Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Interview: Nihad Tule

This week's Drumcode Radio guest mix comes courtesy of Bosnian-born, Swedish-raised DJ/producer Nihad Tule.

Tule is part of a new wave of respected Swedish techno artists, and has been part of the Drumcode family since his debut release on Adam Beyer's imprint Truesoul in 2007.

His first proper Drumcode release was a remix of one of the label's biggest ever hits, Christian Smith & John Selway's club smash 'Total Departure'.

Tule is currently a resident DJ at Stockholm's 2.35:1 club, one of Sweden's most revered underground dance spots. His sound fits somewhere in between heavy stripped back techno, modern Detroit-inspired grooves, and solid European electronic rhythms. "My cheese tolerance is extremely low," he says, with a grin. "I'd prefer a proper 909-workout before an anonymous trumpet tech house track any day."

Tule also has a live side project, called Kontraform, which sees him perform pure electronic music using only modular synthesizers and drum machines.

With Nihad Tule set to release a new EP on Drumcode in the coming weeks, and his Drumcode Radio guest mix lighting up the airwaves this week, we decided to interview Nihad to find out more about his techno background, sound, and influences.

How did you first get into electronic music?

As a kid I remember being really intrigued by electronic sounds and noises in everything from The Chemical Brothers to euro dance. Back then, at least in the mainstream, everything was called techno, and, since Norrköping didn't have proper record shops, I ended up looking for CDs labeled as 'techno' in my local public library. Luckily they had really good tastes in music and I can count some of my earliest influences being Luke Slater (his 'Freek Funk' LP), The Lords of Svek compilations and some Detroit stuff as well.

Whilst you were growing up in Sweden who were your biggest DJ influencers?

To say Adam was an important influence would be kind of an understatement. I remember skipping classes to listen to his DJ mixes online, trying to ID the tracks that he played. Some other influencers were Sven Väth and Jeff Mills. Back then Swedish national radio (hosted by Calle Dernulf) even broadcasted mixes from some of the big parties. Since I was too young to attend, the radio and the internet were my main sources of information.

What's the techno scene like in Sweden?

It is small but vivid. Plus the new wave of artists and producers coming up now are causing more and more stir internationally. Clubs on the other hand still struggle because of some restrictive policies. The ones that manage to reach international standards can be counted on one hand, like 2.35:1.

Tell us more about 2.35:1.

I've been working with the guys there for almost a year now and it's still going strong. 2.35:1 is one of the few clubs here that hosts international acts on a weekly basis - everything from house to purist techno. The atmosphere is truly intimate with 300 or so capacity. There's always a great mix of people, plus a finely tuned soundsystem, which makes for some unforgettable moments. The club is definitely a must-visit if you're in the area.

We checked out one of your recent live sets on Soundcloud. The music was stripped back but also driving and energetic. What is the style of music you usually aim to present to dancefloors?

The style, sound and sheer intensity always varies in regards to the atmosphere and the crowd. Needless to say, tracks with a clear identity rank high on my list. It could be the patterns, the sound, or anything really, but I like to be able to remember, hum, or at least beatbox tracks after I hear them - even though my friends laugh their asses off when I do.

Your first releases on Hz Trax and Sway were hard, relentless techno. How has your sound developed since then? It sounds more stripped back?

To be honest, I still have a filthy love affair with the hard relentless stuff, even though some of it today is tricky to fit into my sets, quite simply because of the tempo.

I wouldn't necessarily say that my sound has got more minimal, but it has definitely matured. I don't really remember it being a calculated decision, though I was definitely influenced by what was going on in the scene.

I'm constantly experimenting with stuff way beyond what would be considered techno to most people's ears, and did so back then as well. For me personally the change brought together styles that I was into already, like dub techno and housey stuff by the Neapolitan techno mafia.

You were born in Bosnia-Hercegovina, before your family fled the war and relocated to Sweden. How do you think your Bosnian roots influenced your tastes in music?

Good question and a really tough one to answer. I honestly do think my background has influenced the ethics regarding my work at least as much as my actual taste. It's only recently that I've began to explore the contemporary scene in Bosnia-Hercegovina, especially the more alternative and experimental.

I'm also a big fan of early ex-Yugoslav new wave and punk scene, and both tracks on my upcoming Drumcode release actually contain samples of a legendary band from the early eighties - totally unrecognizable though!

You remixed Christian Smith & John Selway's 'Total Departure', one of Drumcode's biggest ever releases. How did you reinterpret that track?

I got the original track around January 2008 and I instantly knew it was going to be a huge release. Adam approached me with a remix request and the plan to put it out as a digital only compliment to the original release.

I began working on it, trying out different ideas for weeks, and eventually, after about five or six different out takes, I ended up with the spaced out hypno thing that you hear today.

The fact that it got out as a point five release, as the only picture disc on Drumcode so far, and that it was charted No.1 by Danny Tenaglia made it a personal dream come true. If I ever tattoo anything on my body it would be the number 41.5 [the Drumcode catalog number for that release].

Your most recent Drumcode release was in August 2010 ('Framework/Smut'). 'Smut' was slightly funky and deep, whilst 'Framework' was explosive, big room techno. Is your sound somewhere in between these two sounds?

I'd say that my sound actually has been going well beyond those two tracks, both ways. Currently though it's definitely heading more in the deep, funky and smutty direction.

You did a mix for this week's Drumcode Radio. Guide us through the mix.

The basic idea was to present a mix that was as close as possible to what I do in clubs, with effects and certain tracks only appearing as fragments or intermissions. I started off with bits of jacking techno and house hybrids, and gradually moved on to tougher industrial workouts before ending with contemporary Motor City-influenced tracks.

(Words: Terry Church)

Check out Nihad Tule's guest mix here. To find out which stations in your area broadcast Drumcode Radio visit: drumcode.se/radio.


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