Artist: Malbetrieb (Niels Schilder)
Based: Groningen, the Netherlands
Malbetrieb: FB | SC
Klopfgeist: WEB | FB | SC
When you think of house music around the globe, Detroit and Chicago pop up as cities where it all began, but also Berlin and Amsterdam, where the free spirited techno sound lives and breathes. While it is a saying among many foreigners that Holland is the capital of Amsterdam, we harvest more than that.
Way up in the north lies Groningen, a city filled with students and northerners. They are sober and sturdy, pragmatic and honest folk. News from the north rarely finds it way to the busy and hasty Amsterdam, but some true gems reside there, and we took the time to talk to one: Malbetrieb.
Niels Schilder grew up in Lemmer, listening to the jukebox at home. Here, his love for analog gear began as well as his affection for buying music. He started collecting hardware gear and has been jaming for over 6 years now. His name was derived from his own name, Schilder, which means “painter” in Dutch. It was rather a hasty pick; “When Nuno Dos Santos called me and told me he had arranged a release for me, I needed an artist name. My brother had just started a painting company, and since that corresponded with our family name I thought of a name that linked to my family name. Malbetrieb comes from the word Malerbetrieb, which is German for painting company.”
The scene in Groningen is very interesting at the moment, and Malbetrieb is deeply rooted in it. “I’m very proud of the atmosphere we’ve created here. There is a lot of cohesion between organisations and the crowd. People keep track of each other’s developments, and we put true heart and effort in our productions. In contrary to Amsterdam, we don’t have a lot of competition, so we are pretty much free to try out anything new. If it doesn’t work, we’ll stop it and try another thing. Right now things are developing nicely, and with clubs like Paradigm we’re working towards a place where we can exhibit cutting edge artists and really do what we love.”
We ask what kind of a role he plays in the Groningen music scene, and what his part is, but Niels states that he doesn’t see it that way. “I can overview the scene, but I can’t place myself in it in a specific place. That is for other people to do, I just do what I like to do. With Paradigm we do play an educative role, but we never intended it that way. It just came with the time.”
Malbetrieb has been working long on his own sound, collecting ideas from his day to day whereabouts. “I am constantly recording sounds with my phone and recorder. I can have hours of fun from small and unusual things or sounds I hear in the streets. When I make music I work with pre selected scenes from all these recordings and jam with them. I have a large mixing table and my hardware instruments that enable me to record a track in real time. I want to give my tracks a live feel, so I don’t arrange my tracks upfront anymore, but just let it happen. You can really hear that the music has been made live, along with little errors. But that’s just what gives it its charm.”
“The downside of being influenced by so many things is that my style never really settled. I even notice it when I’m mastering my album, where I sometimes don’t agree with the track itself anymore. It’s frustrating, but it is what I love doing. Music is one of the few things that can really keep me going for days and it clears my mind. I also have a dog now to help me with that. He forces me to go outside and leave the studio every now and then, which also helps me to create a right mindset for producing.”
The podcast he made for SEKOIA has a distinct dubsound, which differs from his own producing sound. Malbetrieb really wants to make a distinction between the two aspects of his artist profile. “I would call the sound I display when DJ’ing abstract house. At first I played out my tracks when I did a DJ set, but now I have separated that. A DJ set is something else then producing or a live set in my eyes, so I make a distinction. I want to create contrast in my sets, wake people and tell them a story, and I like the minimal side of house where you can create huge lows and bring it all back to a peak all of a sudden.”
Listen to the podcast and be sure to keep an eye out for Malbetrieb, for winter may not be coming, yet the north surely is on the rise.