The sonic universe that Dutch drum and bass producer Maduk’s life pivots around has always refused to follow trends. It’s his ethos of authenticity, originality, and hard work that has crafted an aura of brilliance around his beautifully melodic, emotionally provoking, and undeniably powerful strain of drum and bass.
Now closing in on the release of his second album Transformations, Maduk has once again encapsulated the vibe of unadulterated euphoria that he sets out to create every time he makes music. Featuring tracks from an array of renowned vocalists such as Marianna Ray, Calixte, and Juul, as well as a debut collaboration with his younger brother Jelvin, the LP amalgamates all of his experience in the industry, his love for the genre, and his continued pursuit of the drum and bass sound that has filled so many parts of his life full of exuberance.
Six years on from his very first interview with UKF, we sat back down with one of the scene’s notable names to discuss everything from Liquicity, COVID-19’s effect on his life, and of course, the forthcoming release of Maduk’s 18-track heavy second album, Transformations.
Your first interview with UKF was nearly six years ago now! You’d just won best newcomer at the Drum&BassArena Awards, were organizing the very first Liquicity festival, and were polishing off your debut album as well. How does it feel to look back and see how much you’ve accomplished?
It’s crazy to think about it, I can’t believe the Drum&BassArena Awards and the first Liquicity Festival were six years ago. In a funny way, I’m back to where I started now. I feel like both as an artist and a person that I’ve calmed down a lot, going from being a young and inexperienced artist to one that knows what he wants and knows what he’s doing.
Does that also mean partying less as well?
That’s probably the same, but now I’m just working less. It’s great haha. Six years ago, I was working 80 hours a week. I do think that if I’d carried on at the same pace that I was going at a few years ago then I would’ve burnt out for sure. My life became more balanced and relaxed.
What gave you the motivation to put in all of those hours?
It gave me so much energy, everything I was doing was connected in some way. If I was making a track, it would contribute to the Liquicity label, and it would also contribute to the Liquicity events. Every block of energy I put into Maduk or Liquicity enforced each other and stayed there, whereas if I was working for someone else, I wouldn’t have been able to do it because it wouldn’t have been for myself.
You’ve really devoted the last ten years of your life to drum & bass. What makes it so magical for you?
For me, it’s the community and the fanbase. With drum & bass, people are really there for the music and the vibe is almost always positive. It really does motivate artists. When you see a crowd of people go crazy to your track because they wanted to hear your track, it keeps you so motivated to carry on doing what you do. I just love playing and producing this genre of music, the variety within drum and bass just continues to interest me, and I always feel the freedom to play or produce whatever track I want.
This love for D&B has now resulted in the creation of your second album Transformations, which is certainly a more modern-day approach to releasing an LP.
After my first album, I decided that on the next one each song should get the individual attention it deserves. I’ve released every tune on the album as a single, meaning that each song gets that attention. It will then all come together on Vinyl at the end of the project in September. I’m super proud of the first album, but now on Liquicity, I can release it and decide everything for myself.
Your good relationship with UKF has worked its way into the LP as well.
Four tracks from the album have actually been released on UKF. It’s been really nice to release tracks across two labels as it’s quite unique. Liquicity has always been really close with the UKF team and we are super happy with the support they’ve given the label.
After listening through, I straight away thought it encapsulated the originality, authenticity, and refusal to follow trends that have become the centrepiece of your sound. What’s kept you true to it for all this time?
When I make music, I test it to see if it gives me that same feeling that drum and bass did ten years ago. That’s the special “timeless” ingredient that I try to put in my music. I love including those warm and melodic sounds, creating a euphoric vibe regardless of whether the song sounds a little more like liquid or a little bit harder.
Do you find it difficult, as someone who’s so intertwined within the D&B scene, to put yourself into a mindset of yourself hearing a track for the first time ten years ago?
It can be difficult, especially after hearing a track 200 times whilst making it. However, if I put it away for two weeks and listen again, it’s not too hard for me to know whether it has the timeless factor that I’m looking for in my music. I enjoy listening back to my older songs once in a while, I still feel them even though years have passed.
Usually, when I speak to producers about their very first release, they tend to cringe at the mixdown.
I’m actually pretty happy with my first release. I’ve got great memories from those first tracks, with my introduction to Liquicity, UKF, and Hospital all coming through that very first release. Obviously, the mixdown isn’t top-notch, but it still has a great vibe.
If we rewind back to your debut album on Hospital Records in 2016, is there a different feeling for you now putting out the second album on your own imprint, Liquicity?
For me everything started at Liquicity, so coming back there to self release my second album feels extra special!
It was always a dream of yours to be signed to Hospital Records. Are there any regrets, or did you get everything out of the experience you wanted to?
Zero regrets. It was an amazing journey, a learning experience, and it introduced me to the U.K properly for the first time. I played a lot of shows, met the team, met the other artists, and the fact that Hospital is one of the biggest labels really did push me to the next level. However, after one album, we sat down together and agreed it would be best if we go our own ways. It was nice, we’ve moved on, and I’m happy with our relationship now.
That’s definitely the best attitude towards life. On the subject of positivity, any personal favourites from the Transformations LP?
The song Transformations is a special one for me because I made it with my brother (Jelvin). He’s seven years younger than me but he also works as one of my partners within Liquicity. This will be his debut release. We were actually having dinner with my parents and he showed me a piano loop that he’d made. We sat down together and within 30 minutes, the track was born.
That’s wicked. Another brotherly collaboration to add to drum and bass’ growing list of family collabs. Will we see more of Jelvin on Liquicity?
We plan on taking this as his first release and then we’ll look at doing another single on Liquicity. He’s been involved with the brand through events, merchandise, and the label, so it would be nice to involve him as an artist as well.
It’s been a tough year to be both an events organizer and music producer, how’s the pandemic personally affected you?
Actually, it’s been the best year of my life. Without disrespecting anyone that has been hurt by COVID, it’s been the best thing that happened to me. In a way it forced a stop to the crazy work rollercoaster, because with the events industry, as soon as one event is done the next one is already in the works. There was never really a moment where I could slow down and focus on myself. I finally thought about who I was, what I was doing, and what I like. That’s also why the album is called Transformations, I’ve changed a lot in the past year.
For the better, I hope…
Haha. For sure.
In all seriousness, that’s really nice to hear. To finish on a forward-thinking note, I’d love to know what up-and-coming producers you’re rating right now.
There are some guys working with Liquicity who I’m really excited about. I think they are the big stars of the future. In particular, Andromedik from Belgium, Lexerus from the Netherlands, and more on the deeper side of the spectrum Edlan, who just released his debut album on Liquicity. They’ve got new sounds, a fresh fanbase behind them, and have been getting support from the likes of Wilkinson and Netsky.