Some have already spent years in the shadows, waiting for the right moment - others have barely left their bedroom studios. Some aim for headlining festival stages, others aim for nothing in particular – but all of them have developed a sound with the potential to turn a lot of heads. With this feature we shine a light on some of the most interesting emerging new talents our tiny country has to offer.
Sam Deliaert aka Farrago was selected as one of the new talents to watch during the 2016 Red Bull Elektropedia Awards – and righteously so. Few artists understand the importance of patience and professionality the way he does. With his experience in and behind the spotlight, this year might finally be the year we hear more of Deliaert’s productions on the dancefloors. We sat down with him in order to score some insights.
(Farrago, warming up Labyrinth Club in Hasselt before Kobosil, live at ‘Exhale by Amelie Lens’, last Saturday.)
You’re a man with a lot of alter egos, with previous releases on the excellent Curle Recordings and Other Heights for example. What was (or is) the deal with Talbot Wood and Gaust? Do you think you found your final form with Farrago?
"It basically boils down to this: I wasn’t really taking myself seriously, so I wasn’t ready to settle or build upon one particular project. There were no expectations and there was no plan either. I was full of passion though, but that’s not enough. These days you have to develop certain qualities apart from talent alone. In hindsight these were important experiences that have shaped me as a person and as an artist. I had (and still have) a lot of contacts, but to use them optimally you have to wait for the right moment – and that requires patience, a sense of timing and the right insights."
You do actually radiate a vibe of rest and patience, contrary to a lot of your contemporaries.
"I believe patience is an important quality to have in order to make it in this world. There are only a certain amount of places at the top, definitely not enough to fullfil every dream of all the artists out there. My mistake (one that many others seem to make too) is that I wanted to make it sooo bad. I thought my ultimate goal to happiness would be up for grasps as soon as I made it on to the scene. So that’s what I aimed for and I quickly noticed it’s not your decision at all, you have to comply and follow the steps and you may or may not get picked up. I wasn’t ready for that, I guess.
Today it’s different. I got a lot of good prospects, both individually and professionally, music has become something extra besides that. That gives me artistic freedom and the opportunity to go whichever direction I want without any compromises."
And what direction is that?
"Farrago is actually a concept in freefall. I just let it do its own thing. Right now I have the luxury to not be dependent on music – and that feels great! I know I can always knock on the door at A R T S with original work and that gives me confidence."
How do you usually go about making new music? What’s the creative process?
"My process has evolved a lot, because I got a lot less time than 5 years ago. Everything needs to go a lot quicker and that has resulted in a more efficient workflow. I rarely start with a blank sheet. Most other producers will recognize this, but when a track is done for 80% you can still go to any direction you like, as long as you don’t get fixated on one outcome. In this problem I have found my solution to my lack of time. I open an existing project and I keep just the kickdrum or a percussion groove for example. Tweaking some EQ’s or just keeping the sound while using a new pattern and you immediately have a new hook to build upon.
Next, I check if I had muted some channels because they wouldn’t fit in the final mix; a pad or lead synth that was just a little much. Basically it’s the same workflow of doing a remix. In five minutes’ time it’s a completely new track. This work method actually came about when I was preparing for a Talbot Wood live set once. I stripped down existing tracks and started to build my own sound bank so to speak."
For a very long time you and Amelie Lens have been life partners. Her explosive career growth has been the most spectacular we’ve seen in years. In which ways do you influence each other musically?
"As Talbot Wood I often got the same feedback: ‘we love it, but we’re looking for A-sides’. This drove me crazy, because other artists who I looked up to totally got away with releasing the same music. As a beginning artist it’s very hard to push through with this sound and vision unless you have the support of a label that wants to invest in you. Most of the time they want immediate sales and results, so they pursue club tracks – this is even the case with a lot of underground labels.
Amélie helped me to make my music more accessible. She always thinks ahead and during mixdowns or arrangements she considers how a track will sound on the floor. Because I used to primarily perform live, I didn’t really take that into account much. It’s kind of egoistic. I see now how this factor can be the difference between making or breaking it. Most DJs nowadays mix very fast and they will not start to blend in the next tune immediately when they know that there’s an unavoidable break coming in halfway. When the best part of your track is at the end, there’s a high chance this won’t even get listened to. So this has been a very helpful impact that Amélie made on my sound today, it’s more ‘club proof’ than before."
Do you often get remarks because you would supposedly ride Amélie’s wave of success?
"I haven’t experienced that yet, and I don’t really see it as a problem. With my signing at the respectable A R T S label, I have enough background to counter such claims if they are made. In any case, me and Amelie are a team and we don’t hide this. There’s not much you can accuse us of, as we are completely transparent in who we are and what we do."
You have been touring together in Asia recently. How did that go?
"That was brilliant of course. Business and pleasure in one. It’s particularly nice to be able to do this as a couple because a schedule like this makes it hard for a lot of artists to maintain a healthy relationship with their partner. For the moment Amélie can still see Antwerp as a home base, but on the day that her life has become a continuous series of checking in and out from hotels/airports this will change of course. Luckily I have a job (besides Farrago) that allows me the freedom to travel. I work for Extrema Outdoor and Labyrinth Club, both of which are managed by Amélie’s booker, so there’s a useful connection. I don’t always need to be everywhere, which is nice."
Working for Extrema Outdoor and Labyrinth Club. That sound like the dream (day) job for a lot of producers and DJs.
"I think most DJs dream job is probably… DJing. If not that than yeah music related jobs like mine are probably the next best thing. For one, it offers a lot of opportunities to network and I sort of get to live the same lifestyle already."
So what are your other goals that you absolutely want to achieve in your music career?
"I hope to find a comfortable consistency while putting out my own Farrago tracks. Making music is still primarily my creative outlet and hobby – and I will continue to see it like that for as long as possible. It’s not my intention to leave my job (which I like doing) for this. I’m curious to see where my releases will take me eventually. Even though I have a profound love for selecting and mixing other people’s music, touring and doing your own live shows is my ultimate dream."
What are your next steps? Any scoops you can give us?
"Well, on January 15, there’s a remix coming out on Ellora Records, which already has the support of guys like Adam Beyer, Maceo Plex, Slam, Cleric and Âme. My debut EP on A R T S is coming out early March. The release party is taking place in Club Vaag soon!
For the rest there’s more stuff coming on A R T S which I can’t give you much more information about. Gig-wise it’s looking pretty good to, as I have dates planned at Labyrinth and Fuse for example and the first festivals are being confirmed as we speak."
*Pictures by Daniil Lavrovski