Fans of house music must be really enjoying themselves at the moment don’t you think? Amidst the current 4×4 renaissance, the music has arguably never been more popular.
Of course, the old-skool house heads will completely disagree with this and will be shouting that of course, “house music never went away” and that they, “were playing house before you were even born”. Nevertheless, there has simply never been such a diverse range of quality music coming from the 4×4 camp as there is now.
This diversity within house music is what has in particular attributed to its rising popularity – Julio Bashmore making house via dubstep with his latest EP Everybody Needs a Theme Tune on Dirty Bird, Flying Lotus’ glitchy sonic hip-house on ‘Do The Astral Plane’ or true masters of the craft such as Pepe Bradock, Theo Parrish or Moodyman still consistently turning up with works of complete, and utter magnificence.
San Soda belongs to an emerging group of (often scarily) young producers who are producing house music which is neither nostalgic, nor retro yet somehow manages to sound completely authentic. Soda and his peers are creating deep, soulful house music, which somehow captures all of the organic simplicity of early house music circa Larry Heard and Ron Hardy, whilst remaining completely contemporary.
I caught up with San Soda to discuss many things, but mainly house music.
Hi San Soda, can you start with telling us your real name, age and the city you live?
Nicolas Geysens, 24, Ghent
Where did you grow up and what took you to where you are now?
I grew up In Deinze and started off playing Tiesto, Deep Purple and Justin Timberlake, until one day I heard Tyree Cooper play in a local bar and discovered an American producer who goes by the name of Theo Parrish. Then things started to turn for the better.
Rumors are that as well as being one of the ‘most exciting prospects in house music you are also in the middle of completing your degree. What are you studying?
I’ve just finished 5 years of Commercial Engineering Studies, only recently handing in my final Master thesis so hopefully I can put this all behind me soon.
Wow, what made you decide to study that?
Just the fact that I had the opportunity to do it, and to have something to rely on in case I ever needs a ‘real’ fulltime job.
Is this something you would like to pursue as a career?
Not really, but I don’t see music as a way to make money. Everything I earn through DJ’ing or producing, to me, is a bonus.
What brought you to music, production and ultimately releasing your music?
Producing in the beginning to me was a way to copy sounds or even entire tracks that I liked but didn’t have the money to buy on vinyl. I remember making a version of Fingers Inc.’s ‘Mystery Of Love’, for example. It wasn’t nearly as good as the original but I learned a lot about sounds and production techniques by trying to imitate sequences of tracks I like.
The idea of releasing my music was Bart’s (Red D) and as a result, We Play House Recordings saw the light of day.
We Play House is the main platform you release on. Could you tell me more about the label – who’s behind it?
It’s the label Bart (Red D) and I started in 2008. His knowledge, experience and communication skills have helped us make the right decisions so far and create much more than just a record label. The main focus of the label is house music in all its forms and it represents a home for producers from Belgium and abroad, we already knew or have come to respect. The philosophy behind the label however, involves much more than just the musical output. It’s no secret we’re not happy about a lot of current evolutions in the world of electronic music. We love vinyl, we are passionate about all kinds of music and we have strong ideas on how to share it. Ranging from communication and design to distribution and WPH parties,where these ideas are translated into everything we do.
Ok, so tell us about San Soda. What is the idea behind San Soda, musically speaking?
In essence, it’s me learning about music as a DJ and as a producer. My output in the form of a DJ set or a production is just a reflection of what I’m discovering or enjoying at that moment.
During 2010 you released ‘Kaizen’, which was touted as one if the finest house records of 2010. How did ‘Kaizen’ come about and did you know it was as good as it is when you made it?
I did ‘Kaizen’ just before I had to take my Quality Management exam, you should look up the term on Wikipedia. As a student I am very lazy and tend to put off work until the last minute. That means I always studied the night before an exam, which caused a lot of stress and for some reason that’s when I’m most productive.
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You release under San Soda and FCL with Red D. What is the difference between both projects?
As FCL, Bart and I are in the studio together, discussing sounds and song structure. Sometimes, I come up with an idea or a melody and we work it out together. When vocals are needed, Bart comes up with lyrics. Often his trance and new beat history will provide the track with an unexpected twist.
You are in the enviable position of being one of the most exciting producers in house music currently, and at a very young age. How are you dealing with it all? Or is it something that is just happening around you?
The only thing that’s important to me is being able to share music and talk and learn about it.
What are your plans for the future musically speaking?
A lot of DJ sets, a couple of remixes to finish, an FCL album and creating a live setup that agrees with me.
What are your musical aspirations and ambitions?
I would love to keep on DJ’ing a lot, learn more about production and put together a live set for 2011.
What about non-music related plans?
I’m having lunch with my grandmother on Wednesday. I will also be looking for a new part time job and a new apartment.
Finally, if you were stranded on an island with a record player. Which five 12"s would you like to have with you?
Slum Village – Fantastic
Dr Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band- Dr Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band
Theo Parrish – Sound Sculptures Volume 1
Charles Webster – Born On The 24th of July
Fela Kuti – Water Get No Enemy