Name: Jeroen Search
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Current release: Jeroen Search's Alpha Centauri is out via The Escape Velocity.
If you enjoyed this interview with Jeroen Search and would like to find out more, visit him on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
For me the impulse to create something comes from within myself. I feel some sort of constant urge to make music, a constant drive to create and reflect my ideas in my studio.
Of course inspiration from other sources is important as well, but for me in general it comes from within.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
I'd had the concept for the Alpha Centauri album in my mind but I couldn't directly translate it into music. With the help and guidance from Jeff Mills I managed to translate the idea into the right direction, which finally resulted in a 17 track album.
[Read our Jeff Mills interview]
Working on a project for The Escape Velocity taught me to have a different approach in writing and, probably most importantly taught me to translate my thoughts into a concept for the music.
In general my releases are more based on chance than exact planning and a conceptual approach. So this means for me the music is there before the concept is. That was the case for instance with the previous releases on the Axis Records sublabel Mission6277 as Jeroen 'New Reality' or the Counterpart release 'Martian Mystique' (together with Dimi Angelis) back in 2006.
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?
For the Alpha Centauri album I had to do research upfront to understand about the subject to be able to translate that knowledge into the music.
I don't work with 'early versions', once a track is finished it is finished. The track is useful for the project or not, just as simple as that.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
No, I don't have certain rituals to get into the right mindset for creating. When I go into the studio it happens as it happens, or nothing happens at all. For me that is all part of the creative process - including the times you leave the studio with zero results.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
That all depends on the way I feel it at that certain moment in the studio. I can start by creating a loop or a string part, another time I'll start with a kick drum. Or I just turn on one of the machines in the studio and start playing with it. I don't have a fixed method in the studio.
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
Once started the process more or less goes by itself, I just follow things where they lead me. For me working in the studio and recording it is trying to capture that certain moment of time or that certain feeling you have when you just created something that moves you.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
That happens a lot to me as the way I work in the studio is fast, resulting in a large number of tracks in a short time. So once I have a track I like I need to record it otherwise it will get lost.
Not all of this music is useful as tracks to be released for the project I am working on. Sometimes it takes 5 of maybe 10 tracks to achieve the one you need to finish the album so the tracks that as not used will probably never leave the studio to be released.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
For me personally the creative state feels like being in some sort of another dimension, another state of mind. I can get completely lost in the moment when I do music.
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
As I record everything as live takes - muting channels on the mixing desk, applying effects, tweaking the synths and recording that as a 2 channel mix - for me a track is finished when I stop recording.
Afterwards I can do a little editing in for instance the structure of the track but that's all. Once it is finished, it is finished. Useful or not.
So this way I will either be satisfied with a piece and use it, or not be satisfied at all and just enjoyed creating it.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
The mixing I do myself while recording, but I leave mastering the tracks to a fresh pair of ears. The Alpha Centauri album was mastered by a good friend of mine, Glenn Keteleers, whom I trust completely.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
After finishing and releasing something into the world indeed you can feel some sense of emptiness. I think that happens because you expect to receive some of the energy that you have put in it back again.
But for me this sense of emptiness can be also a good reason to go back into the studio and translate this feeling into more music.