Hello friend Willem, It’s been many years since we met thanks to a vinyl you gave to the Gameboyz and it was released.
After some months of contact we started to get to know each other more personally and I discovered the huge contribution you make with your two labels; Fenixfire Records and Dark Distorted Signals.
Tell me Willem, how has been the evolution of DDS and FFR during all these years?
I started with FenixFire Records back in 2018. At that time, a lot of producers were making “New Beat” but there was no interest from the existing labels to publish them. For me it was an opportunity to start a label in a subgenre who has almost no boundaries whatsoever except the BPM which is about 120 or less. At the same time, club music was (and still is?) slowing down and we were getting closer to each other. Although FenixFire Records represents a wide variety of styles, it is rather difficult to make and maintain a certain standard. The input of tracks slows a bit down. I do think we are now more evolving towards dark disco and can be associated more with the pre-New Beat era. Meanwhile, some of my producers were also making other music, most of the time harder techno. And there are many techno labels on the market, but the dark EBM and Acid influenced stuff is also a niche where Dark Distorted Signals makes a difference. I do believe that we enlarge what is techno, pioneering the boundaries. My intention is not to reproduce the beatport top 10. On the other hand, tracks still need to get some traction. Dark Distorted Signals is still growing and some great names have already found their way to the label.
Has the evolution of the music industry during the last decade been good or bad for you?
I do think that if you are in the business for the big money, you better choose another investment traject. The 2 labels are considered ‘underground’, not because of the quality, but because of the sales. But even the major labels, especially outside of electronic dance, also have a hard time. The majority of people do not buy vinyl, do not buy CD’s, and do not buy downloads (like wav or mp3). They even do not hear complete songs anymore. Tiktok is now more influential than radioplay. Most clips are less than one minute of the same shitty music. (Is it about the music or the silly dance move?) So, for me it is having fun and still delivering high quality music.
We recently saw the changes that record deals are having, especially on a mainstream level, what do you think?
I do not care about the mainstream. For example, and I know that I can get a place in the beatport top 100 of any the genres. You have to buy about 20 downloads a week and you are in. Do that for a few weeks and some people think your track is really hot. But, let us look at the Beatport top 100 of Techno Peak Time. 95% of the tracks are not even proper Techno. Why would I want to be a part of this? Yes, it is a balans that needs to be made between getting in that 100 with a track that is good, without compromising the quality. But my main goal is maintaining that quality, not maintaining being in the top 100.
What qualities do you have to possess to release on your label FenixFire or Dark Distorted Signals?
FenixFire, your track needs to be slow, strong drum kick, some aggression is beneficial to the sound of the label, but darkness is also a good key. Combined even better. Although… Just listen to the last 20 releases and you find a great diversity of styles within the genre, within the label.
Dark Distorted Signals, a hard drum kick, a grungy rumble, an aggressive 303 or some sequence in EBM-style. Or a thema that makes you shiver. Just, try not to copy, be new and groundbreakingly brave.
We have recently heard a Depeche Mode cover, specifically the track Enjoy The Silence. Why this track and not another one?
For many, Depeche Mode had a great influence to see that electronic music can be ‘for the masses’, and still be ‘melodic, slightly dark, danceable’. Yes, Kraftwerk is also an electronic music pioneer, but DM just made it that little more popular. From the large catalog of DM choosing just one song, not an easy task. But I do believe, “Enjoy The Silence” has that double meaning to it. It was intended to be a slow, a love song. But when released for the first time, the studio made it into a dance track. That duality reflects. Is it about love, or is it about lying politicians? Is it about not finding the right words, or about that she simply can not shut up? Is it about being silenced? Are we being silenced by big tech, multinationals and corruption? It is not a rebel song, we do not do politics.
Come on Willem, give us some news in advance for this 2023.
Ooh, for FenixFire we have a very productive producer Cycloid Dyaxis who is continuing to deliver a huge amount of high quality tracks! Also, Nuit Decadente, some releases are in the pipeline and if everything goes as planned, even a live-band.
For Dark Distorted Signals, our producers are still delivering their gold. New names are added to our producers list, including young talent, but also some pioneers of the genre are now delivering tracks and remixes. So yes, DDS is growing and getting stronger every day.
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