A pitch perfect match: Identified Patient & Gamma Intel in Conversation
Identified Patient and Gamma Intel go way back.
In fact they’ve known each other since school. Back then they weren’t mates per se but Job’s (Identified Patient) friendship with Laurens’ (Gamma Intel) brother led to them connecting later on a musical level, and that partnership has only gone from strength to strength.
Both have become key players in the Dutch underground electronic scene, holding close affiliations with the likes of Pinkman Records, Operator Radio and Dekmantel Festival, and sonically they’ve been wading in the same murky waters for some time.
From slow acid burners and chugging EBM and electro to dystopian bass experiments and mind-bending jungle breaks, both of their sounds have evolved and transformed over the years but the mood generally remains the same.
Their collaborations have ramped up over the last few years. B2B DJ sets for the likes of Mechatronica and Dekmantel, at both Selectors and the festival’s Connect series, have shown their synergy behind the decks, but more recently they’ve started sharing the fruits of their studio partnership too.
Nerve Collect is a brand new label the pair co-run which will be a home for their productions together and apart. So far there’s been an EP from Job – the freaky, dystopian Elevator Music For Headbangers – and this week Laurens’ follow up E.M. (named after his son) was released into the world. Now judging by the content of both of these, we already can’t wait to hear what’s next…
After a treacherous journey across a canal on a small dinghy, they recently came together to chat about the early years of producing, how they can’t make music on a hangover anymore, Laurens’ transition into Dad life and the use of a lovely football metaphor to describe how a day in the studio can pan out…
Laurens: Yesterday I drove from Rotterdam to your place for a studio session. But to get there we had to cross a stormy and windy canal with a small, unstable 1 person dinghy boat. Of course, we have known each other for a long time, but would you mind elaborating on where you actually live?
Job: Haha, so okay. I live a fully off road lifestyle, although it’s close to the city. It’s quite remote and to get to the house you literally have to cross the water with your own little ferry boat. Unfortunately these days it’s a 1 person dinghy boat, because on the first day of Christmas the electric ferry that I was using for years sank like the Titanic while I was trying to get to the other side. Swimming in a Christmas outfit out of the canal. Such a blessed day.
And yeah we’ve really known each other for a long time. We were in high school together, although in a different class and in a different group of friends. Laurens was always the little brother of one of my good friends, and like fuck this whole family looks so like eachother. At some point I think we both started to release music at the same time and got closer. Also because I was living with your brother around that time.
L: Haha yeah, back in the Van der Pekstraat days! Job used to live together with my brother in Amsterdam-Noord. I think that’s the time where you guys started to collect synths and get into music production. I remember I started to follow Identified Patient on Soundcloud back in maybe 2013, having no idea who this guy was. I was like wow this sounds sick, it’s slow, sexy, dark and would totally go down in a sweaty basement. Then a couple of months later I figured out it was Job from high school who was putting out some serious business. Then my brother told me that ‘he does all this shit on an Octatrack’, so I was like damn I also need that machine! That definitely got me into getting more hardware as well to see what was in it for me, although I was still working a lot in the box.
Most of the Gamma tracks until now were made just on the computer, even on the latest release. I don’t know, maybe I just like the convenience of being able to make music wherever I go. I remember in the beginning when I released my first record I made a couple of tracks on a Flixbus ride from Berlin to Amsterdam, the good old days! What Identified Patient track is most memorable for you, or do you have the best feeling about?
J: Haha damn, too bad I don’t have my old pictures anymore, but the track ‘Walk With Me’ from the last EP, is made on this bizarre dark rainy day in the middle of the summer. I still had my studio in my living room, with a big window view into the field. And then I started to sample these classical cuts, because it suited the weather. This green and dark feeling, like an upcoming acid trip. When the storm hit I ended up towards a more beat-oriented thing. But I can smell and feel that moment like it was yesterday. It was also the summer where we started to make music together. Maybe it all felt extra special because of this instant corona nostalgia. Do you experience a similar feeling from that time period? And what was your experience of us working together?
L: One thing I remember about the pandemic is that I was a bit lost in terms of what I wanted to sound like. Normally I would get inspired by playing in a club or listening to someone else playing sick stuff. The day after I would be like: yo, last night this particular moment was sick, I need to see if I can do something with that and flip it my own way. And then I would go off and make a new tune. Instantly inspired. Maybe because this all suddenly stopped I kind of had to reinvent myself. Which is also not necessarily a bad thing!
And of course we started to do this collaboration thing during the first lockdown. That was and still is always a lot of fun, to hang around together in the studio and just see what we come up with. I think it helps that we have a similar expectation when it comes to producing and both come from a different producer background.
I think it starts with the basic principle that there are good days and bad days in the studio. If it’s a good day, the creativity flows and almost every element that you bring in fits nicely with the rest. You complement each other effectively by using techniques that you otherwise maybe would not have used or didn’t even know about the possibility. On the other hand, if it’s a bad day, you can easily spend a few hours trying to get a good groove but nothing seems to fit together and you end up with a bunch of random sounds that are just not coherent. Anyway that does not mean that you have wasted your time making a shit track. Producing music is maybe like playing a football match where you have to create chances to score a goal. Sometimes you’re having a lot of chances but it just doesn’t work, or sometimes just one chance is enough to win the game.
J: Whahah I like this metaphor, feels very Cruyff. I think he would, low key, like to listen to Jeff Mills or something. Maybe like Gamma Player ;D, what do you think? Do you have this acceptance always in the studio? Like today is not working out and that is fine? I really can be down if I wasted a whole day and nothing comes out. I mean it’s part of the process, but it also sometimes feels kind of disappointing. Time is the biggest factor, so if you ruin it, the damage can feel hard sometimes. On the other side, if you look at it in the long run, it is sometimes better to just fuck around for a while so your design and way of programming can develop. The more you fuck around, the more you find out lol. Btw can you make music with a hangover? Back in the day I loved it, but now I cannot do it anymore. We are not that old right?
L: We’re definitely not 21 anymore, haha. These days I definitely don’t party as much as I used to (more on that later). And yeah of course that is disappointing, but it helps that you know that every producer has days like this. I remember the music that I would make hungover would always be really dark and depressing. I think the mood is always reflected in the music somehow. It’s also more difficult to get creative I think. For me, creativity often starts to flow when I’m really thinking about pushing my boundaries. Like making a kick drum from a down pitched vocal sample or something like that. Or instead of creating a hi hat pattern with samples, let’s go with a field recording instead and slice out some nice transients and run them through some pedals/VST effects that I would otherwise never use. Or maybe in the end this sound element does not even make it to a hi hat but will end up as a texture layer or percussion of some kind. This kind of stuff gets me going and I think that it helps to think outside the box and not do the same stuff every time you make a new track.
I think when we get into the studio together (on a good day!), it helps that we come from different backgrounds and use different techniques to tackle different problems. First time we went into the studio I remember I was impressed by your workflow with hardware synths when it comes to recording and sampling, where I could complement that with some nifty software tricks on sequencing and sound design level. Also I think I realised that I could learn a lot from you when it comes to producing. That tune we did the first time ended up pretty sick btw although it did not see the light of day (yet?). After a few sessions we ended up with maybe 4 or 5 cool tracks?
J: Yeah and that’s where the idea of a label also started. I was also impressed by the amount of unreleased tunes you had lying around and the quality of it. Then it was like wtf laurens you need to drop it, or maybe we need to drop it hahaha. I also had the idea of releasing some of my own work and then both combined with your plans it became what it is now.
L: haha, thanks! The idea of starting a label was on my mind for the last few years but I was always a bit scared to actually do it, so I was happy that you pushed through and that we are now doing this together. Although I always found it challenging to keep it interesting. I think one of the most important things as a producer is to always try and bring something new to the table to keep things interesting. This is also what Nerve Collect is about for me. Maybe one way to describe it is that it’s about certain contrasts. Like contemporary sound design vs classic sampling. High tech productions with a punk/DYI attitude. Music that crosses certain boundaries or combines genres in interesting new ways. It’s all quite vague of course, but I think deep inside that’s what I’m after.
J: Do you enjoy, or prefer one above the other actually?
L: Yeah I’m definitely more of a sound design kind of guy. I can get super excited when I hear a certain sound that blows my mind. I’d be like, how the hell did they do that? And then I want to go and learn how I can make that myself.
J: Hey and since a while you are also doing live sets. Is there a preference or can you not really compare it to another? And do you experience the same focus level, or is it way more intense?
L: Good question. DJing and playing live are incomparable. I think both DJing and playing live require a different kind of focus. While playing live, I need to have total control of multiple machines at all times, so that requires a lot of focus in the moment itself. While DJing is more about making a long term plan, like a few tracks ahead, thinking about a strategy on how to capture everyone’s attention and not to lose it. That requires a different kind of focus, I think. How about you, did you ever consider doing a live set?
J: I’m more into DJing than doing a live performance, I just like it too much and the whole live aspect is something for later I guess. When I’m really in control with what I make. With DJing though it’s really nice sometimes to make it as hard as possible for yourself and go on the edge of losing control. And try to find your way back. Like giving yourself 30 seconds to find something perfect and not flip out, and sort of enjoying that stress. How is your stress level these days as a Dad, must be kind of though?
L: Yes, so my son Eddie was born last year in July. So I’m really living the dad life now and I’m enjoying it a lot. He’s such a funny little creature and Samira and I are absolutely loving it. And as a tribute, I dedicated my latest EP to him (E.M. = Eddie Moncef). Of course you have less time on your hands to make music, but when time becomes scarce, you will have to use it more efficiently. So I feel that I definitely started to work more efficiently compared to a year ago, because of him. He’s also the reason I don’t party as much as I used to. Now on weekends, I’m not really leaving the house unless I am playing somewhere. Of course, it’s nice to be fresh in the morning so you can spend a few hours efficiently in the studio.
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