[Music & Interview]: Opuswerk

 

Music & Interview
Opuswerk

 

Introduction:
Opuswerk … Hendrik van Boetzelaer aka Opuswerk, based in Geneva, is an artist whose love for what triggers his raw emotions is highly contatigious.

 

Interview:

Hello Hendrik. nice to “meet” you for this short interview. Let‘s start at the very beginning. When were you born and where did you grow up? Which music did you like in your youth (e.g. being a teenager)? And when and how did you discover electronic music & techno as one of your favourite music?
Nice to meet you too!

I’m born and raised in Geneva Switzerland and I still live here. I was lucky to have my teens in a period when it was as rich culturally as it is financially. Back then, the numerous squats offered fantastic opportunities to discover all types of music. Going to those is when i really opened up my ears and mind to a lot of things from music to different ways of looking at life.

It was during my first years of high school that I discovered UK dub (which was and still is huge here). From there it my love for underground and lesser known music simply grew to an obsession. From then on I kept discovering one genre after the other as i was digging my way through.

Techno is such a broad term nowadays, and encompasses lots of music I do not relate to at all. So to call it my favorite music wouldn’t be accurate. However I would argue that its the futuristic and visionary aspect of tracks and songs that get me the most interested, and some of techno has a lot of that 🙂 .

 

Opuswerk 1
(people freaking out during an Opuswerk set)

 
After discovering this kind of music … was there a special moment/event etc that convinced you to start your own “career”?
It was a slow process, music creeped its way into my life to the point where I had to accept it was all i wanted to do.

Over many years, step by step, I acquired some records; one turntable, which I used to learned how to beatmatch while I had a tape deck playing on my hi-fi. Then a mixer (a trusty DJM300) and lastly finally a second MK2. This allowed me to have endless mixing sessions in my parents basement, playing music for hours on end to myself. I never had the goal of being a “DJ”. It was always sheer passion that drove me, and still is what gets me to dig new music and go to my studio. Career or not, I would do it anyway.

As to a special moment where it cliqued; It was after playing at Mosaique in St Petersburg for the 1st year birthday tour of Nikita Zabelin’s project Resonance. After my set, cooling down in a corner of the club, I realised I wanted to do all I could to pursue being an artist every moment of my life. Music was really giving me so much back humanely and emotionally, compared to what I had studied and was doing, that i decided to jump ships and pursue ways of making a living of what is making me the happiest every day.

 

Opuswerk 2
(Opuswerk promo picture)

 
What inspired you to start with DJing and producing?
Coming home from the haze of night outs, I always had beats in my head that i didn’t want to stop. That’s what made me crave to find a way to continue the experience before the next weekend. DJing was the only way to experience the music I liked in the same way as in a club in the form of a continuous mix. I couldn’t find any drum and bass or dub mix cds in the shops here, had rinsed whatever mixtapes friends had made for me and I needed more. Learning to mix with the very same 10 records, allowed me to discover the magic of how a fleeting track appears out of a mix and become something completely new. Combinations seemed endless.

Producing came about from an obsessive curiosity to understand how things work. It was also a way to get my head out of my architecture studies. During those long years, I had very little time for anything else than studying. There was a copy of Cubase on my flatmate, and I ended up borrowing it a lot. I remember it took me a long while to discover what the Amen break was, after I had spent countless hours trying to make my drums sound like this from one shot samples. From there, learning the tools allowed me to find ways to express myself differently, connecting with my inner self and letting go.

 


(snippets of “Kähler E.P.”, released on Knotweed in 2012)

 
You started Opuswerk as duo with Benoît Hamard but he left later. What is the difference working with him and now working alone?
Opuswerk is a solo project since 2010. We had innocently started it with Benoît as we wanted to make music together, and have fun. The first 2 releases were done together without much thought about it. Pretty quickly my obsession outgrew his, so we drifted away musically. I believe every release needs to add a little something to the bigger picture of music. I’m not sure I achieve that, but it’s what I strive for.

Working alone allows more freedom, and more self doubt, but also a more immediate connection to the music and the moment, I find it easier to let go and have my body instinctively build sounds. On the other side, I still love collaborate a lot, like with François X or Ripperton more recently. Exchanging ideas, opinions and techniques is wonderful too.

 


(full stream of the track “Zuev”, released on ARTS in 2017)

 
Where does the name come from? Any special meaning? It reminds me of an Austrian band from the 80ies – perhaps also because the word “werk” sounds German to me.
The name came from trying to find something that sounded cool and had a german consonance too (Benoît and me were big Studio 1 and early Auftrieb / Kompakt fans).

Werk sounded very much like it, and Opus is the latin word used to enumerate every constructive part of a building which touched me as an architect. We understood it as a “part of a work”, although I think it actually translates to work-work. At the time, there was nothing coming up in search engines using that word, and it sounded like Kraftwerk, so we went with it and it stuck since then.

 

Opuswerk 2
(Hendrik aka Opuswerk in action)

 
As mentioned Opuswerk is now a solo project of you but you also work with François X on stuff released under the moniker HISS:1292. First of all: what stands the name for? How do you work together? Who delivers which part?
HISS:1292 stands for the hiss that the music had due to the gear we used on the records. 1292 stands for both our postal codes, 12 is Geneva, 92 somewhere in Paris. The first records happened as a result of studio sessions at my place when FX was living in Geneva.

Working remotely didn’t really give satisfying results. So we stick to getting together in the same room for making music. Unfortunately this has been tough to make happen with our touring schedules and the fact that we live in different cities. Still, we are in touch daily, and do send music to each other all the time.

Collaborating with him was really a game changer for me, we both have very different musical backgrounds, but we click to similar stuff. He has a huge insight on techno and house history which I am was missing. As for me, I’m a bit more of machine and studio geek than he was. With time, those skillset got blurred, although he knows still way more about house music than I do, and how to make a groove groove. There is some sort of magic happening when we make music. We learned to make a flow happen, with no predefined parts and listening and vibing of each other’s ideas. With time I’ve become the one doing the final mixes of our collaborative tracks and sometimes for his solo work too, like his Murky Dreams EP which we mixed in my studio in Geneva.

 


(snippets of the EP “VéVé” by HISS:1292 on DEMENT3D Records)

 
You already had releases on labels like Krill, Arts and now Bipolar Disorder. How did you get in touch with them? Did you send demos or did they find you? How much are you usually involved in the process for the finished product like artwork, promotion etc? What differences do you see in working with several labels?
Those records came about quite naturally, and with not real plans behind them at the start. I’m a believer of having things happen organically and of helping yourself get to the goals you aim for.

As to getting to the finished product; I like to be involved in the whole process. I also feel it’s part of the job to make sure the music I made gets out in the best way it can. Especially as nowadays, there’s little to no money in it for labels. It is the artist’s duty to do as much as possible to help the persons who have put trust, money and effort into getting their arts out to the world.

 


(full stream of the track “Extensum”, released on “Forms Of Multiplicity EP” via Bipolar Disorder)

 
You live in Switzerland. A small country with a few big cities and huge mountains. How is the techno scene there – are there with clubs, Swiss DJs and producers? Any party or club you love and recommend? Any Swiss DJs and producers you like?
Electronic music in Switzerland is pretty healthy despite the small size of the country.

We have “super clubs”, like audio, d! Club, Nordstern and Hive; as well as music lover havens, which I’m personally more attached to, like Elysia, Zukunft, Folklor, La Coupole, Le Zoo, Klub Kegelbahn. I do feel like we miss smaller clubs with a less than 200 people capacity.

As for DJs and producers, I’ve got to give a shout to Agonis and Garçon who I feel a strong connection to musically. Also worth checking are Pascal Viscardi, Mod21, Ripperton, as well as Eli Verveine, Princess P, Honorée, Mah’Mood and WTF, Androo, Jean Toussaint, Lexx who are all very fine DJs, also record store-wise, Bongo Joe and Plattfon are must visit. I’m sure there are many I’ve just haven’t discovered yet.

 


(Opuswerk remix for Steam’s “The Blacksmith’s Apprentice”, released on Obscuur Records)

 
We just talked about the Swiss techno scene. You are resident at Techno Legends nights taking place at Le Zoo in Geneva. When did you start the residency and how did it happen? What is the special thing about playing there?
Le Zoo is one of the places where I started going out to and it is a staple in the swiss scene for 25 years now. As such, being a part of it means really a lot to me. It was some sort of extra living room as a teenager and party goer, and became one too as an artist later on which feels like a blessing. Playing there is always a pleasure, and it’s very special to think that somewhere on the dancefloor someone like myself many years ago is dancing and discovering this whole world of music.

The residency came about as a realisation after the fact. I had already played many sets for those nights, when the former club booker realized she was always calling me for those nights as she wanted the best local act she could get. I was the one popping to her mind all the time, from then I was officially resident for those nights. To this day it’s one of the best compliment I’ve received as an artist. With the new booker those nights have come to an end.

I’m now pushing an itinerant party concept called OPUS where I act as the curator of the night which is really fun. Some of the previous guests were Sandrien, Iori, Garçon, Agonis, JP Enfant, Ulf Eriksson and Nikita Zabelin.

 

Opuswerk 3
(“Techno Makes Sense W/” … Opuswerk)

 
You travel a lot to international bookings. What extreme or funny situations did you experience?
While touring Russia with Nikita Zabelin, we were in Krasnodar, which is deep in southern Russia. We were heading to the club which is in an industrial complex, but it really looks like in those russian mafia movies, no lights, endless industrial buildings, no roads. Really dodgy. Back then I didn’t know Nikita so well, so I could only trust him, but I was not feeling very comfortable during the ride to the club, as it took a good 15 to 20 min in the industrial area before we got there. Party turned out fine, but I did have a cold sweat on the way. Not that extreme, but a funny memory every time.

I’m going to Colombia soon, so will see what that will bring…

 

Opuswerk 3
(Opuswerk playing with some equipment)

 
I read that you love gear / technical equipment. So what equipment do you own and how do you use it for your productions? Tell us something about your production process.
I recently did a studio feature for Bitwig, which is the DAW I use since the beginning of 2018. Equipment-wise, after being in my living room, I’ve now got a dedicated space for it. Although it took me about a year to get all settled in and too many computer woes, I now feel very comfortable making music there again.

My studio is centered around hardware and software driven by a Sequentix Cirklon and all going to an APB Dynasonics Spectra Ti mixing desk. Everything, synths, FXs, is plugged and accessible at all times. Thanks to several patchbays, I can easily replug whatever I want into whatever else, as well as record everything separately or as a whole.

With time, I’ve learned my process involves hours of noodling until my brain suddenly clicks and tracks get done, and more often than not tracks spawn from a technical idea rather than a musical one. That final process is often very fast and either ends up being a final track or 95% of one.

This jamming / flowing process is at the core of how I work, but I can never know how or when it’s going to happen. Sometimes it’s at the beginning of a session, sometimes at the end, or in the middle of finishing the last 5% of a previous tracks. I’ve lost so many great jams and tracks thinking I would finish them later that I cannot count them no more. So I designed my current setup so that I can record everything all the time and catch the magic of the moment as easily as possible. Interestingly, this way of working has produced much more honest and close to myself music than before.

 

Opuswerk 3
(some of Opuswerk’s equipment)

 
Please name 10 records that were/are very important for you and your musical development and explain why.
That’s a really tough question, so here are some records dear to me, and whose memory resonate with a special moment of my life.

01. Live at Wembley by Queen
This was my wake up cd for many years. Must have done something to my brain.

02. Armagideon time pt1 by Mighty Massa
This was an anthem at the dub parties I was going to. That bassline still gives me goosebumps every single time. It’s also the one track that pulled me over to the dub side, along LPs by Earthquake Studios and Iration Steppas. I got to meet the man behind the music many moons ago in Tokyo and it was really special.

03. Up All Night by John B
This was my first ever 12”. With a copy of Cause 4 Concern Cerberus. I learned beat matching playing those 2 records while a cassette from a recorded radio show was playing.

04. Up Color serie by Studio 1
The first minimal techno project I heard, the whole collection still blows my mind to this day.

05. Inacunabula by Autechre
I remember borrowing this album along with many Warp CDs from the CD library. It blew my mind, and I’ve had it on repeat for so long that the minidisc copy it was on broke.

06. Nek Salanet by Kit Clayton
This album accompanied me for so many long nights drawing architecture plans. It was also the one that pulled me from drum and bass, which was getting extremely dull at that time to the more technoid side of things. It’s dubby feel, and futuristic vibe is fantastic. Was also really interesting to read there was a connection between him and Juan Mendez (Silent Servant).

07. Sandstorms by Carl Craig
François X showed me this tune and it was an instant love affair, getting me deeper in the sounds from Detroit, which I knew very little of at the time.

08. Affenstunde by Popol Vuh
That album opened to me the world of Krautrock and more cosmic music, I’m still on the journey discovering it.

09. Aste by Ø
On the way home from a party, Chaton/19.454.18.5.25.5.18 sent me to explore the Sahko label. Mika Vaino’s Ø project blew my mind. Perfect minimalism and grooves with a fantastic taste of space. RIP.

10. Second Woman by Second Woman
That recent album really inspires me in how it sounds futuristic both in its sound textures and its rhythms. I hope more music like this will come out.

I’ve got to also mention the following who are having a big impact on me recently, Cerrone, Patrick Cowley, Vakula, Oliver Ho, Nina Kraviz, James Blake, Jonny Nash, Forest Drive West, Ma Spaventi, Cosmin TRG.

 


(“Radio Ga Ga (Live At Wembley)” by Queen)

 
Coming to the end of the small interview we would like to know what‘s coming next. Any releases already scheduled? Some special events?
Since 2017, I’ve started curating events called #OPUS, where I invite artists I like, the last one was with Sandrien at the Folklor, and following this it will be with Blawan at le Zoo in May.

Release-wise, there’s a solo EP coming on the new Dement3dXXX labelwhich I’m really happy with, a track on the upcoming VA of Norite and more than I’m finalizing. I’ll be touring Columbia for the first time in March and I can’t wait to be there!

 

Recommendations:
Opuswerk’ s “Forms Of Multiplicity EP” on Bipolar Disorder
BYLLY’s “Mouth Full Of Sand EP” w/ Opuswerk remix on Bipolar Disorder

 

Exclusive Mix:

 

Tracklist of Exclusive Mix:
01. Varg – Kvarteret Helvetet
02. Convextion – Venus In Spurs
03. Vedomir – Dreams (Marcel Dettmann Remix)
04. T++ – Audio1995#8
05. Wrong Assessment – Rebirth Cosmin TRG remix
06. DJ Sodeyama – TEST PTTRN 014
07. Anastasia Kristensen – Donni
08. Marcellus Pittman – Dirty
09. Shadowax – A & B (Buttechno Remix)
10. Nina Kraviz vs Snazzy – U Ludei Est Pravo!
11. Carl Craig – Angel (Japanese Mix)
12. Forest Drive West – Persistence of Memory, Pt. 2
13. Upsammy – Another Place
14. Ploy – Unruly
15. Simo Cell – Ego Death
16. Echopplex – Your Place (A Made Up Sound Remix)
17. Barker – Cascade Effect
18. Solar Quest – Flying Spirals

 

Websites:
Opuswerk

 

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