It’s been four years since Belgian whippersnapper Netsky first plunged his eponymous debut into the world of liquid drum n bass. He was actually still in his third year at uni at the time. Following the release of imaginatively named sophomore album 2, Netsky, aka Boris Daenen, is still riding on the ripples of his inital success. Speaking to us from his old stomping ground of Antwerp, Boris explains why he is returning to Parklife for a third time this summer, despite the inevitability that it will, at some point, piss it down.
“I won’t forget my wellies this time,” he snorts, “No, I do love Parklife. It’s one of the few festivals in our schedule that we [Hospital Records] get the chance to play together as a label on the same stage. That only really happens in the UK now. In Europe, we’re often part of more mainstream line-ups, sometimes with no other DnB acts on the bill at all. These big festival stages are a completely different world to club gigs. A lot of the time you can’t hear or see the crowd at all, which takes some getting used to. There’s no real connection, but it’s still a thrill to perform on that scale with the lights, the sound and everything that’s going on. Playing clubs is so different. We played a few smaller places in Asia last year and I’d nearly forgotten how nice it was to have that intimacy.”
Having to sacrifice any intimate DJ sets for a while then, Boris reveals that the focus this year is primarily on the live show. “It’s me, a keyboard player and a drummer on stage. A few guest vocalists too. There’s a very free environment between us all, a lot more like a live band. Every show has been different, from the very beginning. Nobody feels obliged to stick to a formula, we’re always trying to develop the show as a group. If our drummer throws in a new fill one night and it works then we’ll look to build on that for the next show. If it doesn’t work then that’s fine too; we’re not scared to learn from our mistakes.”
“Percussion has always been very important to me. I started playing drums myself when I was about 7 but it wasn’t until about 14 that I got properly got into breaks. I remember hearing a jungle track around that time and being blown away by the energy. Before that I was listening to a lot of Troydon and Joey Youngman, trying to conjure up deep house on eJay and Fruityloops. DnB hadn’t really taken off in Belgium at that stage. From that point on though, I locked myself away in my bedroom and became such a computer nerd, messing around with drum loops and producing as much as possible. I ended up on Ableton, mixing down on Logic. I’ve used that combination for so many of my tracks.”
Netsky’s reclusive approach certainly paid dividends when Hospital came a-calling just before he was about to graduate. It was this proposition that saved him from the aftermath a dodgy degree choice: “I was studying Multimedia and I hated it. It had nothing to do with what I do now. When the offer came along it was amazing, but also such a relief to know what I was going to do. I know I’m lucky in that sense. If it hadn’t happened, I would have probably ended up in web-design. And I’d probably be pissed off with my boss.” No disrespect to any web-designers out there.
In terms of what’s next on the release front, Boris does let slip that he’s recently been in the studio with a certain production juggernaut, Mr. Diplo. His DnB faithful might not be overjoyed with that news, but the risk of alienating some fans is something that Boris acknowledges himself as a consequence of trying to develop as an artist.
“When you build up a fan-base, people associate you with a certain genre. There’s a lot of people in DnB who want to protect their genre and it’s hard for them to accept that producers want to experiment with different styles. Those types of people can be so emotional when it comes to veering away from the genre they love. I suppose it can be a good thing and a bad thing. But even if I do make something that isn’t 170, it’s still me. I think you can still maintain a certain feel in a different genre. There should be more divisions between artists and less between genres. I’d rather make a Netsky tune than a DnB tune.”
The guy’s individual ambition is unquestionable. Whether you enjoy his music or not, his rise to popularity at such an early age is quite impressive. If you consider how fast he has been able to propel himself into the mainstream, then God knows where he’ll be in another four years time. Probably sitting by a pool in Miami somewhere, celebrating super-stardom with High Contrast and Major Lazer whilst sipping on a tall drink with a little umbrella in it.
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