Stamp Mix #48: Nachtbraker


23-year-old Dutch producer Nachtbraker has enjoyed a warm induction into the deep house scene, quickly developing a distinguished sound that sees silky chords stretched over organic, precision percussion.

Recently releasing a soulful 4-track EP via Detroit Swindle‘s Heist Recordings earlier this year, Nachtbraker fully demonstrated his vibrant, colourful palette of sounds, which sit nicely among the recent label output from the likes of Fouk and Irish duo Brame & Hamo. His broad sonic influences have turned heads and pricked up ears, formally receiving critical acclaim while dancers convey the same praise with jittery legs on the dancefloor.

Despite dwelling just outside of the media spotlights, with rare performance and interview history, we managed to chat to the man himself about the past, present and future of the so-called ‘Night hawk’. Accompanying the words is an exclusive mix he kindly recorded for us alongside a full tracklist. Dig in.

Nachtbraker’s Le troubadour EP is out now on Heist Recordings and available to buy via Juno.

Hi Maurits, how is 2015 treating you?

Hey guys! Well I have to say.. very well! I’ve put out my second EP of this year already and I got two more planned at the end of this year. My release on Hudd Traxx was received very well and I am glad to be back on Heist! It’s kind of overwhelming all this attention for my music, I would have never thought I could reach this many people with my sound.. and it’s still growing! These are unique times for me, I’ve got gigs planned in Vienna, Istanbul and Asia which I’m really looking forward to! For me 2015 has been the best year so far!

We’re loving your recent EP on Heist Recordings, Le Troubadour. Can you talk us through how it came about?

Thanks so much :)! Well.. at first I wanted to make an EP like the Gute Laune EP I did the year before. The thing is that the Gute Laune EP was pretty housey and feel good. However, it didn’t really reflect what I want to play when I have a gig. Especially since a lot of promotors book their artists based on their productions I thought it would be necessary to show my darker side as well haha. For instance ‘Dark Roast‘ and ‘Gurl‘ are a bit more darker and more raw whilst ‘Le Troubadour‘ and ‘You’re Out Of Your Element‘ are a bit more housey and subtle. This way I also hope to reach a bigger audience by having more variety on the EP. Things get more interesting when a record has more variety of sounds for me. As for almost all of my tracks, the bassline is the backbone or the foundation of the song. For me the focus is mainly on a particular chord or synth I start jamming with, as soon as I have some melodies and a kick, I start jamming with some bass sounds. When I got that right, I have the foundation of the track and start working from there. So all the percussion and other elements in the track will be adapted to the groove of the bassline. ‘Le Troubadour’ might be the best example for this to hear:

I played around with this chord sound, and created the bassline. I didn’t intend to create that triplet groove, but it was just what came out of my fingers and mind. From there I started working on the hats and the rest of the percussion. At that point I only have a simple loop consisting of a kick, the chord melody, the bassline and the hats.. just eight bars. After this I start with the arrangement of the track.. and that’s always the hard part which takes me some time to get it right. See, its easy to have a loop and copy paste that for 32 bars.. the real creativity comes in when making the full arrangement of breaks, drops and finding the right timing for that. Also adding small elements like drum fills and vocal one-liners. I think I can say that I get most creative when I’m working on a break. The moment when you have been listening to the same loop over and over for hours, and then suddenly removing an element as simple as the kick opens up a lot of possibilities and gets me excited to add new elements. Sometimes I change the whole track because I find something better when working on the break. For instance a different synth sound, or different percussion.

Before you turned to music, you used to be a writer. What inspired you to begin producing?

Well… I think you guys took my bio a bit to serious hahaa… The closest I got to writing a book is probably a three page essay I did at high school. My best mate wrote that bio for me. I asked him to write something witty and different from the standard bio that most artists have. “I grew up in a house full of music lovers. I got brainwashed by the rock /soul / jazz / blues vinyl collection of my dad. At 12 I started playing around with that collection of old dusty music. Then I got booked for the first time, and played with big names like a, b and c. And the next year a lot will happen… so I’m someone to look out for.” I think I have read that too many times in my life, so I wanted something else.. and this is what I got haha. My kind of humour and maybe a nice short story to read :P. In other words.. I don’t take bio’s toi serious. What did actually inspire me to produce music? I think it was simply the urge to create. To create my own stuff. I started out making playlists on my PC with mp3’s, then I started to make mixtapes (no real mixing, just cutting, copying and pasting) with that software program called Mixmeister. I made these for all my friends birthdays and such. Then it went from mixtapes to combining two tracks with each other which I really liked, kind of bootlegs, and adding these weird and ugly sounding FX sounds which I liked a lot at that time. Like the ‘whoosh’ sound or that ‘siren’ I always heard at the local bar when happy hour started hehe. Then I got bored and wanted to really create my own stuff. That’s when I got FL Studio which I’m still working with today.

Listening to your tracks, it’s obvious you draw influence from a range of musical genres. Are there any genre, bands or guilty pleasures we might be surprised you gain inspiration from? 

Well, I got to admit that I mainly listen to electronic music.. that is because I also DJ of course. So a lot of my music listening time goes into finding records I can play in the club. Other than that I’m inspired by blues, jazz, soul and funk. These are also of course the parents of our house music. I have a good friend who has a vast knowledge of these genres and taught me about this music. We used to listen to this music a lot when I was a teenager, which is actually not so long ago since I’m 23 years old haha, in the attic at my parents place. We were secretly smoking weed and listening to this: 

The swing and groove of this kind of music is a huge inspiration to me, also this guitar solo by Clapton.. still gives me the goosebumps. If you would ask me to pick one band or artist in particular who inspires me I would have to say JJ Grey & Mofro. They mix rock, soul, blues, jazz, funk and R&B into amazing songs. Of which this is one of my favourites:

These guys are from the US, Florida and make this kind of swampy blues music, and I immediately fell in love with it when I heard it for the first time. Since then.. I forced all my friends, family and girlfriend to listen to this music. For me, its the best! Haha

You’re renowned for your attention to detail, particularly your use of live percussion in some of your productions. How do you go about constructing some of your characteristic drum patterns?

A lot of the percussion is sampled from vinyl or from drum computers. So I record them into FL studio and start messing around with for instance a hihat but sometimes also a complete loop. I will cut, stretch, reverse and filter the sounds until I hear something nice. As I said before, the percussion is adapted to the groove of the bassline, but I usually start with a simple closed hi-hat and then start adding small percussion elements step-by-step. But most of the time the percussion evolves throughout the process of arrangement. Also I love to use drum fills in the drop just after the break. Mostly consisting of multiple drum fills I sampled from vinyls. Sometimes I can just use the original, some times I use multiple drum fills and sometimes just pieces or just a single snare combined with percussion sounds from other drum loops or fills. Of course most of the drumloops are from soul, jazz and funk records. Small details in a track is very important for me. It keeps the music interesting even after hearing it time and time again. I’m that guy who sits next to you, when I make you listen to my track, constantly poking you when there is a small detail somewhere. Probably because I put a lot of effort in these details and sometimes they go unnoticed.. very frustrating when that particular part of the track is coming up and you start talking about whether we should eat chicken or tofu tonight.. haha.

‘Nachtbraker’ is Dutch for ‘Night Hawk’, how did you earn that title?

That same guy who wrote my bio came up with that name when I was about 16 or 17 years old. I was making music up in the attic at my parents place till 6 or 7 in the morning with the occasional joint and three litres of coca cola… Then I’d wake up at 3 in the afternoon. So I was basically living at night. That’s why haha.

Speaking of the night, what’s your favourite spot in Amsterdam to enjoy the hours of darkness, both in a musical setting and removed from it?

At this moment, I think Amsterdam lacks a real good club. There are several other venues which are nice, but none of them really stand out in my opinion. If you have to ask me my favourite club in Amsterdam I would say Studio 80. I’ve been going there since I moved to Amsterdam five years ago, and I think their programming is the best in town at the moment. As far as promotors I would like to give Midnight City a shout. Midnight City is run by the lovely couple Vincent and Jois. They’ve been doing parties in Amsterdam for a few years now and always hit the nail on the head. They were the first in Amsterdam to book guys like Max Graef, Brame & Hamo and Late Nite Tuff Guy.. they got a real eye for talent and for good music and the atmosphere at their parties is always really good! And besides that, they’re really good DJ’s themselves as well! When I’m not going to a club I like to have a drink in a local bar like Struik at the Rozengracht or Blazer at the Lijnbaansgracht. Nice and cosy Amsterdam cafes.

Despite the loss of Trouw, Amsterdam is enjoying a boom in its nightlife and its musical output is stronger than ever. What do you think is drawing so much musical talent to the city?

I think that Amsterdam has an international character, same as Londen or Berlin has. The thing that makes Amsterdam special is that its actually a very small city compared to London or Berlin. You could be everywhere you want to be in Amsterdam within 30 minutes.. by bike! Besides that for Dutch people I think it’s fair to say that Amsterdam is the place to be regarding cultural events. Then again Rotterdam is up-and-coming and has some really nice venues too, and lots of cultural events going on.. that said, it’s only 1 hour by public transport away from Amsterdam. It would be a suburb in London haha. But also because Amsterdam is such a beautiful city with so many nice places that it is truly an inspiring place to live and work.

What’s on your stereo at the moment?

Well that has to be Brawther’s new album of which this track I like in particular. Also Saine’s new release on Fools & Fables, which still has to come out though.. all tracks are simply amazing, as is all of his stuff!

Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve made for us?

When I do mixes or podcasts I always like to start off slowly and built up the tension and vibe. So expect some laid-back vibes at the beginning and some more dance floor action at the end 😉 As I see it, people start of sitting in their comfortable couch.. start tapping with their feet, nodding their head, drumming with their fingers and finally get off their asses and give it a dance! This set mostly contains forthcoming stuff which came in my mailbox the past weeks and a few tracks that are already out there. Tracks I’m really enthusiastic about now are ‘Blissanova’ by KiSK with its amazing progression and ‘can’t stop dancing’ drive and the mellow, dreamy vibe you don’t hear so often on the dance floors on ‘Waiting for you’ by Buzz Compass.

Finally, what can we expect from you over the rest of the year?

I’m planning a very special project on Dirt Crew at the end of this year. Probably november/december. All I can say now is that it’ll be two vinyls with in total eight tracks, but no album.. and no part one and a part two. To be continued. Also I have a track on the next Deep Love compilation on Dirt Crew coming out in september. In the same month another track on the Mexican label Vicario LTD which will feature Urulu, Frits Wentink, Sebastian Vorhaus & 4004 and yours truly. Than a remix here and there, I’m still working on some and of the other one I don’t know the releasedate yet, but you’ll see soon enough. And also at the end of the year there will be Part Two of The Round Up series on Heist where the Heist artists will remix each others track again. Besides that I’m working really hard on a new label concept, which goes by the name of Quartet Series and the launch is set for early 2016.. but again.. to be continued. Regarding gigs I’m really looking forward to my small tour in Asia where I will hit Jakarta, Tokyo, Phnom Penh and Hong Kong in September. So, enough to look forward to!!

HNNY – Sunday – Local Talk Records
Buzz Compass – Waiting for you – Diggin’ Disco Deep
Gallowstreet – Hattori (Kraak & Smaak’s Hansenstraat remix) – Paradiso
Harvey Sutherland – New Paradise – MCDE Recordings
Chocky – Yeh Wanna – Big Bait Records
Saine – Bronx Medium – Diggin’ Disco Deep
Claudio Coccoluto – Tribe call sun – The Dub
Tito Wun – Sexual Dietrich – Sampling As An Art Records
Fulbert – R.A.’s edit – Fragrant Harbour
Ugly Drums & Chesney – Raw basics – Kolour LTD
KiSK – Blissanova – Apparel Music
Sek – Thug life interlude – Hudd Traxx
Disco Rigido – Love for Nobu (Hong Kong edit) – Sampling As An Art Records

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