The Netherlands always stays true to the underground scene in my opinion. The cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam always churning out fresh music year after year. Whenever I visit the country you can feel liberation in the air which allows creativity to grow. That’s what allows great artists like Shapes to come out of the woodwork. I came across the DJ duo, Yannick & Erik both hailing from Utrecht about 6 months ago and they were kind enough to contribute to the Zone Focus series. I would say that Kumo was one of the driving catalysts for ZF to change its branding and mantra on music content. Kumo is a club-ready house track with deep and eerie vibes throughout, a perfect track to warm any dancefloor.
ZF: You say in your bio when you first met, It was at your local rave scene.
Where was this and what kind of music was being played?
Shapes: I think the scene is a pretty big word but back in the day, there were a lot of illegal techno parties all across the outskirts of Utrecht. Locations were pretty good most of the times. Tunnels under highways, meadows, forests, on top of desolate buildings almost every place where the police won’t find you easily. Musically it was almost always a big disappointment, Utrecht was really focused on minimal those days, but as a 17-year old there wasn’t that much choice. But eventually, the local police started to understand how Facebook worked so raves got shut down more and more. Often changing from a location about two times. Even one time the police went as far as bringing in the mounted police for crowd control. That and a lot of local media attention kinda brought an end to it all.
ZF: You mention that you are both into 80s pop and 90s rave music
Can you name me a few of your favourite tracks?
Shapes: Of course, we love everything George Michael related, campy stuff like INXS, Grace Jones, Yazoo and Boy George. But we play out a lot of Kraftwerk, Larry Levan, and New Order and a lot of remixes we can find. Erik just got the extended mix of the Miami Vice theme which I haven’t heard before. Since we’re also roommates we occasionally hear what one of us is playing in his room.Soon as those snares hit I thought he was checking out an old episode or something. But the intro was taking too long so for me it was reason enough to kick in Erik’s door to check it out. As for 90s rave, we absolutely adore the early R&S releases. We keep finding amazing stuff from that era.
ZF: In terms of Djing, which do you prefer; playing B2B or playing separately. Which do you find more effective?
Shapes: We always play B2B, it’s just more fun to fill each other’s creative vision. And if you have kind of an off-day there’s always someone to rely on. Though we mostly play 3 records each. It gives a bit more time to neutralise, build and finish up a certain vibe.
ZF: You have quite a range of different music on your SoundCloud
What drives your musical interest and creative process?
Shapes: Well, we tend to renew our sound as much as possible, as we think there is nothing more tiring than making the same type of track over and over again. We tend to get bored pretty quick. We listen to a vast range of music, from 70’s boogie to 80’s house till the newest techno releases, so its way more fun to let ourselves be inspired by anything: even film or anime can really inspire us with certain samples. We just let it happen and let the music take us wherever it wants to go.
ZF: What would you say is the most important element when producing music?
Shapes: Finding the right plugins, deciding which drum computer to use and knowing when to really finish up the track. Which is one of the most difficult parts. Sometimes we’ve added so many layers that we think: ’Okay, maybe need to strip this thing back from 10 synth layers to 1.’ Other times you’re just losing focus: after +5 hours it can be quite difficult to hear if that one high passed clap even makes the slightest difference.
ZF: In 2017, Do you have anything you want to achieve specifically this year?
Shapes:We would love to release our own music and get more people to listen to our show, on Utrecht’s finest radio station Stranded.FM, called White Horse Radio.
ZF: When you were growing up what did you want to be?
Yannick:Archeologist and journalist.
ZF: Which TV series would say your absolutely addicted to?
Erik: Twin Peaks. Always.
Yannick:I’m really into food shows past few years and the anime Shokugeki no Soma combines high paced action with a gastronomic competition into an anime format. It’s over the top and ridiculous at most times but that’s what makes it genius.
Thanks to Shapes for their words and music, best of luck to the lads in the future.