Tom Trago interviews Beesmunt Soundsystem

Tom Trago interviews Beesmunt Soundsystem

24-03-2014 | 16.06

Tom Trago was there when it all began for Beesmunt Soundsystem. Seven years later, Tom and Beesmunt’s paths still cross each other’s on a daily basis. Tom, who is a friend, colleague, neighbour as well as role model, asked the boys from Beesmunt several questions to see where they are at present day.
T: For as far as I know, you two know each other from the age of 15 as young kids in a basement with turntables and musical aspirations.
D: Officially, we have known each other since we were four in primary school. Back then we weren’t really friends, but that’s where it all started. We actually had a couple of run-ins back in the old neighbourhood around that time.
T: So the two of you go way back. I think I saw you guys for the first time when you were about 16 or 17, was that around the time you started sharing the whole music thing?
D: We met you for the first time in the Jimmy Woo, I think we started DJ’ing a year before that.
L: Yeah, you were behind the decks and said: ‘Well, if you want to warm up for me, let me know?’. That startled the shit out of me, I was thinking ‘what the hell?’.
T: Was that your first official gig?
L: We were doing a lot of schoolparties. That was pretty cool, we would just go there and play old shit, but WooHaa was the first time we had an official booking. We were there, our name on the flyer, all of the people around you and stuff, that was pretty exciting.
D: I think we met you again at Paradisoul. First time we met was at WooHaa in the Jimmy Woo where we talked for the first time. Then in the Paradiso we met again. Yeah, I even remember where exactly, because you were heading up the stairs to the second floor and we just came in and you said: ‘Hey, it’s those boys! Come do a warm up for me sometime!’. I remember that Mo, who was still MC’ing at the time, was very sceptic about us back then. Six months later he started his own booking agency and we became his first artist. I guess, in retrospect, that was our real beginning.
T: After that things have been moving extremely fast for you guys, haven’t it? You were DJ’ing so much, in two years you were almost everywhere?
L: Yeah, at that time things were moving so fast, we were doing parties left and right. But that was the thing, you could actually put us everywhere, because we would really study the crowds. We were primarily DJ’ing to build the party.
T: But it was really the moment for that too though, right?
D: Yeah, the eclectic thing.
L: Right, you would adapt a lot quicker back then. You weren’t really trying to do your own thing, you would just see what the people liked and just break it down.
T: But that kind of thing changes the longer you are immersed in that club life. The more you start looking at yourself. Where you try to find that specific sound that is really you and that you can retain for centuries if need be. And I believe that you guys reached that second phase in your careers about three or four years ago, am I right?
L: Correct, we have noticed that a lot as well. Before, we would be sitting in the studio, hanging out with friends and just have a good time. Meanwhile, you were next door in the studio actually making music while hanging out with friends and having a good time. But having you around helped us make that next step and thinking about being able to play whatever we wanted to play. 
So we knew if we wanted to achieve that we'd have to step our game up.
D: At the time, we were doing our own night at the Club Up where we started playing House music, it wasn’t really the best type of House music, but there was stuff we played back then that we still do up to this day. Sometimes I find records from those days and I think to myself: ‘Wow, we were already playing this back then?’ and after a while we realised that those nights were some of the best nights we did at the time.
L: We then reached that point where we said: ‘At this gig we are just going to play whatever we like. Even if people expected to party hard, we were just going to do whatever we wanted. That’s the moment we stopped doing what we used to, at first we were scared of dropping in a hole or something, but after our first release, everything started moving so fast. People knew what we were doing because of the music.

T: Right, you really made a step backwards to jump two steps ahead. I really noticed this with you guys. You two work hard and spent a lot of time in the studio, you started doing so much more than before, which is really important.
D: I know, that started happening after that. We unplugged the Playstation so the studio really became a place to focus on working rather than playing. The studio hasn’t been a hangout spot for over two years.
T: Just recently you experienced the second edition of Soundmachine, the event you two throw at Trouw. Isn’t that a little bit like a dream come true?
L: Yeah, we're extremely happy we got this night at Trouw, I can’t even explain. The last edition was incredible. We booked Italojohnson and they did exactly what we had planned for that evening. In our mind the Verdieping would have a sexy House sound instead of becoming a dark Techno basement and that worked perfectly.
T: Is that how you would describe the sound a bit? A kind of warm and sexy house type of sound?
D: I would say so, but we're always looking for that balance between hot and cold that is inherent to House and Techno, we would like to see a beautiful mix of both elements. 
T: Are you guys planning the third edition yet?
D: We haven’t gotten a fixed date yet, but this year there’s at least two more coming.
L: We just handed in a list of all of the artists that we want to book, but we cannot go into that just yet.
D: For the next edition we would like to get another live act. For the first edition we had Wbeeza, which was crazy. He really emanated the right kind of energy. For the next edition we have been looking for artists already. Our initial plan for Soundmachine was that we would try to introduce new guys or book old 'forgotten' heroes. Last two editions hosted Wbeeza and Italojohnson, who are a bit below the radar, which wouldn't draw in full crowd at the Trouw. So for the next edition we would really like to book an old legend and we have already set our sights on somebody, but that has to remain a secret for the moment.

T: About the first record that you guys released, that was at Soweso. Which I think is kind of cool, because you chose a local label. How do you guys see this?
D: Yeah, both our first and our Second EP were released by Soweso.
L: For us, that was the perfect opportunity to show everybody what we were doing at the time. Both EP’s were received well, so that was very nice for us. 
T: Now the third EP…
L: Right, The Baby Maker EP, at Just Jack.
T: Just Jack, Just Jack… I know that name, don’t I…?
D&L: Bristol!
T: Aha! Right, how did you guys get in contact with them?
L: They really liked our second EP ‘All Day’, which led us to receiving a Facebook message from them, asking whether we had some tracks laying around, because they were going to start a label. Coincidentally, we had two more UK oriented tracks ready. 
D: This was also around the time we decided to go back to the 'Beesmunt' House. Of course we are behind our first two EP’s 100%, but we were sitting in the studio wanting that old feeling back, mixed with the new. A little more analog, more house house stuff instead of the craziness. However, there's a lot of craziness coming by the way, but that was perfectly timed if you ask me. These were two songs that we would also play in clubs. The first two EP’s weren’t really like that. The new EP really fits the style of DJ’ing we have right now and we'll probably have for years to come. We found our own thing, yeah! And my personal hero Amir Alexander remixed one of our tracks, and it is really sick aswell.
T: So for now it’s back full grind in the studio?
L: Lots and lots of studio hours, exactly!
T: You also switched agency am I right?
L: Correct, we are currently represented by Meanwhile. Mo Manager does our management and Meanwhile does our bookings. Everything is done in consultation and it is working perfectly at the moment. 
D: Things are looking really good for the coming months.
L: Back to doing 12 bookings per month, haha! Nothing wrong with that though, the third EP will be an important aspect of this and Just Jack is working really hard on it too. The feedback we've been getting is really amazing, with all of the right people picking it up and playing it, that’s so cool to see. Another step forward.
T: It's crazy how everything has happened really, because I have known you guys for about seven years, two beefheads who stood out because of their own unique style, and now we are here… Going back to Paradisoul, you weren’t there to DJ, but you did take over the clubnight over time. How did that go?
L: That’s right, it became our bi-monthly event at the Paradiso, called Genesis. 
T: At the time of Genesis, were you guys already in the studio here at the Volkskrant building?
D: No, that was a bit later, but after we took over the studio, we hadn’t really made anything yet. It was primarily for DJ’ing because we were strictly DJ’s at the time. We didn’t have anything yet, just Fruityloops. I remember when you came by every once in a while and that we just changed something or we just bought a micro Korg and you would say: ‘Oh that’s nice, it’s starting to look a bit more like a studio now.’ and I would think: ‘What is he talking about? It already is, it’s so sick here!’
L: Yeah, I didn’t really know what was happening, I thought it was all good, we were just chilling.
D: Yeah, playing Call of Duty and stuff! 
T: But there already was a Beesmunt track from that studio period wasn’t there?
D: Haha, yeah that’s true. I made one track/edit that you guys used to play a lot with the Parra Soundsystem. We actually made that one in the basement at Luigi’s parents’ house.
T: That’s where the name Beesmunt comes from right? The basement?
D: My dad kicked us out of my bedroom and Luigi lived across the street.
L: We used the play our music extremely loud. We would play loud HipHop music all day long and David’s dad used to yell: ‘It’s too loud!!!’ And of course, it was too loud, it was stupid how loud the music was. We were told to get our dj gear out of the bedroom immediately.
D: Yeah the whole ‘eviction’ thing was pretty heavy… And after that we got into about a hundred fights with Luigi’s parents when we moved our stuff to their basement.
L: Well, actually, it was primarily the neighbours, my parents thought it was fine.
T: So the name Beesmunt was born in the basement?
L: Well we had to DJ somewhere and David sent me a message on MSN: ‘We need a name!’ So I said ‘cool, let’s do basement, but in Dutch, B double E S M U N T.’
D: So then we had to stick with it, no way back now.
T: When did the moment come where you thought of the idea of making your own music? When did you decide to spend time on that?
D: It was because of you primarily Tom. We were right next door to you in the studio and you were spending all of your time in it, that’s how I kind of rolled into it.
L: I really felt it at the time we did a remix for Rimer London. We really made a party banger out of it and during one of our gigs we played that track and the whole club broke down. I started thinking about it like: ‘Wow, we need to do this more often!’. That’s when I started fucking around with making tracks. 
D: That’s what we try to do, get people to lose their minds on our own music.
L: At the time it was like: ‘Okay, so this is possible as well?’  Because of our productions people started taking us more seriously.
D: Mo (Manager) used say that stuff from the beginning, ‘if you really want to make the difference, if you want to be big, you have to make your own music.’ Wix used to tell us all the time: ‘make a different beat every day!’
D: Regarding the making of music, it’s nice to be a duo. Sometimes one of us isn’t really feeling it and then the other gets right into it. In the end it all comes back together and you always have a second opinion if you make something. It’s pretty special to see how everything goes between Luigi and me, we are really in sync when it comes to what we like. When we said we wanted to play House music it wasn’t one or the other, we both wanted it at the same time. At first it was Techno, since we came from that bashing background.
L: I tend to lean to that darker side, but I’m happy with what we come up with when we do things together.
D: Right, that’s how you get to a unique sound. I am not saying that it’s already there 100%, but we have made several things where both think that this really is getting somewhere.

translated by Danny Haryono