Revelations: Locked Groove

For those that don’t know, a locked groove is a loop on a record that repeats about a second of music continuously, unable to progress until you relieve the needle of its repetitive course. Tim Van de Meutter’s Locked Groove alias has done pretty much the opposite over the last couple of years, refusing to settle into one style, progressing and diverging at every opportunity.  Through a series of EPs on Scuba’s Hotflush and Tiga’s Turbo imprint, Locked Groove has touched upon a series of global House and Techno styles, from the iconic sounds of Berlin and Detroit, to the odd nostalgic rave reference. More recently he has released two 12″s on his own label, and he continues to write at an impressive rate. Taking a short break in the studio, he spoke to Hyponik about his musical progression and his forthcoming EP on Permanent Vacation.

I first came across your music with the inclusion of ‘Drowning’ on Scuba’s DJ-Kicks. You must have been pretty pleased to have been picked up by him, and having your first release on his label Hotflush?

Definitely. It was really nice for my first release to be on an established label and also to be on a DJ-Kicks, with what was one of my first records.

Am I right in thinking you were producing Dubstep before the Locked Groove alias?

I met up with an old school friend and we made some tracks that were Dubstep, but over time I realised that it wasn’t really for me, or something that I wanted to do. It didn’t really feel right any more, and the direction Dubstep was progressing wasn’t really something I was feeling. I was always more interested in stuff like Martyn’s early work, alongside the faster Techno that you could play at the same speed. As our musical interests grew apart it was a logical step for me start doing solo stuff.

You joined Hotflush around the time when the label was shifting away from Dubstep, do you think that was a coincidence? You weren’t the only person making that switch around 2010-11…

No, there were tonnes of people. For myself it wasn’t as much of a switch as for others because my career was basically non-existent at that point. There weren’t many people that knew about the stuff I was doing with Dubstep, so it wasn’t really a switch to a lot of people.

Do you still have any connections to Dubstep? Were their any particular artists or labels that inspired that crossover?

There’s still really good stuff that’s being released at the moment, I still follow it to some extent. It’s hard to say, I was really into some of the stuff that Pinch was doing with Tectonic. I guess the stuff that didn’t really fit in the Dubstep pattern, like the Applepips records that were House and Techno infused. Some of the stuff that Skull Disco was doing at that time would be down at 120bpm and so didn’t really fit in a Dubstep set. They had the massive long Ricardo Villalobos remix as well, that’s the stuff that really inspired me.

You used to work in a record shop; that must have exposed you to a lot of music? 

We were selling new stuff, but we also had a massive back catalogue of old and second hand records. People came in and sold their collections to us, so that was the perfect school for me to learn.

You must still value vinyl highly – your last three EPs, (the two you’ve released yourself and the other on We Play House) have all been vinyl only…

I still love buying and playing vinyl, but I wouldn’t say that I’m an elitist. One of the reasons I’m doing the Locked Groove vinyl only thing is because it’s easier: you can just press 300 records and release it, there’s no real hassle of doing a massive promo campaign. It’s something that’s fast and easy, you just put it out…

I would have thought most people would find it far easier just to up something on Beatport…

I guess it depends on the way you approach it. I always got the feeling with the stuff I was doing on vinyl that it wouldn’t really benefit from receiving a digital release as well. These days I play mostly digital because the vinyl set-ups are really bad in most places. It’s a love/hate affair with vinyl – I hate carrying it, in most places I hate playing it as well because the sound system won’t be set-up properly for it, but I do always try to bring some records with me when I play. Some people look down on USBs, but I don’t necessarily see it as a bad thing, it’s just a medium. I’d far rather see someone play an amazing set from a USB than someone that is super stubborn and wants to play on vinyl but doesn’t know how to mix it properly.

Would you have any problems re-pressing your releases if there was demand?

Not at all. I hate the Discogs sharks as much as everyone – it’s really bad to buy a record just because you know it’s going to be really expensive on Discogs and then sell it for €60 a week after the release. On the other hand, just because the 300 copies you pressed sell out immediately and are going on Discogs for €50, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can justify a full repress of that record. There might be fifty heads that really want the record, but that doesn’t mean you’ll sell the full 300 copies again. People don’t really look at it in perspective. For instance, Levon Vincent’s records are super expensive on Discogs but it took him so long to repress because it doesn’t make sense to do 500 copies the first time, sell them all and then, just because there’s a few people that really want it, do another run. You might sell 100 but be left with 400 back stock which you’ll lose a lot of money on, and in some cases you need to sell all your copies to be able to do the next release.

 You’ve had a busy couple of years since your Hotflush debut, and you’ve touched a lot of different bases between House and Techno. Do you think there’s been a traceable progression through your productions?

You obviously evolve throughout your career – it’s not really possible to make the same music over and over because you evolve as a person and as a result so does your music. I was bombarded into doing music for a living, and it took me a while to actually find out what I wanted to do. Until a couple of months ago I was still figuring that out, but slowly it had all been moving towards that point.

And what is it then that you want to do?

The stuff I’m going to release now is more cohesive and in the same direction. My last couple of records have been more coherent and a little less all over the place, which is something I want to progress towards. It takes time to build up your own sound.

Your new EP is out next week, and it sounds quite different to your previous releases. Was there a particular inspiration behind it?

Most of the stuff I’m writing now is in that vibe. Mark Pritchard used to have an alias called Link, that and all the older Artificial Intelligence stuff was the inspiration behind that EP. I tried to capture that vibe but in a Techno or House track. It’s definitely something I’ve been doing more over the last couple of months; trying to have less elements but still use melody in the same way that I have in most of my releases.

Does that aesthetic apply to your DJ sets as well?

Yes, absolutely. In the last couple of months I’ve actually had a click about what I actually want to DJ as well…

That’s a lot of revelations!

Yeah, which is a tough thing. When I started DJing I got loads of bookings for the harder stuff, but then some people would book me to play a House set. That made it really difficult to choose what you wanted to bring to the crowd – some would really want to see you play Techno but then others wanted something else. But now, over the past few months I’ve found a really good middle road between the tougher stuff and the more ‘House’ stuff.

The new EP is called ‘Thesseus’. Is there a meaning behind your titles?

The A side ‘Thesseus’ is named after a book I was reading at the time. It’s from Greek mythology, and Thesseus is the guy that kills the Minotaur. The B side ‘Meditations In An Emergency’ is taken from the title of a poem by Frank O’Hara, who was an art critic and a poet. I was also reading that while I was making the EP. I often take titles that are inspired by books, poems, movies etc.

At what point in the writing process do you make those connections for the titles?

Usually it’s while I’m reading. I try to read as much as possible, as it gets you into a certain vibe or mood that can help get an idea behind a tune… if that makes any sense!

The ‘Thesseus’ EP is being released on Permanent Vacation, how did that relationship come about?

I wrote another tune that I thought would fit the label. I asked one of my friends at We Play House if he had a contact and sent them the track, which they then released on their compilation ‘If This Is House I Want My Money Back III’ a few months ago. After that I asked them if they would be up for a release, I had these two tunes, said I’m going to have Clockwork do a remix, and that was basically it – pretty simple!

And finally, what do you have planned for the rest of 2014? Will you be releasing anything more or just gigging lots?

As I’ve been writing so much music in the studio this summer, I took a bit of time off touring to try and figure out what kind of parties I wanted to do and what direction to take. I’m not really a fan of doing too many bookings just for the sake of it. I’ll be pretty busy playing the next few months, but I also have another release coming on Hotflush which is finished now. I’m also doing a release on Life and Death as well, that’s coming October ish.

The ‘Thesseus’ EP is out on Permanent Vacation, September 26th.  You can order the vinyl here.

Words: Jonathan Kambskarð-Bennett

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