Akka Vs. EPROM

Two recent collaborators take turns interviewing each other on the newest ‘Vs’.

Starting out in 2008, Rwina Records has been occupying a particularly colorful corner of the Bass music spectrum, thanks largely to the careful guidance of label head Chafik Chenouf-better known as Akka. Of North African descent but based in Amsterdam, Akka has provided a home for music by the likes of Swindle, Terror Danjah, Starkey and Taz Buckfaster, whilst also finding time to crank out some hyperactive hybrids of his own in the process.

Residing out in America’s West Coast, Sander Dennis, aka. EPROM,  meanwhile has won fans around the globe for his unique sound-which somehow finds a tasteful middle ground between the demented balls out energy of EDM and the off kilter electronica of the L.A beat scene. First releasing on Rwina back in 2010, he’s since dropped two albums on the label with the last being 2013’s ‘Halflife’. After a few years working under Akka as his label boss, this year has seen the pair make their first foray into collaboration together with a track on the former’s ‘Spatial Scale’ EP landing earlier this month. A dense mesh of lushly treated layers and textures that touches on too many genres to mention, ‘Spatial Scale’ is the sound of both producers bringing out the best in each other.

Akka interviews EPROM

Akka: You and I worked together from day dot so I know a lot about your approaches for the releases we did. We got one coming up as well, we just discussed it a bit. Can you tell me more about your plans for this one?

EPROM: I have a lot of projects going right now. There is the next EP or album, which will be some club tracks I’ve made since ‘Halflife’ dropped. I am also doing a personal project where I am remaking the score to one of my favorite films. That’s a new area for me, but it’s something I’ve been feeling drawn to lately. I want it to be a musical score, but also something interesting to listen to on its own.

A: I’ve heard your musical journey throughout the years. I’ve been in love with it since the Myspace days. Can you tell us some about your approach of making music? Don’t tell us something about whether you start with a kick or a bassline. Give us a bit more insight of your psyche. I find this really interesting because I know you as a shy, quiet and humble man, but your music is so evil and in your face.

E: I spend a lot of time watching movies and animation and playing video games. Sometimes when I’m watching something I’ll get out my phone and write down notes about a vibe that a movie has or a certain sound that I want to capture and I’ll take that to the lab later and work on it. So there is a sort of feedback with other media. I do a lot of research online to find obscure samples, listening to a lot of library music, psychedelic rock, early electronic, funk, battle records, etc. When I make music I move around a lot in the studio so I think that’s where the physical intensity comes from.

A: Are there any new techniques you’ve mastered since your last album ‘Halflife’? Can you tell us something more about the techniques you used and techniques you are trying to master?

E: Since ‘Halflife’, I’ve switched my workflow almost entirely to Ableton Live. I’ve started using the Ableton stock plugins to do most of my sampling and effects, and using analogue synths to do sound design.

A:How do you feel about how things worked out between you and Rwina? Is there any room for growth and how to achieve that?

E: Man, we’ve been doing this shit so long I feel like I’m part of the label. There is always room for growth. Rwina is always pushing the most next-level shit.

A: Really happy for you with all the remix gigs that you did and will do. I know what you are working on, but can you share some ins and outs with the people?

E: I can talk about the Claude VonStroke remix, which was really a lot of fun to make. I’ve been following dude and we’ve known each other in the Bay for at least five years. He’s always been one of my favorite DJs and producers so it’s awesome to get a chance to put my spin on his music. He’s known for techno and house but he actually has really diverse sets lately, and he’s been a big supporter. So it’s rad to get something out on Dirtybird.

A: What do you think of the electronic music scene in general and of the production levels of the people around us. What do you enjoy the most?

E: I’m really into Jameszoo and his Titts project. Mono/Poly, Computer Jay, Salva and Comma are doing mad interesting shit with the West Coast beats sound. Elsewhere I’m really excited about what’s happening with Drum n’ Bass right now, where you have dudes like Fracture, Alix Perez, Stray, Sabre, Machinedrum, Om Unit, Ital Tek, and dBridge. People operating at the fusion of D’n’B with this more beat-driven drum machine kind of sound. That stuff is really next level to me.

A: You’ve been doing gigs all over the world for a minute. How do you keep yourself motivated to get on that stage?

E: I always have fun at gigs man, it’s not even hard to be motivated. I love playing out, it’s the most fun part of my job when people go hard to the music.

A: Congrats on your Roskilde gig! Any other gigs/plans for your 5th European tour!? Also tell us your most memorable thing in Europe.

E: Thanks. I’m working on a gig in Paris, and maybe some secret things as well. My most memorable gig in Europe was probably playing at Berghain, just because the sound is so sick and it’s such a legendary venue. I got to share the stage with some of my heroes too, so that was pretty amazing.

A: So we are seeing each other this summer again? I’m always superexcited when you show me some movies. What are we going to watch this time?

E: We can smoke a spliff and watch some Tarkovsky fam. Also I need to watch ‘Heat’ again, the 90’s one, Brian Eno did the score and it’s crazy.

A: Can you tell the people a bit more about your Honing/Pindakaas/Jam/Banaan broodje?

E: Hahaha man. One of my ultimate culinary creations. Jam, banana, peanut butter, honey and chocolate sprinkles on wheat bread. Typical American shit, I turned a basic Dutch breakfast into something sugary and disgusting.

EPROM inteviews Akka

E: I know you used to collect gangster rap tapes from the USA when you were very young. What was the first one you bought? What was the most important to your musical development? Do you still have them? Drop a YouTube link on me.

A: Yeah, I used to have like tapes with just random tracks on it. Older friends recorded some stuff for me. Tapes were having like tracks on it by N.W.A., Above the Law, S.C.C., Eazy-E, Ice T and such. The first actual thing I bought was ‘Eazy-E – Str8 Outta Streetz Of Muthaphukkin Compton’ in 1995. That was like such a big influence on me. Except for me just being a fan of that stuff, I started to research who produced what and why? I started to analyse stuff. I also bought video tapes about Eazy-E, Bone Thugs, S.C.C. and such because we couldn’t check the video’s here in Holland. From there on I started to order weird unknown stuff from the West-Coast, all my money went into that.

Yeah I still own them, the most of the CD’s are at my parents house, in my old bedroom.

The hardest diss-track from West-Coast, BG Knocc Outt verses are so hard.

E: What’s your favorite movie? What was the last good movie you saw? Do you fuck with modern Hollywood? Is there any Hollywood movie you’re down with at all from any time period?

A: ‘Casa Negra’, a Moroccan art-house movie about life in Casablanca is one of my favs. I’ll show that one to you. Last dope movie I saw was Gozu by Takashi Miike. I watched it on the bus to LA. NastyNasty linked me with that one. That was dope and super awkward. Yeah I fuck with some Hollywood blockbusters. Though the last one I saw in the cinema was Bagman. That one was terrible, was on some Tarantino biting tip.

E: What’s your vision for Rwina? How about for Akka?

A: Just keeping my ears to the ground and building up big things with the people we work with. I love switching up vibes and see what it does, so far so good and really happy with how things worked out. Basically what I found out is that I really like working by a long term plan. Focusing on albums, because some of the team are ready for it!

For Akka I just try to make music, Own stuff and collaborate with the people I fuck with. There is some stuff that’s finished and some are playing it out. I just take my time and see what it does. I had some offers to release stuff, but I need to grow a bit first. The stuff I’m sitting on now is in the same vein as the stuff on Amazigh.

E: Who would you like to work with in the lab?

A: Other than Taz maybe a rapper? I worked with a singer and some instrumentalists, I liked that and I’m pretty happy with the results. It was hard though, we spent like 8 hours just recording vocals, I lost my temper like a zillion times that day. I’d like to go into the lab with Surgeon, just to learn crazy stuff and to see him work.

E: You named your EP after the Amazigh, which is the Berber culture of North Africa. How do you see your music as drawing from that heritage?

A: I was brought up with music from the Amazigh culture ( from the Atlas mountains, Rif mountains and northern Algeria etc.) I spoke Tmazight and Darija before I learned Dutch. So it is there somewhere in my system. I can’t say what I particulary drew from that heritage, but I think it’s more the overall feel. Everything sounds pretty dramatic and sad, there is not a lot to be happy about. It’s rough to live there.

I’m just amazed by how versatile the Amazigh culture is and how big it is. It has it’s language, writing, religion, foods etc. And yet there is almost nothing known about us. I just want to explore that more.

E: Who’s the new shit for you? What’s coming out of the Netherlands that’s cool?

A: I.N.T. is our latest addition to the fam. He is from Amsterdam, originally from Eindhoven. He released stuff on Stones Throw, Fat City, Brownswood and Universal. Then he stopped music for a bit, up untill now. We had some chats and meetings and now a year later he finished his EP for us. There will be a track with Guilty Simpson on it. Really excited about this one.

I’m blessed that I’m working with my favorite three producers from here. Big up Krampfhaft, Jameszoo and I.N.T. I do see some upcoming people that grind hard and willing to do great things. I support that and keep them in check.

E: What do you like about touring the US? When are you coming back?

A: The hamburgers dude. I was eating all kinds of burgers there. Man and the sold out Low End Theory in LA was special man. Those guys are the homies for sure. I’ll be back in October, hitting the East-Coast this time.

‘Amazigh’ is out now on Rwina Records. Buy it here.