From minimal house, to breaks, to rave, to techno, the unique and analogue based sound of Joannes has already turned heads with stellar releases on some of the underground’s most forward thinking imprints, including Something Happening Somewhere, Patron and RFR. We invited him along for a guest mix and a chat.
So firstly, what is the story behind the name ‘Joannes’ and is this your first alias?
I’ve had a couple of aliases in the past, the most known and recent where Sad Girl and Malbetrieb I guess which I both ended last year, but I will always work under several others. I don’t think in concepts for my music at first and rarely go into the studio with an actual idea. I usually just let it form itself along the way and see where it goes from there.
That is also the reason why I change the focus on these aliases often, I don’t want to do the same thing over and over again. Maybe I want to make dub step tomorrow and gabber next week, I need this freedom. With the Malbetrieb alias I really lost that, it got labelled ‘progressive’ but it was actually never really meant that way.
Joannes is the first alias that carries my own name (actually my second name). It’s music from the heart, stuff I make for myself to enjoy throughout the whole process. I don’t intend to please anybody with it, or even release it to be honest.
What is your background and how did you get into music?
I grew up in the upper north of Holland in a small town in the 80’s and was fascinated by music-technology; cutting tapes and scratching -heavily influenced by the jukebox we had standing in the living room. When the Dutch rave scene came alive I was around 12 so too young to attend, but that didn’t stop me from following it very closely. Collecting flyers, buying records/cassette’s/cd’s, magazines and reading probably every news article that mentioned house music.
In 1995 I finally visited my first big rave together with my brother and was hooked from the start; the impact of a fat kick drum -or any sound- over a huge PA is just magic. After learning how to DJ and eventually playing some illegal parties (which most we organized with friends for many years, mainly so we could just play ourselves) my interest in making music evolved to a point where I didn’t even want to go to school at all anymore but just wanted to do music.
When I saw The Orb playing live on MTV on a show with Ray Cokes- it just blew my mind (‘Oxbow lakes’ is still one of my favourite tracks ever). I bought a Soundcraft mixer from a local studio, an 808 from a friend at school and within a few months I added a Korg MS20, DOD multi-effect unit and Siel Orchestra 2 Synth (bought from a cousin) and got started.
No decent tunes came out this setup though for all these years though (lol), it lacked midi and I had to hand-sync them (oh god). Also the Siel was always off key, the warmer it got the higher it was pitched in tune- but it did teach me how to jam with machines and have overall-control.
Where are you based and how has your home country or town influenced your music & career?
A couple of years ago I moved (even more) up north in Holland, living between the cows and long distance views on landscapes within minutes walk away. The birds wake us up on Sunday-morning here! I also got my studio at home where I can make music 24/7 without disturbing anyone, it’s heaven for me.
Holland has an amazing rave-culture and heritage and off course its in my blood. We have this DIY attitude and I always embraced that. But after a period of burnouts and depression, mostly caused by a lack of sleep & mind-peace, I prefer to have some distance now from ‘where it all happens’ and try not to be influenced so much. Don’t get me wrong, I love the music but I just don’t really the scene. I’m quite a sensitive person. I couldn’t imagine myself anymore living in Amsterdam, Berlin or even any other big city: I need the fresh air, peace and quietness to function flawlessly and make the music I want to make.
What is the coolest or craziest gig you have ever played & why?
Paradigm has always been on top of my list, it’s my 2nd home. I even played an all-nighter once -many years ago when we still had the club- that lasted 12 hours, I will never forget that. People were crying at the end, kissing and hugging each other, it still hits me emotionally every time I think of it after all these years. These guys always supported me on every front all these years, even when I changed my style completely they still got my back.
We truly evolved together over the last years. Its a hard time for them cause of the lockdown, so everybody buy their merchandise to support them!
How would you describe your sound – do you think your music falls into a particular genre?
I think its easier for others to put it in a genre, I just make and play whatever I want but a binding factor however could be my minimalistic approach. Someone one called it half-decent quirky music from another planet and it really felt like a compliment (lol).
I tend to give my tracks lots of headspace and don’t cram it to max with layers. Giving the sounds the time and space to air, breath and do their work. Which is also the reason I work on a strictly hardware based setup, it limits the amount of layers for me to use and forces me to be next level creative on all of them. If I can’t make a track with my 16 audio inputs and all my machines then the track just sucks and doesn’t meet my standards.
What is your production process – is each project different? And what are your key pieces of studio kit?
It’s a hardware-based setup as I mentioned before and I record pretty much all my tracks in one take preferably- as a jam. Sometimes I overdub some stems with (more) FX, it depends. All my machines are setup for a task, the Digitakt plays the kick drums, the Novation Circuit does all the (synth) sequencing, Basstation on the bass line, the TR-8 does the rides and hats, Korg Wavestation does pads etc. It’s like having a band but I play all the instruments myself.
Mostly I do recording sessions for a couple of days, but there are also plenty of times I don’t make music at all for many weeks. So when I do go out to record I got plenty of creative-energy to make a whole bunch of music at once. Sometimes nothing comes out, sometimes I record 10-20 tracks or more in 3 days. In that case there is also usually a binding factor between all of these tracks with some sticking out -in a good way- those are the tracks I want to keep. Then I share these with Nuno (dos Santos), Tim (Locked Groove) and some other friends and delete what is left.
Also I change my setup very often, like 8-10 times a year probably. I literally take everything out of the room and clean it, set up the furniture in a new way if possible, rewire everything, create new chains and load new sounds/patches/presets into my machines. It feels like a whole new studio every-time- but with the same gear. Best advice I can give to anyone making music, it really keeps it interesting.
Tell us your deepest darkest secret?
I’m not a dark-secret kind of person, I really dislike double agenda’s and I’m pretty much an open book to most people. Wait, I got one: I’ve never been to Ikea! For real! (LOL)
What do you have coming up in terms of releases and gigs (or live streams)?
I just released my ‘Comfort EP’ on Patron, next up is my track ‘Macrodub’ on Sohaso – it’s featured on the Nowhere compilation along tracks of Tripeo, Ian Pooley, Mark du Mosch, Luna Ludmilla and many more great artists. Sohaso is also hometurf, Nuno and me are close friends and we don’t spare each other when it comes to our music endeavours. Very valuable!
After that my vinyl EP on RFR will be out incl some extra Bandcamp exclusives. RFR is a label based in Munich that I really love. Zenker Brothers, Skee Mask, DJ Hell- they all released there so I’m pretty proud of this one. Also Richie – the owner- and me became pretty good friends, we share our memes almost daily.
Live stream-wise I’m probably not going to appear anywhere, I’m not really feeling this whole stream-hype, I barely watch any of them myself too, it bores me after a track or 2. But if it takes us another couple of months to gain back to normal from this crazy situation I might do a live ambient session. On a Sunday, broadcasted from my roof terrace.
How did you put together your guest mix for the radio show & what have you included – any exclusives or surprises?
The recording features strictly my own productions and they are all unreleased. I thought it would be nice to give listeners something they never ever heard before. All the tracks are still unmastered, but I recorded them on tape for this mix first so it has some extra fuzz.
I recorded it with Traktor vinyl time code in my living room, which gave me some issues – all the recordings where completely off the grid caused by the reel 2 reel recordings, so it was hard-core-pitching to keep them in sync, felt like living in 1995.
Listen to the Joannes guest mix on Constant Circles Radio with Just Her: