Over the years we’ve watched Amsterdam’s scene grow from strength to strength. There is an open minded approach to collaboration and a commitment to champion local talent that surpasses most other cities. One of those who have firmly carved their name into Amsterdam’s nucleus is Interstellar Funk. He’s held a steadfast residency on Red Light Radio for several years now and forms part of the crew behind Rush Hour’s distribution arm.
Interstellar Funk’s sound amasses Detroit electro and techno influences and a rawness that is wielded through his taste for analogue hardware. With productions charted on Dutch mainstays Rush Hour, Dekmantel, and most recently Young Marco’s Safe Trip imprint alongside Jeroen, he expresses a strong loyalty to those who make up the thriving scene he is a part of. We go deep about his life as a record collector, accompanied by a 90 minute mix of ambient, electro and techno.
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
Although my parents did really love to play loud music at home on their big hifi soundsystem I don’t really have loads of memories or credible stories about obscure music during my childhood. My parents did listen to music a lot, at home or in the car during holiday, but I can’t really remember much more than Eric Clapton, the Beatles or Santan. Most of my musical education started when I was first going out to festivals and clubs. My brother organized parties in Club 11 (the club before Trouw) and I went there regularly from my 16th on. That’s where my interest in electronic music started, and when I started visiting Rush Hour and buying records.
People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?
It’s mainly the materialistic and the aesthetic part which make it interesting to collect. And when I first starting to get interested in records (and DJing) there were no CDJs yet.
I cant really love the files on my computer, but I certainly do love the records in my collection and going through them when I’m preparing a gig. I really enjoy visiting shops in foreign cities and going trough the records for hours and taking them home as souvenirs.
Where do you store your records and how do you file them?
I have all my records in my living room but I don’t have that many records. I really like to keep my collection clean, so if I don’t play a record anymore I sell it. They were all nice and sorted at some point (a long time ago) but at the moment I have more records then I can store, so that makes it a little difficult to keep them sorted.
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
As mentioned above I really like to visit shops when traveling. After going to the same cities more often I have my favorites spots in different countries now.
Besides that we are really lucky with the amount of good shops in Amsterdam. For all the new stuff I go to Rush Hour and for second hand music I mainly visit Red Light Records or Record Friend on occasion. Besides that I also buy a lot of records and Cd’s on Discogs.com and other online shops.
Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?
At Rush Hour and at the Red Light complex I’m surrounded by record geeks which makes it pretty hard to miss a record. When I am traveling I like to hook up with promoters or friends that take me out to visit local shops. For example I do love to buy Danish records in Copenhagen, or old Serbian electronics in Belgrade and obviously locals know the best spots.
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search for strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?
It depends where I am, I do like to hook up with locals and friends in other countries to visit shops together. It can be very relaxing to go alone and take all the time you need, but that’s only the case when I already know the spots.
Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?
I always first check the walls, that’s where you can find their specials, then I go through the wave/experimental bins and then I check the rest of the shop. I always skip the new records because I can usually find those back home. Besides that I always ask the people who work in the shop if they can show me around a bit and give me some tips and suggestions.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?
I think artwork plays a massive role of giving a record identity, especially when you don’t know the artist or the label you first pick record because of the artwork or information on the backside. I love it when I buy a record and later find out it includes a poster or a weird flyer. Artwork, credits, weird band pictures or photos of instruments can tell a lot about a record.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us? [Where/how did
you record it, what was the idea behind it?]
Many people always think that looking for records is mainly about old and rare stuff, but lately I’m really into buying new stuff. There is so much good music coming out lately and with platforms like Bandcamp there is so much new music to discover. So I tried to combine loads of new records with some older favorites.
We asked you to keep the tracklist secret, but could can you disclose any standouts in the mix?
I end the mix with a track by Batang Frisco called Sewing Machine, it’s a private press from San Francisco and this is surely one of my favorite tracks lately. I have also included a track by Parrish Smith, I must say that really love most of the things he’s putting out lately.
From the outside it feels like Amsterdam is very close knit. Is there quite a lot of support and collaboration between the city’s labels, record shops and promoters, or is there a bit more of a competitive atmosphere?
I can only speak for myself but for me personally there is a really close relation and friendship between all the different labels, shops and promoters. There is so much interesting stuff going on at the moment and everyone seems to like to work together. We all live close to each other, and see each other often, which makes it really easy to hook up
Rush Hour is one of the institutions at the centre of Amsterdam music, where you also work in the distribution wing. Has this line of work informed your work as a DJ or producer?
Rush Hour has been the center of my musical education from back in the days when I first start buying records until today where I work for the label. It’s a great institution to grow as an artist as well as a producer because you get in touch with all kinds of music, producers and labels.
Red Light Radio is one of the city’s mainstays. You’ve been a resident for a few years now. What do you feel radio offers you that DJing doesn’t?
I have had a monthly show for the last couple of years and I always try to play newly discovered tracks or music I have found during trips. I try to play the opposite from when I play at clubs and try make the music more exciting because of the tracks themselves, instead of energy and transitions.
What new / young talent is exciting you at the moment in Amsterdam?
There is a bunch of new talent coming making good music and digging deep into music. I’m working on a new label and the first release will be by a young talented guy from Amsterdam called Job Sifre. Not sure when the release will come out but probably somewhere after the summer.
We’ve seen you’ve recently collaborated with Jeroen under the moniker Private Eyes for ‘Mirror Image’. Are you planning more releases under this alias?
Most of the collaborations I did went very natural, we didn’t force anything. We shared a studio back in the days so we did spend quite some time in the studio together, we surely have plans to spend more time in the studio but not sure when or how.
Working collaboratively as Private Eyes and with Robert Bergman as Faster Action, do you approach your productions differently?
Every collaboration has a completely different studio method and that’s also why I like it a lot. You get the chance to see how other producers work in the studio. Working in the studio is really self-centered in a certain way. You try to create a working method that fits you, but you have no idea how other producers are working. When working together you can learn a lot from each other and I find that it’s musically very inspiring.
And finally is there anything else coming up this year that’s exciting you?
My remix for Music From Memory came out last week and I have some more exciting remixes coming up. Besides that I am working on a EP with Parrish Smith for a label we both released on already. And like I’ve mentioned above, I’m starting a new label which definitely very exciting!