‘Contrast, Emotion, Novelty’ | Interview with Precursor

Photo by Jimi de Groot

Deep electronic sound filled with ethereal vocals, filtered warm synth sounds and a soft sweet breakbeat. Precursor teams up with Bad Spirit for Biomarker, a great track to evaluate your Hi-Fi gear. Read our discussion with the artist below!

Describe your sound in three words

Contrast, Emotion, Novelty

What comes first in your music? Tell us a few things about your creative process and the main idea behind ‘Biomarker’.

For my upcoming album “GLIA” I have changed the way I approach music completely. Rather than working on a song I’ve started working on concepts. I use inspiration I get from my work in neuroscience to fuel my creativity in music. Two summers ago I worked on biomarker research for epilepsy and I felt like I needed to explore this musically. I asked UK singer Bad Spirit (Toby Harris) to help me develop the initial idea with a touch of his vocals. He sang these really eerie vocals, but after putting together the idea it felt too dark and too simple. We extended it later with
the emotional phrases at the end and the concept seemed to get to life too. Life is full of ups and downs and that’s what we wanted to convey with this track. At first all seems well, but then disease pesters our lives, we go through a dark phase, but we come out on top and overcome the hardships of life. These sections can be clearly found inside the track.

You have some very exciting remixes coming out soon. Tell us a few things about them

Part of the idea behind Arvet Records is the musical community it has risen from. Therefore it seemed logical to do a track together with one of the album artists “Bad Spirit”. Besides that I really loved his work and voice so it really was a no-brainer for me. Then we also wanted a remix from the label, we chose to work with Outis as a remixer, a duo with a sound similar to Jon Hopkins that I adore. However we also wanted the whole release to be modern and club-friendly and boost it with some bigger artists. I asked my friend VNTM to make a club ready techno remix and Alexander (Sailor & I) asked the same from Hunter/Game. Both of these artists are known from the popular Afterlife Records, but their remixes are completely different styles which we were really happy about!

Adding to our previous question, what if you collaborate with a producer to remix your work but you think that the end result does not respect your original idea? How would you deal with such a situation?

Ideally you are in contact with the person remixing and you get to hear some versions and give feedback before it’s finished. In some way this was the case now and it does help the communication and expectations a lot. But to be honest, a remix is maybe more the work of the remixer than the original and there needs to be a certain respect for the remixer’s work. I think it’s best to avoid complete collisions in ideas by being clear up front, but in the end the remixer gets to make what he/she wants. However, a label may still reject it if it’s not up to par quality wise or even style wise, so I guess it’s best to agree on some terms before starting.

‘Expect the unexpected’. Does electronica nowadays feel a bit stagnant?

I think this phrase is particularly aimed at our track “Biomarker”, but in general, yes I believe that music could – maybe should – have the ability to surprise. Electronica as a genre is extremely difficult to define and therefore it hasn’t really gotten a lot of attention. People listen to electronica artists a lot however: for instance Jon Hopkins, Max Cooper, Floating Points, Rival Consoles, Moderat, etc.. All inspirations for me as well.
But ask anyone to name some of their favorite electronica artists and they most likely don’t have an answer. And what’s most surprising to me is that this “extreme niche” with so few leading figures gets incredible amount of plays online. You’d think there would be a whole scala of artists hiding under the surface but perhaps the whole genre ís stagnant. Not many ‘newcomers’ make it to the surface. Hopefully some of the Arvet artists will be recognized, because there really is a lot of beautiful electronica music waiting to be heard by new sets of ears.

Who do you personally think is the most overrated DJ?

Well that’s a very tricky question.. I don’t want to step on any toes so let’s address this as a group. I’m not really a big fan of the so-called “business techno” culture. I think it’s taking away from the underground vibe that I associate with techno music. It doesn’t inspire me, it’s often very simple and it doesn’t capture the feeling of liberty, of culture.. It’s just an empty shell hiding behind big festivals and lots of money.

Favorite album of the past decade?

You do realise past decade means all the way back to 2011 right?! That’s a lot of albums, even in electronica! I suppose The North Borders by Bonobo with “Moderat – II” coming in a really close second. Or maybe it’s a tie.

Do you remember which specific track introduced you to the work of electronica?

Absolutely! I remember in 2003 we used to play this video game “SSX3” and it had the song “Flutter” by Bonobo. From there I discovered a lot. Maybe “Flutter” is nowadays called Downtempo so I guess the next really big thing for me was “Take Me Into Your Skin” by Trentemoller. I must have listened it a thousand times!

What is the story behind your name?

I get asked this a lot haha. Before this I was producing Drum & Bass under the alias Nucleoid (a concept from Biology). However after 5 years I got really tired of the structure of Drum & Bass music. Like a format that was not open for discussion. 48/64 bar intro, 32 bar drop, 64 bar break etc.
From a DJ perspective it makes sense, you can double drop all the tracks, but from a musician’s perspective it’s boring. I wanted to do something new. Something that wasn’t genre-bound and had no rules. So I started Precursor (literally meaning predecessor – of my own genre and style). Precursor also has meaning in Biology, Pharmacology and Chemistry, all disciplines that have come up in my studies and work. So for me this name really ties all my inspirations together.

Thank you!

Follow Our Spotify Playlist “Waves Eclectic” feat. Precursor

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