IT has been interesting speaking with Poltrock…
as he talks about his music and how he got into the business. I ask what the story is behind his latest track, Titanus, and what we can expect from his upcoming album, Machines – he reveals a few albums that are important to him and highlights a couple of rising artists to look out for.
Poltrock tells me what type of music he grew up around and, being based in Belgium, what the scene is like there; if there are there are going to be any gigs approaching; whether he gets time to unwind away from music – he chooses a great song to end the interview with.
Hi, Poltrock. How are you? How has your week been?
Great, thanks! My single, Titanus, has just been released and I’m finishing the video as we speak. I’m running my own label so it’s kind of busy but the sun is shining in Brussels and I discovered this new espresso blend that keeps me going.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m a Brussels-based producer and session keyboard player. I’ve been working behind the scenes for nearly two decades now. Now, I’ve finally decided to release my own stuff I’d been quietly compiling the last couple of years.
Titanus is your new single. Can you reveal the story behind the single?
I’m really glad about the track Titanus because it originated from a night jam with two of my favourite synths: the Novation Bass Station and the Dave Smith OB6. I basically approached this track like an improvising Jazz combo: I started jamming; left hand playing one synth, the right hand the other - got lost in the vibe of the moment and ended up six hypnotizing minutes later with 80% of the track finished.
The piano melody was ripped off a remix I did for Belgian Rock band Triggerfinger and features my beloved muted piano.
Machines is your upcoming album. I believe it completes a trilogy. What is the concept behind the trilogy and what stories inspired Machines?
The trilogy is my first release as a solo artist. Throughout the last couple of years, I’ve compiled a lot of improvisations and tracks and finally discovered that my material – although, thoroughly related by the presence of my ‘muted’ piano – was too diverse to be put on one album. That’s why I decided to split it up.
The first album, Mutes, introduces my signature piano sound with twelve short and intimate piano improvisations. The second album, Moods, immerses the same piano in dark ambient and cinematic soundscapes and the final album, Machines, introduces hypnotic synthesizer sequences, Techno beats and the use of ‘prepared piano’: mechanical modifications to make the piano sound like a ‘machine’.
Can you tell me what sort of music you grew up around? Which artists struck your ear?
I grew up listening to ’90s Indie-Rock and Hardcore. Victim’s Family, Nomeanso; Fugazi, that kind of stuff. Being a trained Jazz musician, I admit there is an awful lot of Bill Evans, Hank Mobley and Thelonious Monk in my current playlists.
The car is my favourite music listening habitat and there’s a plethora of cinematic, Electronic-Ambient artists to escort me on my tedious road trips: Tim Hecker (amazing new album!), Ben Frost; Stars of the Lid, Christina Vantzou; Deaf Center, Haxan Cloak; Oneohtrix Point Never; Fennesz, Rival Consoles…
As you hail from Belgium; what is the scene like there in terms of music?
The Belgian scene is quite uncomplicated because of its small scale and is roughly divided into a Flemish and a French-speaking scene. Everyone knows everyone, basically. I live in Brussels so I find myself in the middle of both scenes. The Indie-Rock scene is very much alive and there’s a lot of interesting Electronic music going on.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
Well; I do hope my Machines album gets some international attention. My music definitely won’t appeal to everyone, but there’s an interesting underground scene that focuses on Electronic and Neo-Classical crossover. I’ll be releasing a remix E.P. as well with remixes by a lot of interesting artists and I have a lot of interesting collaborations going.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Well. I’ve been around as a session guy for quite some time so there’s too many good memories to mention, actually…
I can get equally thrilled by playing a sunset gig at an astonishing festival in the Tuscany mountains than from recording an intimate piano impro. on a rainy Monday afternoon.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - David Bowie
My favourite album as a teenager.
Bach: The Goldberg Variations - Glenn Gould
I had to play Bach as a child and even back then I really loved it. Bach has had a huge influence on the way I approach harmony and melody.
Immunity - Jon Hopkins
I’m a late bloomer when it comes to organic Electronic music. Immunity was an eye-opener.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Well. I’d be honoured to tour with Soulwax just to be able to take a peek at their amazing setup and collection of vintage synths.
Rider-wise; I’m happy with a nice gin and tonic, although a Bösendorfer Grand would be much appreciated of course.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I teach Sound Design to future music professionals and I always advise them to diligently dig for their own musical identity. There’s no fun in mimicking other artists.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
I’ll start touring on 23. October in Belgium and Holland, which is exciting as well as frightening because I’ll be improvising surrounded by a grand piano as well as a rig of capricious vintage synths. A lot of things can go wrong from a technical point of view which is great fun (smiles).
Will you come to the U.K. and play at some point?
I’m in the middle of negotiating with U.K. agents and hope to come and play in the U.K. again very soon.
IN THIS PHOTO: Tim Green
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Releasing three albums a year doesn’t leave one with much time to discover new stuff. I’m afraid I keep digging up old guys like myself…
Young London Techno artist Tim Green makes great stuff, though. And, there’s an amazingly talented Belgian Ambient artist called oaktree who will release a new album next year. We’ll be collaborating for a joint-release next year as well.
IN THIS PHOTO: oaktree
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I just recorded three albums next to my ‘day job’ as a session player and sound designer which leaves me, basically, no time to unwind unfortunately. Could be worse, though; I have the best job in the world!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I just love the last Rival Consoles album. Thanks for playing Persona