In-Depth: The process behind our line-up and label.
The festival seems just around the corner, which means it’s about time we kick our blog season back into gear. With a fifth anniversary edition, a shiny new lineup, a label launch and new hosts joining the event, there’s plenty to talk about. What better way to get you up to speed than simply letting head honcho Steven answer some questions? We managed to snatch him away from his overflowing schedule just long enough for this interview. Onwards!
Voltage turns 5 and I just have to say: the lineup is stepping up not one, but a dozen of notches. What did you have for breakfast on Selection Day?
Booking a line-up for a festival is a long process and usually takes about three months to complete from availability check till signed contract. It’s a long process and a lot of balancing has to be done along the way. To be honest I’m thinking about next year’s line-up already, making lists, adding names and so on.
Since last year I’m doing the line-up for Voltage together with Spacid. I’m happy with how that works out. I have this tendency to book maybe a little too underground or less known DJs, and Spacid is a significant help in getting the balance right and thinking about a good balance between obscure and known acts. Even though we always end up with me saying that we need more small and upcoming names.
As part of the celebration, you are releasing four vinyl EPs featuring a lot of artists that will also be present at the festival.
I came up with the idea somewhere in September and started sending some befriended artists. After that, I decided to send to some names that I thought were close to impossible to get signed on the compilation (Orphx, Luigi Tozzi, …) but in the end, almost everyone I contacted - even though the deadline was super tight - said yes.
I’m super excited about this project, and it’s probably the one thing I’m most proud of in these seven years of organizing parties and running different musical projects. I can die in peace now (laughs).
One of the things that really caught my eye when you sent the mockups was the eye-catching artwork.
For all my projects I work with my best friend and brother Phaze Øne. He as well learned a lot of stuff in these two years of doing artwork for Form and Function and we really thought a lot about how we wanted everything to look and feel.
It didn’t have to be related to the festival’s artwork, but it shouldn’t be totally different as well. So that was a balance we had to take into account, and I like to think we managed well.
But indeed, it has to be said he did a fantastic job once again!
You’ve also been DJing for years as Pilose. No release plans on the horizon? Or on this series for that matter?
I actually changed my name to “Parallel Circuit” recently. Pilose was a name I chose seven years ago in the blink of an eye when I started with the Ohm radio shows. I never imagined it would last this long. With Voltage and Form and Function growing and my musical and artistic taste developing and changing I felt an urge I couldn’t neglect anymore to change my name as well.
Parallel Circuit was actually at first the name of the Circuit Breaker EP, but I liked the name so much that I shamelessly decided to use it myself.
As for releasing my own music, I’m not producing, not even a little bit, at this moment as the label(s) and the festival takes up all of my time. But I must confess that it starts to itch to build a studio again and take up producing. But it’s more something I have in mind for in a year or so. The focus this year is 100% on Voltage and Form and Function.
I can quickly pick my favorites and kill your darlings, but how hard was it to select tracks – and possibly reject things from artists you admire?
It’s super hard, and it’s something I still struggle with from time to time as I’m not a producer. Giving criticism feels strange. The first releases with Form and Function I did were a learning process, but along the way, you start to trust your own opinion more and more.
Often when I neglected a feeling I had about a track or a part of the track I ignored it, but later on I had to confess to myself that it made me less happy about a release. In the end, both I and the producer/artist just want to have the best possible version. Having a discussion about the tracks only benefits that goal. And a lot of artists respect it - and even want that.
It’s one of the significant things I promised myself for 2019. Always trust your gut feeling, only do what you 100% stand behind and never settle for less. It sounds like a cliché, but putting it into reality is far more difficult and courageous than the title suggest. There’s so much pressure, so much thinking in terms of “Everyone does it like this”, to break out of that mold is not easy. But in the end, it’s by far the most rewarding way. It’s my biggest mission to avoid running into this trap.
Sorry for geeking out for a moment, but the mastering is done by one of my favorite engineers: Conor Dalton. How did that happen?
He indeed is one of my favorite mastering engineers too. I was following Conor already for quite some time and for the FUNC002 record by Qindek we decided to contact him and see how it goes. It turned out to be really good, and it was a very logical thing to ask him for a project like Voltage’s label.
It was crazy to see how these 16 tracks all got approved so fast and with so little changes to the mastering process requested by the artist. He is one of the best out there for sure. And no, I’m not getting better prices for saying this (laughs).
Again sorry – but you’ll have to seriously work your magic next year to top this ;)
I heard this last year as well, so all I can say is: challenge accepted!
Interview by Didier Beydts