Artist To Artist: Dexter & Cosmic Force
Within the Dutch music tapestry, one of the thicker, more robust threads that weaves and binds is the deep rooted form of electro. Alongside the cotton strands of gabber, techno and trance, the sci-fi genre has helped shape the country’s contemporary electronic scene into what it is. Artists and imprints have sprung from all corners of the Netherlands, with the likes of I-F, Legowelt and Clone fashioning an international reputation for the Northern European state.
Dexter and Cosmic Force are both vital seamstresses, masterfully sewing together broken beats in their production. With careers spanning decades, you can imagine the pair have a few tales to tell. Bouncing off of each other, the old friends joked about dogs, nerded out over old drum machines and nattered about their morning routines in this insight into their relationship.
Dexter asks Cosmic Force…
When did you started buying synths/gear?
I think I went straight from Playmobile and Lego into computers and drumcomputers, so that must have been around ‘87. I started off with some silly drum machines, not knowing exactly which ones I needed for my sound. There was no internet with 1000 forums I could turn to so I had to take my info from meeting up with people all over The Netherlands to talk about gear. I would also look at album covers like Herbie Hancock’s just to see what his gear list was.
What do you like more.. beer or gin?
Gin & Tonic, Vodka I.P.A. (Raging Bitch aka Angel’s wizz) Koetje (1/3 Kahlua and 2/3 Sambucca)
Alkmaar or Utrecht?
No way I can choose between those two. Alkmaar was my teacher and my life. So much freedom with our own squad ‘De Raad’. My first friends and music friends. Now I’ve moved on to a bigger City, I was ready for it. I’m happy in Utrecht.
Favourite piece of gear?
808!! Never produced a track without it. The sounds of the 808 are by itself so powerful that it always amazes me. Also the force of the sound is very good to use through effects, distortions and tape delays. Memorymoog: This beast can do it all. Silky strings, mean basslines and quirky effect sounds. It’s absolutely insane how wide of a sound spectrum you can program in it. System 100: It (almost) doesn’t get better than this. A mono synth with so much character. Fat oscillation that will move the hairs on the back of your neck.
What do you think of all the new cheap real good sounding clones of a lot of your original vintage gear in your studio?
Love them! I think prices nowadays are moving more into the ridiculous corner so I’m happy skilled young producers get the chance to play with analog/digital gear. Also of course it’s possible to use the original gear at our studio Sonar Traffic.
What kind of music do you like beside electro?
Oldskool Hiphop: This is where my deeper love for music started to evolve. Back in the days it was mostly an MC, a DJ and a drum machine with bits ’n pieces of analog synth sounds. Minimal but powerful. Funk: The mother of my drive and swing. Funny enough the order should be swapped with the hiphop but I just came in contact with hiphop earlier. Through hiphop I grew up listening to funk and soul without knowing. Later I discovered all the originals. 80’s Disco: What can I say. I just love it and it can bring me to ecstatic emotions. Avant Garde: No other style has so few rules. Anything goes, from back in the 50’s until now. Freedom in expression, sound and emotions. My biggest learning curve and inspiration source.
Neither of us grew up in a big town like Berlin for example. Do you think that affected our musical development in any kind?
I think it did. Being in Alkmaar with our only lifeline to the big world (Highway A9), we were a bit isolated. Meaning not too many distractions and having the opportunity to really crystalise our own unique style that Holland Electro is known for. Not saying it wouldn’t be if we grew up at the Randstad, but for me it sure as hell worked.
Do you also hate social media?
Yes and no. I like the use, not the abuse.
Do you also think that 99% of the people in the “dance” industry take themselves way too serious?
I know I do . I try not to, but I think that to a certain degree it doesn’t hurt to become a little serious about yourself when you really want to dive into being the creator of your own spectral world. It’s easy to make music, but it’s damn hard to tell a story or bring an emotional status to your sonic outlet. Of course I think that those semi-narcissistic feelings should belong in the studio and be there only for yourself. Definitely not into the outside world or at gigs.
What kind of development in music technology do you think is exciting?
VST’s! Screw analog synths. They only hold back on future development. It’s only digital that will bring us new sounds, new genres and whatever might happen in about 20 years’ time.
What happened to the recording of our 4 hour liveset?
After the fantastic 5(!) hour jam we did at the Marguerita Allstar Jam I got the files. We set the date in the near future to open up a bottle of whatever and start editing to make a killer release on Marguerita Recordings.
Do you think we can ride on a motor scooter drunk with the two of us and Dave the dog again?
If we had filmed it we would have the most epic videoclip for one of our new tracks Still can’t believe I was able to trick your dog with biscuits to get onto the front of the scooter.
Cosmic Force asks Dexter…
Is it true that you wrote “I don’t care” after you turned to Buddhism?
Yes. My productions are always created after supernatural events that are supposed to be generated by extremely skillful and committed meditation. After realising I have supernatural abilities the most logical step was to turn to Buddhism because the strong feelings I have represent aspects of The Buddha. A sense of incarnation drives me on a path similar to the Buddha.
Is it true that Moby used to have long hair until he stole your style after watching you play at the Paradiso?
No.. when I saw that Moby is selling 200 of his drum machines for charity I felt I had to do something for charity to.. I couldn’t sell my 200 drum machines cause Moby’s already doing that, so I decided to donate my hair to charity. My body hair and meat cap on top of my head were surgically removed and sold to an oil sheikh and the money was donated to Dexter’s vintage synth museum.
Do you regret any of the tracks that you have put out?
Yes, I am not so proud about co/producing the album Aquarium, that contains a famous hit record about a plastic doll.
What did you ever do with the Oscar that you stole from 2006?
Sold it to buy a Simmons Claptrap that was used on 99% of my productions.
Do you ever talk to one of your synths or have a feeling it has a personality?
I stopped talking to synths after your MemoryMoog tried to molest me when we were filming the episode of Ghost adventures where we found out that your studio was built on an Indian burial ground…
Do you have a nickname for your bike?
Rusty piece of shit (but I really love her).
Did you find your train ticket? So we can finish the bangers we started with?
Found it this morning while I was vacuuming after Dave’s winter bath with Moisturizing dog shampoo for a shiny and smooth coat, ideal for sensitive skin, light anti-bacterial effect.
How long ago did you decide that Marguerita Recordings is by far the best label ever in existence?
It was a few weeks ago after a wild motor scooter ride in Utrecht under the influence of designer drugs and alcohol.
If making music was no option, what would you have done instead?
Probably showing people the path that leads to enlightenment.
Do you have a special trick preventing your glasses from fogging during the fall?
What happened to the Simmons Claptrap you used to own?
I sampled it completely dry cause it was the digital Claptrap, and created a Ableton instrument from it that sounds completely the same. Sold it for 5 times more than I paid for it to buy an analog Claptrap, cause I have a Parliament/P funk George Clinton obsession and even I can’t find proof via the interweb – I’m still convinced they used a Music Aid/Simmons Claptrap. But after buying it the guy sold it to someone else.. I used that money partly to buy a EMU SP12.
If some young person would decide to become a producer/artist what would you warn them about?
Get the new EP HERE.