Dark and warm are two adjectives that rarely go together unless you’re talking about the music of Atis. It’s captivating and never let’s go. It touches your soul and leaves deep marks in it. His sweltering techno draws inspiration from dub, drum ‘n’ bass and ambient: Ideal if you want to float across the dance floor, or your living room.
You perform in the electronic music world, however have you always been interested in this music? For how long have you been active as a DJ and producer ?
As a child, I definitely was not interested in music at all. The first time it really spiked my interest was when I was about 13/14 years old. On a schooltrip one of my buddies gave me his iPod with Blood Sugar by Pendulum playing. I had no idea what kind of music it was but I was instantly hooked. I remember even asking my mother what kind of music it was. From then on Drum & Bass controlled my life for the next 4 years. I had a couple of friends who where messing around with it as well and when I was about 16 I got a crack of Reason from one of them to start playing with. It took me about a month to get sound out of it. My goal was to become a producer. Becoming a DJ would come later once I knew my way around as a producer.
The next pivotal moment came when I was about 18. By then I moved to Brussels for my studies. One of my friends took me with him to the Fuse for my first real techno party. From one day to the other I dropped Drum & Bass altogether and went for straight kicks.
How would you describe « your » sound ?
That’s hard to answer. I don’t know if I’m there yet but I can at least describe the sound I’m aiming for.
Deep is definitely the first adjective that comes to mind. I want my music to be as interesting for the mind as for the body. Being engulfed in an almost monotonous sound bringing you to a state of hypnosis is the main goal, as well in techno as in other styles.
I would like my music to have a touch of elegance as well, staying away from audible distortion and some of the production clichés that seem to follow techno wherever it goes. Big breaks, snare rolls and white noise fillers are not my cup of tea.
After playing around with techno for some time now, I’m starting to return more and more to broken beats. There is a big interesting, unexplored area that exists on the borders of drum & bass and techno. I see myself evolving in this direction in the future.
What has been your favourite gig in your emerging DJ career so far? And why?
Hard to pick, I have a couple of dear ones.
Pukkelpop 2019 definitely comes to mind, since it’s close to where I grew up and was the first big festival I attended. Lots of friends and family came to see me play. My parents where in my view the whole gig with this proud grin on their faces.
Playing at Voltage off course is a big one as well. The site in combination with the line up Steven and the rest of the team put together every year makes me really humble to be a part of it.
You are member of Voltage Agency and label, the first EP you released was on Form And Function. What’s the story behind your collaboration?
It’s not really a special story I’m afraid. In 2017 I followed a short music production course and Siwei was in my class as well. Off course our types of music matched quite well and so he told me about this guy who was about to launch a new label, with some interesting up and coming producers on it already. At the time Form and Function was still nothing more than an idea. When a couple of months later I saw Form and Function’s first EP, by Border One, pop up on my facebook, together with a small interview with Steven and his view for the label, I knew I needed to get in touch with him.
I just stupidly send him a mail with some of my tracks and I got a really positive reply. We arranged a meeting, had a nice talk and voila; here we are a couple of years later.
Can you tell us a bit about your process of producing, do you use software, hardware or both? And what do you often do to get inspired ?
Synthesis is done with both hardware and some soft synths. I own an Access Virus, Behringer Neutron, Beatstep Pro to control the Neutron and a Folktek Mescaline. I record everything into Logic, where the sequencing and post processing is done.
Reaktor deserves a mention as well, it’s such an interesting and versatile tool. If I don’t have inspiration, it helps just opening an ensemble and starting to mess around with it. It reacts quite unpredictable so it can quickly give you a interesting direction to start with.
Same goes for VCV rack, a software emulation of Eurorack modules.
I always relied heavily on software, but I’m starting to get sick of it now. Using a mouse for everything is just a killer of creativity. I’m about to take the deep dive into modular, but I still need a bit more knowledge and cash for that. That’s my goal for this year.
Are there any pieces of gear or software that you couldn’t do without?
As mentioned already, the Virus has been on my side for many years now and I still love it so much. It sounds a bit cold maybe, having digital oscillators, but it so versatile. The Neutron is becoming more and more featured too. Being fully analog it complements the Virus nicely for the more warmer sounds, mainly bass.
The Soundtoys Native Effects bundle is used quite extensively as well, for all kind of effects and finally Reaktor and VCV Rack for modular weirdness.
In these strange days with Covid-19 virus and quarantine, do you feel you are more motivated and inspired, or less?
At the moment I’m quite productive and inspired actually. Off course I do realize I’m in a position of luxury. I have a steady day job which is still going (although a bit less intense) so I still have money coming in. I can sit in the comfort of my home, in good health, with everything I need right next to me and just focus on all these unfinished tracks on my computer.
Eventually though this inspiration will dry up and we’ll need clubs and parties again to bring everything back to life.
What’s coming next for you in the spring and summer, any plans, releases or exciting projects you’d love to mention?
I have a couple of nice things coming up.
First there’s the Voltage compilation. Once again Voltage succeeds in gathering a fine collection of like minded artists and I’m humbled to be a part of it. Secondly, I have a EP coming out on Norite the 6th of May. I’m really happy with the end result so I’m looking forward to that as well. One of the tracks is played in the mix.
In the summer I have an all ambient release on the planning. I had great fun exploring that side of my productions a bit more. And finally, near the end of the year, there is a special project still in development. Can’t share too much about that yet, but more info will follow.
Ambient seems to be a style many artists have growingly adapted in their productions. How do you find balance between ambient and techno?
That’s a good question, and maybe the hardest challenge I find in producing this kind of electronic music. It boils back again to the concept of what’s interesting for the mind as well as for the body and trying to find a sound that speaks to both these separate entities.
I don’t have a definitive answer for this I’m afraid, but I don’t like to make tracks that only work in a club environment. I need to be able to enjoy them at home on my headphones too. Most of my tracks have a pretty busy layer of soundscapes and atmosphere to fill this gap, or a synth line that keeps on evolving throughout the track.
It’s a fun exercise, for example, to start out with only soundscapes and ambient stuff and once this is in place, start adding percussive elements to it. Or the other way round, if I have a beat-driven track with some atmosphere in it, mute all the percussive elements. Then I try to make all the sounds that are left interesting enough to be able to carry the track on their own before adding the drums back in.
What kind of mix have you prepared for InDepth, did you have a certain concept in mind prior to making the mix?
Not really. I’m locked away from my decks, since they are still at my parents place and I don’t want to go there too often at the moment. So most of it was done in software, which allowed me too zoom in on the details a bit more and have a bit of fun I wouldn’t be able to do in a DJ set.
Concerning tracklist, it consists of the type of tracks I would like to hear being played out. I always like to start with more abstract, broken music before letting a straight kick come and, throughout the set, having plenty of atmosphere and soundscapes in the background.