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White & Cold [Interview]

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From Belgium, White & Cold's sound universe is distinguished by deep exploration, sensitive introspection, and a reflection of his states of mind. Usually discreet and keeping his work in the shadows, he is nevertheless very active in his productions and creations. In the past, he has collaborated with artists and labels across continents under different pseudonyms. Throughout his career, he has established himself as a major figure in the Belgian electronic scene, successfully performing on stage. White & Cold, some years ago, that was Norton White, Parallel. … Also, that was labels like Progrezo rec, 03 rec, Bonzai, Carica, Loulou rec, Stereo Paradise… and many collabs with Rodriguez Jr, Kolombo, Vijay, Nico Push, Light Breath, Matvey Emerson and many others.

With his project "White & Cold," probably the most aligned with who he truly is, he returns to the forefront with the release of his new EP titled "Mots du passé" on the Polyptych Limited label.

This EP is an intimate reflection of his journey, with each track telling a story, an emotion. This project marks a significant transition for the artist, moving from solitary creation to a deep desire to share his music. His productions are recognized for their elaborate and melancholic textures, a blend of solitude and hope, and an enchanting complexity.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with White & Cold to learn more about the release of 'Mots Du Passé', his background, nightlife in Belgium, DJing and much more. Enjoy.

Hi Thibaut, thanks for talking to us today. How has your start to the year been so far and please tell us something interesting about your day today?

Hi, and thank you for having me! The start of the year has been really exciting and productive. I’ve been working on some new tracks that I’m really passionate about. I’ve been a long-time follower of Progressive Astronaut, so being featured and interviewed today is an incredibly exciting opportunity for me.

What was the music genre you discovered first before you turned to electronic music, and what made you continue with the latter?

Growing up in Belgium, one of the pioneering countries in electronic music, I was exposed to rhythmic and energetic sounds at a very young age. In the early 90s, these beats were common and resonated throughout our house. My sister and I were dancing like crazy animals in our bedroom. Thanks to my parents, I am fortunate to have a multicultural background with a Flemish father and a French-speaking mother. This mix meant that we listened to a wide variety of music at home. This rich musical environment naturally drew me towards electronic music, and the innovative and evolving nature of the genre kept me hooked.

Tell us about your previous alias’ which have led up to the creation of ‘White & Cold’, you did collaborations with Rodriguez Jr. and Kolombo is that right?

Yes, that's right. I don't think I suffer from a personality disorder—at least I hope not—but I have indeed used several aliases in the past. I primarily worked under the pseudonym 'Norton White.' During that time, I signed with various international labels, including Progrezo, Carica, and Stereo Paradise. In Belgium, I collaborated with labels such as Bonzai, Loulou Rec., and 03 Recordings. It was with 03 Recordings that I had the chance to collaborate with Rodriguez Jr. on my track 'Love Me.'

I'm originally from Namur, and Kolombo, who is also from there, has been a significant inspiration for me. He's a great guy. I have also met other artists in the region who have become very important in my life. We have a rich heritage of producers. Working in pairs has been a big part of my journey; it's what has helped me grow the most and become more effective in my work. The solo project 'White & Cold' is probably the one that resembles me the most. It truly embodies what I want to express musically.

Why did now feel like the right time to embark on this new journey with White & Cold? And please tell us what your vision is for the project and also why you feel it “is most aligned with who you truly are”, as it states in the press release.

I've always enjoyed listening to a wide range of music, especially within the electronic genre. In the past, I performed on stage with a similarly broad style. While this was great for adapting to different audiences, it probably lacked clarity and a distinct identity. Even in my productions, I worked for many other artists. I could easily produce a track in record time for one artist and then create something completely different for another the next day. That phase is behind me. For the past several years, I have been working alone, focusing on what truly represents who I am. This is why now feels like the right time to embark on this new journey with White & Cold. It’s a project that I’ve been able to build on my own terms, reflecting my true musical identity. My vision for White & Cold is to create music that is deeply personal and resonates with my artistic essence. It’s about combining emotional depth with innovative sounds, crafting tracks that not only move people on the dance floor but also tell a story and evoke emotions. This project is the embodiment of my experiences, inspirations, and artistic direction. It’s most aligned with who I truly am because it encapsulates all the elements of my musical journey and personal growth, allowing me to share a piece of myself through my music.

How did growing up in Belgium influence your music taste and direction? Or did it all?

Growing up in Belgium had a significant influence on my music taste and direction. Between the amazing festivals, legendary dance clubs, and artists from various genres who constantly push boundaries, it’s impossible not to be influenced.

You DJed quite regularly in Belgium under your previous monikers, what have been some of your favourite venues to perform at or attend events there, and why?

I’ve absolutely loved having regular gigs in nightclubs. Playing in iconic clubs a few years back, like Café d'Anvers, La Rocca, and Fuse, was incredibly thrilling. I’ve also enjoyed the vibe of festivals, the massive energy from the crowd in a unique environment. However, my favorites are the more intimate events, where you can really look people in the eyes and share a moment where anything feels possible.

No matter the event, each scene has its own vibe. It's so enriching to tailor what we offer to the environment. It's all about the feeling of the moment...

You have a new EP ‘Mots Du Passé’ via Polyptych Limited which marks your first release with the White & Cold alias. Tell us a bit about the tracks and what sort of vibe you were going for on them. And please tell us which of the five originals have gotten the most play in your sets?

I’ve been working on a lot of tracks, but I wanted to present a coherent EP to POLYPTYCH. That’s why I opted for a varied artistic direction, yet true to my sound. I think I can describe the EP as a series of tracks with a lot of melancholy, evolving and mesmerizing soundscapes. I also added my vocals to the song 'Love & Pray.' Initially, I just did a recording to eventually find someone else to do it, but I liked the result and wanted to keep this even more personal. I don't have one track that I play more than the others. For now, my idea is to maximize sets where I play my own tracks in very different ways each time. I like the idea of modifying my tracks to discover them differently, surprising by giving them multiple lives.

Let our readers inside your studio for a moment, what is your current setup and what studio tools are featured heavily in your recent productions and more specifically on your ‘Mots Du Passé’ EP?

I work on Ableton and mostly use MIDI. My main VSTs are SERUM and DIVA. I tinker a lot with plugins like FABFILTER. I find that 10 years ago, producing was more efficient and required fewer sound adjustments. It's more comprehensive today with the VSTs we can use, but also more complex. Sounds can quickly become muffled, and frequencies can overlap. This requires more careful post-mastering work. I like to combine a MIDI keyboard and an AKAI APC40 for live performances. I'm in the process of reorganizing my live setup and trying to find a configuration where I feel comfortable.

As mentioned, this is your first release with the White & Cold alias and you’ve done it with Polyptych Limited, why was the label a good home for your first project?

Polyptych Limited was a natural choice. Their artistic vision aligns perfectly with what I wanted to convey with this EP. They provide solid support in terms of promotion and distribution. The relationships with the label are highly structured. It has been a great adventure for this debut release. The label owner, Michael, is an attentive man.

The write up states This project marks a significant transition for the artist, moving from solitary creation to a deep desire to share his music. Talk to us a bit about that and what it means to finally get some music back out there again.

My goal isn't to seek popularity or spend time on extensive promotion. I have a bit of a hermit side that finds joy in creating music. I've even refrained from sharing my work to avoid the subsequent demands of promotion, like photo shoots or chasing likes on social media.

I've accumulated numerous tracks and have several EPs ready. It's still immensely satisfying for me to move beyond my laptop and share my music with close friends who consistently encourage me to release it. This EP reflects that journey. While I enjoy the idea of reaching listeners beyond my immediate circle, actively promoting myself isn't my main focus.

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

Specific sounds have a profound impact on me. Certain samples can completely captivate me, some make me want to move in every direction, while others induce a deep sense of calm that resonates through every cell of my body, making me feel fully alive. My approach to producing music mirrors this experience. There are moments when I uncover something profoundly satisfying, tapping into immense happiness.

How much prep do you put into the sets you play, or are they spontaneous for the most part?

Currently, I enjoy transforming my productions, reshaping them into new forms. This gives me a versatile repertoire that adapts to different environments. Occasionally, I find myself nostalgic for DJ sets. It takes time to curate playlists that reflect my essence or I revert to my diverse tastes, navigating between various musical worlds. I have eclectic preferences—I can be captivated by Black Coffee's sets, moved by Monolink's live performances, impressed by Ben Böhmer's quality, and transported by WhoMadeWho's soundscapes.

Current Top five tracks ? 

  1. Adriatique, Solique, ALSO ASTIR – Changing Colors
  2. WhoMadeWho, Camelphat, RY X – Love Will Save Me (CamelPhat Remix)
  3. Ben Böhmer, Felix Raphael – One Last Call
  4. Dennis De Laat – Night Rider
  5. Adam Port, Keinmusik, Stryv, Malachiii - Move

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

I am dedicated to my role at a specialized school in Belgium, which occupies the majority of my time. This school caters to autistic children, as well as others with behavioral disorders or mental handicaps. It's an incredibly fulfilling job—the most beautiful in the world for me. Music plays a crucial role in my life, helping me express my feelings and lighten the daily burdens. It serves as a powerful means of self-expression. I believe everyone can find comfort in life's challenges. Personally, my family and essential loved ones, along with music, play a vital role in helping me recharge.

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?

This exercise is really cool! I will remain loyal to certain artists mentioned before and I'm going to opt for a festival-style lineup starting in the afternoon.

1PM : I am organizing a brunch with all the artists.

3PM : Monolink

4PM : Fred Again

6PM : Black Coffee

8PM : Ben Böhmer

10PM : WhoMadeWho

Looking back on your career thus far, what advice would you offer to your younger self?

Do what you love. take care of your rose bushes. Invest in yourself. Don't play at being a celebrity. Believe in yourself.

What’s something people do not know about you?

I enjoy gardening, cooking, and taking care of those I love. I’m a kind of Charles Ingalls in the "Little House on the Prairie"…

To get back to the real news… I just want the chance to share and introduce what I do. I have a promo mix that's currently being broadcast. It features only promos and includes tracks from the EP. I would be curious to have your feedback.

What TV series have you been enjoying recently and what are some of your all time favourites?

My all-time favorites are probably Breaking Bad and House of Cards. But I also really like Belgian series such as Undercover and Public Enemy…

What can we look forward to from you for the rest of 2024? Any releases or gigs you are looking forward to?

Being invited to participate in this interview is certainly one of the highlights of my year, and I'm grateful for the opportunity. I wish all the best to you and your followers.

I have several tracks ready for release, and my main goal is to continue producing and share more updates by the end of the year. I deeply appreciate those who follow me on SoundCloud. I'm committed to keeping everyone informed about my latest developments and will be posting regularly.

'Mots Du Passé' is available now via Polyptych Limited: https://tinyurl.com/3nkybaty

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