Never having been an artist to indulge himself in marketable concessions, Amsterdam-based producer Applescal (Pascal Terstappen, 1987) can already look back on a respectable creative musical career. A skilled producer and live performer, Pascal’s debut album ‘A Slave’s Commitment’ (2009 – Traum Schallplatten) turned heads after it first hit the scene. resulting in massive support from across the globe. Its follow-up ‘A Mish Mash Of Changing Moods’ (2010) received equal critical acclaim, and further introduced the world to Applescal’s wonderfully arranged techno, electronica and IDM.
In between, the producer established his own label Atomnation, a creative hotspot that now houses talents such as David Douglas, Breek and AnimalZOO amongst others. Next to that, the producer is involved in the RTFKT platform, a social media-esque project designed to share newly discovered music.
Earlier this month saw the release of Applescal’s third album ‘Dreaming In Key’, on which he further blurs the boundaries between electronica and techno. The release alo meant a nod to the art of DYI’ing, as the album appeared through Applescal’s own Atomnation label where his previous two albums saw a release via dance music mammoth Traum Schllplatten. In the below interview, Applescal elaborates on the making of the album, Atomnation and RTFKT, and the need for creative independance.
Hi Pascal, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. How have you been lately?
I’ve been well. It’s winter in Amsterdam, one of my favorite seasons.
Let’s first talk about your new album ‘Dreaming In Key’, which was released earlier this month. How long has the album been in the making and how did you experience the production process?
It’s been a quite a long journey. Changing things, finishing tracks, finishing tracks again, changing things… then finishing a track that I already finished, changing the tracklist, changing the ending of a track, and so on, and so on. It took me some time to create a final product. Something at a 100%.
In your own words, how would you describe the overall sound and feel of the album?
It’s a dance album, but a complex one. I felt it had to be both intelligent and new, yet easy to listen to.
Can you reveal how you work in the studio? Do you write music from a specific pre-conceived idea or do you prefer to start jamming and let the creative juices flow? Would you say you approached the production of the new album in a different way than your previous two LPs?
I just sit down and go with the flow. There’s no specific formula for me. What is different from the previous albums are my ears. I have more experience now so I think this album is more mature.
‘Dreaming In Key’ will be released through your own Atomnation label, whereas your previous two albums were released by Traum Schallplatten. What has been the reason behind changing labels?
Sometimes you have to go into a new direction. I think Traum is a fantastic label with fantastic artists and a huge fan base, but the chemistry between us is gone and we had different ideas on how to release music.
Speaking of Atomnation, how did this platform came about? What is it you’re trying to achieve with it?
Atomnation is a label where we (me and a good friend of mine) try to bring good music to people who like good music. That’s what we try to achieve with each release. We’re not in it for the money as we put about all the money we make back into the music – to buy records, for proper mastering or to promote music for unknown artist we release on the label.
What can we expect from Atomnation in the coming months?
The next release is from Weval, two guys based in the Netherlands. All I can say is that they are brilliant and have a lot of talent (and when I say a lot, I mean…. A LOT…). Furthermore we have some other amazing releases planned, most of which are artist debuts.
We’ve noticed the label hosts a wealth of serious talent including David Douglas whose been releasing some very impressive tunage lately. What does it take to get aboard the Atomnation vessel?
I don’t know. We get to hear a lot of new music via RTFKT.net, a platform I founded together with friends. We discover artists before they break through or discovered by other labels. There is no specific vessel I think. We are not looking for a certain type of music nor for music that needs to be played or charted by DJ’s. We do not care about what kind of music or artist is hot at the moment. We are just looking for people with a vision, people working on a good product who take their music serious. People who make intelligent and sexy sexy and, most important, have an artistic edge. Take David Douglas and Breek for example: their music is fantastic but very different from each other. We don’t care about the rules of genres, it’s all about the esthetics of electronica.
You just mentioned RTFKT, a platform serving as an online jukebox for all types of electronic music. So how does this work? Do you search for interesting tracks online or do you get sent music by likeminded producers?
I’m 1/5th of rtfkt.net. RTFKT is a group of friends who all do different things but are connected through a love for music. One of us focuses on parties, one is a designer, one technically skilled… I myself have a decent network and experience in the music industry. We have a natural chemistry together. We see RTFKT as a sort of online dropbox where we share music with each other, a place where we share our love of good electronic stuff. We all like crate digging and discover new music, music that isn’t heard of before. When we discover an artist with 200 followers on Soundcloud and he makes badass tunes, we get excited because of the discovery we did. We love to push that kind of music. We actually get to connect with artists… which is one of the best parts of having such a platform.
How would you like to see RTFKT develop itself in the future?
We just keep on going by continuing to dig up good music and discovering new artists. We hope we can do something special for yet-unknown artists in the future by giving them a voice through our website. We just keep on going with the flow. That’s the charm of the platform: we’re not in it for fame or creating something based on continuous growth. We’re in it because we all love music for such a long time already.
Early last year, you released ‘Beaming Flowers From India’ an album released under your Yoshiba 87 alias. Has this been a one-off project or can we expect more Yoshiba 87 material in the future?
I released music as Yoshiba 87 strictly for creative freedom purposes. Yoshiba 87 had to sound exactly how I wanted it to sound: I did not aim at creating a specific sound for the clubs. It was never intended to cater to the needs of people who would expect me to play that music out, or fans of my work as Applescal. I’m not sure yet if I’m going to release music for Yoshiba 87 again. The idea of Yoshiba was to establish creative freedom for myself, for my mind, and I don’t know if Yoshiba can do this to me again.
So what else is coming up for you in terms of projects in 2013? Any scoops you would like to share?
There’s some remixes planned. One of them is from Fol Chen, coming out pretty soonish already.
Any final words of wisdom for our readers? Anything goes!
Life is not about becoming something, but about being happy with what you do and who you are. Don’t take things too serious just because people or a society expect you to be or become something. Just do what you want, take your responsibilities and go for it 100%.