Locked Groove Talks


Since his initial releases on Hotflush, Belgium's Locked Groove, aka Tim Van de Meutter, has developed quite a following. His releases have been played by artists throughout the house/techno spectrum – a trend which is set to continue with his new EP on Permanent Vacation. Named after Thesseus, the Greek mythical hero, the two tracks, plus remix from Italian producer Clockwork, have a somewhat literary edge to their titles. I asked Tim whether the track titles were just random choices, or whether they had inspired the songs directly.

“I think it's a bit of both… I don't want to say that it was completely influenced by the literature, but it certainly had some influence on the track. I was reading that poem by Frank O'Hara a lot at the time [b-side “Meditations in an Emergency” is named after a poem by O'Hara] and Thesseus wasn't actually taken from the myth – I was reading another book at the time that also involved Thesseus, but in a different concept than the person that killed the Minotaur. It's definitely something that I like to do; to read books and try to get a certain vibe across, or an idea.”

A fair point, as Tim's social media presence suggests a fairly wide range of tastes, going from mentions of Bach to Source Direct Youtube clips. I asked about his preferences for home listening, separate from the music he plays in his sets. 

“This might seem odd to people who just go to a club just for a release from their jobs or whatever, but for me it's just a job – a job I love, but a job nonetheless. So coming home from a weekend of being in clubs, I don't necessarily have the need to listen to that. Obviously in the studio is a different thing – but just to listen to music, I rarely listen to club music. As for Source Direct, yeah I'm a big fan of Source Direct, just the way the production is so high, and it's even more amazing if you think about when they made it and the tools that were available at the time. If you try to recreate that on modern technology within a computer environment it's already a challenge, so yeah, I'm a big fan.” 

Another influence that popped up during talk of the EP was Mark Pritchard, although it's his rarely used Link pseudonym that Tim credits as the main influence this time.

“Link was one of the more early ones. I think he used that in '95 for a couple of records? It's really a precise thing to say, but it's the best way I could describe it. I was really inspired by one record that he made under this alias, and the synth work on Thesseus is completely inspired by that.”

Having spanned a fair range of the house and techno scenes over the last few years with his releases, Tim's DJ sets can be similarly varied, as his mixes for Inverted Audio and XLR8R showed – going from Nurse With Wound to Perc to Dusky and Azari & III via Four Tet and 2562. It hasn't always been quite this way.

“It's not an easy thing when you start out and people basically book you for a track you made, and it doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to play that kind of set. If you make different kinds of music and you don't just make harder techno or you don't just make deep house it's really hard to find that middle road. Some people want to hear you play a hard set, some people want you to play a moody, housier set, so it's really hard to please everyone, but I think I've found the middle road now.”

Tim had previously made music under different pseudonyms outside of the Locked Groove sphere. Do the varied sets suggest a desire to release more out-there material?

“I don't make music under different names any more, I just do Locked Groove now, but from time to time when I'm stuck on my other house and techno projects, sometimes I'll start something else and just finish it. It depends on what I'm feeling and what I'm going to make at that particular time, but I don't think I'll ever…well, never say never, but I don't see myself releasing that music for now. I do make ambient stuff sometimes and that'll always come in handy when I want to do an album or something”.

Ah yes, the inevitable forthcoming album. Will there be a few more EP releases before then?

“Well, first I have the Permanent Vacation EP, then I'm doing Life and Death in October, and then the Hotflush EP in November, and then after that I'm probably gonna do a couple of follow-up EPs, but eventually that's certainly a project I'd like to evolve to in the next year. Or at least start it, because I know it's gonna be a nightmare and it's going to take forever.”

I wondered whether his recent move to from Antwerp to Berlin had any effect on the tunes he was making, but met with a shrug.

“No, not really the music that I'm making, although it is easier to work together with people. Because the city is kind of based around music for a big part, it does have a certain kind of effect. I don't think I'd be making different music if I lived in Cairo, or whatever. It has its influences, but not as much as you'd think. It's more the music that I've listened to and all the other influence that I have, through art or the books I'm reading or whatever, much more than a certain city.”

A brief chat about his studio set up [in short, Ableton with an Analog 4, a 303, Maschine, some reverb and delay units and a lot of sampling from vinyl] leads to a recent tweet about remixing Detroit legend Suburban Knight. Unfortunately, this was not the right question to ask

“I was, but they couldn't find the parts any more. One of my friends, he used to produce with him, and engineered for all those guys, and that guy is bringing out a pack of all his past productions, and all the stuff he did with Suburban Knight and they were going to get me to do a remix, but they couldn't find the parts, so there was basically nothing to remix”

Finally, I asked about his sporadic releases on Locked Groove records. So far the label has two releases of Locked Groove material. Was this likely to expand to take on other artists?

“Eventually. The third one is coming out soon as well, that'll just be tracks from me, and on the next one I'll probably introduce someone new. I only want to do it when the time is right, and when I find the right person though”.

Whoever it is, they'll need to be good to meet the current standard.

Malcolm Chalmers