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Stereoboard Speaks to Drum and Bass Prodigy Icicle Before His Performance At Clwb Ifor Bach

Sunday, 10 July 2011 Written by Elliott Batte
Stereoboard Speaks to Drum and Bass Prodigy Icicle Before His Performance At Clwb Ifor Bach

Dutch producer Icicle is one of the hottest drum and bass DJs around at the moment, and with a brand new LP recently released and a whole new approach to his live performance, things can get only get hotter – unless, of course, Icicle melts.

Aka Jeroen Snik, Icicle has been producing tunes since he could probably remember, progressing from using old-skool midi controllers to the tools he uses today. He has been a regular on the DJing scene since his move to London in 2008 and has been rising in stature ever since – and now, the talented musician has launched his debut album ‘Under The Ice’, out now on Shogun Audio.

Full of dark rollers, bass-fuelled beats and even some ice-cool lyrics from SP:MC, DRS and Robert Owens, as well as some deep dubstep flavours and irregular, thought-out drum patterns, Under The Ice is a work of art as far as drum and bass albums go – it is experimental electronic production at its best. The first single from the album, Dreadnaught ft. SP:MC b/w Arrows, is monumental in its own right and one of the limited number of records I have in my own collection. You can hear this track embedded below.

As with any album, a good tour full of shows across the country is necessary – and this is exactly what Icicle has been doing for the past couple of months, playing relentlessly in clubs across the UK and spreading the chilling, spine-tingling dnb that he is masterfully creating. If you want to witness the fitness that is Icicle’s live performance show, come down to Aperture in Clwb Ifor Bach on the 15th of July – he’ll be supported by a fine range of resident record spinners (just like Aperture always promises), this time featuring Manufakture, Motiv, Basix, Helix, and Lo:Fi – as usual, a real party atmosphere is in store for the drum and bass capital.

Stereoboard caught up with Icicle before his performance at Aperture in Cardiff on the 15th of this month.

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Hi Jeroen, thanks for taking some time out to answer some questions
for the website.

EB: First of all, I and any other fan of drum and bass have been enjoying a great couple of years for the genre with more and more producers surfacing and more and more big tracks and albums coming out each month. What or who inspired you to produce drum and bass and how has your sound changed as you’ve become more of a big name producer?

ICE: Even when I was really young I was always messing around with production software and instruments. As I got a little older I got more and more serious about developing my skills but musically I was all over the shop. When I was 15 I went out to my first dnb rave and from then on I knew what I wanted to make. As I got a bit more serious about my taste, people like Photek, Source Direct, Jonny L and Ed Rush and Optical were the people I drew from the most. I guess all the time on a parallel track I've been following techno and I think that's become a more serious influence, especially in the last few years.

ImageEB: ‘Under The Ice’ is your debut LP release – how long had you been working on the production of the album? And are you going straight back into the studio or taking it easy for a while?

ICE: I think writing the album took me the better part of two years. From the beginning I started out with the attitude that it had to be the best I could make it, so a lot of time went into it. I have been fantasising about a break for months as all the hard work really took it out of me, but now that I am able to take a break I don't really want to. I'm going to be a bit more experimental for a while for sure but I'm not going to leave the studio unoccupied.

EB: Personally, I love the album and my favourite tracks are Dreadnaught (embedded below) and I Feel U – do you have a favourite tune fromthe album, and what was it like to work with the vocalists like SP:MC and DRS?

ICE: It's hard to pick a favourite. I tried to make as varied a selection as possible for the finished product, and so I like different tunes for different reasons. Working with all the vocalists has been great, everyone gave me exactly what I was looking for and it's something I haven't done that much in the past. I'm definitely going to keep doing vocal music.

EB: After such a critically acclaimed album release, touring is a no-brainer. What has it been like playing your new tunes out recently and how have the crowd reacted to it?

ICE: Touring itself has been mental, you need a strong mentality to survive 15 gigs a month and the alcohol that comes with it. It has been amazing though (and still is) and the genuine appreciation from people on the dancefloor is a special thing and you can only be thankful for the support.

EB: You have progressed from the usual DJing/laptop gigs and now moved on to a completely live set-up on stage which is rarely seen in this genre – could you take us through the live side of Icicle performances?

ICE: Well like I mentioned earlier I take a lot of inspiration from techno. A lot of the guys in techno tend to favour live pa's. I wanted to bring that to dnb as well, but when you think about it most dnb crowds just want to see you play vinyl. I decided the fundamental rule had to be no laptops, just hardware. I don't want people saying 'he's not doing anything' etc. I'm building the tunes from scratch with an mpc, a virus, blowfeld, a mixer and a bunch of 19" gear. It's as much as I've ever brought to the stage of what I can do in the studio and it's very exciting. It is also giving me sleepless nights, haha!

EB: With all the extra equipment you have to carry and taking travel into account, it can’t be easy putting on live performances often. How regularly would you say you differentiate between DJing and performing?

ICE: Right now I'm doing about two live shows a month, and that's the most I could do for the moment. Every time I do one I'll refine the set loads afterwards. There is so much to learn again. Travel, setting up etc is all very hard and a lot of stress comes with it. After a good one though, the buzz is amazing, it feels more real than DJing. Don't get me wrong, I love DJing as well, but this is a different dimension.

EB: Like the rest of the Cardiff drum and bass ravers, I can’t wait for your night at Aperture on the 15th. As a performer, do you think there is still a place for below 300 capacity dnb events now there is a rise in the sort of ‘super’, 1000+ capacity events like Hospitality or Bedlam?

ICE: It's is all about the smaller raves! There is no way to connect with the crowd at the massive raves. Playing in a small club with a good vibe is the best kind of gig there is. Besides, I think my music isn't all that suited to the huge rooms anyway. I need a small room with huge bassbins!

EB: As a Dutch born man living in Britain, what’s it like to go back to your native Holland and to DJ or play in front of your home crowd? How does the scene there compare to the scene here?

ICE: The best thing about playing in Holland is the fact that I see old friends and my family. There have been some great gigs in NL this year and it shows there is still a scene, but it's hard there generally. I think the fact that I live in the UK says a lot...

EB: Lastly, after securing releases on RAM, Soul:R and Critical, as well as your album through Shogun Audio, you must have met all kinds of DJs and producers. Who would you say is doing the biggest things this year, and who can we expect to see putting out the biggest tunes?

ICE: In drum and bass, Noisia and Phace are at the forefront of what's sonically possible at 170 bpm. Spinline have a bunch of new tunes and they are absolutely brilliant. Outside of dnb, Blawan is really doing it for me and I'm anticipating a global take over!

EB: Thanks a lot for answering the questions Jeroen, I will catch you again at Aperture in Cardiff!

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As you can see, Icicle is a confident man who's doing big things for drum and bass. If you're a fan of dnb, a fan of techno or even just a fan of music, come along to Clwb Ifor Bach to catch one of Icicle's rare live PA's this Friday (15th). Big ups, Icicle!






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