Much of electronic music’s irresistible charm lies in the fact that there are always new parties, sounds, tracks and labels to discover. Quite simply, there’s a deluge of great music that even the most ardent fan is yet to discover. One man whose label is definitely worth delving a bit deeper to discover is Bart van Rijn’s STUG imprint. A real treasure trove of killer releases, the label adopts a tried-and-tested formula (namely releasing great music by carefully chosen artists), but does so with a real aplomb. Indeed, with originals and remixes by Skudge, Works of Intent, Pablo Bolivar, Lady Blacktronika and of course, Bart himself, STUG is a label with serious credentials. A native of The Hague in Holland (which the knowledgeable amongst you will recognise as the home of both IF and Legowelt), Bart also turned in a killer mix for our mix series, which he also talked through in a recent conversation with us, which you can read in its entirety here. And don’t forget to check out Bart’s mix on our Soundcloud page`…
Let’s start a bit by talking about STUG. What’s the thinking behind the name? And what was your motivation for starting the label?
STUG started as a club night in The Hague and some other cities later on in the Netherlands like Amsterdam, Groningen, Nijmegen. We chose the name STUG (stiff/rigid/surly in English) because of the music genre we wanted to program (House and Techno) and a bit of typical characters of the people of The Hague. They are a bit STUG 😉
My motivation for starting a label was always there from the beginning and I asked some dj/producers, while running the events that time, for some original tracks. But that never worked out unfortunately. I have not started producing yet and I started just in 2012 by learning Ableton. Around 2014 I did a remix as first release for a friend’s label, a first original track with remix Pablo Bolivar on Proton and in 2015 and a first EP with two tracks on Dutch label, Rosedale. After this I sent many tracks/demos to (bigger) labels in 2016 for a year. Some nice feedback though, but never succeeded with a release.
So, in 2017 I made the decision to restart STUG as a music label for sure now and start with my own tracks + remixes. Beside setting up and inform for distribution (Digital,Vinyl), PR, music and searching for remixers that took almost 6/7 months to create 3 EP releases (7 originals) + remixers Rhadow, Perel, Kris Wadsworth, Carlos Nillmms, Jamie Trench & Chocky. February 2018 was the First release and it went from there mostly with my own music + remixers, but also with a cool EP from Chocky. Beside that I asked the remixers for some originals, but no result. I can imagine that they wanted to keep them for bigger labels…
Starting the label, are you acutely aware that doing so is very much a labour of love these days? Is the ultimate aim to get it to a point where it’s self-sufficient and you can break even on costs?
I think you always have to start a label and release music for….. the music! And having fun to see your ideas come to life is a nice extra.
Some of the releases have been fantastic, and you’ve a great bunch of artists involved now, from Skudge to Works of Intent, Pablo Bolivar, Lady Blacktronika and of course your own originals. How do you generally source these remixers? Do you give them free reign to do as they please or do you provide them with tips on how you’d like the remix to sound?
Searching, exploring, listening, informing and being patient! Some I ask because I like their music for a longer period, some I ask because of their specific style. For example, when the original is melodic, I will check minimalistic remixers and vice versa. Some nice examples are Perel, Works of Intent (aka ROSH) and Skudge.
Perel released her track Cantuccini on label Rebirth in 2017 and I liked the sound and for some reason I thought my original track Mae (specific one synth) could be good remixed by her. Meanwhile she was working on her album (I didn’t know this at that time) and she was creating her own sound. When she sent me the remix I did not expect it to be like indie sound, but that was super cool and a great start for the First release STUG001!
Works of Intent (fka ROSH) already did a remix of Chocky’s – Thinking Cat in 2019. With his originality and crystal-clear sounds, I always had the idea that I want to ask ROSH for my own original track some day when I have the right one. End of 2021 I finally thought I had that track (still unnamed) that could be good. Before sending him, I wanted a track name, because I noticed (online) that he is keen on lyrics and also gets ideas from this. I called the track Storm. Then quickly after sending the remix stems he sends the track with again a story telling, crystal clear track. Idea achieved!
Skudge has been one of my favorite producers since I started playing music in clubs 2008/2009. With his unique style you know exactly when a track is produced by him. With my original Glacial (Terrace mix) in mind it could be great for a stripped back remix by him.
With the dubby bass and 303 line this idea came up. And he did! And so on! I always give the remixer free reign, no tips.. In this way the creativity and results are the highest, I think. With the earlier events I also never asked the DJ what to play… I ask them because I like their sounds, so I have to trust this and this comes by the (y)ears 😉
Aside from being great musicians, what else do you look for in a remixer? Is it important you have a personal relationship with them? Or does this matter?
No, you do not need a personal relation with a remixer, before asking. I did not know the remixers at all before sending them an email. I just send them an email with the idea/track and just go from there. With searching/asking there are many that do not even reply, but then you proceed searching with your idea and goal to finish the remix for the right person. It is a puzzle that has to finish naturally.
It’s probably fair to say you operate on the fringes of the ‘scene’, and are someone who’s very much involved solely for the love of the music. So going back a bit, can you tell us a bit about your musical education in the Netherlands? Who inspired you back then? And who inspires you now?
I always searched, listened, selected and played music as a teenager. Setting up weekly disco nights on a camping trip in Summer season. Played music in my parent’s (rock) bar. When I first went out myself it was directly within Electronic music (mostly trance) and going to festivals in the Netherlands frequently. While moving to The Hague for studying at University I started working in a (indie music) record store called Plato in the evenings and Sundays. So there was a complete library of music was available for me to explore and to delve into many music genres. Back then many inspired me as a DJs like Laurent Garnier, Sven Vath, Richie Hawtin but also sounds from John Digweed, Sasha, Deep Dish and the whole Global Underground CD series I really liked. So mostly techno and deeper sounds within electronic music.
When I (we) started STUG events in 2008 I always invited new upcoming artists back then like Len Faki, Radio Slave, Joris Voorn, Patrice Baumel, Bart Skils…. Also starting a monthly 3-hour live radio program in Amsterdam on XT3 Radio was great to run. Because we could invite (Inter)national artists just before their gigs in Amsterdam clubs. So that a nice combination and exposure for both. For the couple of years I have been producing music myself I also get inspiration from the technical side of music (producers). Mostly the one who have their own style and can recognize directly like Mr. G, Radio Slave (how does he do this and that…. ), listening to Laurent Garnier’s PBB Radio inspires me frequently, discovering new and old music.
Do you think your inspirations have changed a lot over the years? Or are they generally still geared towards more classic sounds? Do you still search out new music, for example?
Inspirations still stay the same through the years. Every day I am listening to and searching for music and frequently visiting festivals and club nights. Not as many as before, but I know by reading online what’s going on and which artists are being programmed at festivals/clubs in Europe, Asia, South America, North America… That always inspires me from the beginning, what’s going on worldwide.
The mix you’ve done for us is a brilliant mix of established and up-and-coming acts. Can you talk us through the track listing and the vibe you were going for with it?
First I selected about 120 tracks with a 126 bpm range, in the minimal, tech and house genres, keeping summer 2022 in mind. Afterwards I made a short list of 20 tracks that could fit together. I wanted to do a test recording for the mix, but it actually went very well and it is recorded in one take.
1. Rhythm Sound Feat Paul St. Hilaire – Never Tell You
I kicked things off with a dubby hypnotic track that I listen to a lot at home over the years. I’ve never used it in a mix, so it was a nice opportunity to start with.
2. Dj Jes – Malo – Karlovak
I’m a big fan of the Karlovak label by Art Alfie and Mr Tophat that ended in 2018. Always received their promos from the beginning and I rediscovered this one while updating my complete music Itunes music library (18.000 songs) during the covid period.
3. Eduardo de la Calle – Nilachale – COD3 QR
Always fan of Eduardo de la Calle’s work and this one for COD3 QR fits the mix with some jazzy piano intro.
4. Bart van Rijn – Far – STUG Music
This is my own original. I really like and could play in my sets for sure. Nice build up and steady track.
5. Ernest & Frank – Numau (Argy remix) – This and That
A bit of a Summer party track to get out of the intro of the mix. I like Argy’s work from the beginning! Many bongos….. Yesss it is finally Summer 🙂
6. Halo Varga – Future! (Hipp-E remix) – Siesta Records
Original from Hooj Choons, year 2000 I think. This remix was released in 2011. Stays close to the original, but gives that extra. Think it’s difficult to reach for such a cool original, but Hipp-E did it
7. Mr. G – Got that Swing – Bass Culture Records
Mr. G for President! Think I will always play a track of him in my sets…. I asked him to remix a track two times now, but he did not feel it yet… Well let’s see what happens the third time!
8. Dense & Pika – Cartoon Heart – Kneaded pains
A fresh release from these guys out in May. They mostly release techno tracks, but this one fits the house mix perfectly.
9. Man Power – Severin – Throne of Blood
Released in February 2022, I like the sounds and style of the track. Nonstop bassline for almost 8 minutes. A short outro, so I had to be careful with this one to mix it into the next one…
10. Sasse – Soul Sounds (Freestyle Man Dope mix) – Moodmusic
One of my favourite tech house tracks I listened to at home actually. I first heard this on a Steve Bug cd mix, Bugnology and have listened to this mix a thousand times I think.
11. Wyatt – Mousehold – Haws
Released April 2022 and I think I bought it on Bandcamp and/or got it as promo…. I don’t know, but it’s such a nice dreamy track. I wish I had produced it myself … 🙂
12. KOKO – Ego Borghese – Lost Palms
KOKO released a very nice EP this February 2022, Lost Palms. Like all the tracks, but this one fits the style of the mix and I could also create a kind of outro…. Searched for another track to finalise the mix, but when mixing it felt this one was best to close the 60 minutes.
In terms of your ultimate aim as a DJ/producer, where do you see yourself right now? Is the aim always to do this full-time? Or would that be overkill for you?
Sure, it is always an aim to do this full time. But I think, beside releasing music, in combination with organising own events again and getting the gigs back after a long covid period. But I am not the only one with this aim in this industry!
What’s your take on the modern ‘scene’? Is it something that inspires you still? Or has electronic music lost some of its shine in recent years following the pandemic and the impact of social media?
For me the most inspiring and curious thing was what was going to happen after the Covid period. Some of the newest booked (good!) dj’s on festivals went very high in online views first, before having a gig at a festival and/or club at all…. 🙂 Already connected to big agencies also, so that’s interesting to notice for sure. The 140/150 BPM at the moment is not really my cup of tea to hear, play or produce, but these trance sounds I always liked. So that’s fun to hear and interesting (again!)
Yeah social media, I do not know…Great, not great! It is how you use it… J
You tend on the main to shy away from the social side of things. Is this a conscious decision? Or do you just not find it interesting?
I like the social side of the music industry very much and it helps you to get more independent as artist or label. But for me personally I think I am not good at it, so I keep it in the middle and post sporadically.
In terms of that you’ve got coming up on a music level, how’s the rest of the year going to play out for you?
At the moment exploring new programs like Arturia 9, some new set ups in my Ableton templates. Not producing new tracks, but only preparing and learning new techniques for the Autumn/Winter period. Mostly I record in Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer preparing/searching new things. I am a bit ‘waiting’ for the Osmose (Expressive E) instrument that’s already delayed for 2 years now because of Covid, chip shortages and Shanghai lockdown where the factory is located…. Hopefully September I will receive the instrument and I will proceed producing new music again.
Beside that I want to get the podcasts back, so this one is a good start! End of the year I will release a new EP. Tracks already finished/mastered, but still searching for remixers for these two… Let’s see what’s happens.
Finally, what are you most looking forward to about this summer?
The sun, visiting some festivals (Sonar in June for sure) and a road trip through Italy for 2 weeks in July/August. Also recording some ideas/set ups during holidays is fun in the morning before going to the beach… 😉 Then opening these projects in Autumn again and finalise them had been a success before, so think will do this again this summer.
Enjoy the mix!