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Next Phase Records: "We want to bring out the music we love"

Photograph by S. Huizing

Robbert (Infest) and Leon (Leonux) run Next Phase Records - a label that has been releasing an eclectic mix of breakbeat driven music unrestricted by BPM. An impressive group of like minded musicians from around the world have helped to create the sound and direction of Next Phase. Here's an interview with Robbert, where I find out a bit more about Infest, and the latest release from Next Phase…..

I know you make music as Infest, and you run Next Phase Records which is your record label. How long have you been producing music and running the label?

I started out with music as a teenager in a Indie/Rock band with some friends when I was 15/16 years old. During that time I started to make beats too. In 2004 I seriously started DJ'ing and making Jungle.

Next Phase Records was raised after a long period of organising party's with the Pitchcontrol crew (2005 - 2009) and putting in long hours in my home studio to work on my sound. I always had the idea to launch a label someday and in 2012 me and Leonux (who was also a member of the Pitchcontrol crew) shaped the idea for Next Phase Records. At first this was only as a DJ duo on our radio show at and at live gigs. In December 2014 we released our first CD made out of a custom wooden case.

The latest project you're about to release is 'Time Will Tell', what is the project about?

Yeah this album is finally landing on Next Phase Records. Half of the tunes were created during the process of my debut album 'Darkofi' which was released on Omni Music in 2013. I started with designing my own CD sleeves from old records which I think was the start of the concept how Next Phase Records can grow. I had no money back then and needed to come up with something to realise the release. So when I was brainstorming one night, I was looking at all of my records which consisted of good records but a lot of crap too that I used to sample from and wouldn't ever play again. I came up with the idea to make my own sleeves of those records. Time Will Tell is the second chapter of that ethos. Working with a DIY attitude I always had since my punk-rock days as a teenager. Both the format and music are based on the idea of analog vs digital. Music wise I played a lot of live instruments like guitar, bass, keys and field recordings which were recorded and processed through tape decks, samplers and a noisy Soundcraft desk. The arrangements and mixing were done digitally inside Ableton. Design and format wise you can also see that analog vs digital balance. The analog side is the packaging that was all made by hand from old matchboxes where I did ink transfers on with a photo and typo I made in the North of Ireland during a trip with my dad in 2014. The USB format reflects the music in a digital world but with the thought you can touch and feel it. 

On your bandcamp page for the album, it mentions that movie soundtracks have been a big inflence in the making of the album. What movie's in particular, and why were they an influence? Were there any specific scenes?

Yeah that's right! I'm a big fan of David Lynch and the soundtracks he uses in his movies and of course one of the biggest inspirations is 'Twin Peaks'. It has that dark and eerie vibe which I love the most in balance with the more atmospheric light side of sound. I think Lynch uses the right balance in his work both visually and for the ear. It grabs you and takes you to that place which you can lose yourself in. I guess my influence of a movie soundtrack is not based on specific movies but more the journey and creating soundscapes which the listener can float on to create their own little movie for a little while. At least that's what I do while making it hehe.

A couple of more movies with great soundtracks: The Fountain, Dune, Bladerunner (of course), PI.

You also released on Sector 12/12. How did that come about?

Me and Dave Sector had a lot of chats about life, art, music, jungle, techno, breaks, soundtracks, rock, funk, etc just about all the stuff we are into really and what kept us going. He had his idea with Sector 12/12 and I wanted to do something outside my comfort zone. So we compiled a huge list of my tunes that had never seen the light of day and made a new EP based on this idea which ended also as an artistic outlet. The music was released on a tape with handmade artwork for the sleeves. And yes old record sleeves again, love the stuff hehe

Do you still listen to indie/rock, or did you stop listening when you became interested in jungle?
Yes of course! I mean I don't listen to only electronic music, I do a lot but always like to swing moods with music. So it can be very obscure ambient to some nice jazzy vibes and build it up to some punk rock and go jungle or back haha. I like a lot of music so and always hunting for new/old stuff.

Can you name 3 songs/tracks from your past which you love?

I was already afraid for these kind of questions because you can't ask me this, I can't choose there are too many good tracks that are poppin' in my head already, but ok I will choose some random tracks then.
1. Radiohead: Talk Show Host

2. Boards Of Canada: Smokes Quantity

3. Roy Buchanan: The Messiah Will Come Again

Damn and now I think of a lot of more haha.

Can you name 3 songs/tracks from 2015 which you are crazy about?

You ain't stopping with this uh ;)
Ok there is a lot of good music coming out these days I think and lot of vinyl which is great.
1. Code & Mecca - Ice World 
On subtle audio, a drumfunk/jungle tune I was waiting for, for some time. I only heard a preview Code had sent me some years back, and back then I already was like man I need this tune! Proper original Sci Fi Bladerunner vibes.

2. Godspeed You! Black Emporer - Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light!
One of my favourite bands which also can give you that cinematic feel, saw them a couple months ago in Amsterdam performing their new album together with old tunes and it was a good musical and visual journey with old 8mm movies.

3. Black Classical - The Molly Brown Incident
This is more of a long soundtrack released on tape by Sector 12/12 which brings you a dark Sci Fi inspired ambient trip.

There's a lot of record labels out there, new ones are appearing all the time. What does Next Phase offer which sets it apart from everything else out there? And why did you start the label?

Yeah there are a lot of labels out there and we felt that there isn't something we fit in here in the Netherlands with the stuff we do on the breakbeat side of music so that was an important motivation to launch the label besides that we want to bring out the music we love so we are not focussing on one specific genre. We always looked up to labels like Ninja Tune and Mo'Wax for example because they released what they feel like was needed to be heard.

For me personally it's an outlet of all the stuff I'm into, the music, art & design and bringing that all together into one.

What advice can you give to anyone thinking of starting their own label/imprint?

We just started out and have a lot of things to learn but I think you need to follow your dreams in what you want to do. Don't go for the easy way, work hard and things will follow.

What plans/releases have you got lined up for the rest of the year?

Yeah we have some projects lined up for the rest of the year. Next one up is gonna be a beat tape which will be released on cassette and digital. And hopefully were gonna release our first vinyl EP at the end of this year.

Is there anything else you would like to mention?

Thank you for letting me tell my little story and to all the supporters of Next Phase Records and my previous release so far.

Big up Infest/Robbert for the interview, check-out the following links for further research: