Holland: Known across the world for being flat, having lots of windmills, manufacturing clogs and for taking a different approach to coffee shops.
And, in more recent years, also for being a hotbed of talented drum & bass producers. The likes of Signal, T & Sugah, Zazu, NCT and Vandera have all risen through the ranks and emerged as promising talents, alongside the more familiar names of Nymfo, Black Sun Empire and of course Noisia.
One of the men we can thank for the country’s recent surge in the genre? Maduk.
The 25-year-old made a name for himself with Liquicity, which has evolved from a YouTube channel into a solid label, hosting massive events all over the world and nurturing plenty of new talent.
But it was last year when people really started to sit up and take note, when the Dutchman signed to Hospital Records. Now, less than a year on, he’s on the brink of releasing his debut album on the imprint and it’s fair to say a lot of people are very excited to hear it…
The date for your diary is April 29th – which, rather neatly, is the same day as the album’s launch party at Brixton Academy. It’s set to be a night to remember, with Maduk joining the full Hospital roster and a few others chucked in for good measure.
We caught up with the man leading Holland’s drum & bass charge to chat about the Brixton launch night, the new album and more.
Hi Maduk. I’m guessing you’ve been a very busy man lately?
Yup! I finished the album about two months ago so I’ve been very busy working on the promotional side of things recently with Hospital, making sure as many people as possible hear the tunes.
Do you think the way you promote an album is as important as how you write it these days?
Absolutely. For established artists with solid fan-bases it might be a little bit different, but for me it’s very important as it’s my first album and I’ve only been producing for around four years, so making sure it’s promoted in the right way is crucial. There are so many producers making so much music that you need to make sure it pops through, which takes a lot of effort.
What’s the main step you and Hospital have taken to promote the album?
I’m pretty strong with YouTube; I was pretty much born on the Liquicity channel and have been featured quite a bit on UKF, so for this album we decided to maintain that strategy by approaching channels which are run by friends to see if they wanted to support the album, and luckily they did. There’s also been a number of worldwide radio mixes. My main goal has been to get the music heard across the globe.
Do you have to think carefully about how you release the album’s content before the release?
Yeah I guess as an artist you don’t want to put the entire album out before the launch. As there is so much music being released, if you release everything at once, you have a short burst of momentum, but if you spread the tracks out in the build-up you keep the momentum going for longer. That’s how it seems to work this year, more so than around five years ago for sure.
What opportunity does this album present to you?
It’s a way of showing who I am, what I can do and also a way of showcasing my different sounds; I tried to make lots of varied sounds within the realm of liquid drum & bass. Obviously there isn’t any neurofunk or heavy stuff on the album but within the liquid sound, I’ve included mellow, dancefloor, breakbeat and jungle orientated stuff. I didn’t want to write every track aimed at the dancefloor so there are a few home-listening tracks on there too. Hopefully there will be something that everyone likes.
There are some tasty looking collabs on this album. You and Nymfo seem to have struck a good partnership in recent years?
Yeah, Nymfo and I have become really good friends. I got in touch with him a few years ago and even though he was making neuro and I was making liquid, we got along really well musically, hooking up in the studio quite a bit. I bring my dancefloor stuff and he brings his more neuro sound, and it ends up somewhere in between. Veela and I have collaborated in the past, too. Our first effort together, Ghost Assassin, went down really well, so I approached her again for this album. I think we’re both very happy with the result. The other guys are all really talented vocalists as well, who all bring something different to the album.
The artwork is pretty nifty – what’s the story behind that?
It represents the two sides to Maduk; on one side, my music is very euphoric, colourful and emotional, but on the other side it can be tight in terms of the mixdowns, so with the artwork I wanted to show both those aspects. We did that by using colours; every track has its own identity which is represented by a colour. All of those colours then combine to form the artwork. That was the idea and I’m really happy with how it came out, I think it fits my music really well.
Were there any serious meetings at Hospital HQ about the album before it was signed off for release?
I don’t think so, luckily! Both me and Hospital were on the same page; we agreed on pretty much every track, and I’m very satisfied with how it has come out, from the track-listing to the artwork and everything in between. We now have to wait and see how it goes down.
Excuse my French, but you must be fucking excited to launch the album at Brixton Academy!?
Oh man, so excited, it’s going to be incredible! And also a little bit nervous… My biggest fan-base seems to be in London so having the launch party in Brixton, on the day of the release, is absolutely crazy and I can’t wait for it. I’ll be in the Hospital office a few days before to sign all of the pre-orders, then I fly back to Holland for a show, and then I fly back to London on the 29th. It’s going to be a hectic few days, but very fun!
Have you been working on your set-list to calm those nerves?
Not yet; I usually prepare blocks of the set before the night and then on the night itself I just see where it goes. Everything I play is very harmonic, so key-wise my sets are always big puzzles which I have to figure out when I’m up on stage. I’ll obviously play the majority of the new album so I’m curious to see how it goes down. I haven’t played the more mellow tunes out yet so it’ll be especially interesting to see how people react to them. I think Nothing More, Stand By You, The End and Never Give Up will be the ones from the album that go off in a big way…
Does the recent rise in neurofunk ever make you consider what kind of drum & bass you make?
Woah, curveball… Nah, I just keep doing my thing, I’m not going to change my sound depending on what is going on around me. I’ve kept my sound consistent for years and it’s the sound that makes me, as well as a lot of other people, happy. I’m not saying I would never try making a different sound but at the moment I’m quite happy with liquid.
Has Liquicity been affected at all since you joined Hospital?
Not really, my music always has priority so it hasn’t changed that much at all. We have a team here at Liquicity running the daily side of things and it’s all about balancing everything out. It’s definitely a challenge but it’s still been operating in the same way since I joined Hospital.
With both Liquicity and Hospital shenanigans, how do you find time to sleep!?
Good question! I rarely have time to eat and sleep, much to the annoyance of my girlfriend… But at the same time I’m privileged to be doing what I do; making people happy all over the world with music. Seeing people getting strength from music and seeing people making friends at events is really satisfying, and that’s why I love doing it. And no sound has more of an impact in that respect than liquid drum & bass, in my opinion. I always try to put in a euphoric aspect in my production and in my sets; the same euphoric feeling that got me into it in the first place. It’s a sound that makes you feel like you can take on the world, and one that has a really strong emotional power because of the melodies and the tempo.
Would you say joining Hospital was a pivotal moment for you?
Definitely. I’ve always been inspired by the likes of Danny Byrd, High Contrast and Logistics so to join the label was a massively pivotal moment for me. After seeing the Hospital family as a group at festivals and club nights, it’s the dream for a lot of producers, including myself, to be part of it, so for it to actually happen was a dream come true and I’m loving it!
What other big nights have you got planned to launch the party?
After the Brixton night I’ve got my own release night on May 5th in one of the biggest clubs in Amsterdam. Nymfo and Logistics are coming along too, who both feature on the album. That’s the first big Liquicity night and then there’s the festival in July, which was wicked last year. Besides Brixton and Liquicity, I’m also looking forward to Dour Festival in Belgium, Let It Roll and Hospitality In The Park at the end of summer.
From speaking to you, it’s obvious that you are very passionate about drum & bass – it’s refreshing to hear!
Haha, thanks. I completely understand why some people are saying that today’s drum & bass can be a little bit samey and overly focussed on the production side of things, but personally, I don’t really give a damn! I just make music that I like and it seems that other people like it too, which is great.
They do indeed. What’s in store after the album is released?
I’ll have to see how it goes but I’ve got a lot of shows coming up this summer and I’ll need some time to get some holiday in, but yeah hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m back in the studio.
And a final quick one – why should people listen to your new album?
Every track puts a smile on my face, hopefully it will have the same impact on everyone else!