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Sam Yates

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AI’s Glenn Herweijer announces solo project: EIJER

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AI’s Glenn Herweijer announces solo project: EIJER

How many artists have done what Glenn and Zula have done with Artificial Intelligence? Present right at the emergence of liquid funk; an unwavering source of drum & bass to this day; and production consistently ahead of the curve. 

AI aren’t going anywhere either. We’re actually about to be treated to even more, as Glenn Herweijer kicks off his own solo project, EIJER.  

The new alias comes after several years producing a library that remained on the hard drive, or occasionally road-tested in DJ sets. Glenn sent the tracks out to a lucky few, including long-time friend, Alix Perez. Through his lens, the potential was fully realised. Alix keenly inked several tracks to 1985 Music – which we’ll see released over the next few months. 

Another label boss of the same ilk also caught on. Upon hearing EIJER’s ‘Call Me’, Lenzman coveted the track. After a touch of convincing, ’Call Me’ – which was originally bound for 1985 – got signed to The North Quarter. It’s now his first release under the new alias.

‘Call Me’ is a sublime track. Perfectly matched to TNQ’s modern liquid sound, with heavy influences of R&B. EIJER and Satl cleverly balance letting Brandy Haze’s words ring out, with a medley of chopped and re-arranged vocals to form a buttery melody. 

But Glenn’s approach to the project won’t be to just release liquid. Within his stash of tracks lie some deeper cuts. Much like his peers it will be a two-pronged sound of light and dark – think Halogenix, FD, or Workforce.

Glenn’s energy and enthusiasm for drum & bass is as strong as it was back at the genesis of AI – feeding the fire of this new project. UKF took the ‘Call Me’ request literally, and dialled in with Glenn to chat about the new alias and its future. 

Hey Glenn. How’s it going?

Yeah everything is good! Musically, with AI, we’ve had a few releases drop this year. But I’ve had somewhat of a break on production, until now, with this new project that’s come about. 

There’s lots that’s been going on with the label too. We’re celebrating 15 years of Integral – which Emma is fully taking care of, and we are helping out where we can.

Nice. Let’s get straight into the new solo project – what inspired that?

Well outside of AI – where we’re always writing and sending each other things – there’s been times where I’ve tried other vibes, sometimes with a different kind of sound as well. I’ve never really done anything with the tunes, apart from when we’ve played them in our sets in the past. 

Literally just a few months ago, it came into my mind that it’s such a shame that it’s all sitting there catching dust.

I thought, maybe I’ll send a few out – I initially sent a bunch to Alix just to get some feedback. And he came back to me straight away like, “this is great, loving these vibes, what’s your plan?”. I had no plans – no name, no vision, no nothing, literally just catching a vibe. Alix said, “if you’re keen, I’m keen”. 

I obviously love everything 1985 do, and I’ve got a great relationship with Alix. Although, with me and him it’s not usually been music-related. When we get together, we rarely even chat about it. But he’s always sent me stuff early, and looked after me in that sense, so it just seemed like the obvious choice to send these tracks to him. 

So Alix was the influence for getting this going?

Yeah he was the main one. Other than Zula, I’ve not sent them to anyone else. It’s generally stuff from the last couple of years, a lot of it actually made in New Zealand, where I spent several months over the lockdown period. 

And after I sent the folder to Alix, he’d been testing a lot of them out. 

So you’re sitting on quite a few tracks then?

Yes – quite a few. The thing is, once I get my head into it I can quickly do a lot more. It’s just a matter of focus and time. At the time there wasn’t a lot of purpose to it, it was more just for myself, or for a set, or a moment of inspiration. But now it feels like there might be an opportunity there. 

Originally we were going to kick this off next year with a single on 1985 – that’s still going to be released, and then I’ll follow that up with a full EP on the label. But kicking it all off is ‘Call Me’ – a collab with Satl coming out on TNQ, which was originally one that Alix was very keen on also.

Great track to kick things off. How did it all come together?

Yeah I mean Adrian (Satl) just has so many vibes, and he’s super proactive. He was sending so many ideas, and that was one I kinda jumped on while I was in New Zealand. He sent me a loop and I built a tune around it. 

It actually started with a full kind of sampled vocal in it, and I was playing it loads in our sets, not sure what to do with it. And then I revisited it again this year with a new vocal. I think Teije (Lenzman) heard it somewhere and he was like “what is this tune, I need this tune”. At that point I’d already half-promised it to Alix, so I was torn! Because obviously Adrian has a strong NQ affiliation. 

But we’re all in this together. It’s a small scene and we’re all trying to add to it. So it was easy enough to just say to Alix I’ll take back, and replace it with another one. And he was totally cool with it. So now it’s coming out as a single on TNQ. 

When did Brandy Haze come on?

Very recently actually. Her vocals were kind of half-inspired by the previous sample, but she put her own take on it. We tried to process it in a similar way, and we’re really happy with the end result. When you listen to it you can hear it’s not just a Satl track, or an AI track, there’s a different spin on the production and style. A nice in-between. 

Can you describe the new EIJER sound? Does it sound like anything we’ve heard in any AI tracks or other projects?

When we work as AI we’ve sort of got this distinct sound – people know it and that’s obviously something we do together. With a lot of these new tracks, it’s given me the opportunity to do something slightly different. A lot of it is inspired through my musical journey, even going back to my early days in Leeds – early-2000’s late-90’s – stuff that was going around then like Jonny L and Optical. Along with jungle, and the dubby sound. 

Marcus is obviously a huge influence on it as well. There’s a lot of Detroit-ey, subby, rollers, but with a modern lick of production, and an edge and style to it. That’s kind of the plan, so it slots into today’s kind of sound, with my own personal spin. 

But there’s also a different side – that Integral, new-wave R&B sound. Like how Halogenix has his two sides for example, techy deeper rollers, and then more R&B. Alix is the same. We’re all into these two sides and that’s what it’ll be with this project I think. 

I hear that. This first track with TNQ has that soulful, R&B vibe to it. And the 1985 stuff you’ve got is very rolling. 

Exactly! So yeah, it’s nice. It’s given me this new way to do something with it, rather than it just catching dust on a computer, or just having it in AI ets. The response so far has been great – from guys I look up to production wise, there’s been instantly a lot of interest at these early stages.

Do you have plans around a visual identity or a live show, or anything like that?

Well this is what I mean. Even speaking to you now, you’re the first person I’ve spoke to outside of like Emma, Alix, Lenzman, and Halogenix – it’s at such an early stage and it hasn’t really formed. 

In terms of touring and playing out – I’ve done so much of it for the last how-ever-many years. And it’s been brilliant. Regular trips to everywhere from Japan, NZ, Australia – every year. I obviously enjoy it. But at the same time, in the last few years, what I’ve really enjoyed has been the production side and having an outlet creatively. Because I’ve got lots of other things personally too, I’ve got a family and running a business that’s really intensive. I’ve had a lot going on in the last three-to-five years. I’ve not really prioritised the touring side of it. However, if this thing kicks off and it leads to something special, I’m totally open to that. 

You mentioned you didn’t even have a name for this project until recently. What’s the story behind how you found it?

The naming of it literally only came around a couple of weeks ago. I was getting hassled by Alix and Teije, “we need a name!”. It was the last thing on my mind. So now it’s just based on the back half of my surname – Alix said he loved that. I actually sent a short list around and they all decided, so it wasn’t even me who made the decision really! 

Back in university and coming out of it, I actually had another project based on my surname as well. I was obviously heavily into D&B at the time. But those initial releases I had, around two years of releasing house music, were actually really successful. I was featured on DJ Mag and Mixmag, getting support from Carl Cox and Kevin Saunderson and things. It went crazy. Just messing around on a synthesiser and early samplers. 

But anyway, that’s what led to AI. I went to Zula, and just wanted to make D&B. And guys like Marcus were urging me to get on board with D&B too. 

Yeah you and Zula have been a constant source of D&B. For so long. 

Do you plan to return to any of those other genres, like house or techno, with this new project?

That would probably be a different project. But I love D&B. I’ve been collecting it since I was basically a kid, and I’ve been able to keep in touch with the scene throughout the whole time. I love listening to all the promos and staying on top of it. In our sets, I love putting a lot into that tune selection, and making sure it’s a journey of music – which I think is something that will continue with this project too. 

Are you using different production techniques or source material to differentiate EIJER from AI?

The output is different [to AI], but not necessarily the techniques I use. But definitely newer tools and techniques since we started. 

How we created AI, those original years, it was fully out-board, studio-based. And at that point Zula was working in a studio and he was the guy who knew how to do that stuff. 

In all those initial years it was fully done on synths and samplers and out-board effects units. And those were the times where you would all sit in the studio together and have a vibe. We’d spend days and days on-end, none of us had other major commitments, you could just hang out, spend two weeks on drums. It was a completely different era I guess. And obviously I miss a lot of that, but things have changed a lot and advanced over the years – having access to all these amazing plugins. And you can do things much quicker now in that sense. 

But we still have a bunch of synths and we run it through certain processes and stuff. I guess what everyone’s on – Ableton, it’s easy to share projects that way. 

Do you plan to collaborate a lot with this project?

I’d really like to – because part of the reason I’m doing this is because I think I‘ve got a lot to offer. I know people are always keen to collaborate too, I’m always getting hit up. I’d love for that to be part of the experience. Collaborations are always so much easier with people with a similar music taste, and there’s lots of us on that vibe. I’m very much keen on that. 

Let’s touch on Integral for a second. Will you be releasing via the label?

At the moment, no. Just focussing on these couple of things with TNQ and 1985. But whatever happens, happens. 

I’d like to develop a bit of a relationship with Alix, and also see what happens with North Quarter. Who knows after that. We’ve obviously got close ties with a lot of labels, but rather than spreading it too thin, I’ll start with a couple, and then go from there. At Integral we’ve got quite a packed release schedule with this 15 years thing.

Will you still be working on Integral Records things?

Emma’s definitely been the driving force over the last eight-to-nine years. I’ll hear things and send it over or vice versa, but Zula and I have definitely left the control to Emma. Which was a good thing, because at the time we really needed someone to pull all the pieces together and make it happen. When we really needed a new wave of music and artists, Emma basically made most of that happen, with Zula and I overseeing A&R-wise.

 

What are you most looking forward to with this new solo project?

I think just having an avenue that I didn’t have before. A place where I can see what happens naturally, by doing whatever I want. 

Also just to do something a little different, and collaborate with some different people. It will definitely give me a new lease of life production-wise, and definitely inspire me to do more different things, outside the box. 

 

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