Frits Wentink has emerged in the last few years as one of the most unique voices in the lo-fi house scene. While critics of purposefully underproduced house music see the style as monotonous, Frits’ playful approach to his production sets him apart. His lightheartedness also disguises a musicality to his productions, which takes as much inspiration from dusty hip-hop as four-by-four house music. We caught up with Wentink to discuss his excellent track titles, his love for the lo-fi approach and the story behind some recent releases and artwork. He’s also put together a 60 minute mix, journey through new and recognisable sounds, wrapped up in that Wentink sheen.
Catch Frits Wentink at Gottwood Festival (9th-12th June). Tracklist at the bottom.
Hi Frits, how is 2016 treating you so far?
Ah well, can’t complain hey. I still find myself in the privileged position that I can play so many nice places, work with artists that I look up to, and release records on my own labels. I’m really happy now.
Your track titles manage to be consistently hilarious while often fitting the mood of the song. What process makes you think of these names?
Suck them out of my thump as the Dutch say, haha. No, sorry can’t really think of an answer to match my titles here.
Will & ink is basically a label for the raw stuff, techno, but not the boring generic space techno that is flooding the market. Right now there are only two artists that i’m interested in working with. Malin (genie) and Yaleesa Hall, both Amsterdam based. They really get it, quality music with one foot in the techno tradition. Music with character, but without overthinking it. It doesn’t always have to be high brow you know.
Bobby Donny is house, but the broad range. You can also expect hip-hop releases. Besides it being a main outlet for my own productions, it’s to release artists that I find really interesting. Artist that have a saying or just make music that have a real character on its own, which I think is actually quite hard to find.
It’s funny. I get a lot of demos sent that I never listen to, but then I spend a lot of time on the worldwide web looking for the new stuff. For some reason most of the producers that I come across and find really interesting are a pain to work with. One even plainly stated, “doing music is evil, and I would rather have long walks in the woods instead of producing an EP” (while being an absolute genius in my eyes, and for the world, yet undiscovered). Although it can’t be a coincidence that I gather people like this around me, since I normally fail to take things lightly myself.
You also have a prolific relationship with WOLF Music. How did that come about, and what makes you keep revisiting it as an outlet for your music?
WOLF has always been really good to me and treated me with respect. Something I did not really experience with the labels I worked with before. Its owners are Matt & Stu, both wonderful guys and real music enthusiasts. Through my output on their label, they really helped me build up to where I am now.
Early 2012 I did a few releases as Felix Lenferink, and I think Medlar played those to Matt & Stu. Some time later I sent them an unfinished version of the track ‘Mouse’. My side of the story is that they weren’t sure about it, Matt’s side of the story is that he was in a hotel room when he listened to it the first time, he couldn’t stop dancing and called Stu straight away haha. It just worked really well between us I guess. They gave me a lot of freedom to produce what I liked, and that’s really what I needed at that point.
You host a regular radio show on Redlight – Bobby Donny Radio. How does your process between selecting records for a radio show, an online mix, and a club differ.
Club sets are club sets. I want people to dance and have a good time. All in good taste tho ;-).
Bobby Donny radio is a completely different thing, it’s basically what I feel like doing that day. Radio shows have the benefit of presenting something to an audience that you can’t read. Its a much more intimate feeling. Knowing that someone will listen to it on the train from work to home, or doing the dishes. I remember when I talked to Hugo from Red Light Radio about doing a show, I pitched it as: “I come across so much good music that I just can’t play out in clubs”. The radio shows are a perfect format to show how passionate I am about lo-fi hip-hop or 50’s avant garde.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve recorded for us?
I tried to keep it smooth for this one. That’s all.
A lot of your music has a lo-fi aesthetic; Resident advisor described your sound as ‘deliberately wrong house’. What appeals to you about this style?
I’m not sure what it means really, “wrong house”. I enjoy things that are a bit off, and I feel that I’m definitely not the only one. I’m way passed the faze now where one feels the need to make things ‘wrong’ in order to oppose to the boring generic ‘right’. I consider what I’m doing now just a real personal twist on music that happens to be a bit off because that is the way I can tell my story more easily.
What fascinates me about the lo-fi sound is the warmth and unpredictability of details like hiss, tape saturation and wobbly pitch, and that gentle fight between the low and high frequencies. You hear the tape hiss raffle when a sub bass note gets triggered. For me, the wonders of a lo-fi sound are to be found in the subtle range, not the complete destruction. That is just not my kind of lo-fi.
Speaking of the lo-fi aesthetics, I love the cover for the Horses in Cornfield EP – in a way it’s a very artistically bad photo. What is the story behind that picture?
The person in the picture is my Dutch agent, and one of my best friends. I explained my Bobby Donny plans to him before I started the label. It’s fair to say he wasn’t feeling it 100% at that time, so I thought the best way to convince him is to give him the lead roll. Without him knowing, I put his face on the cover and, as a tribute, his name was etched in the runout of every record pressed. He found out about this just a few days before the release date.
Finally, have you got any plans for the future that you can tell us about?
I did a remix recently for the Black Booby label. And WOLF celebrates their seventh birthday this year, so I’m part of a 7 inch celebration EP with Medlar. I’m currently working on a new Bobby Donny EP at the moment. I always think that my latest work is the best, but for this one I’m confident about this one.
Quadron – Average Fruit (10.4 Rog Gradeschool Crush Remix)
Harvey Sutherland – That’s the Fact, Jack
Les Sins – Grind
Dam Funk – Forever
Marcellus Pittman – 1044 Coplin (Give You Whatcha Lookin 4)
Moon B – Those Moments
Marcellus Pittman / Theo Parrish – Selectors theme
Local Artist – Feelings
Werkha – Sidestepping Ft Bryony Jarman Pinto (Henry Wu Remix)
Harvey Sutherland – Nexus
Nebraska – Stand Your Ground
Anonym – Love You Like I Can
New Musik – Warp (IIO Edit)