Last year was madness for Dither to say the least! His Asia tour last September, playing the biggest festivals, releases at PRSPCT XTRM and Heresy. Life can get hectic pretty quick! With so much tricks up his sleeve, early 2017 seemed like a good time as any to sit down with Maarten and dig a little deeper into the distortion that is Dither.
Last September you toured Asia with gigs in China and Japan. Could you please share some of your experiences during your trip far-east?
“ My Asia trip was something else, it was a highlight of highlights. Playing in China, and especially on the Great Wall was beyond words. The view was priceless and the audience was one of the best in ages. I was able to play all the hardcore-subgenres and they loved it! We also visited cities I’ve never heard of, but they still were home to 5 million people, crazy. At some clubs, I was the first ever hardcore artist ever playing. So it was quite an honor to educate the Chinese with some proper hardcore. Tokyo was amazing. The people are so friendly, it’s almost scary. The parties were small, but the ones there danced their asses off. It was also hard at times. We had to travel a lot (with a group of 10) with little to no sleep. So I was also happy to be home after two weeks!”
2016 was a year of highlights.
I can only imagine this must have been awesome. How was 2016 for Dither / Maarten, both musically and on a more personal level?
“2016 was a year of highlights, with the Asia tour obviously topping that list. Besides that I played five of the mayor festivals in The Netherlands and two festivals in Spain. I also played on Ibiza and last Christmas I was back in Glasgow, which is always a pleasure. Not to mention all the other amazing parties in between. It also has been a little struggle musically wise. The scene is changing constantly, which can be a fun challenge. But it also makes you doubt your skills and brings a lot of pressure when your bookings decline. Of course I also had some downs on a personal level. My relationship of 8 years ended and I had to move back to my mom. But these things happen, and in the end makes you stronger.”
Speaking of performing, your sound could be described as a more accessible kind of industrial hardcore. You deliver a steady rhythm and certainly know your way around decent kick-drums. How would you describe the ultimate Dither set?
“A Dither set has always been a dancefloor orientated journey. Which means I aim to bring as much energy possible and trying to make as many people move. This is the reason I tend to play the more accessible ‘industrial’. However, I do have some ‘difficult’ surprises up my sleeve, just to shake things up a bit. I also find it very important to build up my set and starting on a BPM which corresponds with my timeslot. My sets range from 155 to 200, and all subgenres (old and new) are welcome. If it has the energy, the right kick (of course) and an uplifting storyline, I’ll play it.”
Hardcore is a global sound, expanding its reach every day. In The Netherlands the sound is as big as it gets. Where do you think global hardcore fever will strike next?
“I would say it’s about time the United States made some effort to introduce hardcore on their big festivals. Hardstyle is slowly making a name there, so I hope the people want more and harder. Also South America has been in the harder styles game a while now with Q-dance operating in Chile and PRSPCT artist have been those regions as well. Twisted Darkside did a party Thailand this this month, and the Chinese market got their introduction through me and others. So yes, it’s slowly expanding to the far reaches of the planet.”
Tricky question, but do you think the (Dutch) hardcore scene might actually benefit from a little scale-down?
“I don’t think the hardcore scene should scale down. I would love to have more people enjoying the genre. The more the merrier. A full dancefloor is better than an empty one. It also would make it a lot easier for people to earn money in this scene. I know for a fact that a lot of artist, promoters and others involved often are struggling to get their monthly paycheck, me included. However, I think the hardcore scene desperately needs a quality monitor. In the past music labels were able to control the quality of music that came out. Nowadays, everybody with a computer can start a label. The amount of shit getting released is insane.”
Talking music, you’ve been pretty productive these past years. With releases on Industrial Strength, PRSPCT XTRM, Heresy and of-course your own Broadband Noise label you’ve made quite the name for yourself. Your last release (Seclusion) dates from June last year if I’m not mistaken. This must mean you’ve got a lot of things coming?
“It’s been a while, and yes a lot is coming. A new solo EP with two heavy hitters is ready to be released on The Third Movement in February. I also did two out-of-the-box collabs. One with rawstyle artist Regain, which will be released the 27th this month and one with frenchcore king Dr. Peacock, which was released last December. Another collab with The Outside Agency is finished and is coming soon. Stuff to look forward I guess!”
Which aspect of producing is something you’re working on at the moment, or something you would like to pursue in music?
“I have a few side-projects I’m working on. I do some composition and sound design work for video’s and events, which is a lot of fun. I also have a techno alias called “Limit Cycle”. Nothing serious going on there, yet. But I love to experiment in this genre and force myself to produce in another way I would normally do with hardcore. Producing hardcore sometimes becomes routine and there’s pressure because fans are expecting something from you. I try to let go of these things when making techno.”
In 2015 you released your (“first”) full-length album, The Architect. Looking back on the release and positive reception, can we still describe this as a blueprint of the Dither sound?
“I wouldn’t say it’s the blueprint of the Dither sound, more like a summary of things I have up my sleeve. With ‘The Architect’ I tried to capture my broad view on (industrial) hardcore. Just like my sets, it builds up in terms of BPM and energy. However, the title track was the cause of people calling me ‘The Architect’, haha.”
Congrats on the 10k followers on Facebook by the way! Let’s use this interview to mention again that you gave away a free track to download.
“Thanks! I’m glad my support keeps on growing and I was happy to give something in return. ”
I rather focus on my music and shows, and let someone else do the planning for me. This is where The Third Movement comes in and helps.
As a producer you release your music on multiple labels. Still you started your own label, Broadband Noise in 2014. What was the idea behind Broadband? And is there a future for BBN? A voice down a hallway somewhere told me you’ve signed at The Third Movement?
“With Broadband Noise I wanted to create a platform which focused on Dither related, creative expressions. This way I had the control over the quality of the music getting released. I got to decide what artwork gets used and what direction the label would go. Maybe do parties, podcast series. The whole shebang. The problem is: time. All this takes a shit load of time and planning. Things I don’t have and/or hate. For now, the future of BBN is unsure. I don’t mind though, I’ve learned so much and I’m so proud of what I achieved in such a short time. For now, I rather focus on my music and shows, and let someone else do the planning for me. This is where The Third Movement comes in and helps. So yes, the voice was correct. ;-)”
Some might know you as (one of) the driving forces behind the Convoi Exceptionnel events in Groningen. For those who don’t: please fill us noobs in on the who and what that is Convoi Exceptionnel?
“In 2012 I got asked by one of the founders of Paradigm to host an industrial party. The techno orientated club felt like there was room to experiment with the harder styles. Together with Tom and Robert we hosted the first Convoi Exceptionnel in May 2013, focusing on all the ‘difficult’ styles of hardcore. As party animals (and djs) ourselves, we know what the audience and artists want. We tried to make it a fun experience for everyone. We booked exclusive (for Groningen) names and in combination with an awesome club (and sound system) we created successful, memorable nights.”
Something will happen in the near future, that’s for sure.
Last November the (for now) last edition was held. The Paradigm venue is moving, but will this really be the end for Convoi Exceptionnel? I can imagine one would miss organising raves as close to the heart as Convoi probably is to you.
“Organizing a party isn’t always fun work, but the feeling when a night is successful (not even financially, but the whole package) is SO rewarding. I was somewhat glad to call it quits when we got closer to the actual date of the final edition. But once the party was done, me and Tom looked at each other and said: “we definitely need to do something again”. So if Convoi is returning is still uncertain. But something will happen in the near future, that’s for sure. ”
So, what’s this I’m hearing about a Catscan remix?
“Last year I got a Facebook message from Bart (Catscan), saying he liked my BBN release. I, of course, was really happy a legend like Catscan enjoyed my tunes. I grew up with his sound, and I’m currently playing the life out of his classics album. Not short after he asked me to do a remix of classic track, which would be part of a larger (remix) album. The what/when/who is still a secret, but I definitely said yes!”
Any other scoops you want to share?
“There might, or not might be, another remix coming this year for a famous early hardcore group from Groningen. =) ”
Loud things are coming indeed! Thanks for your time.
– S. Boom –