Second installment of Mixtapes From Mars is hereby ready. Netherlands wunderkind Steve Mensink steps up with a terrific and different techno mix, and some sophisticated answers on the Q&A. There is no tracklist for this mix, see if you can figure it out. Some of it is revealed in the Q&A.
Steve Mensink is a young man with passion for art, sound design, digital controllers and electronic music among others. With his many aliases Steve Mensink explores the electronic music universe in many different shapes. His most popular alias, Felix Lenferink, found our interest with its inspiring live performance on Boiler Room.tv. We of course wrote the fictive Felix Lenferink, when we decided to start this mixtape project, and Steve answered back.
My real name is ‘Steve Mensink’. I’m the one behind Felix Lenferink, but also behind ‘Frits Wentink‘, and ‘Urkelle‘. I’m down with doing a 30 – 40 minute mix of strange sounding music under my real name.
After having researched his other aliases, we didn’t hesitate with answering ‘Yes’. Graduated as audio designer in Utrecht, the Institute of the Arts, Steve programs his own audio software and builds his own controllers. Combined with the influence of old techno, hip-hop and modern classical music, Steve has created his own versions of different electronic genres, and further, how controllers and mixers can help visualize the idea of his music. More on this in the interesting Q&A, where Steve answer questions about the mix, his aliases, home build controllers and future releases. See the slide of Steve’s home build controllers. Beauties.
WAS: Taking the usual “last question” first, so we start with the mix. It really surprised us, as it sticks out from the sounds of your many aliases, despite it has the experimental approach. Tell us some thoughts about the mix and selection you’ve made for us. And of course how it’s made.
Mensink: These are all tracks forum my vinyl collection. I bought a lot of vinyl between 2001 and 2008. I enjoy the aggressiveness of those records, but in way that doesn’t need a lot of change in music or different sounds.
The whole mix is a combination of loop techno records combined with modern classical music. There are some obvious combi’s like Stokhausen and Bretschneider. But pay attention to that opening piece blending in with Marco Carola and Pounding Grooves. Or James Ruskin together with Philippe Mion.
In the middle of the mix there are some sound fragments of the next Felix Lenferink ep on Fourt Wave. It’s a two tracker with remixes from Frits Wentink and Gerry Read.
WAS: As written in the introduction, you have 3 aliases. Can you explain the idea behind having several aliases, and what each of them stands for?
Mensink: I get creative when I try to create something as someone. See it like a great way to force inspiration. Another way is that it is great to really bond with a label, I work together with triphouse Rotterdam as Frits, and also with Ramp (Fourth Wave) as Felix (Lenferink). It’s nice to keep things separated but still get the chance to do all these wonderful releases.
Frits (Wentink) basically stands for house, or what I think is house. house is very nostalgic right now. Without being to plainly house I do try to fiddle with cliches, a long string sample and 808 snares etc.
With Felix it’s more of a bass thing. or what I think the people around me call UK bass right now. The first 3 ep’s are still in the 120-130 bpm range, but expect that to change for the next releases.
The subject of music for Urkelle is the “not so danceable but wickedly interesting music”. This is really something that I enjoy intensively, It’s just really hard to sell right now, and there aren’t a lot of people that share my enthusiasm. Its hard to produce a record right now that’s completely unmixable but still sells enough to be even.
WAS: You design and build your own controllers entirely from scratch. There are many controllers on the market, but yours does have a more interesting design, but with what purpose? And how did you come up with the idea of creating your own performance tools?
Mensink: The idea basically started in art school. I was programming a lot of audio software at that time. I could create really complex and interesting sounds that even sounded great. The problem was that the audience outside the close group of nerds that knew what was going on did not experience it as interesting at al. So I was left with the task of getting laptop work interesting again for the rest of the people. I basically set my self the task to help people to listen to these abstract sounds produced by lines of code.
People sometimes wonder what the machines do. A lot of the times the controllers don’t really do anything special, or add any thing to sound. They do however add something to the listening experience. It should be clear that the real stuff happens ‘inside’ the computer. The controllers are just a way to alter minor things and to make bits of the process visual. Sometimes even symbollic. I’m working right now on a line of controllers that do just that. Nothing to control, more symbols of sounds. I find granular scapes are much easier to grasp when two leds are blinking and there are 12 knobs in what looks like a completely random order. See the controllers as handles to get people interested in more abstract sounds or certain behavior in music, perhaps in a way how the artwork of record artwork helps you to understand it’s music.
There are controllers that are really helpful though. I crafted some 16 channel mixers that I use in my live set. This is something i could not have easily done with the existing controllers on the marked.
WAS: What can we expect from Steve Mensink and his many aliases in the near future? And does he have a utopian vision for the future?
Mensink: Expect more music. There is a great project taking shape right now for Felix Lenferink. Think of a double vinyl, and somewhere early 2013. The third Triphouse Rotterdam release is going to be an remix only ep of my previous Frits Wentink Tracks on triphouse. There are some pretty interesting remixers on that one.
No utopian vision right now. I’m sure I will think of something one day :).
Just amazing. We recommend you to jump over on Triphouse Rotterdam to read their interview and hear Steve live (as Frits Wentink) here.