Dutch producer Jochem Paap, AKA Speedy J, has been in the game for 20-odd years. His latest release, Zeitgeber, came out of a fortuitous meeting with Luca Montarello (Lucy). Now, the Electric Deluxe head honcho is on his way to Australia for a club tour.
In German, ‘zeitgeber’ means ‘synchroniser’ – why did you choose that title for your collaborative release with Lucy?
Actually, the title is on Lucy’s account, I have nothing to do with it. Before we met in person, we knew of each other, obviously. With Electric Deluxe we run events around the world, but our residency club is in Amsterdam. So at some point, we asked Luca to play for us – and what I sometimes do, and also did in this case, was to ask some of the performers to stay for an extra day or two, or come a little bit early so we can hang out and maybe hit the studio. So that was what we did.
When you put two people in the studio who don’t really know each other that well, anything can happen. Anything from awkward silences and polite conversation to something that ends up being really productive. That’s exactly what happened with Luca – basically we shut the door in the studio and a couple of hours after that we had a couple of tracks. Everything went really fast. We didn’t talk that much – we just hit it off really well in the studio and we had a really fast workflow, so decided to not just stick with one idea but meet again afterwards … and actually do an album.
When you’re making tracks, do you let the gear guide you and give you inspiration? Could an unexpected synth sound lead to an all-new track?
It’s a process which is sometimes driven by an idea, and other times by exploring gear. The gear, though, doesn’t guide me – I would say it’s more a case of exploration. The gear is of no use at all if it’s not played or operated by a human. Yes, I sometimes use happy accidents, but most of the time it’s a process of sculpting. Sometimes I intentionally steer things in an unpredictable direction; other times I tune and sculpt things on a micro level with surgical precision.
I’ve heard you say that you always tour with your library of about 10,000 digital tracks, which is a lot of choice – how do you keep it from overwhelming you?
Most of them just sit there, and are legacy files which I have never bothered to delete. The stuff I play is mostly the stuff that I just got my hands on and want to try out. Every now and then, I use the collection as an archaeological site and delve up some tracks that I forgot about or never even considered playing before.
You’ve said that your sets simply consist of “banging techno played very loud” – I’m curious to ask, are there any particular tracks or artists you’re playing out at the moment?
No, I play whatever works for me. In my sets, it is not really about the tracks anyway – I select the material I play based on certain features that I can use. I don’t usually follow the arrangement of the track; sometimes I do, but mostly not. So I’m looking for useable stuff, not necessarily stuff that I would consider to listen to as it was intended. It’s raw material. On top of that, I’m useless in remembering names or labels. I have no idea about at least 50% of the music I play – what it is, who made it or how I got it.