Mental Wreckage
Interview: The Harder View, Australia (Feb 2011)
When did you start listening to hardcore? How did you find it?

During 1990-1991 when house music was generally still house music, my neighbour had an older brother who did some rave events, so he already knew a lot of music, had a lot of tapes, CDs etc. I was still too young to visit any raves, so the closest I could get to the experience was by listening shitloads of those tapes and CDs. Eventually house music basically split in two halves; mellow/club and hardcore/rave. Apart from a few nice songs, the majority of ‘mellow’ made me fall asleep… as opposed to hardcore, which was very energetic and agressive. So it wasn’t really a difficult choice for me.
How long have you been a DJ? Was it before you started producing?

After I went to some raves I wanted to become a DJ too. To me it seemed like having a major blast; getting to play whatever the fuck you want on a bigass soundsystem in front of a crowd and sometimes even being appreciated for it too. I think most of us got their motivation that way. So I bought my first vinyls and started practicing in late 1995 and got my first real gig in 1999. Unfortunately, during that first gig the amount of appreciation wasn’t as huge as the amount of anxiety that I suffered right before I had to play. My ultimate goal was to have it exactly the other way around; lots of appreciation, very little anxiety.
When did you decide you wanted to become a producer?

You don’t decide it, you just roll into it. I learned some of the ‘basics’ back in 1997, when a friend of mine started working with Impulse Tracker and I occasionally worked with him too, but it was just for fun. So I don’t really count that as producing. Back then, I didn’t even have a computer of my own. We were heavily influenced by Neophyte and it kinda became a competition which of us could create the hardest kickdrums and make the tracks as ridiculously loud as possible. We thought we were pretty badass. Now that I think of it in retrospect; those days were also the roots of my current lifestyle, which largely consist out of very little sunlight, energy drinks, lack of sleep, repeatedly listening to loud kickdrums and having occasional delusions of being badass.

Eventually my friend became less active and I started working alone when I got my own computer in 1999. I became a bit more serious about ‘producing’ and also started playing on gigs as a DJ. I figured that it would be better to do both, as it would increase chances of being noticed and building up a reputation. Also, I imagined it would be highly awesome to see a crowd moving on tracks that I created myself. Eventually I wasn’t satisfied about the quality of my material and also grew frustrated by the limitations of Tracker programs, so I decided to take a break from ‘music making’ for a while.

A few years later in 2002, Danny Masseling who would later become known as Angerfist taught me some basics of FL Studio, which in turn gave me lots of fresh ideas and inspiration and made me decide to give it a try once more.
Can you tell us how the Symp.tom label came about?

In late 2003, I made a few tracks and sent them to Jeroen Streunding / Neophyte, who originally wanted to release them on the Darkside label. Not long after that, “Mute.” joined the party and some of his tracks also got Jeroen’s “Seal of Approval”. Soon we started to realize that Darkside’s 10 inch vinyl format would become a problem since it could only contain two tracks per release. Also, our stuff sounded pretty different from Darkside’s previous releases, so we all decided that it would be better to start up a whole new label for better distinction and the 12 inch format. Since Mute and I were the only non-mainstream dudes at Mid-town, we were allowed to run it and do whatever the fuck we wanted… as long as it sounded cool and not too incomprehensible. The rest is history.
Do you play live sets? Is this something you would like to do?

I haven’t done any Live Sets yet, although a few promotors have mistakingly listed me as a ‘Live Act’ on their flyers or websites a couple of times before. But yeah, to be honest… it has crossed my mind a few times. However, I would need to get hold of some equipment and a decent laptop first (in other words, not the one that I have right now)… as well as some proper ideas of how I’m actually going to do some real live stuff instead of just playing a waveform or CD and banging on a keyboard that isn’t even plugged in. And I have to say; the Traktor S4 also seems pretty interesting to me, although I think it’s still more of a DJ-tool than ‘Live’.
Who are some of your favorite artists and who would you like to work with one day? You have worked some great artists like The Relic in the past.

There are many artists whose material I like and also like to collaborate with, but I’m afraid the list would get too long if I named them all. But to name a few; The Outside Agency, Synapse, Sei2ure, Somatic Responses, Ultraform, Sarin Assault, Razor Edge, Petrochemical, Syndemic, Broken Rules and Fiend. Actually, collabs with some of these names are already going to happen, are already in progress or already happened but aren’t released yet. But for now, I’m going to keep you guys in the dark. No pun intended… Well okay, maybe just a little.
What has been the most memorable event you have played at?

I really suck at making choices, so I’m going to name a few instead of just one; I think Mystery Land 2009 is a good candidate; I played a 2 hour set in the Thunderdome Area and the atmosphere and audience were pretty energetic. It was also the first time that I (partly) played with CDs, due to technical difficulties with one of the turntables. And ofcourse it was also a big milestone for my DJ-career. Even before I played at my first gig, I always dreamed of playing on such a massive event like Mystery Land. Nightmare Outdoor (also the 2009 edition) was also pretty special to me, because we had our own Symp.tom Label Area. The music was awesome, the crowd was awesome, EVERYTHING was awesome. It was a pile of pure awesomeness. A big boo and hiss if you missed it.
Any Symp.tom news? I eagerly await some more of Mute.’s music.

Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, Mid-town Records (our mother label) informed us that we can’t do any more vinyl releases. We already had 4 new releases planned out, adding a few more artists to our ranks. There’s a possibility to continue as a digital label, but there are still a few disagreements with Mid-town that need to be settled first before we even think about doing that… So I’m sorry to say that right now, the future of Symp.tom is a bit uncertain. As for Mute.; some of you probably already have noticed that it always takes a while for him to finish a new release. I think his progress is already pretty far now. Some of his new tracks are pretty non-hardcore though (which isn’t a bad thing per se).
What can we expect from you in the future?

Even before I knew about Symp.tom’s vinyl stop, I was already planning to become a bit more active on other labels as well. So that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. Also, as I already mentioned before, I’ll be doing a few collaboration projects with other artists, and I’m really looking forward to that. Collabs are a great way to gain new knowledge and perspective, learn new techniques etc. Oh yeah, and I’m going to do a few more remixes.
Any words for your Australian fans?

Thanks for the support so far, and I hope you enjoy my podcast mix! I also really hope to visit Australia someday and bring some noise. It seems like a damn nice country. Not to mention Australian chicks have a hot accent. ;)
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