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QuiQui [Interview]

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Cinematique proudly presents another exciting album project, this time constructed by their dear friend QuiQui.

After numerous singles, EP's and remixes it felt like the right time for QuiQui to work on an album. The first ideas for it were born a few years ago and now it's time to share the result 'And This I Dream' with the rest of the world. As QuiQui said, this project gave him the opportunity to get away from the dance floor and explore some other styles. 'And This I Dream' is a mix of electro, ambient, jungle, glitch and electronica influenced music and shows the abilities of QuiQui as a versatile producer.

With 'dreaming' as a recurring theme throughout the album we recommend you to close your eyes, turn up the volume and fly away on the sounds of 'And This I Dream'.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Jeroen to learn more about the release of ‘And This I Dream’, his background, studio process, inspirations, future plans, and more. Enjoy.

Hi Jeroen, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Today I’m in quite a chill mood. I listened to Chicane’s ‘Far From The Maddening Crowds’ which I often enjoy on a sunny day.

How has your start to the year been? And what are your plans for the coming week?

It was actually quite a challenging start of the year. I had discectomy (spine surgery) in the last week of 2022, and the month of January was all about recovering from it. Therefore, my plan for this year is to become physically as fit as possible. So, I’m currently doing lots of sports, also the coming week.

Do you consider yourself a DJ or producer first? And which do you enjoy more and why?

Difficult question. I have DJ’d a lot, at some point around two or three times a week. However, in the last years the frequency has decreased significantly, mainly since I now have two young kids and a full-time job next to my music. I started producing when I was quite young, I think around thirteen years old, and had my first DJ performances when I was seventeen. They go hand in hand and are both beautiful ways to express yourself via music.

Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

BT – Flaming June (1997)

When I started to listen to electronic music, at around 1999, my first love was trance and this track really resembles that era. BT is a technically amazing and very innovative producer and created a beautifully harmonic melody in this track. Every time I hear the break it gives me good memories and puts a smile upon my face. It’s instant summer vibes. Even though it’s almost 30 years old it still sounds fresh.

Carl Craig – Sandstorms (2004)

For me, Carl Craig is one of the best producers ever. His productions are futuristic and soulful at the same time. This track is a great example of how techno can be beautifully simple and very emotional at the same time. The atmosphere that it creates with just a few elements is amazing. Perfect track to end a set early in the morning when the sun is coming up. You’ll hear quite some Carl Craig references on the album. Maybe even some samples.

Radiohead – Everything In Its Right Place (2000)

Just one of the best tracks ever made. Especially taking into account this was the opener of the album (Kid A) which was released after their massively influential ‘Ok Computer’. Such a bold change in musical style, and therefore very interesting. The way the Yamaha DX7 is used to set a mood right from the first notes is amazing. Best band I’ve seen live.

Nils Frahm – For (2013)

Listen to the live version on the album ‘Spaces’. When I first heard that album I was so impressed. A perfect harmony of classical piano music and electronics. The way in which he uses very simple effects such as a delay to add an enormous amount of extra harmony is very inspirational for me.

Pink Floyd – Shine On You Crazy Diamond (1975)

One of my all-time favorite bands. And masters of the ‘Concept Album’. The way in which they build up their albums and make it a coherent listening experience is still unparalleled. Music like this is, unfortunately, rarely made these days.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your production work and more, please.

I’ve started with getting up early during the week (around 5.30) before my kids wake up so that I can start the day with some running or reading. I have a day time job as a consultant, so my music production happens mostly in the evenings and weekends. It’s really important that I’m in the right mood and have some inspiration, otherwise nothing will come out. However, I’m becoming increasingly productive and efficient. Years ago, I would quite often spend an evening trying to make a new track and would end up with nothing useful. I rarely have that anymore. When I feel that it’s not working I’ll stop and leave it for another time. The simple condition is that I have to enjoy the process, that’s when I can get into a flow, forget about time, and will create something interesting. When my rational mind starts to interfere, the creativity stops. I made a track called ‘Chaos Is Creativity’ which refers to this.

Talk to us about growing up and living in the Netherlands, how has it affected your musical taste and the music you make?

I was really influenced by the ‘golden era’ of trance (1998 – 2002) in which many Dutch artists played a pivotal role. Obviously the big three names were Ferry Corsten, Tiesto and Armin van Buuren. The music from that time is still, mostly unconsciously, impacting the music I make today. You’ll hear quite some arpeggios and euphoric pads in my music, which definitely comes from that time.

What are some of your best memories from first going to clubs? Were there specific nights or sets that really made you feel you wanted to pursue electronic music?

My first real party was Trance Energy, I think in 2003. I was seventeen and actually was a bit of a disappointment after listening to a lot of trance DJ sets online for several years. It just didn’t have the energetic atmosphere that I expected. With hindsight, this was sort of the year ‘trance died’. In the years after I started to go more to techno parties, for example Awakenings in the Gashouder. I was also into the whole electroclash wave with artists like Soulwax, Boys Noize, Crookers, etc.

One of the best sets that I’ve heard was from Dominik Eulberg in Tresor in Berlin. It had so much energy. I remember he played Max Cooper – Walls and it just worked perfectly. Another highlight was an evening when I saw 10dens play at Studio 80, a Dutch club that unfortunately closed some years ago. The vibe of their music really hooked me and got me interested into the Cinematique label. I sent a demo to them shortly after and have been releasing with them ever since.

If you were a tour-guide for nightlife in Amsterdam, what would be the clubs you’d take the people to see and what local DJs do they need to hear?

Several of the best clubs have closed in the past years such as Trouw, Marktkantine and Studio 80. However, Amsterdam still has a lot to offer, for example Loft, De School, Shelter and Radion.

If you are not DJing or socializing at clubs, where do we find you? And doing what?

You might find me making some music in my studio!

When you were first getting started in production did you have someone help you or are you completely self-taught? And what would you recommend new producers do to help with the learning curve of production?

I am completely self-taught. I started producing around thirteen years old. Back in that time you had no Youtube tutorial video’s or any reference on how to make electronic music. I started first with Magix Music Maker, a pretty crappy piece of software actually. After that I moved to Fruityloops for a few years during which I produced and DJ’d with Franky Rizardo, we were in the same high school. After that I moved to Logic Pro X which I’m still using today. I have also used Ableton, but more for making mixes. Check for example ‘Everything Is A Remix’ on my Soundcloud, a project I made entirely in Ableton. It took quite some years before my music was good enough to release. The 10,000 hours rule is really applicable here. Make sure you enjoy those hours and do not focus too much on creating something that can be released. My recommendation to new producers is to listen a lot to music and decompose how it was made. Be curious. Explore as many different styles as possible, it will not only learn you a lot but is also a lot of fun. And finally, and this is a cliché, but ‘less is more’ is really the golden rule for music production. Removing things is more difficult than adding new elements, but will quite often improve your tracks.

Your debut album ‘And This I Dream’ was just released via Cinematique, please tell us about the release and how these tracks showcase your sound.

So far, I’ve only released EP’s, which is kind of the way to go for the melodic techno style that I’ve mostly been creating. I really wanted to make some different music without boundaries. An album was the perfect format for that purpose. I’m really happy that Robin, who’s running the Cinematique label under Manual Music, gave me full support and trust when I approached him with my idea for an album. He basically gave me carte blanche. Creating something without boundaries is artistically a big luxury.

Tell us how it began to take shape? Was there an initial goal of writing an album or did this happen organically in a way?

It happened quite organically I guess. The first track that I had was ‘Good Morning Floris’ (name of my son), which I already created quite some years ago. I knew that I would not be able to release it on an EP since it is beatless. Then I created several other tracks that really didn’t fit into my normal style and then started to realize that an album was starting to form. I then approached Cinematique to see if I could release an album with them and it started to take off from there.

The album is primarily electronica but with some cuts that could find a place on the dancefloor, which tracks have you been playing at your gigs? And how do they fit in your style and programming?

In my gigs I play sets with a lot of energy, towards the harder side of techno. So, I haven’t played any of the tracks in my sets (yet). For me it’s really a listening experience album, though indeed a few tracks could end up on the dancefloor.

Having heard the album a few times I have to say there is a lot of depth and variety throughout which makes for a great listen. There’s moments of emotion and technical wizardry to more cinematic or prophetic cuts. Tell us why it was important for you to express your thoughts, ideas and feelings in this style of a long player.

Thank you, really appreciate your recognition. First of all, expressing your own thoughts, ideas and feelings through music is quite difficult, but beautiful when it works. When my expression resonates with the listener (and I receive a compliment like yours), it creates a connection between the creator and the perceiver, transcending language and logic. That is what music is about for me, at least from an artistic point of view. The album as a format gave me the opportunity to create a longer listening experience with more room for creativity and exploration, even some experimentation. On the one hand there’s an extreme variety in the tracks. You’ll hear soundscapes, vocals, field recordings, amen-break inspired jungle beats, vaporwave and some glitch-hop rhythms. On the other hand, there is an intended logical flow between the tracks that should result in a coherent listening experience. Something like a dream of which you might only remember ruptures of emotions and experiences. I really encourage people to listen to the album in one take and to not skip. Unfortunately, there are few people who listen to music in that way nowadays. When people tell me they’ve listened and I notice they really paid attention, I appreciate it a lot. Whether they like it is quite personal and less important for me.

How did you end up with the final track selection? And how difficult was it deciding on the flow from a listener’s perspective?

That was indeed a challenging process. I initially had many more tracks that could end up on the album, however I really wanted to make sure that it would become a coherent story. One of the things I did to ensure a natural flow is to match the track keys harmonically, so that you’re basically moving up or down the Camelot Wheel when you got the next track. In addition, I’ve used soundscapes to ‘glue’ the tracks together. There are no silences between the tracks so that it’s really one listening experience and not made of stand-alone songs. The Mastering Engineer, Raymond van Baal, also helped me with achieving this on the final version. By the way, all field recordings and soundscapes that you’ll hear are self-recorded.

Give our readers a look into your studio? What is your current setup? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of ‘And This I Dream’?

My studio is pretty digital. I have an 27’’ iMac on which I run Logic Pro X. I have collected tons of VST’s during the years, actually way too many. For the album I mainly used Arturia Pigments and a bit of the Arturia MiniV3, a moog emulator. I have an Arturia midi keyboard that I use to create melodies, though I also quite often use MIDI melodies from other songs as inspiration. The only piece of hardware that I’ve used is the Behringer Pro-1, an analogue synthesizer. I especially use it for bass and low-end, for example on the track ‘Origins’. I just can’t create such beautiful deep bass sounds digitally. I’ve also used a lot of samples on the album, but you’ll have to spot them yourself.

Let’s talk about production a bit more for a moment, where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play? And was there anything that inspired the album?

Indeed, dreams serve as an inspiration throughout the album, reflecting the enigmatic and subconscious realms of our mind. I hesitate to give too much narrative on where my ideas came from, I believe that the listener should be given the freedom to interpret their own meaning into the music. Also, the album does not really represent a rational story, it’s rather an invitation for introspection where the songs evoke a certain atmosphere that elicits individual responses. Even though all tracks have a personal significance for me and are implicitly a result from my own experiences, the beauty should lie in their ability to transcend my intentions and to resonate with each person in a unique way. What I will share is that the title from the album comes from a poem from Russian artist Arseni Tarkovski. His work and the movies from his son, director Andrej Tarkovsky, have been an influence. The last track on the album is a poem written by the mother of my friend’s wife (Bia) which is read by her. It’s also about dreams, sleep deprivation and other themes. Have a listen and decide for yourself.

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

It was a really long process. For some tracks, the sketches were already from several years ago. On the other hand, some other tracks I made in almost an evening. I finished the album in July 2022, but after that it had to be mastered and remixed, so it took another full year before it was be released. I really enjoyed the process, especially since I did not have any musical boundaries. Since it was so much fun…I’m already thinking about a second album.

How would you feel about these tracks being remixed? And are there plans for this?

There’s quite some remix work coming up! We decided that, since most tracks are not dance floor oriented, the remixes should be more four to the four driven. The first two singles that were released already had remixes by Mashk and Forty Cats. We will be releasing two more remix EP’s towards the end of the year with work from quite some amazing artists such as: Applescal, Juliane Wolf, Jochem Hamerling, Robbie Pardoel and Aiden. They are all artists that I really admire and have selected and asked myself. Really happy they said yes and it resulted in some amazing interpretations of my music.

Do you think the digital era changed the way we perceive artist albums? Do they still carry the weight they once did or should? Is this something that perhaps depends on who (record label) is releasing it as well?

Yes, the digital era has really transformed the way we perceive albums, and not for the better. Particularly within the realm of electronic music, there has been a noticeable shift towards shorter attention spans and music formats that are aimed to serve fleeting moments of engagement. While albums have never been the primary format for dance-floor oriented electronic music, they have become increasingly rare in electronic music nowadays. The big electronic artists will mostly release EPs or even singles with just one track. Additionally, these tracks tend to be getting shorter, often falling below the magic 3:40 threshold, as this results in more plays on Spotify. A bit like the push towards radio edits in the previous century.

One the one hand, the algorithmic recommendations of platforms like Spotify have given us access to un unparalleled amount of music to explore. For me personally, it has introduced me to quite some new artists and music, which is great. On the other hand, it is strongly facilitating a more consumer-oriented approach to music, where people tend to easily skip to the next song when their attention fades. This skip culture is prevalent not only in music streaming but also in social media with their ‘infinity’ video scrolls. And what about EDM sets? It’s all the same. A break with a typical snare-roll build-up followed-up by a climax that continues for 32 bars. Then the next recognizable break is introduced and the clever trick repeats itself. It’s instant dopamine gratification and has resulted in increasingly shorter attention spans and reduced people’s engagement with music. Though awareness and being conscious of the present moment is key in experiencing transcending beauty. I therefore think an album is still a great format. It compels listeners to spend their attention for a longer period of time, resulting in a deeper and more immersive listening experience. I collect vinyl and enjoy it exactly because of that reason. There’s nothing like placing a record on your turntable and having it play from beginning to the end accompanied by a good glass of wine or a chat with a fellow music appreciator.

 Now let’s talk about DJing, it’s a unique discipline at the border between presenting great music and creating something new with it, between composition and improvisation to an extent. How would you describe your approach to it?

As mentioned before, my DJ sets actually tend to be quite different from my music productions. I think there’s always a sense of chillness and relaxed mood in most of my productions, though in my sets I want to have a lot of energy. What they share is a sense of warmth and hypnotic atmosphere. Mixing in a record that results in an ecstatic response from the crowd is an amazing experience. You can find some sets on my Soundcloud!

 Can you tell me a bit about how your work as a DJ has influenced your view of music, your way of listening to tracks and perhaps also, your work as a producer?

DJing helps a lot in understanding how the crowd responds to music. Before I started DJing I would for example quite often make tracks with extremely long breaks. Which, from a listening perspective, can be an interesting experience, but will rarely work on the dancefloor. People want to dance and will only have their hands in the air for a limited amount of time.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

Love this question. Very difficult to answer though. Therefore, I cheated and made the party a bit longer. It’s not really musically coherent, but I’m sure they’re professional enough that figure that out.

21.00 – 22.00 – Aphex Twin b2b Nicolas Jaar
22.00 – 23.00 – James Holden x Max Cooper x Nathan Fake (Modular Live Set)
23.00 – 00.00 – 2 Many DJ’s b2b James Murphy
00.00 – 01.00 – Carl Craig b2b Robert Hood
01.00 – 02.00 – Laurent Garnier b2b Dimitri
02.00 – 03.00 – Daft Punk (2027 surprise comeback Live Set)

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

I would really like to buy some more synths. I’m thinking about getting a Roland JP-8000 sometime to see what it can do in these days. It’s not used that much anymore but was the cornerstone of trance. Also, a professional studio desk is on my list.

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

I read Ken Wilber’s ‘A Brief History Of Everything’ recently. A very interesting book which explores the evolution of consciousness. It provides a framework for (human) evolution and makes you philosophize on what is to come.
For a movie I would recommend ‘Waking Life’, which explores (lucid) dreaming and several similar themes as the ones my album.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Drinking nice wines, doing sports and spending time with my family and friends.

What does the remainder of the year hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

Check out the remix EP’s that are being released later this year!

'And This I Dream' is available now via Cinematique: https://bit.ly/3XGMt2Q

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