Albert van Abbe is an integral part of the dutch techno scene. His minimal and intense techno sound has come to perfection on his Bloodhoney Triggerbee EP on shtum. Listen to his set from the last Uncanny Valley party at Objekt klein a in Dresden. Read about his interesting history and roots in the freetek scene.

With your EP on the Uncanny Valley sublabel shtum you have released more than 20 records as Albert Van Abbe since 2011. During this time you have established yourself as a techno artist and play internationally. But you were previously on the road in a completely different scene and produced a different sound. Where did the radical change come from?

The radical change you mention was really tiny steps flowing from one sound/project to the other. As a producer, it all started in the Tekno/illegal rave scene on the early noughties. I started making music but also performing live straight away and learned a lot that way. Paul van Gent and I had a live set called Penik Ettek ”Panic Attack”. You could just show up at an illegal rave and start building up your live gear. Since a sound system wasn’t really run by a single person but a collective everybody just assumed you were a part of the team and as long as you waited for your turn to play you always got a chance to present your music. After a few years, we played more often on a few local sound-systems like Decepticons, Kierewiet and KX Soundsystem. 

You can probably imagine getting a bit tired of just playing 170 to 200 BPM so after a few years I got really into Elektro and experimental music. I released my first tracks on Bunker records in 2007, did music for movement theatre and even toured with a video art collective called The Video Word Made Flesh. Over the years I was always looking for a 4/4 sound that I could call my own and I slowly settled on a more sophisticated but still dancefloor orientated sound signature around 2010. The future might move me somewhere else but I can see the minimalist approach and crossover with visuals/lighting will keep being of great interest to me. 

You already played in a freetek off-location in Dresden at the beginning of the 2000s. How do you retroactively look at this time, the scene and its radical musical and political ideas?

Yes, I did, I even have some pictures of that Teknival and also did a graffiti piece under one of the bridges in Dresden the day we arrived. It’s a scene that I sometimes call ”otherground”. I don’t believe in music/culture being underground (with the internet most things happen in plain sight) but I think the Hardtek/Tekno scene is pretty close to what people think of underground. The crowds are left-wing, most people (myself included) were squatting, living in occupied buildings. The idea of free-party was also very important to me, everybody added something to an event that mostly was only promoted posting ”check your local network” on the right forum. All info’s on the night you got through calling a cell phone number.

Dresden Freetek scene
Dresden Freetek scene
Is there a record that triggered your interest in collecting music or even start to perform in front of an audience?

I can’t really think of one in particular mainly because my background was in graphic design and graffiti. I just decided I wanted to start making music when I was 19 pretty much from one day to the next and my approach to sound is still really graphic. However, there is one mix I listened to a lot right before I started making music, Dave Clarke – World Service (Electro mix). 

How has your own professionalization, touring and the aspect that you can now earn your money with music changed you? 

In the early days, I took what I did pretty serious but I didn’t know what I was doing and was sort of learning-by-doing. As far as dj-ing or playing live now I know very well what I am doing and I still take it seriously (maybe sometimes too seriously hehe). I can’t really say I changed a lot, but maybe in some way, I did. What has changed a lot, besides me, is the quality of the sound-systems, people are also more conscious about room acoustics, which is great. I’m always trying to learn new things and that’s why I started my residency at the Willem 2 studio’s this year, where I did the Against The Clock. Working with synths, machines and techniques from the ’50s, for example, is very inspiring!

What kind of equipment do you use when you DJ? What approach do you take when you prepare your sets? Do you prefer to play a DJ or a live set?

The past few years I have been using 3 CDJ’s a Xone 92 mixer and one Technics turntable. I play with the loop functions a lot and try to improvise using loops from 3 decks as well as tools from the Technics turntable. I had a dubplate made with just hi-hats loops and white noise, for example, I use this in the mix to add percussion or effects. More recently I find myself preferring to play live again but my opinion changes all the time.

After your impressive Fact Against the Clock appearance, many think you are a scientist and your studio is a space station. What’s the story of the shown synthesizer and do you use such devices for your usual production process?  How do you play this music live?

Some people see me as the Nutty Techno Professor and I don’t mind. I might even get a lab coat… The equipment shown in the Fact clip is all 1950’s and 1960’s measuring equipment, some are even nuclear testing equipment. Most of the machines are military grade hence the robust build and the red/orange lights on some of them. The wall of machines is a lot of different sine oscillators, pulse generators and filters which you can use to create great new sounds when you patch them together. 

I don’t use the devices in my usual production process but I am doing a residency at the studios until spring of 2020, recording an album and doing a series of collabs. I’ll spend a lot of time with the machines and hope to create a new pallet of sounds that I can then use to build new tracks. For now, I see it as building my own big sample pack.

Albert van Abbe - BloodhoneyTriggerbee
Albert van Abbe – BloodhoneyTriggerbee
Your record on shtum is like a Gesamtkunstwerk. Not only did you create the music, but you also created the artwork and a friend of yours wrote the track-list and press text like a poem. You also transfer this concept to your performances by working together with video and light artists. Do you want to further strengthen this conceptual approach? What do you want to achieve? Can you tell us more about the projects?

The bottom line of this approach is that I am a bit of a control-freak. I think the vibe of my music can be translated into the artwork/titles and press releases as well. Over the years I found a few people that can really catch the vibe of my music and translate that into words or images which is really great. I would love to keep working with Daan Mol and Bjorn Jumme as I did on the Shtum release. For my recent Live Audio-Video projects I worked a lot with Andreas Nicolas Fischer and we are currently working on a new A/V project alongside the production process of the album which both will be in the same theme.

The concept for my DRUM events is very similar. Each event has a colour theme, either red, green, blue or purple. The lighting at each event as well as all the artwork and visuals are in that same monochrome colour.

You also released as Datasmok on Bunker. How did you get in touch with the Bunker guys? What are your projects for the next time?

I passed Guy Tavares a CDr Bunker night at Dystopia in 2006 (he was working the door) and that’s how the first release happened. Since then we did 2 various artists singles as The Pulse Projects, an E.P. as Datasmok and an L.P. as Penik Ettek. 

I will work on my album at the Willem Twee studios this year where I will also invite artists like Sebastian Mullaert, Rrose and I will record Nene H on the prepared piano. Check my ‘socials’ for updates and see you soon in Dresden hopefully! 

In the pipeline are series of tracks and remixes for Solar One Music, MORD, Arsenik Records, Materia Obscura and ATT Series. There will be a few more of my DRUM events in Eindhoven and Vienna with Svreca, Haruka and Dold Live just to mention a few.