We’re closing the year with an ode to pumping basement vibes by two absolute troopers from the Dutch clubbing circuit; Spekki Webu & JEANS!
It’s a beautiful thing when two people cruise the same cosmic wavelength and share common interests. For everyone that’s been paying attention to the happenings in and around the The Hague region, Chris (aka Spekki Webu) and Gino (otherwise known as JEANS) should definitely ring a bell. With style, power and an everything-goes approach, the two have been wreaking havoc on dance-floors around Europe and beyond. Laying down mind-altering blends and supplying contemplative trips on the regular. Aside from their lethal combination as DJs, Spekki Webu is the mind behind Mirror Zone. A record label that’s been pushing forward-thinking sounds since its inauguration two years ago. Meanwhile, JEANS recently launched his Oracle Bones label and is the head of programming at PIP Den Haag.
Although not many things are certain in this life of ours (2020 being a good reminder of that to all of us), you can be pretty sure that shit goes down when these guys get behind the decks together. Their contribution to the mix series supports that statement.. Recorded early this year, during the after-hours of D. Tiffany’s Planet Euphorique label showcase at Het Magazijn, Gino and Chris seamlessly shift through high-octane techno transmissions and mind-warping Goa leanings.
We caught up for the occasion and picked their brain on experiencing these last couple of months, what’s been keeping them busy, and things to come, including their upcoming field recordings project. Take a deep dive below!
Hey guys, what’s been happening? How’s life in The Hague / Delft and how have you been holding up these last few months?
Spekki: Hello hello! I’m currently all at ease in Delft. I think I don’t have to explain what kind of weird, turbulent and also interesting year this has been for all of us. That said, for me it’s been a year where my focus shifted on different things. Being more at home and taking a break from the hectic year we previously experienced. I’m also spending more time in the studio. I started working on numerous projects, both alone and together with my buddy Gino. The most important thing is to stay positive and put your energy and focus on different things, and to keep moving.
Jeans: Hey Hey! All good here in The Hague. These are crazy dynamic times, of course. What was normal yesterday is the complete opposite tomorrow. Although that’s always been the case, I feel it usually happened over a longer period of time and now we’re really on the fast train. That said, I like to see things positively and in this situation, apart from the less pleasant twists and turns, there have also been positive changes. Finding more peace, being home more often with my girlfriend and our 3 cats, and spending a lot of time in the studio, solo and also regularly with my buddy Spekki, being a couple of them.
Although this year threw us a bit of a curveball, Chris, you recently did a show at Amsterdam’s new digital arts museum (NXT) with a sick visual set up.. how was that? Playing together with Woody, I’m curious to hear how you stepped into that one and how you went about selecting the music for the performance?
S: That was a very interesting and unique experience for the both of us. Minimal Sounds contacted us for this project and without hesitation we said yes. This was the first time that we closely worked with a visual artist group. And we’re immediately excited to work with Desilence, as we already were familiar with their works. Considering their output and the location itself, we immediately had a concept in mind that would fit the project. We wanted to take it a more experimental and slightly chaotic approach musical-wise. From there Woody and I started selecting the music.
Since Woody and I almost are one brain when we play together, we sculpted the mix very quickly. Before the actual shooting, we’re in touch with Desilence to share some of the sounds that we wanted to use. That way they had some idea of the direction that we wanted to explore. We started with a big playlist and sculpted it down to a short story.
I know you’ve been keeping busy together in the studio with a special field recording project for Dance Floor Therapy’s tape series. Initially starting as a mixtape for the Bristol-based platform, how did that idea develop into a long player? And can you tell us about the recordings themselves, and what we can expect from the project?
S: About two years ago I was approached by them to do a mixtape for their label. I was very interested in doing this, but we just moved into our new studio around the same period. At the time, I was already messing around with field recordings and it seemed like a nice idea to make this a special project together with Gino. Instead of doing a mixtape, I proposed the idea of starting a new ambient project to Gino, and to use that for the tape with field recordings as the base. We started recording in different places in and around our hometown. From there we started jamming music on top of the recordings and built it up to give you a trip into our world.
J: We already did regular b2b gigs in clubs. Due to our close friendship and regular get-togethers in the studio, we have a solid foundation. This helped with getting the initial ideas flowing for the tape. For starters, we wanted to make field recordings in places that are close to our hearts and incorporate does into the project. At Spek’s home, and in the woods behind his house, The Hague Central station, Scheveningen and at my workplace – PIP The Hague. All very recognizable sounds for the both of us. For us, the sound of a tram cruising through The Hague, or Spek’s birds feel like coming home. Gradually we decided to make 1 long track that is divided into different phases. Not something you want to listen to in the club, but really an 80 minute trip. The best way to experience it is to just lie down with your eyes closed and listen to it through a good pair of headphones.
Talking about studio work, Gino.. you launched Oracle Bones with your 6-track EP, titled ‘Talking To The Entities’. Recently adding another heater to the discography by Rigson, what can you tell us about your account opener and the direction that you’re taking with the label? And what else do you have planned for the coming months?
J: I’ve been working in the studio for a longer period of time on a lot of different tracks. I noticed that I find the process of making music fantastic, but sending it to labels is much less fun. Especially because a label often looks at your music differently than you do. Of course I’ve had some really cool releases on Who’s Susan, BAR Records and Worst Records. All those labels gave me a lot of freedom in both creating and selecting the music. But when I look beyond that, the thing remains that I’m actually the only one who can determine how I would select my tracks for an album.
I’m not a fan of being tied to a particular label or having my ideas approved by someone else in the end, in general. I want to determine my own course. That gives me peace of mind and it doesn’t affect the way I make music. I really want to be completely free in that. For that reason, I decided to set up my own label Oracle Bones and therefore release music that I support 100% myself. It doesn’t have to fall within a certain genre. In that aspect it is also free and every release will be surprising because no one knows what to expect. I don’t even know myself (lol).
I can tell you that there are a few very cool releases to come. One release by a young Rotterdammer who has a very steady sound, perfect for the dance floor and there is also a very sick release coming from an old friend of mine. There is also a remix EP and a V.A. on the way and I’m currently hard at work on my second album. This time not a mini album but a full length album in which I enter all corners of my mind. I’m very excited about this one.
Chris, your Mirror Zone label has been sending quality mind workouts into the atmosphere for the better part of two years now. With the latest EP coming from Taxa, what do you have in store for the coming months?
S: I’m currently finishing the production of the first album that’s set to release on the label. We’re aiming to release the LP in the beginning of 2021. It’s been an interesting and intensive project that I’m super happy with. Vector Trancer will be releasing a new EP. He is also focussing on a new project under a different moniker that will get a place on the label. Furthermore, 2021 is already lined out with some releases from new artists and artists that released on the label before. We’re also working on a merch line that’s dropping around summer next year.
You also mentioned that you’ve had a couple other projects in the works. Anything you can share with us on that?
S: I’m setting up a new sub label that will launch next year as well. This project will focus on ambient, drone, idm and breakcore-esque music and will be released in different formats like cd’s and vinyl. The nice thing about this project is that I also will be working with a couple talented local artists and good friends of mine. I’ve been send a lot of interesting music that needs to see the light of day but doesn’t necessarily fit into Mirror Zone. Therefore I felt the need to conceive a different platform. It will be more experimental and focused on listen experiences. I also want to focus on listening projects implemented with visual artists.
Het Magazijn, the The Hague-based venue where you were both resident DJs, recently was forced to close its doors. Can you tell us a bit about what the venue personally meant to you, and what kind of impact it had on your development as an artist?
J: I’ve been very involved with the club from the beginning. When the club was still being built, I was invited by Joris & Arend to see what was going on. From that moment, I visited the club on a regular basis and played there often as well. It was home turf for me. In my opinion, Het Magazijn was super DJ friendly and the first club in The Hague that was completely built to carry electronic music in all forms. It was very noticeable that that was their number 1 priority: to make it as comfortable as possible for the artists. The artists would translate that to the audience in return. It was a great (small) place and I’m very sad that the it’s gone.
S: The best feeling about the venue was that it always felt like coming home. Feeling safe and the trust they gave me to be as free in what I would want to do. The team working in the club was a small one. It always felt like family when we’re together. I could really see the club rise and evolve to be a better place. That’s what makes it even more sad that they had to close their doors so early. They were just warming up and there were a lot of interesting nights to come in the future. The club itself had a very accessible approach that made it very nice for new people to come and experience all sorts of electronic music.
For our last mix offering of 2020 you guys shared something special with us – a club recording from a set you played together at Het Magazijn during the afterhours of D. Tiffany’s Planet Euphorique label showcase. It was also the weekend of Woody’s birthday party with John Talabot – a night that you curated and played at as well, Gino. Can you take us through that weekend and tell us a little more about the mix recording?
J: It was a very wild weekend. It started on Woody’s birthday and one of my resident nights where I invited some great friends of mine, John Talabot and Woody, to come and play. After that we had a post-session in my studio and eventually ended up at home of Joris Hoefnagel (programmer of The Crave festival). I decided to go home later that morning to get some rest but once I got home I was bursting with inspiration so I started recording a mix for UTE Records. They had asked me to record it the week before. Then I went to PIP for my own powerhouse event where Matrixxman, Cosmox, Ciel and CCL played among others. When that was over I moved back to Het Magazijn with Ciel, CCL and a lot of friends.
In the meantime Spekk was back on track and we’re both looking forward to our b2b set. The last 2 hours (8:00 to 10:00) were ours and despite the intense weekend we were bursting with energy. We hadn’t discussed anything beforehand either. The whole set is 100% flow. It came as it came with zero preparation and completely in the moment, not knowing that it would be our last set there. Very sad but at the same time very special.
Finally, what can we expect from you guys in 2021? And any last words of wisdom before we coast into the new year?
S: As mentioned earlier, a lot of new releases and side projects are to come. What will the club/festival scene look like next year? I truly do not know. Let’s hope for the best and hope we can all get back together on the dance floor and do what we love so much. In the meanwhile try to put your energy and focus on different things even if it’s not music. It always makes you evolve and learn new things. That’s really important. It’s a struggle but we’ll get back together. Patience is key. Also try to look around you. There are enough people struggling that can use some support. Stay focused and most important stay safe!
J: Of course the tape, the album, a release on BAR Records – where I share a 12 inch with Oceanic, and a cool merch collaboration with the clothing brand SPA. Next to that, I will be shooting crazy footage for PIP TV and hopefully return to the clubs. When we go back to the clubs, I want to play less gigs in order to spend more time in the studio. And I hope to do a lot of things that I never dared to dream of.
Dear people, it may all seem a bit depressing but always try to stay positive. Peaks and troughs have been around since the beginning of time. Keep your eyes on the horizon and move with the times. Do not try to manipulate the flow to much but inspire your environment with healing powers. Everyone has it in them.
Photo credit third image: Alex van Zwietering.