Our 1-on-1 series is where Skandl talks with enthusiastic, vibrant creatives from the Dutch scene – this week we speak with DJ, producer and sound designer Leroy Chaar, aka Fien, in anticipation for his appearance at September’s MERGE FEST ’18
Hi Leroy. Tell us about Différence et Répétition, the club night you’ve been running for a while now. How did that start and what is the ethos behind it?
I originally started the night together with Thomas Kelderman, who was then working at Studio/K which, is also where we held the first edition. The core idea was to create a space for DJs where they could just play more experimental stuff in a club context without worrying about catering to the needs of the dancefloor – I had found myself a bit annoyed with hardly being able to play the music I’d normally listen to in any of my sets. Most recently we had Whities boss Tasker over for a party we did at the OT301 in May, which was quite fun. We’ve also been hosting a regular show on Red Light Radio, where I invite local guests or play personal favourites roughly once a month.
How did you first get into DJing, can you remember the first tracks you brought to the decks?
This must have been when I was around 16 and had just started uploading some of my own tunes to SoundCloud.
I was producing some sort of post-dubstep (which was quite en vogue then), and Axel van der Lugt, who now programs Sugar Factory, asked me if I’d like to DJ at an event of his. I’d never mixed before but I just accepted the offer, and I prepared nearly my entire set in advance. I think I actually brought a cheat sheet with the exact speed I had to play my tunes at just to make sure I didn’t trainwreck any of the first transitions! Probably still did anyway.
What can people expect from one of your sets?
I try to fit quite a wide variety of interests into my set, drawn from various sources. When I’m playing in more of a club setting, I try to layer dance tracks with soundscapes, bits of spoken word or other stuff that’s not necessarily musical to create a bit of a juxtaposition. Soundwise I like to situate myself somewhere between contemporary electronics, leftfield techno and ambient I guess, with bits of IDM and more esoteric early electronic music thrown in every now and then.
How did your A/V collaboration with Sphynx come about, have you got any plans to release new music in the future?
I had produced a couple of vignettes which I had then recorded onto a tape, just for my own listening pleasure (something I do quite often). On one occasion I sent them to Yon Eta, who said he’d like to put them out on his Devorm label under my Robert Kirk moniker. He thought it would he cool to turn it into an A/V project, and put me in touch with Sphynx, a Mexican video artist and UX designer currently residing in Utrecht.
I think the main themes in my work are isolation, dislocation and memory. I’m also massively interested in hauntology, although I don’t think my music sounds too similar to any of the artists usually associated with it. Currently I’m working on a more lengthy piece, but don’t really know when and even if it’ll be finished so I can’t really say much more about that, but there should be more stuff coming out in the near future.
You’re currently working on sound designs for a couple of independent productions, is this something you’re looking to do more, how do you like that sort of work?
My interest in sound design was first sparked while I was studying at the SAE Institute in Cologne, I had been quite interested in synthesis for a while so that was something that naturally spoke to me. Recently I’ve just been doing various stuff, from building up sample packs to making sounds for moving image etc. In the future I’d love to move into designing sounds for consumer products (vehicles, kitchen appliances and whatnot), I think the internet of things will open up a lot of new possibilities there. I’ve been half-jokingly, half seriously telling my friends that this would be my dream job!
What tunes are you loving at the moment?
Haron – Wandelaar
Quite an unexpected turn from Haron, who’s more known for his dancefloor oriented sounds. This is from the album coming out soon on Petal Dance’s freshly inaugurated label Queeste, the whole thing is lovely and I can’t recommend it enough.
Raime – Some Things Can Happen, Just Like This
I asked my grandma to get me the first Raime album for Christmas when it came out in 2012, and I’ve been following them ever since. Their use of space is very clever, particularly on this recent EP for Different Circles.
Rian Treanor – Contra_A2
Interesting rave mutations from Rian Treanor on the recently relaunched Warp offshoot Arcola. Apparently he’s the son of Mark Fell, but he seems well underway carving out a niche of his own.
Felicia Atkinson – Abiquiu
Atkinson’s record on her own Shelter Press label was one of my favourite releases of 2017, and her most recent outing doesn’t fall short. The B side is the one for me on this tape.
Recently you’ve been involved in Ja Ja Ja Nee Nee Nee broadcasts, what projects have you been working on with them?
Most recently there has been a series of radio shows as part of the Dissident Gardens programme, broadcasted from the Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam once a month. In all honesty I don’t have that much of an influence on the actual content of the programmes as is – I’m mostly there for the technical side of things, although I may be more involved on different fronts in the future.
I’ve developed quite an interest in broadcasting after stumbling upon Bertolt Brecht’s radio theories. I think of (online) radio as a medium with great potential, and it is massively under-explored as an interactive communication channel.