After the first edition of the RH House Of Music magazine, we really liked the idea of doing a magazine, and that has lead to the second edition in the making! The upcoming HOM features stories on Invisible City Editions, Sahel Sounds’ Mamman Sani and… Awanto 3! To warm up for it, we decided to put a part of Awanto 3′s interview online that we will publish in the second edition.
Steven van Hulle aka Awanto 3 has been a key figure in the Amsterdam electronic music scene for a long time. For more than 20 years he has been in all kinds of music and art projects like Rednose Distrikt, PIPS:lab, Klakson and more. Just a few years ago, he had the urge to create his first solo album under his Awanto 3 guise: and again we are hearing something so diverse. Opel Mantra is house music, but a lot of tracks go far beyond that, fusing exciting rhythms and musicians into a surprising whole. Van Hulle tells us more about the versatility of his music and art…
You have been into music for such a long time, what have you been up to all these years?
I was born in Belgium, and in the mid eighties, when my parents decided to move to Noord-Holland in the Netherlands, it was all about electric boogie, skateboarding, graffiti, Doe Maar and Ciske de Rat for me. Thanks to Grandmaster Flash, the Furious Five, Herbie Hancock and of course Michael Jackson, dance music started to crawl through my veins. When I turned 17 years old, I started DJing for real with my uncle’s records. I started to buy hip-hop, disco, jazz and house records for myself… Later on I got also into spaced out jazz and funk and then there was also electro & techno… too much to handle.
But we are only now talking about your solo debut album. Why’s that?
Don’t know. I’ve put out quite some music, but most of them were collaborations, because I am quite a team player. I have never had a real long-lasting focus, I’ve been doing all kinds of projects with different people. I started with graffiti back in the days, and visual jokes and projects have always remained in my life. So like a lot of other graffiti artists, I ended up being multidisciplinary. I grew into a lot of different forms of ‘art’. Yes, it all has kept me really busy for a while.
Can you give an example of your diversity when it comes to your music projects?
I started Rednose Distrikt with Kid Sublime, and Aardvarck joined later. We used to combine weird musical contrasts, in a typical Rednose way. We took it quite far, sometimes to a level that we really annoyed the dance floor. People would have been dancing and enjoying themselves in the flow of the music, and suddenly we kind of scared them off with grind core fragments or carnival hits that fucked or hyped up the vibe totally for a few seconds. We kind of had that punk attitude, liked to be a bit wanton. On the other hand I like to point out Klakson, Steffi and Dexter’s label. I started Klakson with Steffi and released the first three records with music from my friend Dexter. I grew up with him musically as well. That was something completely different from Rednose Distrikt. The music was more electronic, more serious and dark. The crowd we reached was different, the parties as well, and so on. I mean you can see it now. Klakson has become big, while Rednose has never made it, due to a lot of reasons. One reason is that we not really had the intention to become popular with Rednose, and that was a part of our punky attitude.
The Awanto 3 album ‘Opel Mantra’ is very diverse, but consistent at the same time. It is house music, but it goes beyond that. The fact that you have worked together with musicians makes it sound very live, almost like a band. Is this the result of all those years of experience?
I actually hadn’t planned to work with musicians. After I finished the tracks on my MPC, I found out that everything was recorded mono. I was so disappointed in myself, I insisted to overdub all the samples with stereo layers. Then Jameszoo tipped me to go to the Red Bull studio, he had recorded a lot there too, and it was for free. I called up my favourite musicians – New Cool Collective’s Jos de Haas and Frank van Dok, and Zuco103’s Stefan Schmid for instance, musicians that I had worked with before. And Jungle By Night’s horn players Ko & Bo and and Tom Trago joined as well. So that is actually how it happened.
Awanto 3′s Opel Mantra consists of 3 12″ and a CD.
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