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Dutch artist LAAT steps up to Drumcode with a powerful new single that asserts his unique take on techno. This newest release Call of the Tribes, has been hammered all summer by Drumcode’s head honcho Adam Beyer on EXIT, Ultra and Loveland to name a few. We caught up with LAAT to ask him about Amsterdam, his studio habits and of course his newest release.
Hey LAAT, tell us about the state of the Amsterdam scene and how it inspires or influences you!
Hey Music Is 4 Lovers, thanks for having me. I was born in Amsterdam and have been living there for roughly the last decade. When I was in my early twenties, Amsterdam musically went through the minimal-sound renaissance and it was really inspiring to see that up close. It was the first city where I really experienced nightlife with massive clubs like Club 11, Studio 80 and this groovy stripped down techno sound that was making waves.
It was also the city home to some of my favorite festivals like Awakenings, Welcome to the Future and Loveland. I still find it baffling to see all these amazing line-ups in my backyard. And after a festival, I cannot wait to get back to the studio myself, bursting with inspiration. This city does not only have a vibrant music scene, but I also love the culinary scene, street art and culture. It’s a collective of creative and open-minded people. I love cycling through the city, back to home after a party early in the morning. The city is still dormant and it feels like it is just you and this iconic city.
How different is the music you make and play and listen to in summer vs winter?
I believe any art you make, whether this is music, video or any other art form, is a reflection of yourself. So whether it is summer or winter, or a happy or sad period, some part of that will find its way into your craft.
Are you thinking about the audience, the dance floor, a certain club or setting when making music?
Yeah, definitely. You can’t really summon creativity, but when I’m working in the studio I certainly try to envision how it would sound at a big festival or event. What I do quite often when I’m working on a track, is to just have a muted YouTube video from, for example Awakenings in the Westergas, and play my track in the background, to see if my track fits that ambience. In the end, I want to hear my track in an environment like that. So for me, it works to start with the end in mind. If you then hear your track after a couple of months on a big festival, it’s even more satisfying.
How do you work, do you have an idea in your head you work towards or do you just experiment and jam and see what happens?
Yes this can be any direction. I really get inspired by a new plugin or piece of hardware. It was just Black Friday, which is a terrible time for my GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). I’ve scooped up quite some new goodies which I cannot wait to try out.
Mostly I start by firing up a kick, bass, hi-hats and percussion, just to get a groove going. Once this is fundamentally sound, I’ll start working towards a theme that can carry the track. But inspiration can also come from loading up a new piece of gear and just suddenly getting triggered by a certain sound. In that sense music can be quite meditative, because you can really lose yourself exploring all the sonic possibilities that a new synth or effect can have.
How did you come to release on Drumcode?
I had Drumcode of course high on my wishlist for years. Musically growing up at the likes of Awakenings Westergas and Awakenings Festival, Drumcode has been a big part of me. At a certain point I had worked towards a sound that I just knew fitted Drumcode perfectly. I sent Adam a couple of my tracks and after trying them out for a couple of months, he honed in on “Call of the Tribes” for the newest A-sides. When you see the tracklisting with all these established producers, it’s quite baffling to see your own name on the billing. I am very proud to release this one on the label that has been such a big part of my sonic journey and I think the track perfectly showcases my own sound.
How did you approach the music you have made for them on the “Call Of The Tribes” track?
Yeah, what can I say about this one. I loved making it and I am so proud to release it on Drumcode. I think it fits Drumcode flawlessly, but also brings something unique and distinct to the table. The title ”Call of the Tribes” refers to that squelchy Roland 303 sounding like a horn, calling out to all the people who get this culture and embrace the music of the future. And in a sense A-Sides is that…a ton of different producers all driven by the same passions and ambitions, coming together and bringing their own unique take on techno to the table.
Do you make the tunes you want to play in your own sets, is there a direct link like that?
I mostly play live-sets, so one of the requirements for me in the studio is that what I’m working on should always be able to eventually fit into my sets. If I go a different route and make a cool ambient piece or breakbeat piece that is also fine too. I just flip it, so I can use it as an intro or intermezzo for example. There is nothing more satisfying to sharing your music live with the people out there.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt in your career so far?
Don’t quit your day job haha. For years I woke up every day at 6 AM to hit the studio for 2 hours before going to work. I’ve always worked beside my music career which gave me the financial means to invest in my studio equipment, but also enabled me to not worry in the studio about “this has to be a hit, otherwise I cannot pay the rent”. Something which for me personally, is creatively crippling.
What have been some of your top tunes this year?
Oh man, so far the season has been great. There hasn’t been a shortage of good tracks this year, but the newest A-Sides on Drumcode raises the bar significantly with a stellar compilation capturing the Zeitgeist of where Techno currently resides. Rebūke’s “Dystopia” and Charles D’s epic remix of “Your Mind” by Bart Skils and Adam Beyer really impressed me, but also all the music that the Keinemusik crew has been pushing has been really inspiring.
I’ve been buying a lot of old vinyl again and really got excited again about music from when I was starting getting into producing and going to my first festivals. Two classics that I scooped up recently were “Cirez D – Teaser” and “Mumbling Yeah” from Kabale und Liebe and Daniel Sanchez. Hmm, I might have to remix these for in my sets haha.