Out of the archive: Meow Meow talks sampling

Having started with a big love for breakcore, rave and tekno music, producer Meow Meow (NL) melts various styles together by combining them with samples of all kinds.

What does sampling mean to you?
There are many interesting aspects to sampling. A sample captures a moment in audio, like photography does with visual matter. And just like cutting up photos or drawings can be done to create something new, the same can be done with sound.

The sound can come from any source. It could either be a specific part of a music track or some speech in a video, but also atmospheric sounds like crowded areas or field-recorded nature sounds are great to sample. Many elements can have an impact on the “vibe” of a sample, such as the location it has been recorded or even the quality of the audio itself, as sampled material from grainy old horror movies has its charm too.

Sampling is a very personal matter as each “sampler” hears something different that interests them. Listening to the samples they chose to use allows you to get a glimpse of their perspective or impression of things. In a way, you almost have the chance to listen through someone else’s ears.

Why do you use samples in your music?
Using samples in music gives an extra dimension to it. It’s hard to imagine listening to old-school hip-hop without the sampled soul or funk, as these samples are one of the crucial elements that bring more “body” to the music. In a time where so much information and material is available, I think it’s a wonderful thing to be able to give these fragments of audio another life in new material.

And there’s many ways this material can be reused. For example, a sample taken from a Dutch Commodore 64 game called Eindeloos (1985) was used in this song.

Sample taken from “Eindeloos” starts at 1:53

Having grown up playing endlessly with pinball machines is probably related to my affection of chaos in music. Whenever you got close to winning the “jackpot” the music sped up, which made the experience even more hectic. Also the music and sound effects playing from the machines came from the chip inside of it, which has a very specific and lo-fi sound which I liked.

A part of the material I’ve been sampling over the years comes from video games, classic horror movies and Japanese anime. These sources inspire and trigger me to re-use this material.

How do you use samples in your music?
It really depends on the type of tune I’m making. In darker themed tracks the samples can play an important role in creating a specific ambiance. But the original sample does not always have to be directly related to the ambiance I’m trying to create, as even uplifting material can be modified by pitching it down and adding reverb or delay in order to achieve the desired result. Additionally small bits of a sample can be used to make entire new instruments or effects.

In this short tune samples from the RE:VIVE The Hague sample pack were used:

Do you think it’s important for archives to offer up their collections for sampling?
YES. Being able to use archived material for sampling stimulates creative (re)use of it. This keeps memories alive, but also brings the opportunity to let creators make new ones. I didn’t have any memories from Eindeloos as it got released in 1985, a few years before I was born. Yet by archiving material such as this and making these archives available to the public, this material can continue to inspire people, as it did with me.
By allowing material to be re-used for creative purposes, something from the past can live on forever.

Do you even archive?
Definitely. All the collected samples over the years are safely stored on cloud storage and a NAS at home.

Check Meow Meow this summer in Japan

05-05-2018 – Raver Megadrive vs Nintekno by Lemtek & Amen4Tekno (Bristol, UK)
09-06-2018 – Dark Room (Fukuoka, Japan)
16-06-2018 – The Otherman show (Tokyo, Japan)
22-06-2018 – SUNCAQ #2 Club triangle (Osaka, Japan)
And more releases at:
Meow Meow – MELTBOX (digital – https://suckpuckrecordz.bandcamp.com/album/meltbox)
Meow Meow vs Jefflocks – itchy glitchstitches (12″ vinyl – https://isope.bandcamp.com/album/isope004-itchy-glitchstiches)
Meow Meow – POW POW (12″ vinyl – https://isope.bandcamp.com/album/isope003-pow-pow)