Q&A: Mindmapper & Silvahfonk

With releases for Blendits, Citrus, Fokuz and Demand, Dutch duo Mindmapper & Silvahfonk have made quite a name for themselves over the past 5 years as purveyors of soulful yet dancefloor worthy rollers. With their latest creations dropping this month on Dispatch LTD, we grabbed them for a chat about production, studio vibes and what’s next for the rest of the year…

DNB Dojo: Easy guys, how are you both doing today?

Silvahfonk: Hey yeah I’m doing fine, thank you for asking. Busy with parenting since I have a son, he is 1 year and 4 months old.

Mindmapper: Just had a nice weekend off so I’m doing fine thank you!

DD: Congratulations on your first EP for Dispatch, big look! The EP definitely feels very “Dispatch”, did you write the tunes with this imprint in mind, or did you just happen to write some tracks you thought Ant and the team would be into?

S: No we just started writing those tunes without thinking which label we were going to send them to. Otherwise we feel a lot of pressure! We just love to make music and when we finish tracks then we think about which label might be a good fit.

MM: Indeed, we just make tunes and once we have some finished we send them out to a label we think they would fit on. Making music for a specific label feels like making music for a specific purpose instead of just letting the tune develop its own story when making it. In my opinion tunes shouldn’t be made with an audience in mind, just let it tell its story. Unless you have to make something commissioned…

DD: Convection features some seriously sick drum programming, particularly in the second half. Tell us a little bit more about the creative process behind that tune?

S: Well that tune is something special, especially to me because it takes me back to a vibe that I really miss these days in drum & bass in general. It’s a difficult tune and we had some really serious discussions about the breaks, but we always come together with our visions and the result is how we want it. I think that Mindmapper can explain how that creative process was because he is the sound engineer and for him the breaks were a big challenge, I can tell you…

MM: I almost binned this project to be honest due to mixdown/sound issues. I really like breaks but it is hard to make them sound up to par. This was also the case with the first version of the track, I was happy with the arrangement and feel of the track but totally not with the overall sound and the breaks specifically. When we’re together making a tune I don’t spent hours on tweaking a break (which tends to break the creative vibe a bit) but instead focus on getting the arrangement done. Which is good for the session itself but it can be hard to get everything sounding nice once everything is in (and sometimes this is enough of a reason to bin projects). This was totally the case for this tune, after we finished it I wasn’t happy with the sound so I spend some serious time to get it sounding as good as possible.

DD: All four tracks on this release have quite a hard edge to them, whereas some of your previous work for Fokuz and Blendits is much softer and more “liquid”. What influences the vibe of a tune when you’re working in the studio? Is it linked to your own moods at the time of writing?

S: Our trademark is a cinematic and soulful vibe with raw edgey elements in all our tunes. My musical background is jungle music from 1996 and hip-hop and a bit of techno. Mindmapper his background is classical music and rock and we try to put those elements in our tracks. When we’re in the studio we don’t think about what sub genre we’re making, we just make drum & bass and for sometimes it sounds liquid and groovy and sometimes it sounds dark and minimal. We combine different music and that makes our tunes hopefully unique compared to other drum & bass tracks.

MM: We try to get some different ideas in for every track we make. I don’t like copying ourselves although we might have some trademark elements that pop up all over in our tunes. Our initial mood when starting the tune of course has an influence but in the end the tune itself dictates the vibe. When we make a deep and dark tune we’re not sitting around like some depressed philosophers the whole weekend! We have some good laughs. Same goes for different vibes on other tunes. And you can’t forget the happy accidents that influence our tunes when producing, I love those and I’m always trying to make room for those to happen.

DD: You’ve been working as a production duo for quite a few years now. Do you have different roles in the studio, or do you both dabble in everything? Do you often disagree creatively, or are things pretty harmonious?

S: Like I said before, Mindmapper is the scientist and programmer and for me the fastest and most open-minded producer that I know. 60% or even 70% of the credit goes to him in my honest opinion. I am just more of a performer and DJ on stage, that’s my speciality. I seriously don’t have the technical knowledge of Cubase and all that sound engineer stuff, and yes that frustrates me sometimes. But we need each other because I have ideas and I search samples and help to make the arrangement when the track is finished. All the sound engineering is his work and I am so grateful and happy that he wants to work with a crazy dude like me.

Besides that if we are in the studio together we have so much fun producing, even when we make nothing release-worthy at the end.  And yes in the studio we disagree sometimes, because I listen to tunes from a DJing/vibe perspective and Mindmapper listens to tunes from a more technical viewpoint. Sometimes that clashes but it gives also magic and quality.

MM: We tend to have a lot discussion on various subjects of production/music which is a good thing in my opinion, take nothing for granted! We both have a lot of ideas of what to put into a track and sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all those ideas that pop up in to our minds while I try to get them into Cubase. Especially with an enthusiastic guy like Silvahfonk! Curtis makes notes of the ideas nowadays so I can incorporate them later in the session. So in the end I program everything into Cubase but the most important part (the creative one) is from both of us.

DD: With the summer coming to an end, what are you best memories for 2017 so far? And what are you looking forward to for the rest of the year?

S: Man time flies! We are both busy at work, especially Mindmapper who has a busy schedule. We finished another four track EP for Blendits that will come out sometime in October, with a special remix of our tune Absolution – I’ll keep the remixer secret for now! I am looking forward to playing together with Mindmapper at some events too; the first two are Blendits on the 22nd of September at Transport Rotterdam and 25th of November at Subway XL at Maassilo Rotterdam. We shall see what next year brings us…

MM: It’s been busy so far but great! Musicwise, I’m also looking forward to our next B2Bs and releases!

DD: Last up, any shout outs?

S: My love goes out to my Son Maceo Jay and my missus Melda. Also maximum respect to Ant TC1 and the Dispatch recordings crew, my brother Fre4knc, Chris Harmonics of Blendits, Rico of IChiOne and all the artists and listeners that support us. Salute!

MM: Big up to Dispatch, all the other labels, artists and listeners that support us!

The Convection EP is out now on Dispatch LTD. Hit up the Dispatch Store or your favourite digital outlet to grab it now.

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