Belgian producer Yves De Mey has been making music for a number of years under different guises. Especially talented when it comes to creating texture and atmosphere, his productions have come via Techno powerhouses Stroboscopic Artefacts (under the Sendai alias that belongs to Yves and Peter Van Hoesen), Sandwell District, Modal Analysis, Archives Intériures and now Inner Surface Music, the label run by Tom Diciccio and Manchester duo AnD, under a new project name – Grey Branches. Abrasive and angsty, the release showcases his impressive range.
Talking to Yves a little while back we probed him about his latest alias, growing up on Warp Records and Japan’s legendary Labyrinth festival.
Hi Yves, how are things with you?
All good here thanks.
Where are you at the moment?
I’m in Antwerp, combining my job as sound engineer and sound designer with producing tracks for upcoming releases. Exactly how it always is and how I like it.
So the first release under your new moniker ‘Grey Branches’ came out last week, was there a specific idea you wanted to explore with this project?
Definitely. I wanted to do something more straightforward, especially on a rhythmical level. I’m not a clubber or anything, but I can appreciate the energy and rawness in decent Techno. I guess this is my take on club music without really abandoning my usual approach.
Where does your expression through Techno come from?
I’ve always been interested in electronic music and certain kinds of Techno. I was in my late teens when New Beat started here in Belgium, and not much later I got to know about House, Techno, in their early stages. I remember totally falling in love with 808 State, for example. And already in my mid-teens I was drawn to experimental music, listening to Einstürzende Neubauten and the likes. Lots of EBM and New Wave and Cold Wave as well. The early days of Warp Records too – I feel very nostalgic about getting to know Autechre, Aphex, and Pan(a)sonic!
I’ve read you have had a firm musical background for a long time, why did you decide to start releasing Techno when you did?
I don’t really see myself as a Techno producer, but rather an electronic music producer in various forms. The decision, or rather the desire to release my tracks came pretty early but I can’t really recall why, naive ambition probably. And I must add that some close friends helped in putting me in touch with some nice folks who eventually got interested in what I did.
Your own, individual releases are small in quantity; you have managed to get music out through some well-established labels, Sandwell District for example. How did that release in particular come about?
I met Dave Sumner (Function) at Labyrinth Festival in 2009, and we stayed in touch. I finished the album and sent it out to one of my favourite labels. They never got back and it sat on my hard drive for a while. A certain morning, in an impulse, I decided to send the tracks to Dave, and 2 hours later the Sandwell District crew decided to put it out. That was a beautiful day.
Your work with Peter Van Hoesen is really impressive, there’s a brilliant texture to your combined sound. Where, when & how did you meet?
Thank you. We met almost 15 years ago. Peter was one of the founders of the experimental label Foton Records in Brussels, and they organised site specific events. I went to one of them, I played on the next one and it was clear we had quite some stuff in common. One thing led to another, and here we are…
Did you set out to create the label [Archives Intériures] from the moment you realized the musical connection was there?
Not at all. The Archives Intérieures label idea popped up only a couple of years ago. Before that, we released our Sendai tracks on Time to Express, Peter’s label. But we had the feeling it would make more sense to start something new, so there would be a clearer separation from the Techno output of Time to Express.
Is there a particular direction you wish to take the label in?
We intend to have a very wide scope with the label, and I think it shows from the music we’ve released so far. Very diverse, but with a focus on sound quality and that’s what we want to continue doing, by all means. We don’t want to attach one style or the other to the label. Broadmindedness, that’s probably the only direction that really matters to us.
All of your released music is electronic and dedicated to texture, sculptures and exploration. What do you take inspiration from?
Besides sound and music itself, mood and the energy that comes of it, is probably my main inspiration. But honestly, I don’t really rely on inspiration to do my music. Usually, it just happens. Admittedly, a fine night out with good people and great music often gives a serious push though.
What’s your opinion on the increasing number of ‘Live’ performances from Techno producers that the scene has experienced recently?
It’s a good thing, isn’t it? I’ve always preferred hearing a live act over listening to a DJ. There’s more personality in it, more risk and often more experiment.
You’ve been playing out a lot more this year, compared to the last 5 years, what are the best and worst things about performing for you?
The best part is the simple fact you have the opportunity to do your thing on a good and loud sound system, and having people in front of you who are willing to go with it. I’d never take it for granted that I can do all this, so for me, playing live is the highest form of appreciation. The worst thing is ending up playing at the wrong setting. I had a couple of bad experiences this year, and it makes all the hard work you put into it totally pointless.
Labyrinth is basically Mecca for Techno artists and enthusiasts, how was it playing at the festival this year?
It probably doesn’t get any better than Labyrinth. There’s a few other festivals that are really amazing, like for instance Atonal in Berlin, but Labyrinth is special on every single level. The promoter and his passion for music and artists is beyond… The setting is extremely beautiful, the crowd is open-minded, the sound system is by far the best, and the whole atmosphere amongst artists and crew and crowd is almost family-like. And especially this year, I’ve heard some performances that were simply stellar, total game changers. I’ve only been twice at Labyrinth, but it became a visceral thing. It really sticks. It’s a very emotional event as well; feelings and people are equally important as the music being played, or maybe even more important. In other words, simply unique.
What is in the pipeline, production wise for the next 12 months?
If all goes well, there will be 2 or 3 very different full albums, a couple of ep’s and remixes, hopefully some new Sendai stuff as well. And I’d love to play some more live shows as well.
Sounds great, looking forward to it! Thanks for talking to us today.
‘Lower Bounds’ is out on now Inner Surface Music, buy here.