An avid producer/DJ and a successful promotor have joined forces to form a drum ‘n bass alias; Alora.
The brainchild of Dutchies Maddie Goossens (Madster) and Twan Koning (Rampage & NOX), after joining forces with a playful ‘can do’ attitude, they could never have predicted how things would change so quickly.
Andy C, through his captivating sets, paved the way for their debut on the ProgRAM 100 talent compilation with the playfully-titled track ID in late 2019. It was followed by On You in February this year on Rampage Recordings. More recognition by established peers ensued, while bigger plans started to take shape, too. The duo clearly felt motivated to capitalize on the precious momentum into 2020.
But then? The theme is predictable by now, yet none the less painful. The quickly-evolving pandemic cast a dreadful spell, cruelly undoing the plans so many depend upon. For Alora it wasn’t any different. But despite the setback, they’re still pushing forward and looking beyond the current reality. And there’s plenty in store…
First of all, how did you guys get started?
Maddie: I know Twan from back in the days, when we used to organize events in Eindhoven on a small scale for our group of friends. Through NOX, our paths crossed again when I joined the crew as a resident DJ. At one point, Twan told me ‘you’re making all this neurofunk, let’s make some dancefloor.’ I’m not that good with melodies, so we decided to sit together. The result was surprisingly good and we went from there!
I think we have a good dynamic, I’ve been writing music for a while and Twan learns quickly, which is cool. He gives a lot of feedback and makes many sketches at home, which serve as a basis for our studio work.
So when did this twiddling turn into something serious?
Twan: Once RAM Records wanted ‘ID’, things started to become serious.
Maddie: The track was received very well. It’s quite bizarre how quickly people picked it up. The support we’re receiving is quite insane.
Has this been the plan all along or was it a project involving improvisation in the first place?
Twan: Mostly the latter, it was a bit of a yolo… and then we were on RAM!
How did the alias Alora come about?
Maddie: Well, we needed a name, so we started to look for one (laughs). Random things really. Then we stumbled upon a colour someone once named, not even an official one; Alora. We didn’t have a name then, but needed one fast so we could release the track (ID).
So what’s next?
Twan: On September 2 we will be releasing an EP called ‘Without You’. There’s also a videoclip on the way.
Maddie: The videoclip, made by the talented Lola Safari, is in the final stages of editing and will be uploaded and promoted through Rampage Recordings. We’re hoping it will be received well. Initially this release was planned for July, during Rampage Open Air, but thing had to be postponed due to Corona.
You were talking about your approach to making music together. Could you shed more light on the routine?
Maddie: I’m at my best when working alone in the middle of the night – generating random ideas. We both make sure that we have some sketches to work on and aim to sit together at least once a week. We go through the different things we’ve made and try to combine these. Often interesting things come out of that, but often it’s nothing that interesting.
Is having to find compromises a part of the process as well?
Maddie: Yeah, we often don’t really agree.
Twan: That’s very true!
Maddie: There’s progress though. Initially we had a lot of differences in terms of taste, but I think we are levelling way more these days. We’re getting to the point that there’s an Alora sound.
How would you describe your sound in three words?
Twan: Happy, colourful and beautiful.
Maddie: Accessible too perhaps!
Beyond the mentioned dynamic, what has really made the difference in your collaboration?
Maddie: Well, we know each other for a while. Despite initially having rather different tastes, it helped to go in a certain direction. I thought quite differently about things and had the experience with making music. Twan on the other hand did not, but was ready to speak up when something simply sucked.
So he helped you from being stuck with the so-called tunnel vision?
Maddie: Yeah, totally. I can get really stuck at times. Twan at times would say: “Stop it, when it’s good enough, it’s good. Let’s move on.” (both laugh and agree).
Let’s also talk about the personal projects you both have besides Alora. Twan, can you walk us through the last couple of months as a promotor? NOX had big plans with the first weekender edition after the successful first festival last year, but it was not to be. How did you manage?
Twan: Last year we were really pushing to prepare for this year with bookings and such. In January I was able to have someone on the payroll to help out, because I was doing NOX by myself mainly. Lars Weijtens joined the team, we were aiming high by booking Nero for example and organizing three stages instead of two. Then the lockdown happened and we had to undo everything, despite really being ahead of schedule.
We really struggled with it. Like, what the fuck should we do? We still wanted to keep our fans involved by doing different initiatives, like hiding eggs for them to find during Eastern, but we were really drained at that point from having to do things that didn’t generate any income. So yeah, it was a very hard period.
Damn, hard to imagine how hard that must’ve been. Thank you for sharing this. What or who kept you going at the time?
Twan: My girlfriend.
Is there anything you would like to share with the fans of NOX?
Twan: In the first place I’m really thankful for their support and I’m happy to see that everyone is willing to tag along for 2021 instead of asking for a refund. Without this, it would have been the end for me.
Can you tell us how you got involved with Rampage?
Twan: Yeah, it’s a funny story. I once met Hans Machiels (Murdock) here in Eindhoven, around 2014. Hans was at a festival of a friend of mine and I told him: “Hans, Rampage isn’t really known in Holland and I want to help with making it bigger.” Eventually I sort of started working for him and did a lot of things. Social media, Snapchat, and various promotions in The Netherlands.
A lot of networking as well surely?
Twan: Apparently (laughs). We went everywhere, I had a lot of friends around me and made sure that everybody knew what they would be doing.
And these experiences eventually evolved into NOX?
Twan: Well, I always wanted to do something with drum ‘n bass. One night I was sitting with my girlfriend and spoke up about organizing something in Eindhoven, because there wasn’t anything at the time. It all became possible thanks to the Zodiak Commune: an alternative party collective that has been doing parties for about 25 years.
They do the Kingsday events in Eindhoven. I once messaged them, suggesting it would be fun to have a drum ‘n bass area as well, thus NOX was created. They believed in me and provided a stage at the Klokgebouw – one of the biggest venues out here.
Anything you would like to share Maddie, mainly about your own alias Madster?
Maddie: I don’t have an awful lot time for Madster, due to Alora and a fulltime job. Some time ago I did a remix for Droptek on the Korsakov label for the track Bloodline (Symbiosis Remixed Part 1). Really cool to be featured with these artists! It got good feedback and some even called it their favourite on the album.
I also released Blunderbuss through Korsakov’s second compilation album last year, a halftime tune. It got featured on Noisia Radio and Dub Rebellion. Very happy with that one, lots of support! But yeah, there are some new bits on the way from me. More experimental stuff, although I cannot say what exactly.
About the experimental stuff: have you signed it somewhere?
Maddie: Yeah, it is a new label. There’s no release date yet, but hopefully it will be there soon! I’m curious how it will go down, because it’s a tad different sound than usual!