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Insider Interviews #006: Proxima & Icicle

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Proxima & Icicle: two cousins diligently grafting at the very forefront of techy, bass-laced electronic music.

Two cousins who, incidentally, released very impressive LPs late last year. It turns out they both road tested material and sounded out ideas for their albums on each other during their creative processes.

“We were back and forth all the time,” says Proxima (real name Gijs). “We sent each other different versions and helped each other out on our albums from the start.”

“No one is as up to date on my music as Gijs is!” laughs Icicle.

Since their days making R/C cars to their present residence round the corner from each other in London via their late teen moped burning era, Proxima and Icicle have been partners in crime since birth and have penned several serious tunes together over the last few years.

We had no idea whether all of this was a good basis for them to interview each other or not, but we did it anyway. The end result is an immense conversation that goes from sublime to the ridiculous(ly deep)…

I have to talk about the elephant in the room… The future of dubstep and 140 BPM bass music. It’s going through a tough time.

Proxima: So…. We’re family, but why the hell are you so tall and I’m so short? 

Icicle: I put every inch of my height success to Brussel sprouts. I love them. The other week my video guy was introducing me to vegan recipes. He suggested this finely sliced Brussel sprouts with almond slices and cranberry. Let’s turn this interview into a cooking blog, why not?

Proxima: Why not? Do you think if I start eating them now I’ll grow taller?

Icicle: Reach for the stars man! I also have one question that’s been on my mind forever but never asked you… If you had to pick a family member to be nominated for a lifetime achievement award in bass music, who would it be?

Proxima: Obviously your mum! She’s my main musical inspiration! She’s a demon in the studio.

Icicle: Woah woah woah….

Proxima: Okay seriously now, what are you up to music-wise right at this moment?

Icicle: The main thing right now is the live show. This kicks off at the end of the month; it’s me on a bunch of hardware, a bunch of synthesisers and outboard equipment. No Ableton, no pressing play; me playing properly live with everything done on the fly. There are some incredible dedicated visuals created by a guy called Drew Best who’s a killer animator and VJ. I’m very excited about getting on the road, it’s taking up every second of my time!

Proxima (and UKF): Wow!

Icicle: So Gijs… Tell me, what are YOU up to?

Proxima: Well I’ve done the album. It’s been well received and I’m really happy with it. I’m actually just finishing a video for one of the tunes from it this week. Other than that, I’m very much focussing on drum & bass again. I lost motivation on that side for a while but it’s completely returned now. I’m really happy with where it’s going and a few things are being signed very soon.

Icicle: Drum & bass eh?

Proxima: It’s about time!

Icicle: So how have you found moving to London and investing EVERYTHING into your music? I did it when I dropped my chemical engineering studies and moved here, you’ve dropped your psychology studies and moved here. I was thinking; why did we do it? Why did we give everything up and make weird music?

Proxima: Good one! Yes, I was studying for a very long time. I finished psychology but there was no passion or anything keeping me in a career. Nothing I could see myself doing my whole life. Music came back into my life properly a few years ago and developed into a passion I want to pursue. It’s music isn’t it!

Icicle: No rhyme or reason, just for the love.

Proxima: Exactly! Something I truly believe in and want to explore and contribute to.

Icicle: No choice. No way out. This is it for life.

Proxima: Yes. So…. How was doing the second album different from the first?

Icicle: So you know for your next one, right?

Proxima: Maybe…

Icicle: As you know, an album is such a big thing; to create a whole body of work that really has consistency and works well with the right message. The one thing I said to myself when I started the second one was ‘don’t think you know what you’re doing now you’ve done an album already.’ It’s a hard balance: you’ve got push forward enough to do something different cool but you also have to relate to the past material you’ve put out so people don’t get alienated. Everyone has an opinion about you, which makes it harder to just come with something totally different and daring. But they’re both great experiences; as I’m sure the third album will be eventually. Can I ask you a question now?

Proxima: Yeah sure

Icicle: What is the one thing you miss from Holland?

Proxima: I’m not the type of person who misses things when I go away. But I do miss the vast amount of snacks you get with your fries. They’re deep fried and they’ll kill you but they’re so beautiful! Croquettes, frickandellen, chips, curry sauce, hot onions, mayo… The list goes on.

Icicle: That’s how we roll! I miss proper liquorice. That proper salty, chewy shit. I can’t find it anywhere here in the UK. Anyone reading this should try it… It will either change your life or you’ll spit it out and hate me for suggesting it!

Proxima: Switching back to music for a bit, what were your inspirations for Entropy?

Icicle: I wanted to make a statement about the future of electronic music and the way I see it. I wanted it to be more futuristic in sound design and dynamics and mixes. I wanted it to sound very modern, of its time and maybe a little ahead of it. I put a lot of energy into the technical side but of course inspirations remain the same: the old school drum & bass guys who I know you love too. I have to reference Amon Tobin; a true sculptor of sound. And also techno. There’s a growing shift in techno for the raw drum machiney droney dark techno, which I’m really loving.

Proxima: And you’re really making on the side?

Icicle: Well, yes. I’ve been doing a lot of techno and collaborating with a lot of very talented artists. I’ve had some stuff signed and it’s about time I revealed my new techno identity. I’m just biding my time and I’m going to ditch drum & bass, jump ship and make loads of money! Seriously; it’s something I love, I’ll never stop doing the Icicle stuff but I’m very inspired by techno and if I can make that as well as everything else I make then I’m a very happy man.

Proxima: Of course. Who’s question is it now?

Icicle: Mine… What inspirations did you have for your album?

Proxima: Well it was my first album; there were a few things I really wanted to do right. I didn’t want to make a collection of seemingly random 12 club tracks. I wanted a start and an ending and make sure various styles were included and experimented with. The way I do dubstep is very drum & bassy but I wanted to explore harder stuff, deeper stuff, more melodic stuff, tracks with singers and MCs. The most important thing was to make an actual album: a statement and something that was as good as it could be as it was my first so I spent a long time really making sure I fulfilled my ambitions in that way.

Icicle: We’ve both made lots of different styles and done lots of collaborations over the years… If you could pick any collaboration who would they be?

Proxima: Can they be dead?

Icicle: yeah, like a fight club – if you could pick anyone famous to fight, who would it be?

Proxima: It would have to be a classical composer. I’ve been playing with a lot of classical instrument sounds and trying to incorporate them into the D&B I’m doing now. The whole idea of combining classical dynamics and arrangements with modern music is really inspiring me.

Icicle: How about Beethoven? He was deaf anyway!

Proxima: Yes, please call him. I’m interested. Oh wait, he’s deaf… Can someone please sign language him?

Icicle: He’s dead, too…

Proxima: Ah….

Icicle: I have to talk about the elephant in the room… The future of dubstep and 140 BPM bass music. It’s going through a tough time. You – in my opinion – are one of the few men pushing it forward. I know we’re cousins but I’d say that even if we were enemies… Where’s it going? What’s going to happen?

Proxima: The commercial side seems to be done. It was such an extreme thing anyway. It wasn’t going to last forever. The deeper sound, meanwhile, is hindered by lack of creativity and innovation. People aren’t being original enough, they’re doing the same stuff that’s been done for a while now. You need to do fresh and different things. For me dubstep has always been that techy vibe; the Noisia, Mefjus style but within 140BPM.

Icicle: I think there’s a production issue within the deeper side. And diversification. People should be exploring the capabilities more and more. Minimal music can sound alike very quickly. The current climate has changed things too – house is back with a big bang and a lot of producers have moved on to that. A lot of the people going to raves have moved on to that, too. So that’s taken the energy out of the genre as well. Overall dubstep’s got so much more to say – cool, deep 140 music still has heaps of potential. It’s like a half written genre. It’s going to come back again in different ways. I’m not saying it’s dead but it’s definitely changed.

Proxima: We need to keep pushing for new things. I really hope there’s still a lot in it. I’ve picked up drum & bass because I was struggling to get gigs lijkme a lot of guys on my level. What I really want to do is push that D&B sound within the 140 template. I’ve got a lot stuff that has potential but there needs to be a market.

Icicle: It goes for your music, it goes for my music – transcend genres and strive for the music we love, that means something to us, that we want to make. Idealistic, maybe but that’s what we should be aspiring to.

Proxima – Alpha is out now on Rinse: Support

Icicle – Entropy is out now on Shogun Audio: Support