📸: Joyce Mars
Every now and then an artist appears to soldier through the learning process so perceptively, creatively and rapidly, they send far reaching ripples throughout the scene. Waves which resonate with the right ears, bridging ahead for the arrival and initiation of an ascending disciple.
Waves which land you support from Noisia, signing by Abis and Signal, a Beatport D&B number one with your debut EP and collaborations with the likes of Phace and The Upbeats… All within less than two years of starting to produce electronic music.
This is the story of Buunshin AKA Ferry Mellegers. In an incredibly short space of time, he’s managed to materialize his lofty ambitions of releasing quality drum ‘n bass. Withholding his music to avoid premature public gratification until the right time… Earlier this month he entered the stage in extraordinary fashion.
Cue: Presence, his debut EP on DIVIDID. A release that’s already enjoyed support from artists like Noisia, Mefjus, Camo & Krooked, Phace, Misanthrop and Ed Rush , this is how it came about… And what’s coming up next.
Take us back to the start….
It’s been about one and a half years since I seriously got into making electronic music. Initially it started as fun, trying different things, but then I had a lot of time at hand and decided to give it a proper go.
What motivated you to do so?
At first, I got attracted by the challenge – being aware of the insane difficulty involved that is pushed by artists like Noisia, Mefjus and Camo & Krooked, I figured: ‘What if I would try to get as close as possible to that level?’ It came down to taking in the daily lessons and gradually improving, something I’ve been doing daily since then.
You’re studying sonology at the Royal Conservatoire in Hague. How does this fit into your artistic work?
It’s a study focussed on the nature of sound – the physics and techniques involved. It involves understanding how to implement this knowledge into music, going beyond the established methods. It actually isn’t related to the way I work on my drum & bass. The teachings do inspire me, but having both (disciplines) to work on brings a healthy amount of diversity, when I’m at school, I can focus solely on that, visa versa for producing under the alias Buunshin.
So now you’ve arrived at your goal…. Your debut release. How does it feel?
I’m incredibly happy. This is the moment I can perceive how others experience my music and I’m really satisfied with the result. Meanwhile, I’m working on more music with people who were pleasantly surprised with the results. It’s like this onward motion that keeps moving, but it surely is worthwhile to stay present and cherish the progress.
How did this release come about?
This release represents the way how I would like to experience drum & bass on the dancefloor. It’s an evolution of my skillset. Gradually I’ve made songs through different approaches, methods, mixdowns and sound design to find out what resonated with my vision. I’ve learned an awful lot in the process, because each song has pros and cons. Because of this, I know where the focus will be for the next release to improve upon.
What does the name Presence symbolize?
I think I’ve kept it on the low for quite a while. A lot of people prefer to share straight away, but I consciously decided not to, because I prefer not to share anything that’s not on the right quality level yet. This EP reflects the next step: presenting my work and saying: ‘listen, I’ve been working hard to make something worthwhile to listen, and I hope everyone can enjoy this as much as I enjoyed creating it’.
A certain element of tunnel vision might creep in after a while. How do you manage this creativity killer?
I’ve found out it’s essential to keep changing the methods you use to achieve your goal. Expecting a different outcome through using the same approach is unreal… Changing the tools, will change the outcome. It differs for me a lot, Clueless is a tune that gave me a revelation. At the time, I tried to work from basically nothing – trying to synthesize all the sounds on my computer. Then I realized: ‘How about trying to produce these sounds with a microphone?’ This is how I went about creating Clueless.
When talking about getting into a flow when making music. How do you get there and stay there?
I thought a lot about this and figured it’s really tied to concentration. I think I’m lucky, because I always have been a dreamy person who easily drifts off in thought. I noticed that my best tunes are made when I’m in a state like this. Since I’m able to get there rather effortlessly, it then becomes a matter of not getting distracted.
When I’m traveling to school, I always bring my laptop with me together with headphones. I try to make music with all these distractions around me, and put the ideas into projects as quick as possible, while learning to cope with the fact there are distractions around.
It’s like meditation for the modern musician.
Yes. Everyone would like to get into this state at will. On the other hand, it might be a bit tricky. I noticed that once you do it quite often, your body gets used to it and it becomes harder to get out of this dreamlike state. When you’re making music days on end, it gets harder to return to the daily life. I am at loss for words then and forget things that don’t have anything to do with music, it’s hard to combine both.
I can imagine keeping it private came with certain challenges. How did you progress from starting with the EP to having a finished product?
Honestly, I’ve had some worries initially, because I felt that I didn’t possess the resources. It seemed like a big challenge to make this kind of music and I struggled to grasp certain aspects. There wasn’t anyone who could help me out with it either at the time. Through visiting parties, I’ve met more people who helped me along the way. Signal for example, he’s one of the people who provided the right tools and insights to keep progressing.
Every time I got stuck, he or someone within the drum ‘n bass community helped me to change my perspective on the problem. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to finish this project. It’s very hard for human beings to reinvent the wheel by themselves so to speak. I’m really thankful for all these people who facilitated my current skillset.
We all know talented producers who are almost at the right level to release music, but struggle with those last 10-20% of polishing. How did you approach this?
In a sense being signed to DIVIDID enabled me to go about this without any external pressure. They gave me a platform and the ideas evolved in a natural way. While at times I’ve asked for help, when something didn’t work, I simply shifted my focus and returned later with fresh ears. I then tried to approach it from a different perspective or reasoning. Step by step, I’ve managed to complete the songs and developed a better grasp on using different references like listening it on a smartphone speaker, club or headphones.
What’s in store next for Buunshin?
I’m working on different things. I’ve sent my EP to numerous artists like Noisia, Mefjus, Camo & Krooked, Phace, Misantrop, Ed Rush, The Upbeats etc. Their feedback has been really positive and based on it, I’m working on other solo projects. These are either going to be released on different labels, or they will never be released and kept for my performances only. I’ve already got nice amount those finished, which hopefully will make it more enjoyable to see me play at an event.
There are collabs underway with The Upbeats and Signal and a remix for DIVIDID of ‘The Wall’. A few weeks ago I visited Phace in Hamburg to work together. Another thing I’m working on: a remix for Phace and Noisia, but I cannot go into further details for now though. Generally being in talks with different labels for now. I’m looking to find a comfortable place within the scene to express my music through.
You’ve mentioned testing music in the clubs. Is DJing something you also do or plan to do as Buunshin?
Yes. Now that my release is out, I’m eager to share the live experience in full effect
Any final shout outs?
Yes, I’d like to leave some honourable mentions: Ronald Dijks, he’s the person who helped me with the initial steps as a producer and supported me when I didn’t know anyone else yet. Ronald really had a big impact. Other than that my GANG; Jonathan Kievit, Dale Casilio, Levi Casilio and Ahmet Can. I wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for you guys supporting me when I was feeling down. I love y’all.