Icicle, Dutch producer Jeroen Snik, has come a long way since moving to London from Eindhoven almost three years ago, and not just in a geographical sense. A succession of genre-defying releases for the likes of Soul:R, Tempa and Renegade Hardware have paved the way for the release of his stunning debut album, Under The Ice, on Shogun Audio on April 25th.
Knowledge caught up with Icicle on a brief break from his hectic schedule back home in the Netherlands to get the lowdown on the gestation and inspiration behind the album.
How did signing for Shogun Audio come about? How did you know they were the right label to put out your debut album?
At the time, about two-and-a-half years ago, I'd done releases on most of the labels that I'd wanted to, at least a 12". I started thinking about what would be the next step from there, and a couple of labels asked what I thought about doing an album on a more exclusive deal. Shogun's a newer label, so there's some legacy to build rather than just being the next in line. Also Shogun was really prepared to support my direction as well, rather than expect me to just make a certain style of rollers, which I was known for at the time. Friction also has a lot of power and can push for me, which is obviously a plus.
How long did the album take to make?
From then on, pretty much, so two years from when it started as a philosophical concept when I was messing around to when it started to become a bit more concrete. Most of the tracks on the album have been done in the last year. The oldest thing on there is probably a year and a half old.
The album draws from quite a wide palette of sounds and tempos, and you've talked before about not wanting to be 'pigeonholed'. Do you think today's generation of producers are generally a bit more adventurous than their predecessors?
Yeah, I think that's just down to dubstep coming along. As drum & bass producers, we were completely isolated for a time. Within drum & bass you could vary loads, because you can go from jazzy to dark, but tempo-wise, there was nowhere to go. Maybe you could make it a tiny bit slower and call it old school, but there wasn't much crossover. But with dubstep you have essentially the same music but at a completely different tempo, and from there, the step to techno or whatever is made quickly. Drum & bass crowds have crossed over to dubstep, and with that comes a new breed of producer not so bound by genre.
I read somewhere that you were making dubstep for years on the sly before sending it out to labels? Why did it take so long?
On the one hand, it's because I have so many other obligations. Over the last two years, I had so many other cool little side projects in my mind, but I thought 'no, I can't, I have to finish the album first'. But mostly because I didn't want to seem like I was just jumping on it. I wanted to make sure it was credible music, so I was giving some stuff to DJs like Youngsta and see if they'd support it. When they did, it was okay to get it out there.
How much of a breakthrough was getting Anything on Tempa Allstars 6 for you?
In a sense, quite a big one. I've seen it turn up in set-lists from techno guys and my drum & bass fans seem to like it too. It's not like my career has changed noticeably, but it did what I wanted it to do in terms of crossing over. It's great that the techno people have picked up on it as well, and you realise the potential of crossing over everywhere.
Speaking of techno, when describing album track I Feel U, you said: "If at heart you want to write incredibly loud and aggressive techno to echo and drone through the forgotten warehouses of Europe, but realise you're a drum & bass producer halfway into the project and put up the tempo by 50 bpm, this is what you get." Do you sometimes feel that drum & bass chose you rather than the other way around?
It's always hard to look back and make sense of how everything turned out. Obviously I always had a big love of drum & bass, but that doesn't mean I didn't have the same for techno as well. Drum & bass has been a great path for me, but in a way it seems like that's the way it's turned out rather than it's been the only thing in my mind. But that's the way I've always written music, going all over the place. It's the way I like to work; starting out with a drum & bass track and it turning into a dubstep one.
How important is Robert Owens' presence on the album in making that connection to Detroit and Chicago?
In terms of the legend that he is, quite a lot. For me, it's just amazing to work with someone so talented, being in the studio with him and having him sing something instantly right. He'll do it 25 different ways and they'll all be great! From the perspective of reaching the right people, Robert is obviously such a big name that is interested in anything house and techno will at least have heard of him, so you'll get these people checking you out more seriously. I'm really happy, because what he did for me is really good and it's just so nice to have his voice on my tune.
Words: Andy Brassell
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