Firstly, Boss Priester is this your real name? Where are you from?
Yes, Boss Priester is indeed my real name. You can't imagine how many times people ask me for my ID to prove it, haha. I just moved to The Hague. I lived in Rotterdam for a couple of years, but I felt it was time for something new, so here I am.
You've been sending me music for a long time now. What is your current setup, and how has it developed over the years.
I've always been attracted to hardware in some sort of way. When I started making music about eight years ago, I had no clue how this kind of music was made. I could only hear it at the parties on the weekends. Curious as I was, I started doing research on what equipment these artists might be using.
I began by buying drum computers like the Roland TR-8, Korg Electribe 1, and Arturia DrumBrute. I even had an old Mackie CR1604 to run the sounds through for some extra crunch. I saw that trick on a video by a young Locklead (thank you!!).
During the weekdays, I tried to reproduce what I had heard over the weekend. I started taking some courses and eventually ended up studying Audio Design at the University of Arts in Utrecht. (Interestingly, I actually studied to diagnose and repair cars before this.)
Since I had to travel to school every day, there wasn't much time to make music for myself. I became proficient with Ableton, and after a while, I was able to produce good-sounding tracks using only software.
In my third year of college, I had more time to make music, and I wanted to switch back to my hardware setup because I enjoy experimenting with it. I bought an MPC1000, Orbit 9090, Roland TR-8s, Behringer MS-1, and a Soundcraft MTK interface to multitrack my gear. Later on, I acquired an ERM Multiclock to sync everything nicely with my DAW.
At the moment, my setup is a hybrid setup between Ableton and my hardware. I constantly try different combinations and load new samples into the machines. Those constant changes keep me inspired. I get bored quite quickly, so I need this, haha.
More generally, where and when do you make music?
The best time for me to lay down ideas is right after I wake up in the morning. I get out of bed, grab a coffee, and sketch ideas for three hours straight. I work in a linear fashion and try to trust my intuition to make the right creative decisions the first time. I don't like going back and forth on a track. In my experience, my best tracks work from the start. If an idea needs a lot of work to stay interesting, then maybe the idea itself wasn't that good.
After those three hours, it's time for breakfast and to work out.
When I come back, I often create a simple arrangement and do some mixing if necessary.
I usually complete tracks in no more than a day. I'm a sensitive person, and I can feel different from day to day. If I'm in a certain mood when making a track, it's important for me to finish it as much as possible in that session. That way, I believe I capture the initial idea as best as possible.
After that, I let the track rest for a day or so and then check it again. If it still sounds good, I send it out to my DJ/producer friends to see if it's really any good!
You said that "NRG" was a bit of a watershed track for you: what did you do differently when making it that caused this difference?
The weekend before making this track, I was at BRET. I think it was Tini and Doudou MD playing on Easter Monday afternoon. The sun was shining, and there was a really cool vibe. I have a very clear visual snapshot of that day in my mind. It was a good experience. The track name "NRG" is actually inspired by a really nice tattoo I saw that day!
Later that week, I went to the studio and tried to translate that visual snapshot into something musical.
I often try to make music derived from specific events and contexts. Experiencing music on a big sound system almost always inspires me. I'm not always dancing either. I love to quietly stand in the corner, listen, and analyze which sounds and melodies work well in the club. It's fascinating to see how tracks that you might skip at home can light up a crowd in the club.
For "NRG," I used the MPC and TR-8 for drums, Behringer MS-1 for bass, Orbit 9090 for the lead melody, and the vocal saying "NRG!" is my own voice pitched down. The dissonant chord is from the Arturia Stage 73 plugin. The rest of the elements were samples from my library programmed in Ableton.
I started by creating the drum groove and bassline. Then I found the lead sound in the Orbit 9090. I played a short melody on my MIDI keyboard during the break. After that, I dropped the bassline in again, and it just seemed to work. I added the modulated chords, vocal shots, and whispered "NRG" into the mic. That was it!
It was pure luck that these two different chapters in the song worked well together because I'm a complete noob when it comes to music theory, haha.
To bring it to life and add some character, I ran the stems through my mixer and recorded a mix with live automation on the effects and EQs.
This mix is entirely made up of your own productions. How did you put this together?
This set is constructed in Ableton Live. I constantly create new music and edits, all tracks are made in the past 12 months or so. Almost everything is still unreleased. I love to produce music and I’m happy I can share it via this format.
When I play solely my own music, I actually prefer to perform live. Last year, I did three live sets, and I really enjoyed working on those performances. I'm almost graduated now, and I'm planning to focus on my second live set. My plan is to have it ready this winter!