Eelke Kleijn Interview

Folks! As you’ve noticed, I assume, HMWL is pushing interviews hard. All for your sweet loving pleasure. Well, here is one which we’ve been aching to share with you; today we present none other than Eelke Kleijn. This dutch master has been add it for many years now, despite his young age. But not until fairly recently, he rose stromg on the scene. And with pondus! In 2003, he released his first EP ‘4.5 Billion Years’, which received imitiate attention from John Digweed and Seb Fontaine. Talk about acceleration! Continued on Baroque with ‘8-Bit Era’ a while later, and now he’s on practically every compilation in the known Universe. Well almost. Let’s not stop there. The guy also offers super pro mastering of your tracks, and he just made his 50th ‘Outside The Box’, which is his monthly mix set. You NEED to check them out (link below), ’cause they are really something extraordinary. On top of all this, Eelke is a genuinely nice guy, something I can genuinely attest to.

HMWL: You have a very unique sound, making decisions others wouldn’t make in your productions, which always make your tracks intriguing and interesting. How did you acquire such constantly fresh and unique sound?
Eelke Keijn: I think it is because I’m constantly trying to reinvent my sound. You have people that work with the same beats or same sounds over and over again and you could say that gives them their own distinct sound. But it gets boring after a while as well. As a rule of thumb I never try to use the same sounds twice. I save all the sounds I make in my synths and might come back to them later, change them around a bit, and use them in a new way in a new track. Also I get bored really quickly, even with my own stuff. So I try to produce different styles to keep it interesting. Although people always say they can hear it’s done by me, so I guess it’s the workflow I have in the studio that gives my tracks a certain vibe.

HMWL: You also perform a lot of mastering for several major labels and artists alongside minor ones. What defines a good master? Could you tell us a little bit about the process?
Well there are a lot of different views on that right now, lately the trend seems to be ‘louder is better’. I personally prefer a bit less volume and more dynamics. When I do a master for an artist or label I work with many different tools. I work completely digitally for mastering, because for me being able to recall all the settings really outweighs the use of analog gear. I do use a lot of specialized stuff though, many of the UAD 2 card plugins and the Focusrite Liquidmix are the ones I use most. Basically I just try to get the track loud without having to crush the dynamics too much. If you run a track through a chain of compressors and equalizers and have everything process it very slightly and just at the right location in the spectrum (ie where it’s really needed), you can get the track louder without having to cut off too much. My typical set up is a low pass filter, then peak leveler, mid-side processor, multiband compressor, then a combination of compressors / equalizers (depending on what is needed) and a limiter at the end.

HMWL: You’ve spun the world! Any favorite locations and/or clubs?
There’s a couple of places I really like to go. Russia for one. I tend to spin there quite a lot and al though I hate to travel there, I love the clubs. The people are just really into the music and open to different kind of sounds. It’s like Holland 15 years ago. I also like South America a lot, played in Argentina and Brazil and the reactions there are similar to Russia. People are so enthusiastic, it’s a lot of fun to play there. Actually I’m going back to Brazil in March to play at Warung, and I’m also visiting Rosario in Argentina the day before!

HMWL: Would you please guide us through the general process of making a track. What gear/programs do you use? Well like most people I usually start out with some basic drums, a bass line, maybe some chords. I work with Cubase 5 on a PC (though for my live sets I use Mac), use all the stuff from Native Instruments and especially Battery and Kontakt for drums. Many of my synths are hardware, I’m slowly adjusting to using software synths as well. I own the Nordlead, Virus C, Supernova, Blofeld and JP 8000 and basically use those for sounds. Nowadays I use a lot of sample based plugins as well to get realistic guitar and string sounds. Mostly Vienna, Halion Symphonic Orchestra and the Musiclab plugins for Guitar. It’s

hard to say how to write a track really, I just start out, with a basic 8 bar loop, add some things, change some things, add more things, change more things.. Usually after a day or so that 8 bar loop is a minute long and I start building from there. Most of the times it does take me about 3, 4 full days to write a track. And I am very critical of my own stuff so I’d say half of the things I start I abandon within 1 or 2 days. Maybe I will come back later, but often I don’t.

HMWL: Please name your best 5 tracks ever; tracks that has inspired you, been played on constant repeat, or just turned a dance floor upside down.

That’s really hard, I usually just forget about tracks after a while to be honest. And there’s a lot of good music besides dance that really moves me. So tracks that really made an impact on me in any order are ‘Cold Drink, Hot Girl’ by Jody Wisternoff, ‘When You Were Young’ by the Killers, ‘Viva La Vida’ by Coldplay, ‘Safe from Harm’ by Massive Attack and ‘Square 1’ by Paul Kalkbrenner (I know, all over the place).

HMWL: Any grand plans for 2010?
Actually, yes! My new album will be out this year. More info will be available soon, but right now I can already say some things about it. It took just over a year to finish, and I made it in an innovating way. Instead of approaching it from the ‘song’ point of view, I tried to write a continuous piece of music that really takes you on a trip through different emotions. It will be different from what people might expect music wise, but it’s good to shock every now and then I think. Also, I am planning on doing a live set this year, containing album material and my previous work. I’ve already been Djing digitally with Traktor and Xone controllers for over a year, but I thought it was time to extend that to a real live set with just my own music. Musicwise I’ve just remixed Sander Kleinenberg and Way Out West, and a remix for Hybrid will follow later this year.

Thanks a lot, Eelke! Pure pleasure.
You’re welcome! :)

Check out his remix of Way Out West’s Surrender, out on monday! Absolutely stunning!

Eelke playing his remix of Kosmas Epsilon’s Cubabe. Awesome tune!

Also, check out #50 of his mixset series ‘Outside The Box’:
iTunes users
m4a enhanced podcast
mp3 podcast

Other links:


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About Alex Esser:

DJ, surfer and entrepreneur residing in Malmö, Sweden. I've been DJing since 2004 and started the HMWL blog back in 2007. My music network is always open. Holler @alex_Esser on twitter.

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