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Warp Factor 8

Speedy J

Article from Music Technology, November 1993

Rotterdam's master of electronic listening music talks to Simon Trask about presets, sampling, hardcore rave, Warp Records, and the value of spontaneity...

Riding the Trans-Europe Express to Sheffield via Detroit, Rotterdam's Speedy J has been steadfastly pursuing his own ideas on electronic music. Simon Trask listens in...

One of the most original and intriguing albums to have emerged in recent months is Speedy J's Ginger. Released on Warp Records as part of the Sheffield label's ongoing 'electronic listening music' series, Ginger is the work of 24-year-old Jochem Paap from Rotterdam.

Jochem's involvement in music goes back to the mid-'80s, when he started out as a DJ - his 'Speedy J' monicker was acquired as a result of his fast scratching and mixing abilities. Inspired by the early house records coming out of Chicago, he began to develop his own music, expanding his mixing setup with drum machines and synths.

His first released tracks, 'Lift Off and Take Me There', appeared on a twelve-inch compilation from Hithouse Records. He then struck up a relationship with Detroit's +8 Records after sending them a tape, and a number of releases on the label followed, including the Intercontinental and Evolution EPs.

With the track 'Pullover', first released on the +8 album From Our Minds To Yours - Volume 1, Jochem had both club and Top 40 chart success in a number of countries. A subsequent track on +8, 'Something For Your Mind', also became a massive club hit. At this point, Jochem decided to adopt the name Public Energy for his harder tracks and to use his Speedy J monicker for the more melodic, experimental music that he wanted to put out.

A chance meeting with Rob Mitchell of Warp Records at MIDEM led to some remix work for the label, then a couple of tracks as Speedy J on Artificial Intelligence (the album which introduced Warp's 'electronic listening music' concept), and most recently to Ginger.

On electronic sounds

"What interested me in dance music was always electronic sounds. I started getting into music when the first twelve-inches started coming out; I was a very big Arthur Baker fan, the twelve-inch remixes he did. Also I liked some new wave stuff, like Depeche Mode, New Order, because it had synthesisers in it. Then I got interested in hip hop, and the first house things when they came out.

"Electronic sounds always have made a big impression on me. I'm very interested in sounds and sound, that's what inspires me for doing new tracks and new music. But to me, no matter how electronic it goes, music is still a thing of feelings, it comes from the inside, from the heart."

On sampling

"Most of the sounds I sample are not too much from records but more from my instruments; I try to reshape them and do different things with them. Also, I don't use too many breakbeats, it's not the main thing for me; when I do use them, I cut them up into really tiny pieces and try to make rhythms myself."

On presets

"I don't like to use presets all the time, because that starts to get boring, you know? Also, even though I have pretty much equipment for a techno or a house musician, I still don't have enough, so I try to get more out of it by mixing up sounds. I do use presets - everybody does - but I like it more when I hear one sound that I made myself than when I hear a sound that was already in the machine."

On the value of spontaneity

"It's very difficult to capture the human feel if you program everything, if you start recording and you just have to press Start on Cubase. I like to keep some kind of spontaneity, so sometimes I program parts to play all through a song and then I fade them in and out on the desk; that gives me some control over how the song builds, I can still touch it with my hands. I've always worked like that.

"I think that's what the early house and techno tracks were based on, that spontaneous, often accidental recording that makes it interesting and weird. If you listen to most of the Chicago and Detroit early stuff, it's all edited things from live recordings, people pushing buttons, machines running and people manipulating them as they run.

"'Acid Tracks', by Phuture, is just a drum machine and a 303, but it's the person that twists the knobs who creates the building feeling. Also with techno, people fade tracks in and out very aggressively on boards, twist knobs, manipulate synthesisers, and that makes it really live although it's electronic equipment. That's what it's all based on, I think. Music should always be a snapshot of a moment."

On major labels and major money

"The major companies, they are so big, the only thing they are doing is making money. If you want to join such a group of people, you should know that they just want to make money from you and nothing else. If you're an artist and one day a guy is at your door with a lot of money, it's easy to get carried away. You don't realise that you're signing your career away. That's the big trick, to be confronted with so much money, that makes people sign to majors. There are so many people who can't resist the temptation."

On Rotterdam hardcore

"My early records were at the base of the hardcore rave that emerged in Rotterdam; I didn't start it, but I was there at the beginning. The 'gabber'* sound evolved from that really basic sound that I and other people did back then; it was very hard and very basic, and it just got faster and harder. I didn't want to go that way, because I didn't like it, so I decided to keep quiet for a while and work on an album in a totally different direction - and that became the album which is out now on Warp."

(* 'Gabber' is a Dutch word meaning 'pal', and 'gabber' music is associated with football hooliganism in Holland - ST)

On ambient music vs. electronic listening music

"What I did is certainly not an ambient album, in so far as you'd put it on and let it play; it's really to listen to. So I think 'electronic listening music' is a better name for it than 'ambient', because 'ambient' is really something for the background. Also, I think the electronic listening music that Warp is putting out is more coming from dance music than from the ambient music of the past. It's more that people are tired of the hard beats and the sample records, and really want to do stuff that's melodic; that's really where it's coming from, I think."

On Warp Records

"They always, from the beginning, were very electronic, and that's what I especially like about them. They're very well respected. They search for different things. Now Warp is pioneering electronic listening music, coming from dance music, but already people are imitating them; I think eventually everybody will be doing listening music!"

On music, computer graphics and video

"I am very interested in technology as a whole thing - not only technology in music but also technology in visuals. Before I got interested in music, I was busy with painting and graffiti, and if I hadn't got so involved in music I would have been right now at a school for visuals and media techniques, learning how to make computer graphics and videos. In fact, if it's possible I would still like to do it, because it interests me very much.

"I think in a couple of years with visuals it will be like music has become. Everything has radically changed in music with the accessibility of electronic equipment, and the same will happen with video and computer graphics as the equipment becomes really cheap."

Top gear

Alesis: MIDIverb
Akai: S1100, S3000
Allen & Heath: GS3 16 + 8 mixer [48-channel on mixdown]
Behringer: compressor (x2)
Boss Pro: SE50
Ensoniq: ESQ1
Korg: A1, S3, Wavestation A/D
Rhodes: Model 660
Roland: Juno 106, MC202, NS50, R8, SH101, TB303, TR727, TR808, TR909
Sequential Circuits: Pro One
Tannoy: System 8 monitoring
Trident: compressor/limiter (x2)
Yamaha: amplifier, DX100, SPX900, TX81Z

Used by Jochem, Rene and Gijs: Roland DM80 hard disk recorder (8-track, 200Mb)

On record

Recording as:
Speedy J (Warp, Sheffield; +8, Detroit)
Public Energy (Probe, Detroit)
The Melody (See Saw, Amsterdam)
Country & Western (Zebra, Amsterdam)

Current album:
Ginger (Warp)

Wild Planet, Bjork, Shamen...
with Rene van der Weyde:
Quadrophonia, Meng Syndicate, T99
...with Rene van der Weyde and Gijs Vroom:
Ya Kid K (Technotronic)
"and many other less well-known names."

More from related artists

Previous Article in this issue

State of Independents

Next article in this issue

Touching Bass

Publisher: Music Technology - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
More details on copyright ownership...


Music Technology - Nov 1993


Speedy J


DJ / Producer

Related Artists:

Rene van der Weyde

Interview by Simon Trask

Previous article in this issue:

> State of Independents

Next article in this issue:

> Touching Bass

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