INTERVIEW | Joop Junior
Recruited by techno trailblazer Richie Hawtin at the tender of age of 21, young Dutch producer Joop Junior set the pace for his career early on. With a dedication to long hours in the studio leading to releases on renowned labels such as Bitten, Dubfire’s SCI+TEC and Hawtin’s own Minus imprint, it’s by no stroke of luck that Joop has landed where he has. Playing exclusively live sets at famed festivals such as Awakenings as well as label parties with his peers, he’s spent the last couple of years cutting his teeth with the best. We caught up with The Hague native to find out about growing up in Holland, his first full length album, and why he’s decided to go after his Bachelors in Sonology.
You recently played at Love Family Park in Hanau, Germany. How was your set? How does it compare to other festivals you’ve played?
Unexpectedly loud… I was given an earlier slot, but due to (unusual) opening hours (10AM) I already had a lot of people in front of me, which made me switch to my ‘club repertoire’.
LFP, being a high profile (bucket-list) festival, was hard for me not to enjoy… My older friends have been attending the festival even before I was into techno music!
You’ve chosen to adopt sobriety as part of your lifestyle. Do you think this has contributed to your productivity as an artist?
It’s just a personal thing, I can’t function properly when hungover, and even less when intoxicated. People should do whatever they want if they can keep their shit together. Electronic music and drugs have a longtime relationship, but i think it’s sad to see people and artists slip away.
When I drink, I get in trouble and make a fool out of myself. I’m quite an unstable guy, I need structure. The aftermath of getting ****** up will get me too depressed!
What was it like growing up in Holland, where techno, minimal and house were/are so widely available?
Holland still has an amazing vibrant scene. Commercially speaking electronic music has been widely accepted, available, and broadcasted on big stations for a long time. Nowadays it’s mostly popular easy and lazy produced stuff, but luckily there are still ‘underground’ shows presented here and there.
Clubbing wise, Holland has a big history in the nightlife. In the 90’s incredibly creative clubs like Roxy, IT and Now&Wow formed a fundament for what what Dutch clubs are today. Back then gay culture was widely represented in clubbing land and they are still inseparable till today.
Fast forward a decade and you’ll see 16 (!!) year old me fist pumping in this amazing venue called AStA to this guy who’s supposed to be the today’s ‘no.1 deejay’ Hardwell. (the times have changed)
Being a part of their promotion team gave me the opportunity to see lots of different popular artists from up close. At such a young age, i think that’s quite unique compared to the US for instance.
Nowadays the drinking limit is put up to 18, which i think is a shame. Being exposed to the clubbing environment at a younger age not only educated me musically but socially.
You began DJing at age 15. At what point did you shift from DJing to production?
I realised that playing someone else’s records is not enough to build up a career. There are a few guys out there who managed to become successful with plain deejaying. There are lots of guys successful with plain deejaying and hiring a ghost producer. (whatever)
People don’t grab on to an artist because of it’s mixing skills, maybe because of it’s sound, but mostly because of his music/productions. It’s a business card.
I don’t think I would be a particularly good deejay, I prefer making music. life would be much easier though.
Now, you play your own productions live. How would you explain a live Joop Junior set?
Basically a combination of re-arrangement, live drum sequencing, improvisation, effects processing, and transitioning between different scenes. Stems are previously made in the studio and loaded into a multi-track environment for sequencing.
You played in the U.S. for this first time this past March during WMC Miami. What was your first impression of the states?
Titties. Big Titties! Everywhere. Apparently Miami is known for this? I took a full week to enjoy the Miami sunshine, met up with friends, lost my phone, played 2 cool gigs, ate junk food, got ripped off by cab drivers, but most of all I gained a lot of new experiences!
I think the U.S. has a lot more testosterone involved with clubbing, but the people seem down to party like every other country I visited.
In September of last year you curated a Minus Connections podcast, showcasing the wide variety of electronic music that has inspired you from the beginning. When not in the studio or playing gigs, what are you listening to?
Everything that catches my attention musically, or sonically. I think a proper combination of the two is a winner nowadays. Might be something extremely electronic like Diamond Versions’ ‘C.I,’ or industrial like NIN’s ‘Hesitation Marks’ or acoustic like Ludovico Einaudi.
You recently finished 13 new tracks resulting in your first full length album. How did the creative process unfold for you?
I forced myself to follow a couple of rules. For this record I limited myself to 3 months of time, only using my MS-20 and my modular rig, not use any soft synths except Live’s operator, not use any third party effect plugins, and a couple of other things.
The main rule which i ALWAYS follow in every project is not using any presets or pre made samples, which forces me to be creative.
Do you feel that you’ve found “your sound,” or is it a lifelong process?
Nope, not yet. I learn something every track i make. The hardest part is to find your own little spot/niche and make yourselves feel comfortable in it.
I think you should be striving to become better at/learning something every project you take on. Even a respected musician/producer/scorer/sound designer like Trent Reznor for instance says he’s still learning!
Even with your success as a producer so far, you’ve chosen to finish your Bachelors in Sonology this September. What was behind your decision to continue your music education?
So far, indeed! I’m obsessed with sound, i’m obsessed with electronics, and i’m a bit of a geek. Sonology, for me, would be a perfect follow up in terms of studies. I’m striving to become the best musician i can be, and i think sonology would be a greatly benefitial for what i’m trying to achieve.
It’s all about the technical aspects of electro accoustic music, they cover things like: digital signal processing, writing and using computer applications, analogue studio techniques, algorithmic composition, live electronic music, the relations beween sound and space, experimental sound projection techniques, field recording, improvisation, sound re-enforcement and music theory.
And being labelled as ‘the study of sound’ makes it even more rad doesn’t it?
You’re currently in Ibiza to visit Richie Hawtin and will be playing Loveland in your hometown of Den Haag this weekend. What else do you have in store for the rest of 2014? Any projects you can tell us about?
Basically touring and finishing a pile of new music. We’ve been confirming gigs in basically every continent which i’m really excited about.
I’m also starting a new project with a friend of mine, he’s in a totally different scene than i’m in. Should be interesting, or a big flop.