Insight Interview: Fluxton & Qode

Friday 30th November // This evening we have a very special Insight interview lined up with collaborative project Fluxton & Qode. In wake of their latest single release ‘Durgun’ which is available to download now via the Insight Music Toneden page. Both producers got together to answer a few questions surrounding the release and give us a little insight into their career so far.

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Hey guys, thanks for agreeing to do an interview with Insight. Where are you currently based? Do you travel a lot, or are you firmly rooted at home?

Fluxton: Hello, we’re really glad to do this interview too! I’m currently based in Prague, the Czech Republic – and I’ve lived here my whole life.

Qode: Yes, thank you for having us! It’s a pleasure! I’m currently living in Maastricht, the Netherlands and I’ve lived there for as long as memory has served me.

When was your first real exposure to music?

F: As a kid, I didn’t mind listening to music, but I had never thought I could play a musical instrument or even make my own music. Then at age 9, my parents signed me up for acoustic guitar classes which exposed me to a variety of music genres and really sparked my interest in music. However, the real turning point for me was when I discovered rock and metal. I think the first metal song I’ve heard was Metallica – One. From the slow melodic start to the machine-gun like riffs and the legendary guitar solo, I was instantly hooked. It made me transition from acoustic guitar to electric guitar, which is when I really started to improvise and eventually discovered various recording and music making software.

Q: When I was little, my parents had a stereo system, which used to be inside a car, installed in the bathroom. It was a little janky at the time, but it worked like a charm. Usually in the mornings, before I got out of bed and before I went to school, my parents would listen to music on that and it would echo throughout the house. This would usually wake me up, which was a really nice way to start the day. Unconsciously all that music made it into my memory and affected my musical taste. Later when I was a 10 year old little me, I picked up a flute and had some lessons at school in that. Which taught me how to read sheet music. Later I had classes on playing drums, which developed my rhythmic sense. However, I never had the discipline to develop those skills further and I kind of left it at that for a long time. Then, years and years later, I picked up a video game that I can now call my favorite game of all time: Wipeout Pulse. The intro track of Wipeout Pulse is an edit of DJ Fresh’s Project X. I loved this track so much that I went to look it up and that’s how I got into DJ Fresh’s music. Then, even later I picked up Need for Speed Underground, which had a track by Pendulum in the soundtrack. This track solidified my love for Drum and Bass, for electronic music and for the entirety of the community in general. A good friend of mine showed me Reason once, and I was sold.

What has been your proudest experience to date?

Q: One of my proudest experiences so far in relation to my music was when I was asked to do an assignment for a teacher of mine. He was building an artistic-installment inside the school that would measure how many students would be inside the building at all times. This data would then affect a heartbeat and a soundtrack in such a way that when it was busier, the heart rate would go up and the music would intensify. I was asked to produce the sounds for this. Not only did I do that, but I also managed to program a MIDI-controller that affected sliders inside Reason in such a way that the music changed and intensified as we planned it to. That moment when we were standing there, measuring the students and seeing those sliders move up and down in real time was when I sort-of decided that music was a big deal for me. And that I wanted to do more than what I was doing and expand this skill to other uses, such as artistic installments.

F:  To be honest, I can’t really tell which single moment has been my proudest experience, but when all of the little moments add up, I feel like I’m proud of the entire journey so far. I know this is a cop-out answer but I genuinely just sat here for a couple of minutes while playing the guitar and I tried looking back at my life, thinking about what makes me proud – and I think it’s just all those moments that form a bigger picture.

Fluxton // Photo by Vojta Šiman

 You guys are no strangers to collaborations. How did your friendship come about?

Q: So, we established that I like games. And I wanted to make a Portal track. Looking through Soundcloud for inspiration I found Fluxton. He had already made a Portal remix with some very cool samples in there that I wanted to use as well. So, I dropped him a message. When I heard back from him I was on vacation in Zeeland, the Netherlands. I remember I was so hyped to start working with those samples that I immediately started building a track right there in my room on my laptop. I had crappy headphones, a crappy laptop and was literally sitting on a bed at the time. But I was inspired, and you gotta do what you gotta do. So, I built an intro to a Portal track. After that, I thought I could drop Fluxton a message and see if he wants to make a track with me. I remember thinking I would probably be sorry if I didn’t at least try to get him on board.

F: I received Ryan’s first message in July 2012, just when I was spending a week away from civilization. It was nearly impossible to get signal reception there, so it sort of surprised me that I got a notification. Qode asked me about how I got audio samples from a video game called Portal that I used in one of my tunes. So I tried answering him and hoped the message would get sent. A few days later he sent me another message with a link to a song preview he made with those samples and asked me whether I wanted to collaborate with him. I remember that I really wanted to listen to the preview so thanks to the bad signal strength I had to climb on top of a hill to be able to download the preview.

Q: So, I realized just now that he went to such trouble to listen to the track! What a legend. That week we spent a lot of time on it. When I wasn’t working on it, I was probably thinking about the track. I’ve just remembered one moment from when we worked on that track that just perfectly describes our dynamic when it comes to collaboration. So, Vojta plays the track and we listen to the second drop. He had basically put together the main structure for the rest of the track and the bass we used there. While I was listening to the second drop this was the conversation:

“Can you remove that first kick?”

“Wait, what kick?”

“The first kick of the second drop.”

“Uh, ok.”

“Now listen again.”

“OH WOW.”

“YES, THIS IS IT.”

And so now there’s one bar of drums missing from the second drop of the track, but the drop now hits much harder when the drums kick in. And that’s basically how our dynamic has been since the beginning. We’ve got the basis of a track, and I just keep throwing samples and ideas at Vojta. Then, Vojta mixes those in with his own ideas and executes the whole with such precision and perfection. Many producers could take an example from him.

F: Heh, thank you for your kind words. Ryan and I really play off each other’s strengths well. He is really good at building atmosphere and thinking about the arrangement while I tend to dive right into the technical things and focus on tiny details. We ended up finishing that song in a few days. I remember we had like a 10 hour long Skype call where we both just worked on the song and put it together very quickly.

Tell us a little about the production style and concept behind your latest collaboration ‘Durgun’?

F: The idea came about from me playing on the piano during one summer day of 2018. Since I am not a good piano player, it is easy for me to slip into a few familiar patterns. I wanted to force myself out of this, so I randomly played a progression of five bass notes. These notes became the main Durgun theme. I wanted to keep experimenting, so I changed the time signature to 7/8, which also isn’t something I do quite often. The idea just kept growing from there and in a few hours, I had a draft of the first section. Qode and I usually send tunes to each other for feedback, and he told me he was really intrigued by it and wanted to work on the tune with me.

Q: When I received the project file I was really intrigued by how the track felt. It was such a mysterious track that the first thought I had was that the track shouldn’t repeat itself. It would feel like a journey then, and I just built upon that idea. I proposed the song structure to Vojta. It had a 128BPM four by four section added, after which a breakdown dropped into a faster double tempo section as the grand finale. After I sent that file back to Vojta, I went away for a few days to The Hague with my girlfriend. While I was at the beach there I noticed that there was an unusual amount of shells floating about in the water, creating an amazing tinkling sound that was just so beautifully crisp. I, carrying my Zoom H2N everywhere, recorded it and sent it over. The sample is used multiple times throughout the track and adds a beautifully crisp top end.

F: Yeah, we ended up recording quite a lot of sounds like clinking glasses, door slams or coins dropping on a tambourine. I actually found a picture I sent to Ryan the day I started to work on Durgun.

Recording style technique used in the single ‘Durgun’

What’s your favorite record right now? What album out there are you really enjoying?

F: It is really hard to pick just one favourite record out of all the amazing music that is coming out right now. 2018 has been really crazy in terms of music releases, there are so many new songs by a lot of artists I enjoy listening to. Just this month Culprate’s new EP ‘The Others’ was released, Haywyre made a comeback with a few singles off his new project, Protostar and Signal released their drum and bass EPs and QUIX put out his trap EP called Illusions. As you can probably tell, I listen to a huge variety of genres, and I haven’t even got outside the world of electronic music! However with the new KOAN Sound album just around the corner, I might have a definite answer on my favorite record very soon!

I’ve also been listening to some tunes by Vesky – actually, thanks to Insight Music! I swear that I listen to his song Moonlight on a daily basis, I just can’t get enough of that vocal hook and the melodic elements!

Q: I don’t have a definitive favorite right now, but I’m really hyped for the new KOAN Sound album. Every time they release a record it’s an absolute masterpiece. Along with that, I’m listening to a lot of Silence Groove and HumaNature. Check out “Bad Habits” by Silence Groove and Surplus. An absolute roller that one. Also, Vorso and Clockvice are killing it lately!

How about your favorite record of all time?

F: I’m gonna say Funk Blaster EP by KOAN Sound, because to this day I remember hearing The Edge for the first time and absolutely losing my mind. That song basically got me into dubstep and just loving neuro basses. And Funk Blaster is pretty much a timeless classic for me at this point.

Q: It’s a very close tie between “Watercolour” by Pendulum and the entirety of the “Sanctuary” EP by KOAN Sound. I just love music that tells a story.

Are you guys currently working on any new material? What lies ahead for you both as individuals?

Q: I think the release of “Durgun” signals a new era of music production for both of us. I personally would like to make more in the direction of my latest track “Horizon”. But most of all I’d like to continue to make tracks that tell a story.

F: Right now I’m actually working on a remix of Qode’s track Horizon. Other than that I would like to experiment a bit more with some of the ideas I’ve had. Recently I updated my logo and with that, I would also like to refine my sound.

Qode // Photo by Ryan Wilmes

What’s your musical goal for the next few years? Is there something you’d love to achieve in your career?

F: One of the short-term goals is to finally meet Ryan in person! We’ve been friends for over 6 years and made several songs together, so I think it’s about time we finally met. It would be amazing to be able to write music in the studio together. I’d also like to finally make a proper EP with more than just a few tracks and figure out a way to realize my vision for it.

Q: Yes, right now the date is set for somewhere in 2019. That’s the plan. Other than meeting up we’ll probably continue working on more collaborations over the internet in the future.

F: Also I suppose the ultimate goal is to be able to play our music live and throw a massive b2b set together, am I right?

Q: Yes, that is probably going to be the next goal after meeting up! However, I have to start to learn how to DJ first, because this poor fella doesn’t have money for decent equipment…

Any life goals?

 F: Probably finishing university, which is taking up a lot of my time now. Besides studying and making music I also work as a game developer, which also lets me have a different kind of creative output combined with a technical side of things, just like music production. So my goal is to be able to keep this sort of balance in my life, no matter whether the music becomes a full-time thing or it just stays as a hobby while I work on some other creative and technical projects. As long as I’ll be able to enrich other people’s minds and lives with my creations I think I’m going to enjoy whatever I’ll end up doing. I also hope that I’ll meet more like-minded people, every time I do it is always such an incredible experience.

Q: First off, graduating. I’m finishing up my bachelor’s in Communication and Multimedia Design at the Maastricht Academy for Media Design and Technology as we speak. After this, we’ll see where life takes me. One of my goals though is to be able to inspire people to take action against the problems we are facing right now. Socially, politically, personally or otherwise, I want to inspire people to take the right actions and to break through expectations so they can live the life that is most suited for them. That’s what I’m doing now, and what I’ll always be doing. And that is the message I want to tell the world.

Which artists would you love for us to go and check out?

F: Besides the artists I have already mentioned, I would really like to give a shout out to The Hamster Alliance. He is a Colorado-based music producer that really inspired me and even helped me when I was starting out. What I like about him is that each of his songs is in a different genre and you never know which genre is going to be next. Somehow he always manages to nail it. Actually, this might be one of the reasons my music is so varied. If you like chill music, try checking out his song Reveal (Chillout Mix) or What This Could Be.

And just to double check – if you don’t know Vorso or Ekcle yet, do your eardrums a favour and go listen to some of their tunes right now.

Q: Well, there’s this guy called Fluxton. I heard he’s pretty deece.

Fluxton: Also there is this really talented guy called Qode, you probably haven’t heard of him but I’ve heard he has a good taste in choosing his collaborators?

Q: In all seriousness though, you should indeed check out Ekcle too. A massive inspiration for me. Also, check out Koan (not KOAN Sound, that’s a different duo!) and Carbon Based Lifeforms. These have also inspired many tracks of mine.

Has there ever been a piece of music or an experience that shaped you to become the musician you are today?

 F: I’d say it’s more of a chain of events that is slowly shaping me and I mentioned some of those events earlier in the interview. It can be something like travelling abroad or meeting new people. However, I especially appreciate my electric guitar teacher, who was the first person to really encourage me to improvise. Until that point, I was mostly just playing tunes by other artists but he was the one that taught me it is okay to make mistakes, explore my own path and create something of my own.

Q: I don’t think there’s any single experience I can pinpoint that literally shaped the way I work right now. It’s a collective of experiences really. What I can say is that the people I’ve met throughout my life have shaped me into who I am. From the guy that showed me Reason, to the people I studied with during my first two years of college. And of course, the fact that I met Vojta. And then there’s my amazing girlfriend, who is an incredible source of inspiration for me. It all adds up.

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The single ‘Durgun’ is available now to download for free here or stream via Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer.