Most people interested in Pioneer’s kit will have seen Rik in some shape or form over the last several years… He’s the affable chap talking us through the products’ new features and how to set it up. Recently, DJ luminaries have joined him as he shows them the new features and gets them to show their skills to the camera. For a long time I just thought that Rik was one of those boffin-types who donned a white lab coat, a funny hat and slippers – one of the dudes that sit in the static-free environment and built the kit. I had no clue that he actually existed outside of this make-believe R&D silo. In fact, rather than being bred in a lab for the sole purpose of pushing Pioneer ever further in the DJ arms race, Rik has been a DJ and producer since 1999. Originally under the moniker of Jazz Sensation, he had tracks signed to Soul Tonic and Sounds Like Soul. But he wanted to develop his sound and enrolled on the Creative Music and Sound Technology course at Leeds University and was immersed in a thriving and diverse scene. Since graduating in 2006, Rik has worked alongside some of the biggest names in dance music, as well as been an evangelist for the de facto industry standard kit across the globe. Most people would be content with this, but Rik continues to push himself and now he is signed to Hailstorm and looking to cast off the boffin-like shackles of the Pioneer dude and step into the light as an artist in his own right.
Rik! Thanks for grabbing some time with us. You’ve been producing since 2003, what is it do you think that means you’re only juststarting to break out into peoples’ consciousness now (nearly 10yrs later)? I think it’s truer to say I’ve been appealing to adifferent people’s consciousness and tastes at different times. That’s because I’ve been producing under a number of different names and my style has really developed over the years.
When I started producing it was under the alias Jazz Sensation and those tracks were super soulful and strongly influenced by US House and Garage. They had great rotation at some cool night spots across the globe and even found their way onto some mix compilations.
Over the last few years I’ve moved onto playing and producing a deeper, sparser sound that really gets under the skin. The last six years I’ve spent almost every waking moment creating some amazing new DJ products and ensuring the world’s finest jocks know the kit’s deepest secrets. It’s only in the last year – when I got signed up by Hailstorm Music – that I’ve been offered a great opportunity and platform to build on.
I spent a lot of time getting the production values just right. The reward is, I’m pleased to say, that my new tracks, ‘Ain’t No’ and ‘Trust Away’ are getting a lot of love from some major DJs and clubs. That’s getting me out on gigs and radio / internet shows like Ibiza Sonica and DJsounds a lot more, so people are getting to know the new me.
You describe your music as ‘toe tapping’ and ‘hip shaking’ tech. Where do you think the roots of that come from for you?Although in a club I love doing crazy things with loops and pushing decks and mixers to their full capacity, the most important thing as a producer is to create a groove that gets people ‘toe tapping’. I’m lucky to work with DJs from every genre imaginable: it’s great to spend so much time working out what gets people buzzing on the dance floor. So I’m not stuck on one style myself. But I guess the Tech influence has to come from Leeds, where I took a degree in Creative Music and Sound Technology and abused my student studio time making beats and not coursework.
Leeds was a HUGE place for dance music in the late 90s and early 2000s. How much of your course was spent at the clubs doing ‘research’ and how much was spent in the class rooms ‘learning’?
Well I’m not being assessed on course work any more, so I’d probably say 20/80! And Leeds STILL is and always will be a huge place for dance music. LEEDS LEEDS LEEDS!
Which had/has more impact on your development?
That’s a difficult one. I’ll cop out and say both. As a DJ, once you’ve mastered mixing, the skill’s all about reading the crowd and creating a magical musical adventure. You can only learn that by spending a lot of time in the clubs. But it’s not going to take you very far as a producer. Production is as much science as an art: that means a lot of heads-down work either in the classroom (for the amazingly self-disciplined) online.
Would you recommend a ‘formal’ route for producers who want to start out in the industry now, or should they spend time in the clubs and linked to the radio finding their sound and the references that are relevant to them?
No matter how much easier it is these days to lay down loops, production isn’t something that comes from intuition. It’s about a full package of skills including music theory, technology and sound engineering. So, yes, that means some form of formal training, whether as a degree or through a school. But don’t get me wrong, you have to have a passion and a drive for new music and ideas which is something that can’t be taught.
Everyone these days either claims to be a DJ or is wanting to be a DJ. What made you choose now to make the push and step into a crowded space?
Well I’ve been playing out for a long time now but spending most of my time teaching the world’s finest DJ’s. I’ve clocked up over 2million YouTube hits for my tips and tricks, so I am defiantly no spring chicken! What is new is that I’ve found my voice and my vibe with Hailstorm Music and they’re helping me to get my virtuoso approach out where it belongs on the dance floor. I’ve got huge support for the tracks from artists such as Lee Foss, Danny Howells and Damian Lazarus.
What should we be looking forward to from you over the next 6-12mths?
Lot’s more gigs! I’ve just got back from playing with Riton and Shadow Child on Brick Lane this weekend, headlined with Dropout a few weeks back, recorded a live show for DJsounds, played on Ibiza Sonica and will be in Plymouth on the 1st December with Ryan Luciano. Hailstorm are about to launch a night in London with me too so keep your eyes peeled for that. On the production side there’s a remix of “Old Too Young’s” track “Assistance” in the pipeline and a cheeky original vocal track from me before Santa arrives.
Where would you like to be as an artist in that time and over the next 5yrs?
I’d like to be known as someone who delivers great music in a unique way by exploring every last millimeter of technology.
Which three artists do you admire the most and why?
Tiger & Woods, David August and PBRStreetgang. Each have found their own voice and forged a path which stands out from their contemporaries. There are a lot of me too’ producers out there at the moment: you certainly can’t say that about these three.
Thanks very much for your time and good luck with your endeavors. I really appreciate you taking time out to chat with us.
His latest show on DJsounds is at http://youtu.be/treS-6jtu6I