The buzz is out and MATIK very well could be Holland’s answer to French Canada’s TIGA or New York’s LCD Soundsystem
The buzz is out and MATIK very well could be Holland’s answer to French Canada’s TIGA or New York’s LCD Soundsystem
Incendiary interview Matik – Amsterdam 19/07/06
It’s hot, but I’m defiantly not complaining but after my 15-minute bike ride to the apartment of beat master/producer/programmer Niels Geurs. Still, I’m dripping with sweat. I make myself right at home by sitting down in the kitchen that I am very familiar with. I’ve known Niels for over 4 years now. He happens to be the boyfriend of my best friend Celine and also a close friend of mine. I’ve seen Niels in and out of several bands and music projects but nothing has clicked as well as his newest project MATIK.
They have just won the Amsterdam’s Pop Prize for 2006 and have had great press including a recent write up with photo in Het Patrol in early July. The buzz is out and MATIK very well could be Holland’s answer to French Canada’s TIGA or New York’s LCD Soundsystem.
Their music and the energy that they bring on stage is fun, intelligent and damn danceable. I may have a bit of bias considering that I am such a close friend, but then again I never felt this way about any of his other projects. MATIK will rock you socks off and is one of the best live Amsterdam bands I’ve seen.
MATIK is Peter van Drie (voice), Sajoscha Talirz (Bass), Maarten Willemsen (guitar) and Niels Geurs (beats, keys and producer)
IN: So let’s talk about MATIK, what genre of music do you consider yourself?
NG: (Laughs) It is funny because now a days we get more and more the feeling that there is this whole scene happening and it is called "ROCK N’ RAVE". I think somehow people are putting us in this category, because what we do is primarily mix dance music with guitar. It’s not necessarily something that I thought of when we were starting out and it’s not really that new in a way, guitars combined with dance music. Back in the 80’s there was a lot of mixing of electronic beats with guitars. Maybe because now there are more new dance influences, it becomes "Rock n’Rave". The title is funny, but maybe it works. I would prefer not to be in any genre, and not in that genre, rave to me sounds very superficial, I’d rather be compared to the interesting electronic bands from the 80’s then the crazy rave bands from the 90’s.
IN: I would say that your music is more Electro-Rock.
NG: I would too, because we are more sophisticated with what do with the electronic part.
IN: Do you think there are differences in the audiences? Are they coming from more of a dance background? Or from more of a rock background?
NG: The best audiences we get are from the "alternative" people, people who are coming from squats or different places, people who are busy and creative themselves, writers, artists; creative people. I think that’s our crowd. Last Saturday we played "5 Days Off" at the Paradiso for the dance crowd and I looked at the dance crowd and they look very superficial, they were all wearing white blouses and jeans. I was like, huh? Being booked for the RAUW (famous Dutch dj Joost van Bellen’s electro circus), the crowd is a lot more hip, but I wonder if they really understand (it) either. I think the people who really understand it are the creative people – they can recognize that it is something new and different. I am open for it. It seems to work best for those types of audiences.
IN: What is the best place you’ve performed?
NG: (Laughing) I think COC was really… fun. You were there right? I also thought Friday was really fun (Show for Tablet and LFTFLD at Schium on Spuistraat). I was so surprised that we got a crowd. As soon as we started playing people just came in and we even got passers by, who just came in because they heard the music, telling us, wow this is awesome!
IN: Let’s talk about what happened at the COC (famous gay clubhouse/nightclub on the Rozengracht). Why was it the best and what happened that was so crazy?
NG: (More laughing) Yeah, first of all we got in there, we were expected to play upstairs in the big room. All of a sudden the party was then going to be downstairs. So we were setting up the equipment and while we were doing our sound check, the limiter dropped out! We were like no, shit this is going to be the worst show ever. Somehow I got the strange idea, we had four monitors, so we aimed two at the audiences and put a really loud volume on them, use a little bit of the sound from the room and really low, so you have some bass and stuff. We did our show on a really small stage and it was really crowded, so we had to pull ourselves through all the people just to get on stage.
During Addicted, these two really weird girls stumbled on the tiny stage. They start riding each other like crazy lesbian girls, and then they started riding Peter (lead singer) and crawling all over his legs! It seemed like it was all set up because the song is Addicted! It was wild! It all just fitted together, and I though for a minute that they were never going to leave the stage, but when the song was over, they disappeared. It was almost like it was staged. Later while we were playing there was this big machine, a confetti gun with the really nice shinny confetti. The whole room was filled. Everyone was screaming and going crazy and this shinny confetti falling down everywhere. I thought, yeah, this is why you want to be on stage, this is what you want to reach with your music.
IN: That it’s a whole experience as well, not just the music, but performance and improvise and whatever else…
NG: For sure. Absolutely. Our shows are a based a lot of times on the reaction of the audience. If we don’t feel that interaction on stage then it can feel a little awkward. For us we want a reaction, we want to interact.
IN: You personal musical influences?
NG: I think I bring in a lot of the ideas from the start. Peter comes by and listen, takes it home and comes back a week later with lyrics and it’s always exactly what I had in mind as well. We work really well together and with the same feelings. It’s great. With Marten, it’s different, we sit together and we might start from scratch. Dance It Off was written like that, a Saturday night, Marten wanted to play bass guitar at my house, he came up with a crazy baseline and then I threw some beats under it. Peter comes by, and we’ve got a song. Afterwards we look at the little things, like breaks, bridges, a chorus. What I think is the most difficult is the fine-tuning of the songs; the first idea is always instant.
IN: How much freedom do you actually have during performances with your beat structure since you do everything from your computer?
NG: The loops are pre-programmed, I just change them during the sections, and if a break takes longer I can wait to change them. If I want to I can take out stuff or add stuff I can. Depends on the songs, but I’d rather have the beat bases on different channels rather then having them all spread out. I keep everything organized. The programs I use are Life, Ableton, and Virtual Synx, I also use samples and filters. Sometimes the guitar even comes in through a filter on my computer. It keeps me pretty busy. Eventually we want to experiment with a live drummer, but we don’t want to become too rocky.
IN: Are you planning to release anything on vinyl? In the dance world is that still expected?
NG: I don’t know. I wonder. I was reading this interview with Joost van Bellen this morning and he said, yeah vinyl is going for sure.
IN: Are DJ’s still using vinyl? Most clubs now have… both?
NG: Both, CDs and turntables. I think most people are using CDs anyways. It’s just getting use to using the CD turntables. You can scratch and do pretty much the same as with vinyl turntables. There is actually going to be a new ipod mixer. It is a mixer, you plug your ipod in and it loads in the memory the MP3, then you can pitch control it, change it and mix it. With just one ipod you have total control.
IN: So vinyl?
NG: Do you really need release it on vinyl nowadays? I think you just need to make sure that right people need to get it in the right quality, even through the Internet or by email. If they get the high quality raw file then they can burn it themselves. We’ve been picked up by this DJ group called Dans Le Rock. They are really digging us. They want to make a remix so they can play it on the dance floor.
IN: Who are some contemporaries that you admire and or respect? Who would you like to open for?
NG: Depeche Mode, Franz Ferdinand, there are so many bands that I would like to… even like Hot Chip or of course AIR. There are hardly any bands that I wouldn’t. If they think our music is appreciated to open for their music, then cool.
IN: Venue programming in contrast is the best way to go.
NG: I think it’s nicer too.
IN: You can appreciate the bands more, verses going to a show and seeing 4 of basically the same band. It makes them seem less special next to each other.
NG: For sure. You can still be electronic and do completely different things. The bigger contrast you have… yeah… we had 3-1 opening up for us at the Winston for our CD release party. They do a totally different act, and actually we should have been opening up for them. (Laughs) They have a much different energy in their shows. I totally respect what they are doing. And I ask myself are we going to go down the same road? Last year 3-1 played on "5 Days Off", on the Saturday at the same time in the same room as we did. I am like, do-do-do-do (twilight zone theme song). A year later they are releasing an album on their own label, because no one wants to sign them or release it for them. Are we headed the same way? We are really discussing it, because if you release it your self, then you can license it out and be in a better situation for negotiation. It is always better to negotiate when they want you then the other way around.
IN: What are your plans? Have you been sending out the EP to labels?
NG: Yeah, I’ve sent the EP out to America, Germany, England and Belgium. I just hope that they listen to it; they probably get loads of stuff in. Maybe they listen to it in three or four months, or maybe they never listen to it. (Laughs!)
IN: It is a bit tricky with this genre of music because it could easily be a fad couldn’t it?
NG: You need to watch out for that. That’s why it is really important to become a band that has an identity, stands for something and grows within the concept that you are working from. When we first started I wrote down all bands that I liked from Talking Heads to The Cult and I wanted this energy and it doesn’t matter how it happens.
IN: Everyone in the band comes from all different angels.
NG: We are four individuals who have totally different ideas and because we are like this we can create something completely different that I would have never even thought of myself.
IN: Coming up, three gigs, one day. Is that even humanly possible without drugs?
NG: Definitely, I think maybe drugs at the end, but yeah. At 3:30 in the afternoon we’re playing Mystery Land, 30 minute show, then drive to Tilburg, get something to eat, play a 45 minute show there, be finished at 8:15, clean up and leave by 8:30. So we’ve got 15 minutes to clean up and get the fuck out of there; maybe that is a little optimistic. Then drive as fast as possible be at the Melkweg by 10. It gives us an hour and a half to drive. The Melkweg show is free entrance, it’s part of Uitmarkt. Bonno van Doorn is going to be shooting a documentary about the road trip of our mini tour.
IN: Has it ever been done by a Dutch band?
NG: Sure it has, they have all this stuff on the 5th of May and they have helicopters, the big Dutch acts get flown in to play a few of these festivals all over Holland. The funny thing is we are trying to do it ourselves. (Laughs)
IN: Could you just sum up a MATIK performance… what could you expect to see?
NG: Expect a lot of energy and craziness and a very charismatic lead singer. Other nice band members too. Anything could happen at anytime. Good fun and plenty of dancing.
Saturday 26 August; Matik play the following venues…
1. Mysteryland – outdoor festival – full MATIK show www.mysteryland.id-t.com
Then Thursday 31 August Wilhelminapakhuis Amsterdam entrance 5euros. www.dutchdelight.nl