Ahhh, how does it feel everyone? Miami music week is over and I know some of you are probably still recovering from the marathon of pre-gaming, post-gaming, 72-hr raves, boat parties, Ultra, WMC, after parties, hotel lobbies… good times for all.
As some of your may or may not know, here at Nightdrive we have a number of ‘special’ diplomatic relationships with foreign and domestic actors, primarily of the musical variety. Some of our favorite friends from abroad are the lovely guys over at NON Records.
I found myself wandering the Chinatown streets of Amsterdam in search of the one they call Marius. Marius is one cool dude who recently released remixes of his stupendous Things We Did EP, a hodgepodge of new-disco, electro-boogie and all things synth oriented.
After some brief confusion, I found him sitting outside the Cuba Café (Miami holla!) sipping on artisan Belgian beer, smoking French cigarettes and basking in sun on what seemed like the best week of weather I’ve experienced in the last 3 months of living in the Netherlands. With these variables in mind I sat down, ordered myself a cold one and began asking the tough questions.
Lets start at the beginning. What inspired you to do music?
First of all, playing in bands. They were kind of electronic… I can’t really say, I don’t know what kind of genre it was. We only had two guitars and a drummer. We also programed some stuff on computer but there was no bass. The plan was always to keep people moving and dancing. We wanted that combination so the audience doesn’t just stand and look at us but focus their energy on dancing. We never remembered anything or got anything down, we were only jamming.
What was this band called?
It was called Artic. It’s funny that you ask that because that was waaay back. We never released anything officially or anything, just messing around.
The Things We Did Remixed is fresh take of your first EP released in September. Are both EPs sample-based or real instruments?
NO SAMPLES. In one interview some guy said something about sampling and some how now I’m sample-based but I never sample. No samples… NO SAMPLES!
So did you play all the instruments while recording the album, even bass?
Yeah, of course!
Yes, like Prince! Nowadays, when you are a producer, you have to do it all on your own. I play guitar and I record it, I loop it, I export it and run it thorough equipment and it becomes a sample and you can use it again. You create your own samples but it is not sample-based…
You’ve been playing a lot of DJ sets recently, are you planning on doing a live tour?
Yeah, I am DJing a lot and doing some live stuff but I need time to develop the live show with visuals and what not. Not sure what it will be like. It will be finished in September along with my first full length. It’s going to be a cross over between Salem, Miami Bass, and Fever Ray so… by then the live show has to be finished.
So far I have played with bands, never alone. The main focus is to make it danceable so people aren’t just staring at the stage. If you listen, some of the tracks on the EP are headphone music, for the bedroom. I try to keep enough space in the music so I can do interesting things live. You get to a point where you get a feeling from the crowd and the live show becomes unique not only for the audience but for myself as well.
I can understand that. You see groups like Justice who more or less press play and flash a cross and everyone is screaming and then you get bands like Caribou who can go beyond the album and make the live experience special.
People like Neon Indian and Toro y Moi… His [Toro y Moi] first albums where recorded in the bedroom then it went to the studio. It’s a development. He earns money by playing, he got signed and now he has more space to focus on the live show. With Things We Did I was trying to find a personal sound and for the album I guess try to make something more suitable for live sets.
What was your impetuous to do the remix EP? Where a lot of people asking to remix your music?
Renkas wanted to do a remix because he really liked “Staniel Cay” ,that was the first step. Later, we got to know people who liked our music (In Flagranti) but also through our own nights (Jimmy Edgar). We decided to remix every track and picked people who we really liked and who weren’t competing with my sound.
In Flagranti took “Flamingo Isle “, which has a softer sound and he is a disco guy so he brought his skills and made it his own after I remixed one of his tracks called “Interdisciplinary“. We had a long list of people who wanted to remix but we wanted to link the right people to the right tracks.
NON is very new, isn’t it? The remix EP is only the 9th release but it seems like the label is starting to take off.
NON Nights are quite successful, like at Paradiso in Amsterdam over 800 people showed up and it’s still growing. We have enough people on the label to fill a whole evening… it’s a great setting.
So many beautiful girls at NON Nights … almost too many!
Yeah it’s not only guys who want to talk to you after the show to see what kind of software your using.
How did you find the label or did they find you?
I went to art school with Renkas and Bear (Damen) as graphic designers and then we moved to Amsterdam. Bear had the Idea to start a record label, which was a great idea! I was released on a previous label, but it was nothing special.
People are coming out to your shows because you guys are filling a void… people like all kinds of music but NON is the only record label repping this particular kind of throwback sound in the Netherlands.
People make music but they don’t find the label, if you want to release music there aren’t that many labels, except maybe Clone or Rush Hour, those are great. We started off with a NON Night at Melkweg every two or three months and they were like, “Who are these guys?” None of us are from Amsterdam and we came to claim our space here.
I was speaking with the guys from WhoMadeWho and I asked them this question. They are from Denmark, similar to the Netherlands in that it is smaller and more laidback than Germany. They were always signed to Germany labels and only until recently were more popular outside their homeland. Do you feel like the Dutch are receptive to your music?
Yes of course, but we are not only focusing on the Netherlands. In Germany you can focus on the underground like Warp. did back in the 90’s… you have a large underground scene in Germany while in the Netherlands the scene is a lot smaller.
You need to go abroad, you need to. Naturally you feel like you want to go further than your own borders. We are trying to get our music out there to some bigger venues instead of like squats…. It’s a middle ground. Fortunately, we are going to Paris next month, then Moscow some time later on so that will be cool.
What does Marius do in his free time?
I am a freelance graphic designer by trade and every spare hour I have I play music. I turn in my assignments on deadline but otherwise it is music, 50/50. I work at home and make music at home so it is perfect!’
There are so many different talented artists at NON, any possibility of collaborations between artists?
It’s happening haha! I made some tracks with HyperHyper for a fashion show. I would like to collaborate with more label mates but its all ideas at the moment.
How do you like Amsterdam? It seems like a pretty awesome place to live. There is nothing quite like it in the US or anywhere I’ve been.
I don’t really know what to say but it’s great for sure. If I need to DJ I do it all by bike, it needs to be compact! It’s great here, truly. Lots of bars to chill and relax and also lots of smaller venues that are more conceptual but still fun to go to.
There are labels like DFA or 4AD who though appearing ‘indie’ are actually subsidiaries of the largest music corporations like EMI and Universal Music Group. Is that the holy grail for independent labels?
That’s not the goal right now. It’s a different world in that they [big corporations] focus primarily on selling. We want to make money of course, but it’ more important to make your name and let the people get to know your music.
Last question: Who does those super cool grindhouse-eque voiceovers for the NON Records Trailers?
Bear! It’s a chain of effects that distorts his voice. You haven’t heard the voice lately… he quite doing it but he needs to do it again for sure!
If you want enjoyable yet debilitating synth-induced seizures , click here
By Laurence ‘pucho’ Henriquez