One to Watch: Axefield
Shortly after covering his incredible debut release, ‘Pressure Drop’, we thought it was time to catch up with Willem, AKA Axefield. He kindly took the time out of his busy schedule to let us pick his brain about his style of production, his record label and everything that is Axefield.
Firstly we all need to know, who is the mysterious Axefield? Where are you currently living and making your music?
Well to clear up a few things, my name is Willem and I live and make music in the Netherlands. Daily, I keep myself busy with studying, producing music, running a little label called Who’s Susan and cooking up some bad ass kebabs.
Did you grow up surrounded by music? Or was music a later development?
I’ve always been surrounded by music in many different ways. It’s really great how it always has been so accessible. I remember my dad making me download all his 70's and 80's disco classics on Limewire and burning those onto CD to have on repeat in the car during trips we made. I also had piano lessons as a kid, but sadly didn’t push through with it. I got into music production after I learnt that you could take an old record and flip it into a hip-hop beat. The first time I saw that I was fascinated and started to mess around in Fruityloops and Garageband.
Who are you currently listening to at the moment?
Recently I’ve been getting into ethnomusicology and have been listening to Hugh Tracy’s and Alan Lomax’s field recordings a lot. I’m fascinated by all the different traditional music styles that they’ve managed to track down, record and release. It's inspiring to hear all those different tonal systems and rare instruments. I also always find myself going through phases of rediscovering the complete discographies of my all time favourites, you know the classic legends such as Fela Kuti, Steve Reich and Nicolas Jaar just to name a few.
Listening to your debut release, there are a multitude of sounds that make up your style, such as acid and world drum patterns. What made/makes you produce in such an eclectic way? Who are your main influencers?
I always like to listen to genres that I don’t produce and limit the intake of for example, classic house. This can give you some interesting approaches. Last year I was taking courses in Jazz history and writing my university bachelor thesis about 70's and 80's Nigerian music. This made me discover the multitude of Jazz and Nigerian music.
Axefield isn’t your only musical outlet. You also run, Who’s Susan, the record label. So Tell me who is Susan? Who is involved? What are you guys up to at the moment?
Who’s Susan is a question me and two of my best mates have been asking ourselves for the past year. Susan is our go-to entity, commanding us towards producers, she has the vision and she is the goal. We’re three guys with different fundamental tastes in music, but when combined, it really comes together and works great. We’ve done four releases so far, with artists like Raar, Doline, Rick Sheen and DJ Windows XP. It’s a fun and exciting ride in which we seek to expand our musical outlet along the abundant styles of music and many creative possibilities.
Whats next for Axefield and Who’s Susan?
A month after my EP I released an Ambient track as part of Atomnation’s 50th release and next year I’ve got a track coming out on Who’s Susan. Susan currently has her fifth release, with Fede Lng and Deejay Astral, in the pipeline. Beyond that, we’ve got a webshop coming up for our merchandise and might look into a label night for early next year. But hey, it’s Susan who decides those kind of things.
Finally, what three records would you take with you to a desert island and why?
Haha a fun, but tricky question. One record that I’d definitely take would be the Tower of Silence LP by Roberto Musci, which was reissued on Music from Memory. It’s one of those records that every now and then I obsessively have on repeat. I didn’t buy the reissue when it came out, but after so many binge-listens, I had to go and get the actual record.
For the second record I would have to go with the ultimate ambient classic, Woob 1194 by Woob. This one has been on my iPod since forever and has been super influential for me as an artist, but also super effective in cancelling out the noise of crying babies during train and airplane travels. The worldly sounds just take you to some place else.
The last record I’d bring with me would have to be Plantasia by Mort Garson. This one is also a classic, and even dates back to 1976. The album is made for plants to enjoy and help grow, so I’m sure it will also help me when stranded on a deserted island. The use of synthesis throughout the album has influenced me harmonically and also in terms of sound design/synthesis. However, the Discogs prices on this one are horrendous.
Words by Max J