SHA Interview // Oliver Lieb & Jimmy Van M
Bedrock Records have decided to unleash a brand new mix series upon the World. Named Collaborations the series is launched by firm friends Oliver Lieb and Jimmy Van M under their new guise The Audible Suspects. To celebrate the release this week SHA’s Craig gets a few words with both of the guys on their past, present and future as a new creative team…
OLIVER LIEB & JIMMY VAN M // THE AUDIBLE SUSPECTS
Hi Oliver and Jimmy and welcome to SHA. Your new mix, the first in a new series named Collaborations from Bedrock, is your first together under the moniker The Audible Suspects. How did this partnership first come together?
Jimmy: We have been friends for a many years, Oliver contacted me sometime ago on Facebook to see what was going on. I was at a point where I wanted to do something new so we came up with the idea of doing a mix comp.
Oliver: I’ve known Jimmy since a long time ago from when he booked tours through the USA for me. After a break from producing I was getting back to starting working again and one of the first steps was to care of my online presence like Facebook etc. I was adding Jimmy, making contact again and soon we talked about working together on some things where we quickly had the idea of doing a compilation. In a few months time we met up and Jimmy decided to actually spend more time in Frankfurt and moved over.
Although neither of you are strangers to the label, how does it feel to be asked to lay the foundations of a new series?
Jimmy: When we went to John to pitch the idea of a comp he didn’t hesitate, which was cool. Our experience working with the Bedrock label has been great so far and hope it does well when its out at the end of February.
Oliver: Well, its a great honour to start with something new at a high profile label like Bedrock and take the responsibility to actually create the first release for this series.
The mix itself displays a real underground vibe, showcasing rising talents alongside more well-known names while being conscious not to opt for the big crowd pleasing tracks, instead educating the listener as it goes on. What were the thought processes behind the track selection and what did you want to achieve?
Oliver: Like in my monthly podcasts, I wanted to present new interesting music from known and unknown producers putting the music more in focus that’s based on grooves and interesting sounds as well as melodies. Tracks that do not just aim for big commercial success but more for some trippy development of audible space.
Jimmy: We decided to go with a certain space and feel for the tracks. I think the most important step was not to try and do the mix until we listened to each and every track all the way until the deadline. We mixed the album in a short period of time and came together quickly due to the track selection being so specific.
We certainly hope to see more from The Audible Suspects guise; are there any plans to produce or DJ together in the near future?
Jimmy: There are lots of ideas going around, one is doing a production together.
Oliver: There will be some DJ gigs together with Jimmy as part of a tour that is being put together now. Then we will see what we do next but its not meant to be a project just for this release.
Jimmy, you were originally born in Belgium and you moved to Orlando, Florida at ten years old. Your home in Orlando became infamous for your Sunday parties, which are rumoured to have featured some of the Worlds DJ elite and helped hone your own skills in the early days. Tell us a bit about your musical upbringing and those Sunday after-parties?
Jimmy: The Boccaccio club in Ghent was my first exposure to electronic music, I went there at 15 and was blown away with a big sound system pumping acid house and new beat. The Sunday parties in Orlando were great, it was a big rented house in a typical Florida neighbourhood. The house was two storey and when you walked in there was a giant trampoline in the living room and a massive club system on the 2nd floor. All the neighbours were not too happy, but the party went on, everyone looked forward to it after the club and it was a ritual for a while.
My own teenage years were heavily influenced seeking any mixtape I could find featuring live recordings from Twilo and the Northern Exposure tour. You were a resident for both alongside Sasha and Digweed. These nights help introduce trance and progressive music to the American dance music market more used to Detroit Techno or Chicago House. What were these days like being instrumental in this new music revolution?
Jimmy: Probably the best way I can describe it is back then when my friends, who are famous DJs now, were not thinking about anything except the music, not about marketing, not about competition, DJ ranking, Facebook,…. just music! That was a great inspiration and a fantastic time to be involved.
You are as well-known for being a formidable warm up DJ as well as a main headliner. This was showcased in 2006 with your contribution to the Balance series. Balance 10 was an epic three disc set of down, mid and uptempo music with the downtempo mix starting around 65 bpm and the uptempo sitting at 126bpm. Do you have your own preferred style when djing and if so, why?
Jimmy: For me playing the right music at the right time of night is important, it’s not only a challenge but also builds tension and gives the people a distinct vibe to leave the club with.
Oliver, Your first release was way back in 1989. Not one to be pigeonholed in a certain genre, you have continued to make music of all styles – house, techno, trance and so on. What inspires you when making a new track and how do you keep that flow going for over 20 years?
Oliver: I always have fun creating something or just playing around with sounds and grooves, or thinking about some concept for a new project or release. As well, I am always trying to develop my sound and not standing still. Different genres also interest me and doing something here and there, to me, is only natural, as I see it under the name of “electronic music”.
2011 saw you return from a (well earned) 3 year break from production. During this time you focused on your mastering service and the start-up of the Solieb Digital label where you have re-released many of your older material. It is only natural after such a long career that you wanted to take a break from one aspect and explore others. Is this now you firmly back into the production scene for the foreseeable future?
Oliver: If I don’t produce for a long time I need to do something else creative. I had a break for almost three years from producing music because after moving the studio the wiring wasn’t properly working and I didn’t feel like doing everything new and also upgrading my production equipment. In this time I also started my mastering and vinyl-cutting company and did work a lot with photography to be creative. This was actually the longest time for me not doing music and I would say a long break like this will not happen anymore. In this case I really had to go away from making music in order to come back more enthusiastic than ever before.
You were born and are currently based in Frankfurt Germany. I read that during your early teens you played in several jazz and funk bands. Did you have quite a musical upbringing?
Oliver: No – I was always interested in hi-fi gear, speakers, musical instruments, but not because I was told. My family didn’t really do anything musical. The bass was because a person in the house where I lived was selling his instrument and he showed me a few things that it could do, so this was my first real step in the musical world. Before, I was playing around with my Commodore 64, some cheap kids keyboard etc. But when the gear got cheaper and affordable, it was clear for me to actually focus on electronic music. So I sold my bass equipment to get my first sampler and sequencer to start on this.
You have remixed for a real who’s who of electronic music. From Sven Vath to Moby and Carl Cox via The Human League. What current artists would you deem worthy of the Lieb production touch?
Oliver: Well, if I like a track, it’s enough for me to say yes, if I get asked. If it’s somebody known or really big that’s great, but not really a must. Actually, right now, I am working on quite a few remixes or have already finished them. I started at the end of last year with one that came out and this year there will be a lot more besides my own releases.