?

The progress of this album was one that I think started of 2 years ago. After releasing 'Friends Without Benefits' on Belgium based 3rd Avenue, it was always in my mind to make a follow up. At one time I had a list of more then 15 potential tracks and 15 became 21. After sitting with Paul (Hazendonk of Manual Music) we decided we would work together on this project and tried to reduce the list to 13 tracks. That was not an easy job and when we had 13 tracks I wasn't sure they all would be as good as I thought the were when I finished them. And so it happened that 3 tracks were skipped when the final list was already there and got replaced by 3 fresh tracks. I think for Paul I was sometimes a pain in the ass, but that's probable how a creative process works. It's my child I have to show to everybody.

It’s primarily a club oriented album with one electronica track essentially, was this always the vision you had for it?

No, not on purpose, It has become an album of which I show what my favourite music sounds like. It's a wide scale of music in my opinion.

Tell us what studio tools featured heavily on the LP.

I'm producing since version 1.01 in Propellerheads Reason. Nowadays you can use vst's as well. But I still love to challenge myself using the standard syths like subtractor and thor.

How difficult was it deciding on the flow from a listener’s perspective?

Here comes the experience of Paul around the corner. Paul is in the industry for such a long time, djing, producing, managing his own label and distributing several other labels, that he knows how it works. I trust Paul completely in this.

I would guess the writing of the album was a long process. Now that it’s done and out, what are your thoughts reflecting back on the process?

Next album would probably been done the same way, cause I love to follow my own path and do it like I feel it has been done.

How would you feel about these tracks being remixed? And will they be?

It's always an honour to get your tracks remixed and to find out what others feel when the have to basics of my original. That being said, yeah there probable will be a couple.

What made Manual Music the right home for this album?

When you read my opinion about Paul's experience it's clear I guess.

Do you think the digital era changed the way we perceive artist albums? Do they still carry the weight they once did?

I would love to have done a physical album, CD/Vinyl, but the digital era made people quickly change what they listen to and don't buy physical music stuff anymore. When I bought an GU compilation I played it over and over and over. Nowadays people stream an album once and that's it. There is so much music coming every day, it's not easy to stand out any more.

Describe how satisfying it is to see a dance floor unite to something you’ve written.

When there's one person that goes nut's when someone plays my track, my job is done.. Because of COVID-19, most of the times that's the dj playing it.

The industry and how fans discover new music has changed dramatically in the last 10 years or so. How do you discover new music nowadays?

In the Netherlands there is a Dutch radio programme called 'The Boom Room' the guy presenting it is a legend. Just check the show out on Soundcloud/Mixcloud. Occasionally I check out what dj's I like play lately.

Is there a movie you would have loved to have produced the soundtrack for? And if so why?

In the past I would have said music for CSI, NCIS or something. Nowadays I think it would have been awesome to have made music for a scene in the new 007 movie.

There are a lot of factors which affect the perception of an artist other than his music these days, social media for one, how much emphasis do you put on stuff like this? and what are your thoughts on the current state of the industry?

Because of my work it's hard to say active on social media, although I know it's good to stay connect with the people that follow your steps.

Looking back over your discography, what release or track holds the best memories for you and is there a correlation between that track and how successful you are today?

My first step in the Industry I have tattooed on my left forearm. The track that got me goosebumps been played for 20k people at Cream festival Peru 'Strawberry Fields (Namatjira Remix) by Subsky and the one that touched me most because of the reaction it caused was my ode to Jerry van Schie. That last one means the world to me.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

My family and friends. Because of Covid-19 you appreciate even more the fact that we are all mortal.

What can we expect from you for the rest of the year? Any releases or special dates you can tell us about?

There's a lot more where this album came from, just keep an I on my portals to hear first what will come next.

'Moons of Yesterday' is out now on Manual Music, you can purchase the release here: https://bit.ly/2UABrgg

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