For many musicians, forming a record label is an exciting achievement that happens after a lengthy career. To own one that is turning 5 years old, at the age of 24 is then surely a great success, and a sign of only greater things to come in the years that span ahead in the career of such a passionate musician.
When he isn’t playing for the likes of Fuse and tiNI and the gang, Pelle runs the label ‘Karton’ with his business partner David van Bilderbeek. 2016 marked its 5th year of educating their home-town Harleem and beyond with the hand-picked beats from the duo, which is marked, quite rightly, with a series of show-stopping showcase events.
Adding to the feeling of festivity is Pelle’s recently appointed residency at newly launched Sunday party ‘Premise’, based at London venue Dance Tunnel . We caught up with the Dutch artist to find out how he himself has been celebrating the success of Karton as he kindly recorded us a ‘5 years of Karton’ mix, exclusive to MEOKO. Pelle is a constant and exciting presence on the electronic music scene, and he shows no sign of slowing down. Read on and take a listen to the mix to find out why, and join us in celebrating the 5 years of Karton!
Hi Pelle! At 24 years of age, you certainly have many accomplishments already in the music industry! Did you have an action plan from the start to become, effectively, an artist and businessman, or are your achievements all projects that have progressed naturally?
Hi Meoko! Thanks for having me on this interview.
Well, most projects I’ve done till now arose from the love of music and the urge to do something more than just playing and making music. This is also why both labels I’m doing with David van Bilderbeek were initiated. We wanted to contribute something of our own to the music scene.
Do you have any other projects planned for the future?
I definitely have a few new ideas, and those ideas are being formed into actual plans now. Also, Karton will see some big additions and changes in the future.
For someone so involved in the music industry, I’m sure your interest was spawned from interesting influences. What are the first few tracks, clubs or moments that made you decide to follow a career in electronic music?
I think my first influences were definitely interesting! I can remember very vividly when my dad showed me the English band Faithless and it totally blew my mind. I think that’s where I got infected. It was the first experience for me in electronic music. When I saw them live the difference between electronic and live acoustic music really struck me. The energy was just unreal to me. Not long after I bought myself some gear to play music and after a few years of playing records I started making music.
One of your record labels ‘Karton’ became 5 years old in 2016, and you are planning a series of showcase events at Patronaat to celebrate. The first one took place last weekend. How did the opening party go, and what else can we expect from the rest of the showcase series?
The first one was surprisingly good! It was a special night for us of course, and Patronaat was the right place since we did our first events there too. Although Patronaat is located in Haarlem which is a town that is often overlooked for being so close to Amsterdam, we knew it wouldn’t be easy. But fortunately we had Audio Werner and Ferro who are amazing dj’s, to guide the night.
The rest of the year we will invite more friends, Karton artists and dj’s that are inspirational to us to Patronaat to celebrate with us.
As the label hits a landmark birthday I am sure there is a period of looking back and reflecting on the time spent running it so far. What were your intentions when originally starting the label, and how have you achieved them? Has the direction ever changed from this original plan, and how will you continue to shape it in the future?
Very on point question. When David and I started the label we had a specific taste in music and although it was around in the past, we found it wasn’t available enough in our direct environment. Note that we were very young at the time and we were still discovering what was out there. The label was intended to show the people around us our particular taste in music. You see, Haarlem was and is a relatively small city. Back then we were doing something completely different than what all the other dj’s from Haarlem were doing. Later when we discovered the history behind the music we liked, the label started forming more and more. The first few years have been a big learning experience.
As well as running Karton, you also own the record store ‘Ruiskamer’ (With offshoot label ‘Ruis’). When and why did you decide to open up ‘Ruiskamer’ and what is your favourite part about running a record store?
Ruiskamer is truly David’s recordstore. I have no involvement in the store, besides advising and helping David once in a while. A little over 2 years ago he opened Ruiskamer after he finished his studies. He was already aiming at the space next-door of his house to begin one of his projects, so when it opened up after he finished the timing was perfect. The shop does function as an office for our record labels, hence my frequent visits.
I have also seen that you are hosting in-store pre party events at Ruiskamer too. Do you feel that hosting intimate events like this help to encourage the community of the local music scene?
It certainly does. David opened up his store to a couple of in-store events now and they have been very pleasing. We want to give our followers the opportunity to hang out with us making the in-stores a bridge between the public and us. I don’t particularly like the big gap often present between artists and their followers, so this is our answer to that.
Speaking of this, your labels, store and showcase parties are all based in your hometown of Haarlem, in The Netherlands. Could you tell us a little more about what is going on in the area, and why you chose to sow your musical seeds in this city.
David and me both grew up in Haarlem, so it’s safe to say that our roots lie in that city. I live in Amsterdam now, but I still come there often. Back when we started Karton I was still living in Haarlem, so we started doing our first events there logically. Now for our event series this year, it was the right place to start in Haarlem again and expand from there.
2016 is a big year for you, securing a residency at a new Sunday party ‘Premise’, due to launch at Dance Tunnel on March 6th. How did this residency come about?
I have to give my good friend and former booker Luke Farrugia the credits for that. He always keeps an eye out for me and is helping out at Premise now, behind the scenes. I know he has a lot of confidence in me, so for Premise and me it’s perfect.
What are your thoughts on being part of a night at an integral venue in the London music scene?
The special thing about being part of Premise is that this is my first abroad residency ever. Therefore I’m very excited to play these events and really leave my mark on the night! Also, the fact that Premise only books 2 dj’s a night, leaving them with long playtimes will make me be as confortable as possible to put myself out there.
Finally, you recently graduated from SAE with a degree in Sound Engineering. In a time of the internet when so many on line tutorials are readily available for aspiring producers or music technology professionals, why did you decide to take a formal course in the subject, and would you recommend going down the same route to others?
First of all, I really think that following an education is very important. After a failed attempt at the University of Amsterdam I discovered that I had to follow my musical path. I just couldn’t bring up the energy for a study if that meant I would have less time for my music. SAE was the perfect solution, because I was already looking to learn the fine tricks of production and the big clutter of tutorials didn’t do it for me. The fixed schedule of doing the course really helped me to get into the nitty gritty of every side of producing audio like recording, mixing, mastering and even business. That was exactly what I needed to improve myself. I think if you are interested in that doing a course will really help you getting further quickly.
Thank you Pelle, and I wish you continued success in 2016 – a year that is sure to be a great one for you, and Karton!
Thanks a lot and see you at one of the Premise dates!
Pelle will play alongside Gescu for the launch of Premise at Dance Tunnel on Sunday March 6th.Tickets and info here.
Words by Eileen Pegg