Fresh and breezy; lighthearted and playful; emotional and captivating. That’s how I’ll describe the work of Rick Bouwkamp aka Ineffekt, the Utrecht based DJ and producer who has catapulted his “good vibes” into the Dutch music landscape during a time period when dance music was at its most stagnant i.e. the past 2 years. And at a fresh 20 years old, we look forward to what Ineffekt and the new generation of producers and DJs will bring the electronic music scene.
Taking inspiration from the crystalline experimental pop sensibilities of Charli XCX, Avalon Emerson, PC Music, Ineffekt is simply a joy. He name drops RE:VIVE alumnus Identified Patient in a 3voor12 profile and compliments the risky, playful choices Identified Patient takes while DJing and channels that energy himself in his own DJ sets albeit with a more “emo” touch. What excites us about the newer generation of DJs is their refusal to stay within the lines and Ineffekt’s DJ sets color all outside the lines, which got us thinking about how can one manage and structure such a broad range of music and have a system to readily call-up a continuous series of left-turns throughout a set.
His newest track, “Towards the Mountains” recalls later era Burial when he got less sad and more soulful, Eomac’s blissful romance on 2013’s “I Love You I Do” and the big room romantic catharsis of Orbital and Underworld’s major-key tracks.
So with must be a massive collection of tracks from across an entire spectrum of vibes and already near-to 20 tracks released in two years, we got to wondering, how on earth does someone manage all this material? Therefore, we asked Ineffekt, Do you even archive?
Which software do you use to manage your files for DJing and do you have a preferred USB stick or SD card? Why?
I solely use Rekordbox for managing my files for DJing. Mostly because I got so used to using it that it doesn’t make sense for me to turn to anything else at this point. Also the advantage with just using Rekordbox is that I can use all functions that come with it from the start of the organizing process (tagging songs, putting hot cues etc). I don’t really have a preferred USB/SD, but I tend not to use ones that have a huge memory, since some older CDJs might have trouble loading them.
What is your structure for managing DJing files? You play a lot of stuff that doesn’t neatly fit under genres specific labels. Do you go by BPM or mood? Do you have any unconventional tags that help you identify certain tracks?
When it comes to structure I kind of go on intuition, though I always start the same: I organize by year, so every year has a separate folder. Then all those folders have 3 separate folders; one with monthly playlists, so just everything I buy from that month. Then there’s a folder for playlists for gigs, though I don’t use specific playlists for all my sets anymore. The third folder is where I kind of start to go on intuition. Because a lot of what I play could fit under numerous genres or moods I sort of have to get creative with organizing them. So I mostly organize songs on what purpose they have. This changes over time, so I have different playlist(names) every year. I used to organize my tracks quite functionally: so I’d have a playlist for ravey stuff, poppy songs, percussive tools etc. But over time I kind of stopped playing with that mindset. Nowadays, it’s more like ‘what kind of purpose do I want the next song that I play to have?’. There’s a ‘pop rave’ tag for example, which is basically all the pop stuff that lightens up the mood and that I would play during peak-time. It has everything from Charli XCX originals to Nelly Furtado techno edits to stuff that’s more clubby but still has (hyper)pop influences like jamesajemesjames for example. There’s stuff like a ‘sad boy’-tag (haha) that encompasses all the really emo songs that I’d play at the end of my sets. But also more traditional tags like ‘functional breakbeat’ and ‘easy cute groovy’ (which has songs that are more fitting for opening sets).
I tend not to organize by genre or bpm anymore, since there are always ways to merge two songs that have different styles and/or bpm while playing. For me, it’s not very interesting to play a couple ravey tracks, then a couple more techno-y ones and then something else for a few tracks you know. I’d rather go all over the place style-wise and try to keep that tangible for a crowd.
Do you create a smaller folder for each gig with stuff that you either really want to play or feel like will work well for that specific party/line-up? If yes, could you give an example of how you’ve approached this recently.
I used to do this for every gig. I’d make a playlist roughly twice the length of my set and roughly in the order I’d want to play it. But over time, I got more used to organizing my library and just freestyling my sets. For important gigs or long sets I still tend to make a playlist just to be sure. For example when I played at WAS. in Utrecht recently, I made a list with about 5 to 6 hours of music (for a two hour set), roughly in the order that would make sense to play them in. This mostly works well for starting up your set smoothly (instead of searching for the right vibe for too long) which helps a lot when you’re not playing a very long closing set. People want to go in straight away and not wait until you find a vibe. So I’d follow the beginning of what I have prepared and after a bit I will start to freestyle more and more. It’s just about getting to a comfortable and confident place where you can start doing fun change ups and take risks.
You’ve been at this from a relatively young age. Did you have a structured approach to organizing your music from the beginning? If yes, how has it evolved? If no, have you had to spend time working backwards to reorganize tracks you DJ from years and years ago?
I mean when I started out it was relatively simple, I’d just play a couple of genres or maybe even just one at a time. I’d have a ‘house’ playlist or a ‘techno’ playlist, haha. So it has definitely evolved. Even from when I started doing gigs, I’d just have a couple playlists since I still mostly played techno, it changed a lot. I think gradually I started playing a wider range of music and with that came more structure. There’s still some music left from back then, but I tend to throw away old stuff that doesn’t get played anymore.
I started working with hot cues, notes and an OCD-kind of structure a couple of years ago, but after seeing Avalon Emerson play for the first time back in 2018, I kind of copied her technique and started putting tags, notes, hot cues, automatic loops on every track. Doing this has changed my DJing from preparing sets in a relatively predictable way, to being able to go all over the place without preparation and still being able to make it work. It all has to do with organizing. It’s funny, people tend to say you need to have this ‘feel’ or ‘connection’ to DJing and ‘take people on a journey’. I used to think this a bit as well back in the days. But it’s just about having fun and not taking yourself too seriously. I think 90% of DJing is being well organized and being able to turn that into confidence to take certain risks, not about having a ‘feel’ or ‘being able to take people on a journey’.
How do you organize your samples? Do you have a big “archive” of samples or do you work more spontaneously? Do you label them as favorites or “need to use” so that you can keep track of certain sounds. Same for synth plugins or other VST custom made presets
With samples it’s kind of a ‘get it where I can’ situation. I have my own library with samples I collected or made myself over the years. I tend to use to a lot to get a kind of familiarity in my songs. I use the same crash for every song for example. Then there’s splice, which I use a LOT. Mostly because Splice gives you the opportunity to keep things fresh for every song. Instead of using the same sounds for every track I can find stuff that sounds similar to what I normally use (so you keep that familiarity I was talking about earlier), but doesn’t sound exactly the same as the previous set of samples I used. It’d get quite difficult keeping things interesting since I use a huge amount of layers in songs. I often end up using about 30 separate drum samples per track, so having easy access to specific sounds I’m looking for just works really well with Splice. When it comes to VST synths, I usually save them as a channel strip in logic, which means that you not only save the sound you’ve made or tweaked in a VST but it also saves any effect you’ve put on that channel. Keeps things easy and organized.
How to do you name your projects? Are you a “lksjdfisdfsdlksf” kind of person or do you give them working titles? Do you save each new version after revisions or not? How many revisions do you give a track, do you work quickly or will you spend a long time on tracks?
I always name my projects. I despise having ‘orjwewisjd’ titles, haha. I usually start by differentiating which project I’m working on. So if I’m working on a Ineffekt song I’ll start by naming that. Then a working title and I always put which project/release I think it would work best for in there as well. I have about 1500 logic project files at the moment, so I really need to have some kind of system if I ever want to find something. If I’m thinking ‘Oh do I have some sketches for this particular release that I’m working on?’, then I can just search on that and go through stuff I made for it. Saves a lot of time and energy since I ‘like’ to work on a thousand projects at the same time.
I don’t really save each new alteration of a project separately, but I do after each new ‘version’. Going back and forward when the versions are slightly different from each other doesn’t really do much for me. Most songs have between 1 to 5 separate projects, but it can take up to 50 (rendered) versions before a song is finished.
Generally I work really fast. I tend to think having a small amount of time takes away the room to think about it, which is a good thing in my opinion. For example for remixes I usually don’t take more than two weeks, mixing included. But there have been cases where it’d take forever for something to be finished. Songs can lay around for a couple of months before I find them and work on them again. The last single I put out, ‘Catch The Sun’, was roughly done last summer, put in a folder and remained untouched until this spring. So it can go both ways, but I definitely prefer just starting something and taking a week or two to finish it straight away. That way my most recent ideas on what I’d want to do as an artist get released, instead of what I wanted a year ago for example. It just keeps it interesting.
When it comes to working for other artists, it really depends. It can take months in between sessions and I’d work on it a little bit in the meantime, but it depends on what an artist’s schedule and plan is. In general it takes much much longer for tracks to get finished though.
Do you back up all your files? How?
Yes, definitely. I synced my hard drive to Dropbox, so it just gets updated in real-time. I tend to make a separate back up on a hard drive from time to time as well.
Have you ever lost files or a hard drive that you really regret losing?
I lost files a couple of times and it really sucks. But it’s easy thinking it’ll never happen again and getting lazy, haha. I’ve lost quite a lot of music and projects over the years, but I don’t really regret it. What’s lost, is lost.