Frits Wentink has built a reputation as one of Holland’s finest exports. In a world where everyone is striving to fit in, Frits goes the road less traveled and has no problem going against the grain. With a string of releases on labels such as Heist recordings, Wolf music and Triphouse Rotterdam, he has shown time and time again that his music is in a field of its own. We recently sat down and had a chat with Frits about his new label Bobby Donny, who he is listening to at the minute and what is coming up next from him. He also recorded an exclusive mix for your ears…
Hey Frits, thanks for sitting down with us and taking the time to have a chat. So the first thing I noticed when I was researching you was the number of alias that you have. Why is this?
Well when I think of a new name then I get more creative, I mean I can start from scratch again, you know what I mean? So basically with Frits right now I can do whatever I want and what I do are the things I really like to do But I still have to think that this is Frits and there is a certain expectation of what people expect me to do. So when I come up with a completely different name again then I can do whatever I want and I find it helps the creative process a lot.
And you’re from Amsterdam originally?
Not originally actually. But living here for quite a while.
And what would you say the scene is like over there now?
Its good you know? I’ve lived in Berlin and Barcelona as well and it’s good to compare those scenes because when I only lived in Amsterdam I always thought that the Amsterdam scene was a bit cliquey, and you have a lot of people who are obviously friends who also will only work together and I’m not that much of a people person and so I find it kind of hard to mingle in here. So that always kind of worried me a bit about Amsterdam but I mean I’ve been here for so long that I know most of the people so I don’t really have any worries about that anymore
And then with Berlin and Barcelona what are the sort of differences there?
Its actually that Berlin is very clique based as well like its actually almost worse than Amsterdam. You can only play at a few clubs and when you play those clubs you cant play in other clubs. Amsterdam is not that bad but Barcelona completely misses a real scene to be honest. Last time I lived there I spoke with a few promoters and they explained to me that its a really promoter based city as opposed to a club based city. So for example Berlin is a really club based city where you have clubs like Berghain, who really book their own label and have their own nights and they only book who they want and its all quality. Where as in Barcelona you have a few good clubs but they are all rented out to different promoters so you have to be at a party by a good promoter to have a good night. So it can be very hit and miss with clubs. Like on Friday night it can be that the club is rented out to a student organisation and then the next day it’s a good night and then Sunday is reggae or whatever. So its really random and parties aren’t really bound to fixed places so you never have a real focal point. Like you have in Berlin or Amsterdam, and also the tourist season comes in in Barcelona which makes things even worse because everything is driven by money.
You have also recently set up your new label Bobby Donny. With the massive amount of labels around these days why did you see the need to set up Bobby Donny?
Basically just to release my own stuff. So its a label set up to only release Frits Wentink stuff and also a few close friends as well. Because right now I’m getting a lot of demos sent to me at the moment and some of them are good but I just don’t want to sign a great deal of artists. So it’s only me and some of my good friends. And the thing was that I was making music that I really liked and I had been playing that out but the other labels that I work with just weren’t feeling that so at that point I sort of thought okay, I have to do this myself in order to get it out.
So it was a control kind of situation more than money or anything else?
Yeah because money wise its not a great business to be in, running your own label.
And what do you look for for releases on the label then?
Well I feel really happy and confident with stuff that’s off. So like stuff that in a way is new but its too cliche to describe it as new or renewing,
I heard the phrase “wrong House” getting thrown around a bit?
Yeah, it has to be a little bit uncomforting and put you not where you want to be and I think that’s why the labels I work with didn’t want to release that stuff. Because I have thought about this a lot and if I want to continue having this career then I would only be happy to shake people in a way and disturb them a bit and so that’s basically what Bobby Donny is for. But not really in a punk way of trying to destroy the establishment but I do want to show people another side of things.
Yeah that’s one thing that I have noticed as well that it seems in dance music nobody wants to upset anybody and everyone just wants to be liked and fit into this nice neat little box, to an extent.
Yeah thats a good point, that’s one thing I was always worried about in Amsterdam was that everybody is friends and there are some big names here and to be honest I don’t really like their out put and because everybody is friends with everybody they still get to play a lot, which is fine for them I guess. But when I am over to places like London where things are much more competitive I like that idea of things.
And for Bobby Donny can you tell us what or who you have got lined up next?
Yeah so basically its me and I’m working with another producer he’s called Malin Genie. So I am working with him a lot and so we are making tracks for Bobby Donny but those might be released under a different name again. Another alias to add to the list. Because Malin Genie has a number of different projects and he runs labels of his own.
There is also SAN2 who has just released our second ep and along with that I’ve also been talking to some guys who are all from the states actually who are young producers. Who, probably because they live miles away from here do a really different thing. Like i mentioned, with Bobby Donny I only want to work with friends who make music because I want to keep everything close. But when I heard the music by those guys from the states I just thought, this is so good and different and it fits Bobby Donny perfectly. So I might do a release with them in 6 months or so as a sort of various artists record.
In March of this year you released your album,” Rarely pure, never simple”. What were looking to achieve with that? What was the end goal?
Firstly I really wanted to make an album that you can listen to outside of club and because I have always been involved with different genres of music but Frits was always more house directed. So with an album I really had a good opportunity to show people different sides and so that’s why more than half of the album isn’t house, its just downtempo beats.
Yeah, and one thing that a friend and I were speaking about before this interview was that people who are into house in either a production or simply listening basis also like and listen to HipHop, why do you think this is?
I think the way hip hop samples soul records and that’s also very common in house as well so I think that’s one of the main points. But to be honest I always think that a good hip hop record is somewhat better than a good house record. House music always has to have a good a side that’s danceable in order to succeed. It needs to work a crowd. But a good hiphop record you can listen to on your couch and just let your mind wander away. So that often gets more respect from me. But then the thing is that I cant just release only hiphop right now because of the way the vinyl market is. I just cant get that sold. So I have to settle with adding hiphop on the B side of a record that I’m putting out.
Ok, and is that something that you take very much into account before releasing a record on a label or even with the upcoming Bobby Donny stuff?
oh yeah definitely! While it might be looking good from the likes on Facebook or whatever but selling a vinyl record is still really hard. I mean its still a real struggle to get to break even.
With the massive amount of music that is available online at the minute, what advice would you give to a young producer who is thinking of giving music a serious go?
I think there’s kind of two ways that I would do it. The first is do it yourself. What you could do is just set up a label yourself, yet another label, but still if you do it right then that’s your fixing point in the scene. I feel its important to have that or maybe just start up a label with a few friends or something like that.
And the other thing is just to be different than everything that’s going on. You see the problem is you could make a good dancable record and people could play it but they wont really notice you. Its the thing like if you have a good Ep you need a good workable A side track and then, in my opinion, you have to fill the b side with stuff that shows you are a really good producer and you are a name that is to be followed.
When you go into the studio what is your creative process?
I make a lot of “Sketches” so I have them all coded so I once started with AA01 and then AA02 then after that came AB01 and now I am at CI07. and so all those sketches are like one minute things with like some ideas and then like every month I try to make like 20 or something and then I will lay them away and later on, maybe in two or three weeks, I will come back to them and try to see what is worth and start from there. And another thing is just doing a lot of different stuff. Like that one minute sketch doesn’t have to be a great track it just have to be like when you go back to it after two weeks it just has to stand out and make you say oh wow this is actually really interesting and then you go on and experiment some more.
So you said you first started off just sending music to different labels and your first release was on Triphouse? How did that come about?
I uploaded a set I played at a festival and it was a lot of my own unreleased stuff and they listened to it and checked it out and sent me an email asking if i wanted to release that and we went from there. and then with my other name Felix Lenferink I had a friend PRESK and he did a mix for FACT magazine and he played some of my unreleased tracks and then another label got in touch with me as well.
Is there any producers that you have in your head that you really want to work with?
Not really to be honest. I’m not that much of a collab guy. What would be more interesting to me would be if I could speak to one of my favourite producers and say this and that. Just discuss music together and try to understand each others views. And then see what we come up with in our own studios. I mean I’m not that big of a fan of getting together in a studio and trying to come up with something as a duo. But I think its fine when you try to influence each other by talking about music.
And who do you like to listen to when you aren’t djing or when you are just going about your daily life?
I listen to the radio a lot. But only spoken word stations like BBC 4 (Extra). Apart from that i’m a big fan of the newer lofi hiphop beats scene. Thats what i like to play on the Bobby Donny Radio sessions on Redlight radio.
One of the things that we are trying to do at when we dip is trying to project new names at people and getting them to open up and listen to stuff that is a little bit west of center. Are there any names that you think people should be listening more to?
Yeah there is one guy in the states who I really like. He goes by the name of NOMAD and Pacific Yew. Hes just awesome at everything he does. But his music is just really hard to play in clubs, but its perfect for the Bobby Donny radio show for instance. And Vertiqua, Wun Two, Pthya, Youtaro, Tlim Shug, Made in M are all lovely.
And just to finish off what can we expect to see next from you?
Well I just finished the next release on Bobby Donny and that should be released in November. Before that in October there is another EP on wolf, which is a 3 track EP. And then in January I have another EP coming on HEIST recordings which is Detroit Swindle’s label.