Dutch duo Formel on discovering electronic music in Leiden

With their ‘Pocosol’ EP out this week We catch up with Dutch duo Formel

1. Hey Guys, thanks for joining us today, tell us a bit about yourself, how old are you, where are you living and how long have you been producing music and DJing?

Hi! We’re Bas and Tom. Bas is already 34 years old and Tom is 31 at the moment. We’re both living in Leiden. Together we have been making music for 7 years as Formel.

2. How did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a DJ and producer? Which DJs, producers or clubs first inspired you?

Bas: I started playing around with music software when I was about 12 years old. Together with a friend from school, I made weird electronic music ranging from 160BPM Hardcore to 90BPM ambient tracks. From that time onwards, I kept making music and with various people. It was only until I was in my twenties until I went to house parties, starting to experience what was already out there. Lately I’ve been inspired by the stuff of Nicolas Jaar & the 16 Bit Lolitas.

Tom: I discovered electronic music when I was 15 years old. The brother of my girlfriend was playing at some clubs at that time. One day he explained everything about DJing. I bought some turntables and started spinning tracks. From that day on you could find me in the record store every day. I started to go out when I was 16 and regularly visited a venue in my hometown Leiden called the LVC. That was a really dark underground space where they had some really huge names like Deetron, Jeff Mills, Michel de Hey and many other great DJ’s who inspired me a lot.

Besides visiting the club in my hometown, I went too in- and outdoor festivals like Shockers and Awakenings to see artists like Marco Carola, Ritchie Hawtin, Steve Rachmad and many others play. Producers who inspire me at the moment are Patrice Baumel, Khen and Satori.

3. The opening line of your bio is great, tell us about that moment, what gig was it and were you both playing solo there?

To be honest, that wasn’t just a single night. About 8 years ago there was quite a thriving techno scene in Leiden. With great techno & house parties several times a month. It was in a club called LVC, famous for its under-the-stage-always-crowded-and-filled-with-smoke-backstage area. It was there we became friends and had more than one argument about where that last bottle of vodka went.

4. How does the music you made while producing solo differ to what you’re doing together as Formel?  And do you have different roles in terms of who does what production wise?

I, Bas, started my producing music in the heavily trance influenced prog music of over a decade ago. Tom has its origins in the techno-minimal kind of music that was fashionable at the same time. This combination of styles boils down to how we work together. I try to push more melody, Tom pushes more drive & drums. It is this process that we use on all our tracks: a back and forth of moving a track between styles by changing elements of it. Eventually hoping to get that melody, drive, drum & flow just right. Or it is a miss. Which happens a lot.

5. You’ve got a new EP out now on Paul Hazendonk’s Manual Music this week. Tell us about the inspiration behind the collection.

We listen to a lot of melodious artists such as Einmusik, Khen and Henry Saiz. Our inspiration for the tracks comes from listening to other tracks made by other musicians. And maybe the few beers helped too 🙂

6. Let’s focus on the track we premieredBouyon’ for a moment, walk us through the production process on that one.

As usual we started building the groove from the beats, looping over the same parts. On this one, the big bass-electro sounds that rips after the break, came pretty early. Trick is to keep that in the track while building your first loops and ideas. This way you can always make sure that whatever you add stays in key. When the additional little synth sounds and vocal stabs were ready we played around a bit, opening up filters and driving some sounds with a little controller. That way figuring out what fits best with what and where you can get the most energy from when you actually start building the track. In that process, the track comes together and we start placing our ambients. For the break, we needed a cool ripper that makes your head spin. The crystallized synth did just that. After that there was a lot of tedious finetuning. For this particular, we didn’t start with any concept in mind. It was just the beats and the electro sound that paved the way.

7. This is your third appearance on Manual Music, what is it that’s so great about working with them?

Manual Music is a really cool label and is really selective in putting out the right music by talents from all over the world. It is really nice to see that the label is growing and getting bigger every day. Also, label owner Paul is a really great guy to work with. He is really professional and because he has been in the scene for quite some time now, he knows how to distribute the music and work with artists.

8. You’ve recently collaborated with the always excellent Budakid for a release on Sasha’s Last Night on Earth. Tell us a bit about that joint venture and how it ended up on LNOE?

We regularly share our music with Budakid and vice versa to see what the other thinks of it. One day he sent us the Beautiful Creatures vocal that he recorded in his studio, but did not know yet what to do with it. We built a track around it and after sending the track back and forth, we got in the studio together to fine-tune the track to where it is now. LNOE asked Budakid if he had some tracks for the label and then the track got signed on the label. Pretty cool as Sasha is a big inspiration for us.

9. The Dutch scene is really thriving right now, I’ve been loving Olaf Stuut’s productions of late, who else should we keep a look out for?

Patrice Baumel, Satori, Reinier Zonnveld, Budakid, Marc Holstege and Bas Dobbelaer.

10. What’s been your biggest achievement to date and what are your goals for the future?

Bringing our tracks on Last Night on Earth, Einmusika & Traum and playing on festivals like Amsterdam Open Air & Pleinvrees Festival and playing in Paradiso, Amsterdam.

Goals for the future are bringing out a second album, make some new tracks for some really cool labels and play on more cool festivals and clubs 🙂

11. How difficult was learning to produce for you in the beginning? Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give new producers just starting out?

I started making music over 20 years ago. At that time, the whole concept of the home-studio-producer didn’t really exist. There was some free software out there to make music, but if you really wanted to make something you needed a quite expensive setup. This is all different nowadays, where there are plenty of cool free, or cheap, tools out there. The options are nearly endless, even with limited funds. However, all cool gear aside, the best investment you can do in improving your productions is spending time on them. And a lot of it. So, to give some advice: make music whenever you can. Even at the weirdest moments of the day. I should say, especially at the weirdest moments of the day. Late night or early morning sessions tend to give that extra special kind of inspiration that might turn a track from ‘mwoah’ to ‘ooh hell yeah’.

12.  What five tracks are you currently loving the most at the moment?

&ME – Avalon
Khen – Never Lose Your Innocence
Solomun – Age of Love
Budakid & Formel – Creatures (Olaf Stuut Remix)
Hubert Kirchner – Era

‘Pocosol’ is out now on Manual Music, you can purchase the release: here


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