Photo: Press (Delta Funktionen)
“Funky beats and spaced out sounds,” is the reply you get when you ask Niels Luinenburg what drew him to electro. Especially the latter can be heard in virtually every single one of his releases since he debuted as Delta Funktionen in 2008. But the Dutchman’s beats have also become significantly funkier over the course of his three albums. From his very first for Delsin to the recent double LP Junior High School Excursion To The Parallel World on his own Radio Matrix, Luinenburg has always in some way or another paid his dues to the genre which has been so hotly debated in the past two years. Unsurprisingly, Delta Funktionen’s electro-themed contribution to our Groove podcast has funky beats and spaced out sounds aplenty.
You grew up in a small town in the North of Holland and thus relatively isolated from a cultural perspective. When and how did you get to know about electro?
Ha, well this small town and region had a pretty strong connection to electronic music! The first Thunderdome rave in 1992 was 500 meters from my house, for example. Clubbing was a bit difficult though or basically non-existent. But The Netherlands are small, so going to Amsterdam or Groningen didn’t take that much time. Electro was always a part of techno for me. Just like IDM used to be. The first record I bought was Suburban Knight’s My Sol Dark Direction on Peacefrog. Must have been 2003. That compilation already featured tracks that we could consider electro. Also on some techno parties in The Netherlands there were second rooms where people like Steffi would drop electro tunes. During the heydays of the electro-clash movement there were also more underground electro parties organized. Some in squats, others in clubs. Good friends of mine were pretty deep into electro, mostly the Westcoast sound of Holland, Bunker/Clone/Crème/Viewlexx, those labels. Later on, from 2005 till 2010, I worked at Deeptrax Records and we were specialized in second hand Detroit/Chicago/Berlin stuff. We used to have amazing collections and basically the whole history of techno, house and the likes has passed my hands. That was a great learning school. I listened to a lot of Underground Resistance records. They used to drop heavy electro bombs. Other influences related to electro were Miss Kittin’s fantastic mix CD called Radio Caroline and Dave Clarke’s X-Mix Electro Boogie. But I also listened to a lot of Warp stuff and things on Artificial Intelligence Records. Early Claro Intelecto records. Did I mention Drexciya? The Advent did electro tunes next to his more banging techno stuff. So yeah, electro has always been around for me. I have never solely been influenced by just techno. I have a general interest in all subgenres of electronic music. Keeps it fresh and interesting!
There has been a lot of talk about an electro revival in the past few years and especially 2017. However, the conversation revolved mostly about a handful of prominent DJs and producers. In your opinion, does the electro underground get the recognition it deserves?
If recognition means that the press write about it, yes, there have been some articles that shine a light on some producers and DJs. It is indeed limited to a few keyfigures, but they surely deserve it. Every artist that does something unique and from the hearth needs to be written about. But for me nothing really changed. I already had electro tracks on my first album and I have always played electro in my sets. And people danced to it. Sure, many people talk about it these days, but I also think the people doing the music or running the labels don’t care that much. They have always been doing this and now it gets a bit of attention. Hopefully it inspires a new generation of producers.
How would you explain electro’s recent rise to fame?
It’s just that there are more and more releases out there that we can qualify as electro. Everything has its wave I believe. After years of grooveless tunnel techno, it’s quite normal that people need a bit of different grooves to move to. And we see a lot of recycling of genres from the past. Italo had its small revival. Wave/EBM as well. However, I do believe that electro has a bit more ground to actually create something fresh again. Techno was always about the future, so if electro can create this mood again, hopefully we also see more original 4×4 tunes coming out in the coming years. Maybe it’s necessary to sometimes look back to what has been done in the past, let the new generations get in touch with it and from there cook fresh things up.
Your contribution to our Groove podcast is dedicated to mostly under-the-radar cuts from last year. How did you select those tracks?
That’s my task. But who decides what is the radar and where this radar is aimed at? These tracks might be under a certain radar, but then it is my task to select and present them. I wanted to select different kinds of electro for this mix. From abstract beats to atmospheric tunes. Some more heavily sounddesigned tracks topped of with more ghetto gritty beats. Most of the tracks are from last year. There’s some upcoming stuff and also one record that could be described as a classic. I didn’t really go for the 150+ bpm tunes in this mix, you can hear a bit of that in the Tresor podcast I did last year. Normally I’d never play electro-only sets. But seeing a lot of cool releases coming out last year I thought it was a nice idea to shine a bit of light on them. And still be diverse within the genre itself.
With its fast-paced rhythms, electro can be quite hard to DJ. What does a good electro DJ have to bring to the table to keep things interesting?
Not all electro is fast paced. Only in the last few years we have seen a bit more releases coming out with 150+ bpm tunes. I have oldschool Detroit records, maybe more on a ghetto tip but certainly with an electro touch to it, that also have these tempo’s. The bit slower paced, let’s say 130 bpm tunes fit a bit more easily with techno and house things that come out. Fast paced basically means that the groove becomes different. It can lead to fresh ideas for producers. It’s not perse more difficult to mix, just know your records well enough because timing is a bit more important with electro, if you compare it to contemporary techno. And to keep a set interesting, well, just put it in the mix, make the tunes sing together and create a nice story.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future and what are your plans as a producer and label owner?
I’m kicking 2018 off at Concrete in Paris at the end of January. Furthermore I have a residency now at Tresor and will play there every two months. I will play a few times at the basement as well. The next release on my Radio Matrix label will be out in the first weeks of January, it’s by Mor Elian who delivered a four-track deep electro EP – yes. (laughs) Next to that we’re compiling a new VC-118A EP with cuts from his liveset he did at the Radio Matrix labelnight last year in Athens. Regarding my own productions: I’ve been making some heavier techno again and the result of that will be released in May on quite a big techno label. Furthermore I’m working on some remixes, one you could already spot in this mix. And I might drop some tracks on labels here and there. And many more ideas in the pipeline!
Stream: Delta Funktionen – Groove Podcast 140
01. Assimilation Process – Interval (Lockertmatik)
02. Nerve – Sharpshooter (A Colourful Storm)
03. Zyntax – New World Order (Zyntax Motorcity)
04. Adapta – Kord Port V2 (Frustrated Funk)
05. Damcase – PI03.2 (Pi Electronics)
06. TV.Out – Galaxy (forthcoming L.I.E.S.)
07. Lanark Artefax – Touch Absence (Whities)
08. Pinch & Mumdance – Control (Tectonic)
09. Benjamin Damage & Deapmash – Solar 909 (Leisure System)
10. Random XS – Give Your Body (Delta Funktionen Remix) (Unreleased)
11. Damcase – PI03.3 (Pi Electronics)
12. London Modular Alliance – Tremors (Hypercolour)
13. Morphology – Mind Stealers (Sync 24 Remix) (forthcoming Cultivated Electronics)
14. CEM3340 – Salacya (Lunar Orbiter Program)