Interview: Netsky

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Netsky is 24 year old Boris Daenen. The Belgian-born Hospital record label premier has accomplished much during his relatively young years as a drum and bass artist, with many industry accolades and awards. He produces a live, dynamic style of liquid funk, which prefers melodic samples and vocals.

Netsky will be heading down-under with a brand-new live format, with a band (keyboard and drums) in tow. They will be playing live versions of Netskys new album “2”, which features UK top 40 dance hit singles, ‘Give & Take’, ‘Come Alive’, and ‘Love Has Gone’.

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Is your name based off the Netsky windows virus, or the Jewish Klezmer artist Hankus Netsky?

It was actually from the computer virus, and it was an idea I had when I getting into making music when I was 16, and it was a sort of protest against against piracy which was pretty big at the time. I thought that if people typed in Netsky and download my music, they’d end up with the virus.

This isn’t your first journey to our fair shores. How is this time going to differ compared to other times?

This is only going to be second time coming to Australia, actually. It’s going to be different this time in that we’ll be coming over as a live band, and we only just started in April so it’s still a very fresh project to us, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say to be travelling so far away with this (project) is really exciting for all of us.

Was your double album (2) made intentionally to be translated into live music?

I think all music I’ve made has always been a bit live-friendly. I’ve always had the live concert in my head when I’ve been making music in the studio, I think it’s always been me thinking about a keyboard player, a drummer and just yeah, it was a very organic kind of move to translate it into live music for me. What we try to do with the live music is to keep the dancefloor energy, but make it very musical and melodic and jazzy, and kind of more souly. It’s just very dancefloor-ish, but still very musical, I guess, with the live band now. So it changed something, but it didn’t take away the energy from the dancefloor aspect.

Do you consider yourself much of a live musician in terms of playing with a band? How will you play within the band group?

(Laughs nervously) Well, I’m not a trained musician, and I’m nothing compared to the two musicians I’m touring with, because they’re absolutely incredible, I’ve got this really sick keyboard player and this amazing drummer. I just try to fit in and not look stupid in between these two amazing musicians. But it’s a great learning curb, because at the beginning I had always been playing leads and a little bit of keyboards and drums, but doing live on stage is such a different story for me. It’s just very exciting to be learning something all the time with a live band, and I do enjoy playing live and I think I’m getting better.

How do you actually play live with the band most of the time?

I use some Ableton (Live) for backing with some sub-bass and a click track so the drummer knows where to drum, but apart from that we do everything live. I play most of the leads, my keyboarder players plays all of the chords and the backing riffs that are really fast, so yeah, it’s proper live.

How did your live tour go in the UK during February?

It’s been great, people actually come out early for a drum and bass show, and I wasn’t sure what to expect before the tour. People actually come out on a Thursday or Friday night to see a band play from 8 until 9:30, and it’s great because it’s such a different vibe. I almost forgot there’s a world outside the club world on stage, and it’s great to see so many people coming there for the music, and not only to hang out with their friends or hook up with their girl, it’s a really nice different world and it’s great to be close to that now.

How many shows have you played so far live?

Probably about maybe 60 shows already?

So you must be pretty tired from it all?

No, no, it keeps me energetic, man, it’s really great because it give me new inspiration for music. It’s just what I needed as well, because um, I’m not going to say I got bored of Djing, definitely not, I still love Djing, but it’s really nice to learn new stuff because you play only press play so many times. You can learn a lot playing instruments, and finding out and playing different chords and then taking them back to the studio, it’s really inspiring for production.

WAS there much of a drum and bass scene growing up in Belgium?

We only have 11 million people living there, but we’ve got one of the best festival nations in the world. We’ve got so many people going out and getting tickets straight away. We’re doing this show in Antwerp this April, and we sold about three or four thousand tickets in about two hours, and that’s how excited people get to just go to shows,. It’s not just us, because so many shows sell out, and there’s a real culture for going out here in Belgium, so it’s great for any type of music.

How does Australia differ from Europe?

I’ve never played at a festival except for Perth, it’s always been club shows, and I’ve always enjoyed it.

Are you nervous of winning over Melbourne’s rabid drum and bass fans?

Um… (Laughs) Not really, to be honest, if I go to Australia this time of year, it’s pretty much a holiday for me. It’s going to great to get away from the horrible cold (in Belguim and see some beautiful places like Melbourne and Sydney. It’s going to be great to hear some old-school drum and bass down there, as while there’s so much diversity and it’s great there’s drum and bass is almost mainstream, it’s great to still hear drum and bass around like when I was a kid.

So you’re into old school jungle influences like Aphrodite?

Yeah sure but it took me a while to find what area of drum and bass I was most comfortable with. I’ve got a musical background from home, my parents have a massive record collection of 70s music and my mother is really into classical music. That pushed me more into the melodic style of music, and Ive never really been into the hardcore punky side of drum and bass.

What other musicians have served to influence you, live or electronic?

A lot of soul and 70s music, ones I used to sample from my Dad’s records. You can hear samples of these in older tracks of mine most people don’t know, like ‘I Refuse’ and ‘Memory Lane’. There were samples from Marvin Gaye vocals, which influenced me, and I also loved classical music and emotional chord progression.

You were voted for best newcomer in the recent drum and bass awards. How do you feel about industry awards and the criteria they’re judged by?

I’ve never really liked the idea behind the way they judge awards. I’m really happy with all the fans and awards I’ve gotten, and how much I’ve been supported, and how much they support drum and bass. But I always thought top ten charts and stuff like that are really a little bit wrong for the scene. It really annoys me that there are so many artists out there, especially in the house scene, who seem to spend more time on Facebook telling their fans to vote for them with one award show or another, and spend less time making music. You can really see that growing, and it’s kinda scary because in a couple of years it’s not going to be about the art and good music. I think award shows are a little bit the bad side of pop music, and I’m never going to support it from within and I’m never going to support from within, and I’m never going to be happy to be a part of awards shows, I think, but that’s just me even though I have to play with it at times, but they can do whatever they like. It’s all story-telling, really, but it’s all about the music for me.

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We are then interrupted at the fourteen-minute mark by the operating lady telling us we have one minute to go, so we wrap up the interview somewhat awkwardly.

As a participant in Melbourne’s underground scene, this is testament that industry infiltrates even our natural conversation and turns it into something artificial. Boris touched on this subject in his last answer, and now I’m really interested in knowing all about this young guy, but time is over, our fifteen minutes are up.

Just as we start talking about how crap Skrillex is, the watching body of the conference centre switch off the link of two cats talking about a scene we love not for pop kicks, but one where we all love real music first and foremost.

Netsky will touring Australia from the 20-24 of March.

 

Wednesday 20 March – The Beresford Upstairs, Sydney
Friday 22 March – HQ, Adelaide
Saturday 23 March – Villa, Perth
Sunday 24 March – Royal Melbourne Hotel, Melbourne

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