Emily Watson - April 5th, 2016
Last month we had the pleasure of welcoming the savvy Fouk duo, Daniël Leseman and Hans Peeman, to bring the funk to the Harley’s dancefloor. Having grown up together, Daniël and Hans hold an unmatched musical bond. Originally releasing as solo producers with much feat, they boast years of experience in the industry.
Born and bred in the Netherlands, the pair are surrounded by a lot of fresh competition from the Dutch electronic music scene, but Fouk have an inventive touch that is all their own. Comparisons to contemporary artist Max Graef are fair, and they draw in influence from the likes of Roy Ayers and the 70s Jazz Funk era, but Daniël’s percussion finesse and Hans’ penchant for jazzy chords, bolstered by their close friendship, has led them to carve their niche and create that trademark Fouk sound.
We got up close and personal with Daniël and Hans to get a better insight into how they got where they are now…
Did you always know you wanted to get into music production?
[Hans] For me it was always a hobby, I was primarily studying to become a Graphic Designer and the music making didn’t get much time during my studies. I picked music up again after finishing and it took a couple of years to get back into the groove and find my sound again but then we started Outplay and the Fouk project and it sky rocketed from there!
[Daniël] I was very into music from a young age, I played keys in a percussion band and later on I studied sound design and music production. I also taught sound design at a school in Amsterdam for a while so I was always focused on a job in the music industry.
[Hans] The number one thought that comes into my head when I wake up in the mornings is that I want to make music, and it’s a really good feeling to be saying that. If you can make a living out of it then why not just go for it!
Do you each input something different when you’re collaborating?
[Daniël] I have always been more into mastering and the technical side of things and Hans is good at knowing what sounds right. [Hans] I’ve learnt a lot from Daniel from his mixing skills and about how to master a track, and it’s got to a point where we don’t have to think about who does what in the process.
"We started out making trance music! That was when we were 15 or 16"
Do you feel that your collaboration has helped you both as individual producers?
[Both] Definitely! [Hans] When I look back, the stuff I make as a solo producer now is so different to my production before the Fouk project begun, and I have definitely noticed the impact Daniël has had on my work.
Your music is very distinctive, did it take a while for you to find a sound you were both satisfied with?
[Daniël] We’d been making music together for ages but I think it was only after a year that we found a sound that clicked. We started out making trance music! That was when we were 15 or 16 and later on it got deeper I guess. I personally never felt satisfied with the sound until about 3 years ago. We were in the studio together intermittently, but we were producing a lot as individuals and I guess that’s when it properly got going. The producers around us - especially other guys from the Netherlands - were all making really new sounding house so we wanted to find our forte. Max Graef was a big inspiration for us; he’s one of the producers that forms the basis of Fouk. [Hans] We try not to get stuck in one particular sound, so we constantly add new things without diverting too much from the sound that we feel is the Fouk sound.
Who are your most listened to artists at the moment?
[Daniel] We’re really into Nu Guinea, they’re Italian producers based in Berlin. Their music has an 80’s synthesiser vibe, with afro influences; we find it really inspirational! It can be a bit difficult to listen to as there is a lot going on. It’s like jazz, some people can’t listen to jazz because they find it too complicated. It’s refreshing and we appreciate it! When we’re producing we tend to make songs as opposed to club tracks, we want to make something with an intro, bridge and a chorus. Harvey Sutherland is also a favourite at the moment.
Your predominant genre is deep house, have you always been into the funkier side of music?
[Daniël] We were huge trance fans when we started out. I started listening to dance music in the early 90s but back then it was more commercial, in the late 90s my brother bought this big Hi-Fi set and we listened to all the big Dutch DJs like Tiësto and Ferry Corsten. I didn’t get into the funkier side of music til I was in my twenties which was when we both got into Jimpster and saw him play loads. We have a thing for elevator music… it’s not necessarily bad music but it’s so cheesy! We like to turn that into something that is really playable in a club. I wouldn’t say that’s the biggest influence but we really like it!
"IT’S A BIT OF A CLICHÉ BUT WE FEEL THAT THE MUSIC DOES THE TALKING FOR US. IS IT ARROGANT TO SAY THAT?"
If you could time travel to a music era of the past which would it be?
[Both] The 70’s! [Daniël] It’s strange because my parents never really listened to 70s and 80s music, [Hans] mine neither, but we take so much inspiration from the disco/soul element of that era and I would say it’s the music I’m into most.
What do you get up to when you’re not in the studio?
[Daniël] I love cooking, I find it really relaxing. [Hans] the other day we had a day off and Daniël text me saying he was going to make a soup and bake cookies and I was like… you’re supposed to do nothing it’s our day off! Your cookies were good though!
[Hans]I like drawing and reading. I try to do as little as possible when I have time off because I’m lazy at heart! I do like to get outside though, we spend so much time recording and travelling it feels good to get out and about. I am quite into nature, I guess that is the other part of my nerd side.
Are you guys into the scene in Amsterdam?
[Hans] Not really… We aren’t exactly ‘scene’ kind of guys. Amsterdam has always had a very vibrant underground scene and the times we’ve played there have been great! As we don’t live in Amsterdam we don’t go clubbing in Amsterdam that often anymore. Partying doesn’t come as naturally for us as it does for some people. Maybe it’s because we aren’t 20 anymore! I’d rather spend time making music than networking, but it is an essential part of what we do. [Daniël] It’s a bit of a cliché but we feel that the music does the talking for us. Is it arrogant to say that?
Since the pair began producing under their collaborative alias in 2014, they have been killing the scene. Their first vinyl release on their own label Outplay (First Things First EP) was a huge stepping stone and saw much praise, followed by the majestic Kill Frenzy EP released on Detroit Swindle’s Heist. Also renowned for their string of remixes for the likes of Joey Negro and Groove Armada, Fouk are quickly becoming one of the most unique, sophisticated sounds of deep house today.
Check out their most recent Gruff EP, released on House of Disco, which came out on Boiler Room debuts.