Joeri W. Bultheel (1989) aka &apos is co-founder of Brussels’ dreamy constructivist label bepotel records; as well as the mastermind behind one of our favourite releases from last year, Lichtdrank. Merging his love for synth-y electro with software technology and gaming culture, the all-round whizz consistently blurs the boundaries between virtual reality and visual/sonic art – as is apparent with his ever-expanding suchhacks project. He’s prepared quite the treat for the pre-public holiday, digging deep into his collection and adding plenty of stellar releases from bepotel. &apos will be performing at Delta~Wave Festival this Friday, at Het Bos.
Can you describe yourself in a few words?
I’m a musician/sound-artist. I make music by using algorithmic processes that I construct using self-written software. I first got in contact with algorithmic composition when I was studying Sonology at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague. After my studies there I continued studying computer science and got really interested in computer programming and artificial intelligence, and how those concepts can relate to music. The approach I’m currently using to make music could be described as a top-down approach: I initialise stochastic musical algorithms, and tweak and remove parts until I’m satisfied with the resulting sound. There’s never a clear direction in which I want to take the music – I mostly follow the direction the algorithm settles itself in and try to adapt to that. Such algorithms mostly consist of specific patterns based on constrained randomness, but could also be other things like perturbing the inner structure of a trained neural network to create new musical patterns.
Besides the musical output, I consider the software itself, its inner workings and graphical user interface, as important as the music it creates. I’ll probably start distributing the software in the future in some kind of way, but for the moment it’s for personal use only. As far as influences go: I guess I’m both directly and indirectly most influenced by close friends, such as my fellow bepotel buddies – Sagat and Walrus – and Ssaliva, Hiele, Broshuda, Murkva, etc.
How did you first start making music? How does it fit into your life?
I started mixing and doing turntablism stuff when I was about 15 years old. I quickly felt restricted doing that so I started making my own beats using Ableton Live. Eventually I ended up using my own software made in the programming language SuperCollider. Music is a big part of my life because I’m part of the Brussels-based music label ‘bepotel records’, and I’ve been making and releasing music with a lot of label buddies throughout the years.
What’s behind suchhacks, the website accompanying your first solo album? How, and why did you create it?
Suchhacks is a virtual world/game I developed to accompany my Lichtdrank EP release on bepotel records. The idea behind it is to present an intriguing and alternative way to experience an album, beside the physical vinyl. People that visit the world have a unique listening experience because they can move around and change their point of view. At the same time the world itself is also being changed by the partaking visitors because they can move objects around that make up the overall sound. I’m currently working on a 2.0 version which will enable the visitor to do even more cool stuff, so stay tuned.
Can you talk a bit about how you use video content in your music?
The interesting thing about using a video-game as part of a live show is that it brings a unique experience to the audience, and gives the performer an extra dimension to play with. Sounds being placed in the visual space are positioned the same way in the 3D auditive field. Replicating certain positioning combinations by only relying on spatialisation knobs on a mixer can be near impossible. An additional idea I find really intriguing is imagining a virtually present audience accessing a streaming live show (on one or multiple sound-objects), where every visitor would have a unique listening experience from moving around and interacting with the virtual space during the live set. I think that’s an interesting way to bring music to an audience.
Is music a full-time thing for you at the moment? If not, what are your other occupations?
I would love to be able to spend more time on my music, but it’s not a full-time thing yet. I developing iOS/macOS applications, and hopefully in the future I’ll also be able to make more video-games and audio applications.
Can you describe the mix in a few words? What is its overriding influence, where would it best be enjoyed, what makes it special?
The aim of this mix is to convey the feeling of binge-playing of SimTower or HeroesOfMightAndMagic2:TheSuccessionWars on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Can you tell us about the exclusive track on the mix? Why did you chose to include this one? If it isn’t one of your own productions, how did you come across the artist?
“Teasehur” is a track I made together with Roman [Hiele]. I went to his studio in Antwerp around 2011, filled (of course) with gear: machine drums, digital/analog synths, filters, guitar effect, and crappy midi controllers. I’d only brought my laptop with me, so I took the tiny space remaining on the table. One thing that struck me was the editing tool that we used to rearrange the recordings – some ancient 90’s DAW, I can’t remember the name – but it definitely went well with the vibes and the setting of that day. We just jammed and messed around with synths, tape recorders and stuff. We ended up recording lots of material, and “Teasehur” was the coolest track of them all. I like to think of it as a spaced-out hidden gem.
What are your top 3 albums of the year so far and why?
Ssaliva – We Never Happened
Expanding on the ideas of his “Be Me” album, Ssaliva once again created a beautiful world with intricately detailed sounds.
Madteo – Confessions of a Permanent Alien Opium Beater
Has some really cool parts in it. Good mix of beat-oriented stuff and more experimental parts, all covered in a big layer of hazy dust.
Actress – AZD
Although I do prefer his older releases, this release is still amazing. I like how he can stretch out certain tracks with subtle variations while keeping things interesting.
What do you have coming up in the next few weeks?
I will be playing Delta Waves festival in Antwerp this Saturday. The concept and line-up look really promising so I’m definitely looking forward to that. For the rest I will continue working on suchhacks 2.0, and making it possible for the user to contribute even more to the overall content of the space. Besides my programming activities, I will continue making music for future releases.