Abstrakt Syntax is a drum and bass & dubstep duo formed by Koen Janssen en Wouter Hollanders from the most southern province of The Netherlands, Limburg. They’ve been producing different styles of electronic dance music since 2015 until they decided to focus mainly on drum and bass and dubstep as the love for bass genres surpassed everything else. Last year the duo released their tune The Drum on the Irish label Stagma Records and their first EP, The Necronomicon, followed swiftly. (Header photo by: Mitchell Giebels)
August 17th their second EP for the label will be premiered at the Bompue EP Release Party in pop podium Nieuwe Nor in Heerlen. I’ve asked both gents some questions about how they got into the drum and bass scene, how they go about working together, their future plans and of course about the upcoming EP.
Hi guys, how are you doing? Please introduce yourself for a bit: who are you and what do you do?
We are Wouter Hollanders and Koen Janssen and our alias is Abstrakt Syntax. We’re big fans of the underground bass genres. We love to go to parties, especially drum and bass or dubstep related.
When and how did you start the duo Abstrakt Syntax?
In 2015 we started playing big room and electro/bass house music as ZIAX. After visiting Mysteryland in 2015, the preference of our music had completely been changed. From that moment on we started to focus on the more underground related bass genres like dubstep or drum and bass. Around the start of the year 2017, we decided to take a more serious approach to producing and playing this kind of music as a duo.
We needed a name that represents us as a duo, one that is unique and also sticks with the audience. We both studied IT (Software Engineering), this is how our alias came about. Abstrakt (actually written with a C, stands for something that you can’t immediately see what it represents) & Syntax (a term from computer science that determines the rules/methods within a programming language). With the technological background, we both have we came up with an original name, Abstrakt Syntax. We used something that we deal with every day and it suits both of us. And in addition, the name sticks around.
How do you go about writing music in the studio? Do you guys have a particular workflow or a specific role?
We both have a bedroom studio with the necessary studio monitors and instruments. We both use a different method of production and we also allow each other to be open about this and develop our own styles. Our induvial style is noticeable when you compare our tracks with each other.
On the other hand, when we work on a track together in one of our studios, we create a unique style by combining our innovative skills and methods. Also, if we create individual tracks, we always give each other feedback. And sometimes we start a track separately but finish it together. So, in the end, we don’t have like a standard workflow we always follow. We just work with the vibe of the moment and we really like it this way.
What are your strong points in producing drum and bass music? And what would you like to improve?
I, Koen, feel like sound processing is one of my stronger points. For example, I want my drums to sound exactly like I hear them in my mind. I will keep finetuning all the effects I put on the individual drums and busses until I’m satisfied. This process is the same for most other sounds. And what I like to improve are my sound designing skills, because there are so many ways to create more and especially weird sounds. This also includes finding new VST’s and working with them. For example, I was planning on checking out the new Massive X from Native Instruments (obviously).
If you had to describe the sound of Abstrakt Syntax in 3 words, what would that be?
If we had to describe it in three words, haha, that’s a hard question. I would probably say deep, hard and nasty. That sums it up pretty much!
What ambitions do you gents have for the coming 5 years?
We always have big dreams. We’re constantly trying to improve ourselves: in our sound design, our way of creating tracks, the vibe setting of a track, mastering, mixing, you name it. We had to learn everything by trial and error, or with the help of the internet and we haven’t stopped learning. So, the whole music production process will be the number one priority for the next five years.
Our goal is to eventually have such a quality track that for example, the mighty UKF will release it on their channel. Another goal would be to shine on the stage at a Rampage event in Belgium. Hopefully, we can achieve this within 5 years.
Any particular artists (also non-dnb) who you look up to?
I, speaking as Wouter, really look up to a dubstep artist. Both genres I love and I really enjoy producing them, but if I can choose one dubstep artist, it would be Excision. I really like his sound design on the melodic dubstep tracks but also on the riddim and tear-out ones. For drum and bass, I would say Noisia, their sound design is just amazing!
I, Koen, Also like Noisia very much, also for their ridiculous sound design capabilities. Furthermore, I like Billain very much, personally, I’d say his production style speaks more to me than Noisia. Check out his latest EP and Album ?. A few more names for me: Spor, Current Value, Pegboard Nerds, Camo & Krooked, Netsky, A.M.C., Akov, Fox Stevenson, Muzzy.
Which tune never leaves your USB drive?
For me, speaking as Wouter, it would be Black Metal by Serum.
For me, Koen, I’d say The Hole Where Your House Was by Spor.
You have a new EP Bompu coming up on the Irish Stagma Records label congrats! What can you tell us about the EP?
Firstly, we were working on two new tracks and left them hanging for a bit. After some time Stagma Records asked us if we were interested in releasing a second EP with them, so we did. We picked up the two tracks and finished them for this EP. The names of the tracks are Buddhistic terms. I, Koen, chose the names of the tracks because I’m somewhat spiritual.
The track names suit my lifestyle as does the theme of the tune, so they fit perfectly. The title track is called Bompu, which means: Ordinary Zen, free from philosophical or religious contents, and is practised for the sole purpose of improving one’s physical and mental being.
The title of the other track has yet to be announced, so you’ll have to be patient. If you’d like to know the meaning of the second track, keep an eye out on our socials, or come to our EP Release party ?. The last track is a remix of a track that we’ve already released, this is also a huge secret, haha.
How did you get involved with the label?
I, Koen, added the founder of Stagma records on Facebook because he replied to a comment of mine. Afterwards, we got to talking about music and he asked me if we wanted to record a mix as a podcast on his label, which we did. Although the podcast was never published. Sometime later when I, Koen, was nearly done with the production of a track, I sent it to Stagma Records.
The owner liked the track very much, so much that it became our first official release on a label. You can check that tune, The Drum, right here:
After our first release we also released The Necronomicon EP on the label, and after that the Bompu EP will follow. You can check out The Necronomicon right here:
Are you happy with how the EP turned out?
Yes, we’re really happy with the outcome of the EP. We also enjoyed working together on both tracks. And also credits to the artist that should not be benamed for remixing an older track of ours. He did a great job on this track. It’s always great to see people having fun remixing your tracks and who want to work together.
August 17th you’ll be doing a release party at the Nieuwe Nor venue in Heerlen. What can you tell us about that night?
It is going to be an epic night. We have some very special artist flying in from Ireland and the Czech Republic to bring some madness to the Netherlands. People can expect some crazy visuals, heavy tunes, our new EP and just an amazing vibe, like always at the Nieuwe Nor in Heerlen.
Any last words?
Kom, samen met ons, een dikke fissa bouwen de 17e in de Nieuwe Nor te Heerlen ?.
Thanks for your time!