Noisia: flight of the navigators - Artists - Mixmag

Noisia: flight of the navigators

A new album and incredible live show suggests that there’s more to come from Noisia

  • Words: Dave Jenkins | Photos: Conor Beary
  • 14 October 2016
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Outer control

Noisia aren’t just unique in their sound or stature within bass music; their entire setup is one of a kind. Behind them are a team of five people, all working and operating from a high tech studio/office complex in their hometown of Groningen, north-east Netherlands. Here, each member of the band has their own floating studio (literally floating on springs for optimum acoustics). It’s where they broadcast their radio show, run their three labels (Vision, Division and Invisible) and organise their Noisia Invites tours.

Somewhere among these commitments Nik, Thijs and Martijn also write platinum hits for pop stars and game soundtracks, too. Most importantly, everything is done in-house, stringently on their own terms, and executed with such slick Dutch efficiency you wonder if they’re the archetypical neuropunks our cynical digital age requires.

“We are certainly not punks,” laughs Thijs. “We’re not anti-anything. We’re really self-centred!”

“Maybe you could say we have a punk attitude?” counters Nik, in a bid to start the type of debate that the band enjoy. “We don’t give a shit about radio music or commercial music. Then again, you could also say we’re very conservative because we have offices and work regular working hours. What we’re trying to do is something we love in a sustainable and pleasant way.”

The seeds for this sustainable, pleasant process were planted from day one as they worked their way through all their favourite d’n’b labels from Renegade to Ram (“like label sluts!” chuckles Thijs), refusing to sign exclusively with any imprint before eventually establishing their own.

The same can be said for the way they’ve gradually caught the attention of fans globally. In the early days they were told to tour the UK constantly, rigorously and often pennilessly. Now they’re a worldwide whirlwind, with a significant quadrant of fans in the US who are hungry for more variety in the post-brostep implosion. Complete with regular Skrillex and OWSLA co-signs and line-up sharing duties, Noisia pack hard punches in the largest, flashiest and most unforgiving of electronic music markets.

While they’re best known and most prolific in drum ’n’ bass (to the point they won Best Live Act at the Drum&BassArena Awards without even having a live show), their signature detail-designed synthesis is known and noted from dubstep to breaks; there’s also I Am Legion, too, their hip hop project with Foreign Beggars. The 150,000 web/FM-syndicated listeners of their weekly Noisia Radio show and ravers at their genre-hopping Noisia Invites parties have also experienced Noisia’s widest musical tentacles.

“We’ve always made and supported all sorts of music,” nods Thijs in agreement. “But in the studio the last few years have been ‘let’s just make some heavy drum ‘n’ bass’. That’s what the people want, that’s what we love to play out.”

Meanwhile, as they dished out some of the most heavily played, technical benchmark-setting d’n’b tracks of recent years (‘Asteroids’, ‘Dead Limit’, ‘Incessant’), ‘Outer Edges’ was born. Stashing their best experiments in far-off electronic fringes, unearthing incomplete ideas and trying out contrasting approaches and techniques they’d never attempted before as Noisia, the concept to explore and develop every track to its furthest frontier gradually took hold. Not only does this paint the broadest picture of Noisia to date (there are elements of everything from skullstep d’n’b to rolling jazz drums via glitched-out p-funk), but also the most three-dimensional image of them as a group so far; some
of the tracks featured on the album date back to experiments from the mid-2000s.

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