A sweaty and seemingly feverish man opens his glazed eyes to find he's inside a dark and empty nightclub while the DJ plays a soulful house track. Suddenly he is the DJ, mixing in an ominous banger and flipping the energy with a puzzled look on his face, not knowing who he is or what he's doing. Bewildered, the man takes the record off the turntable platter and moves toward his record bag to place the vinyl inside its proper place. Then, suddenly there are six identical record bags, each discharging a different type of musical genre when opened. Where does the record go? What is this bizarre dream? A DJ's worst nightmare? No, this is the video concept of Nachtbraker's debut album, titled 'When You Find a Stranger in the Alps', and it represents the wild musical ride that's found within the new material.
Taking risks in the dance music industry can either lead to gratifying success or a muddied legacy, but for Nachtbraker it's a natural aspect of his artistry that allows him to showcase the many sides of his musical persona. The trailer for his album is a clear representation of this. The Amsterdam-based producer, DJ and label owner has always pushed himself to create what ever he's feeling in that moment, revealing a lighthearted attitude while also conducting himself with a professional and focused approach. As he remarks, "I just can’t help myself to every once in a while make myself laugh when I make a track."
With his original music, Nachtbraker's regarded as a genre-bending magician, while as a DJ he's an innovator, fusing nostalgic motifs of classic house with soulful, funky and eclectic beats. He's quickly established himself one of the most respected underground talents coming out of Amsterdam. This is evident in his strong output of releases, gracing acclaimed imprints like Detroit Swindle's Heist, Dirt Crew and Hudd Traxx while also establishing his own Quartet Series label as one of the industry's most promising and fresh outlets. Now as he gets set to release his debut album on his own terms, Nachtbraker's legacy is beginning to take form.
We caught up with Nachtbraker to find out more about the man behind the music and he supplied Mixmag with our latest Impact mix. Read on to learn more...
Throughout your career you've really showcased a lighthearted presence, in both your music and your persona, how does this reflect the man behind the music?
For me, Nachtbraker as well as Quartet Series are very personal projects and are very close to who I am in my daily life. I believe that at least for me its the only way I'm able to give 100 per cetn. I’m not good at pretending so I won’t be a able to sustain a career based on a persona that isn’t me. Sometimes I miss a bit of humor in our precious little scene. Even though we tend to be funny on our social media, it doesn’t always reflect in our music. Its not that I’m constantly telling jokes with my music, not at all. There are some tracks that have a very serious note. But I just can’t help myself to every once in a while make myself laugh when I make a track. I think we can safely say the track 'LOL' from my album is an obvious manifestation of this.
Hailing from the Netherlands, can you tell us more about your musical journey? When and how did you develop your passion for music?
I’m actually born and raised in Wijk bij Duurstede, thats a small village near Utrecht. In Utrecht it's also where I had my first clubbing experience where I witnessed a live set by a duo that, at that time, went by the name of Rauwkost. I remember being at the club when it opened and leaving when it closed eight hours later. I was blown away by the music and its mesmerizing effect. I was about 16 or 17 at that time. A bit before that I already started making music, but it was nothing really serious. Just fooling around with Fruity Loops. This music just unchained the urge for more. I basically got addicted instantly. In this period my curiosity for music in general took a leap, where I started exploring jazz, soul, funk, blues and hip hop besides electronic music. Smoking weed and listening to music with my best friends up in the attic of my parent's place. That's also where I made my music. A cliche indeed, but it's true. I used to spend hours up in that attic making music. Usually from 11pm until 7am the next day. That's also where my artist name “Nachtbraker” derives from. Nachtbraker (night owl) is a dutch saying for someone who stays up till deep in the night. My friends called me that because of my unusual working hours. The urge of sharing music became bigger and bigger. I randomly picked a study at the University of Amsterdam, so I could move there and pursue my dream. About 10 years later, here I am doing what I love every day.
Your debut album has been long in the works and is highly anticipated, what was the process like building out this material?
This project has been the most intense and stressful project I’ve ever done in my life. You only make your first album once, so I wanted everything to be perfect. But my definition of perfect changed every week. This is also why it took me about 2 and a half years to complete it. Tracks kept changing. I selected them for the album, then put them away to later put them back in. Most tracks you hear now on the album were made last year though. This was when I finally felt I was on the right path and had a coherent collection of music. The fun part was trying to let loose of all “club music” conventions and simply let the creativity flow. With tracks like 'Horsepony', 'Driving Me Lazy' and 'Innaspace' I really went on a path I’d never been before. This experience certainly has made me a better producer and even though I’ve always kind of tried to look for weird and different stuff in my productions, I had never gone as deep as I did here.
Do you feel as though the album is the culmination of your career thus far? What does your album represent to you?
In a way it is. Its been almost exactly 10 years since I started producing music. For the first time in these years I felt ready to do an outing like this. I think the album is the evolution of what I’ve been doing in the past 10 years. Definitely a milestone for me personally. Besides this I felt the need of making a bigger story. Something which is very hard to do in a few tracks on an EP. On the other hand I’ve changed so much in all these years that it is something new and fresh, so I can’t really say that it summarizes my career so far.
There is also a visual component to the album with a surreal motif that reveals more about the music presented on the album. What was it like coming up with this concept and why is it important to the overall project?
Last year, when I finally got on the right path with a collection of tracks. I didn’t have a concept yet. First I also felt it didn’t need one. The thing is, I like concepts and I think a concept can enhance the impact of a project like this. I like it when an album tells a bit of a story, may it be on an implicit or abstract level. For starters, I’m a dreamer. I easily lose myself in my own mind. This is also what I experience when listening, playing and especially when creating music. I decided to take this dream aspect and use it as a vehicle for my album. All tracks are different dreams, with different feels and experiences. After I came up with this concept, tracks like 'You Can’t Run' came up. 'You Can’t Run' for instance feels to me like not being able to run in a dream. Everything flows in the same tempo (the kick), whereas the synth stabs (you) drag behind and tries to catch up but doesn’t seem to succeed. I needed the dream state to be reflected in the artwork and in the album teaser video. Together with Luna I developed the artwork of the record and with Levi Verspeek I made the album teaser video. Levi is a very talented director and music producer. Combining this with his trippy mind it was an ideal match to come up with a video that would accompany the album. I gave him carte blanche and he came up with the idea of this amazing but super weird video. For me the video is offering an alternative way of getting to know the album and my music. And also a great way for me to collaborate with a talented artist.
You also run a record label Quartet Series that's been creating buzz in underground circles. Can you tell us more about the vision behind the label for releasing music? The four part release series is definitely a unique approach.
I founded this label for multiple reasons. One is that it's just another way for me to share the music I love with people. Another reason is that I wanted to create a sustainable platform in which I could do whatever I wanted. Lastly, I also found that the label business could use a bit more conceptual initiatives.
So the idea of a Quartet that can be collected was born. I liked the idea of having a couple of records being connected to each other. The best way to do this was through artwork. Musically there is not necessarily much consistency between the records. I want to be able to release what I want and think is good music. Not bound to genre or style. Of course all the music that is and will be released is something I would play out myself. What I want for the label is to stay relevant throughout the years. By working in series it makes it possible to reset with every Quartet.
Its nice to have the complete collection of a Quartet at home, tapping into our inner vinyl addict. By means of this I want to try and make the vinyl product a bit more special. I invest a lot of money to create custom artwork together with very talented artists like Marco Ferraccioni (responsible for the logo and the first Quartet in 2016), Elsemarijn Bruys (responsible for the Bodybuilder and Trophy Quartet) and Luna de Vittorio (responsible for my album artwork and press photos). Even though I lose money on the project because of the expensive artwork, it's a vital part of the concept and it adds so much to the aesthetics of the label that without it it would lose its charm and character. It is and always has been an essential part of the label’s identity.
What else is coming up for Nachtbraker in the future? And where do you see your career progressing?
For now I’m gonna let my album do its work. I have no future ep’s planned yet, though I can tell you I got heaps of material I’m playing around with and considering what to do with them. But there is no rush there. As I loved the process of doing an album, I most certainly will do another one in the future, but for that I first must find the right angle.
Furthermore I’m working on some very nice projects for Quartet Series with a few artists amongst which someone I really admire. I can’t disclose yet who, but we’ll find out soon enough haha. Besides that I’ll be embarking on an album tour beginning next year which we are locking down dates for now.
Even though I’ve been making music for 10 years I’m only doing it professionally for 4 years. I’m still in the early stages of my career and plan to do this for the rest of my life. I hope my label will grow as much as I do and that this can be a platform where I can do more interesting art projects. Not only through music, but also more through video and photography and maybe other forms of art. This is something I really want to pursue because the collaboration with artists in all disciplines is truly inspiring. So in short, super star dj running a major label with a huge output of all kinds of art haha.
You've mentioned that this new Impact mix is the best you've ever done, what went into the process for creating this mix and what do you hope listeners take away from it?
I sat on this mix for a couple of weeks, gathering the right track selection to be able to show what I’m playing at the moment. People who have heard my play in the past weeks/months must have heard all these tunes before. This mix pretty much sums up my favourite tunes at the moment. I wanted to show you what I play in club settings these days and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to capture that feeling in a home recorded mix. I made this mix dancing the whole hour at home, by myself haha. So I’m very happy I captured that club feeling in a set at home. Thats a first timer for me!
Listen to Nachtbraker's Impact Mix and view the tracklist below.
Thursday Club - 'Westway'
Space Drum Meditation - 'Limbo Dance'
Nachtbraker - 'Flambo'
Da Kick Squad - 'The Truth'
Gallegos - 'Wang Dang'
The Bermuda Triangle - 'C-Beams'
Adam Pits - 'Balance Beam'
Arktapes - 'Arktapes002'
David Caretta - 'Mechanical Man'
Hi-Ryze - 'Cyberia (Lo Pass Full Length)'
Cult Fusion - 'Allegiance to the Sound
Bjørn Svin - '101 Engle'
Ian O’Brien - 'Tattoo Jazz'
Envoy - 'Good Company'
Sacred Groove - 'B2 C2SG004'