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The first time I heard one of RocknRolla Soundsystem’s songs was while I was cleaning my bathroom and had a random YouTube playlist blasting, I stopped mid-scrub and scurried over to my computer to find out the makers of this sweet music. After stalking their soundcloud and listening to every song they had ever released, I was blown away. What RS does with music is truly a thing of beauty, they take an already great song and spruce it up to an extra stunning tune. They jack up the bass, magnify the beat, and add their own spin. Kind of like taking an ordinary chocolate cupcake, great on its own, and adding fancy frosting flowers followed by those edible metallic sprinkles on top, making a gourmet piece of art. That’s what they do, take music and make it gourmet.
They were nice enough to answer a few questions for me, and here’s what they had to say….
Where are you guys based out of?
We have a bit of a strange setup. We used to be all Groningen based which is a city in the north of Holland some 200 kilometers from Amsterdam. We have been working together for years, are good friends and all but as time passed by some of us left Groningen for work matters. One of us is now living in Amsterdam, two others are still in Groningen and i myself am living in Moscow for a couple of months now.
How did you guys decide to collab?
The initial idea to start it was quite simple. We were around the clubscene every weekend playing loud beats, but actually while being at home we listened to everything but dance music. While having beer in a fairly relaxed alternative joint downtown we dropped the idea of: Why not start a collective in where we can play everything that we want, no format, no style, just music we dig. Reggae, Funk, Hip Hop that sort of stuff. Having said that we also do quite some psychedelic stuff and southern rock.
Do you guys have a musical backgrounds/how and when did you get into mixing?
The foundation of RocknRolla Soundsystem is Sebastian Davidson (Deep House DJ producer, label owner of Nightbird Music) and Enthousiaste Gasten (Raymond van Felius & Martijn Bosch Techno DJ’s producers and label owners of Stiletto Music). We still run this, for Sebastian it is his full time job. We used to go to his parties back in the days as Martijn and I had been long time friends, we grew up together. Sebastian his background is more house oriented. Martjin and me, we are techno guys. Not this modern stuff but the real genuine techno sounds from Detroit. We usually would play on our parties ourselves and with also producing records we build a name for ourselves. Sebastian is now playing international gigs mostly as we tend to do more Dutch stuff. By the way, My first Russian gig is now planned for which I am pretty psyched!
How do you choose which songs you want to add your own spin to?
It is a very careful process. Not every track is suitable for a good edit. Sometimes you hear a banging track which simply doesn’t work out any way you try it. I am mostly equipped with the edits. I love seventies stuff, retro stuff in general. I send a lot of songs to Joris Vos who is actually the fourth RocknRolla. The guy has ears and knows how to make it work in the studio. We just discuss on every track and whenever I am in Holland we sit down to produce them. Tracks which are very full and rich on instrumentation tend to be less suitable. There is simply not much more to add. We are always looking for that open space in a song to add more groove to it. Not completely cut it up, add mayhem to it and remix it to something completely new. We always try to respect the original. Our aim is just to spice things up a little. We sit, listen to the track a couple of times. smoke a couple of joints like dutch people do and then try to create something nice. Something we would play ourselves at least…
Furthermore we have started to work on a new mix album. We are now selecting tracks. Our previous album had 45 tracks on it so it takes some time to select them, arrange them and put them together in a logical order for a mix. Next up we’ll be hosting festival stages in Holland at Leuk Festival on the first of September and we have been asked to do our own events which are supposed to take place once every 3 months at Simplon Stage in Groningen. – Raymond van Felius, RocknRolla Soundsystem
By: Dj Jem