Imagine how blissful it would be to go on a road trip right now? Driving on big, open roads, taking in the scenic landscapes around, and of course, having a D&B soundtrack accompanying us the whole way. While it may not be the physical experience, Edlan’s debut album Landmarks is the closest thing to a D&B road trip right now.
Inspired by Edlan’s time spent travelling through Europe and USA with his parents, Landmarks is an album filled with nostalgia and wonder. From exploring the sounds of cityscapes, to uncovering the blissful tones of the countryside. It’s an organic album fuelled by Edlan’s evolving sound that has continually pushed natural flavours into drum and bass since he burst onto the scene in 2016.
Those who know Edlan for his music on Liquicity, Integral and Pilot will be aware of the journey he has been on over the years – not to mention the capability of his liquid productions. But Landmarks is without doubt the pinnacle of the young Dutch producer’s career so far. Expect fun twists, welcome surprises and plenty of musical exploration on a venture Edlan has been waiting to embark on for quite some time now.
On the back of the album release, UKF reached out to Edlan to gauge the full story behind his debut Landmarks project.
Landmarks is a fitting title considering this is such a landmark occasion for you.
Definitely. That’s why I felt it was important to produce a physical vinyl of the album, rather than it just being a digital release. It feels surreal to hold my own album. I’m excited to see how people will react when they receive their vinyls, as I put so much effort into designing it with Liquicity.
Even though it’s your debut album, it feels like you’ve been building towards this moment for a while.
For sure. Releasing an album has been a goal of mine since the beginning, but I never really knew when the moment would come. When Liquicity approached me about writing an album, I was like – now is the time. I feel like having an album will help me establish myself as an artist even more. It’s fun, it’s beautiful and very different than releasing a single. With an album, it’s all about creating something artistic. A big inspiration behind my drive to write this album was Calibre’s Shelflife series. It’s something I listen to from start to finish. The whole journey is what makes an album special. That was my goal for Landmarks.
I get the impression there’s a real narrative going on throughout the album.
The album is based on the road trips I used to go on with my parents. I used to listen to albums all the time on these trips, and that was my main inspiration for Landmarks. I wanted it to be the perfect road trip album. The artwork was made by Maris, and we wanted to implement the idea of a journey. So we decided to design the artwork around the most common journey I do, which is my journey to work. On the vinyl there is a map with the navigation towards my studio from my home. It’s a personal concept as it’s my daily routine.
That’s cool! Personal memories are always the ones yielding the best inspiration.
That’s what made the album. Even in the tracks themselves I used lots of field recordings, which add themes to the album. For example, the intro of Tantra is a field recording of a distant thunderstorm where you hear it rumble. I Found You features the sound of New York city too. These personal touches are important because they help to create an ambience that ties into the journey.
This isn’t the first time your music has revolved around that feeling of going on a road trip either, is it?
Not really, no. I’ve worked on tracks before revolving around the same concept. Middle Of Nowhere, which was released on Liquicity two years ago, is a good example. The soundscape was based on the idea of going on a road trip, then stopping somewhere for lunch and taking in the sounds. I used field recordings in that tune too. I had the sound of crackly power lines plus the wind and some birds. That sort of ambience always reminds me of the times spent road tripping with my parents. This is where the road trip theme in my music originates from.
Are there any particular trips you look back on fondly?
Well, this album is particularly based on the recent ones in Europe. For example, going from the Netherlands to southern France. I did that two or three years ago. I remember doing that same road trip when I was a child too. But the more interesting road trips were definitely in the USA. We had one from Las Vegas to San Francisco where we went through the whole desert area. That was very inspirational for this album, but also for my life as I always remember those moments and the scenery. I also went from Washington DC to Memphis. That was also a very long journey, but a different experience. I’ve also done Seattle to San Francisco. All of them together form one big memory of the whole road trip experience.
Just a few road trips then… I like how the variation of music on the album reflects the variation of those trips you describe.
There is a real connection there. Funnily enough, the Nymfo collab is completely different to the rest of the tracks. That was intentional. It’s like when you go on road trips and there are landscapes that really stand out. For example, a random ass mountain or a large city that comes out of nowhere and makes no sense. That is what Warehouse Tune represents. It’s a tune that’s not supposed to be there, but it adds a nice contrast. I reference it to my DJ sets where I like to play a banging tune out of nowhere.
You’ve always struck me as someone who likes to surprise. You don’t want to be predictable.
Exactly. And that’s why I decided to put that track on there – alongside a range of non D&B ones such as Existential and Endless Thoughts About The Past. A big inspiration behind this style, and the whole album, is Moby’s Play. That was the first electronic album I listened to when I was four. I remember my dad playing it in the car, and ever since I have been hooked on electronic music. That inspired me to put different genres on the album instead of only drum and bass tracks. Back in the day, I was not a D&B producer. I made house. So I find it interesting to dabble in other genres when producing.
The non D&B tracks are like little pit stops along the way. If you’re on a road trip you can’t keep driving at full speed!
That’s a good way of describing them. Some people call them album fillers, but I don’t think they are. They are breaks in the album where you can take in a different vibe. You can’t drive 174mph the whole time. Driving that speed would be a very bad idea on any road trip… Haha.
Just a bit! I imagine it was particularly nostalgic working with Nymfo, seeing as he has been an integral part of your progression.
He’s the reason I’m here right now. He’s the person who mentored me into the D&B scene after we met at DJ School. When I got to a point where my music was sounding good enough, he sent it to labels and got the ball rolling. Fun fact – even though I’ve been working with Nymfo for around six years, I’ve never dared ask him to collab until this album… It feels strange to have worked with him for so many years without making a tune together. It’s a pretty unique feeling to have now made Warehouse Tune.
Wicked. So you touched on Warehouse Tune being the odd one out on the album, but I like that it represents the darker sound you initially dabbled in. People don’t usually associate you with that sound.
I think there will always be darker tunes in my music seeing as I started off making darker tracks. I love making liquid, but like most people, I go through different moods. I can’t make happy tunes all the time. I sometimes need to produce something a bit moodier. It represents the way life is. It’s not always smooth and atmospheric.
Especially at the moment!
Literally! Although, the pandemic did not lead me to make darker tunes. I feel like I’ve been making more tunes, but I’ve been less inspired because I’ve seen less of the world. My inspiration for music comes from seeing things. Going outdoors really helps me when making music.
I get that impression from your music. The theme of nature comes across strong.
Yeah, indeed. I’ve been in nature since the beginning of my life. Even though I grew up in Amsterdam, I spent more time in the north of the city where I had more nature around me. I remember when I was a kid I had a babysitter who lived in a small village just above Amsterdam, and that was big part of my upbringing with farmers and countryside around me. Since then, nature has felt like home for me – even though I live in the city.
The organic musical elements throughout Landmarks clearly reflect your own story.
Exactly. That’s what my production focuses on. A lot of producers these days use multiband compressors on everything to make it sound fat, whereas I prefer to stick to a more old school sound where everything is less clean. This is something that is lost in a lot of modern day productions, but for me, retaining those elements helps to keep tracks sounding real – as opposed to electronic. For example, when you use sample breaks there might be some clicks, pops and crackles. I love to keep those in because they add character.
Plus, the natural soundscapes in Landmarks help to create a sense of escapism during a time when we all need some escape.
That was not actually intentional! The whole theme of the album was developed long before Covid happened. Now, I really hope the album provokes people’s memories about travelling places. Maybe people’s first road trips post Covid will include listening to my album… Haha! I really hope people listening to it will feel the same positivity I did when I was on those road trips.
I Found You with T.R.A.C. and T:Base is sure to instil people with some positivity.
Hopefully! It’s one of the different tunes on the album because it’s more inspired by the hip-hop I used to listen to. I remember T:Base came up with a piano sketch and I loved it from the beginning, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it work in the nature theme. And then I thought – road trips also involve going to cities, such as New York, where I’ve been multiple times. So I decided to make the track more of a reference to cities. I wanted to make it into an urban liquid sound.
So we’ve spoken about the album journey, but viewing your career more broadly, are there any other landmarks you look back on fondly?
I would say the biggest landmark of my career was when it all started with my first release on Fokuz in 2016. I also got a track on Liquicity’s Youtube channel, which especially back in the day was quite hard to get on. The track was Shadow. That was a big landmark as it was the starting point. I then had Dreamcatcher, which turned out to be one of my biggest tunes. Another big landmark was also my first EP on Integral. Even though it’s not the most popular EP I’ve released, Integral is one of my favourite D&B labels. I had this dream to release with them for quite a while. I was able to make that happen two years ago, which feels weird.
Awesome. It seems like you’ve really managed to nail down your sound since those releases.
I think my sound is there right now, but this is just the beginning. I’m still very young and will continue to evolve it further. That takes time though. In my opinion, the artists who are really good are the ones who continue to evolve their sound. That’s how I want to be.
With that in mind, what’s next for you?
I’ll most likely take a break to let the album do its thing, but at the same time I’m not really taking a break because I’m also mentoring up-and-coming liquid talents who I believe have the potential to be the next big thing. I’m also planning to start my own label on the back of the mentoring, which I will reveal more about at some point… I also have the ambition to make a second album, but that won’t be for a while!