A few months back, I found myself in a bit of a music rut. I would listen to new releases by various artists and go to shows with big names such as, Seth Troxler or The Martinez Brothers, but I was unsatisfied. Everything seemed to lack soul or life and I began to wonder, why bother? Scouring my Soundcloud wall for a lifeline, I came across a Circoloco DC10 opening set by a producer who changed my entire perception of dance music.
This week I would like to introduce you to Mees Dierdorp. Mees is a producer from Amsterdam unlike any I had heard before. For me, he brought life and quality back into “electronic” music. His background was untraditional; although he had always been involved with music in one way or another. An avid listener his entire life, Mees wanted to understand more about how music affects us. “It is energy reaching your ears and playing with your mind and body in different ways.”
What started out as curiosity, turned into a hobby and eventually became a fascination. He wanted to know what music did with the human body, scientifically, so he took up a major in Psychobiology (neurobiology), which he believed, was a good combination in understanding music, waves, and frequencies. “The brain captures those waves and hangs onto the memories. It makes you behave a certain way – if you listen to classical music you behave differently than if you listen to rock music, depending on your past and future vision.” His pursuit of this knowledge steered him away from the laboratories and directed him into producing his first album.
“For me, it was like eating and sleeping and having sex… the basic needs in life that should be fulfilled and I felt that same need with music.” Searching for this fulfillment led to the result of his first album, Wild Window. The title track Wild Window was put together with the help of an electronic jazz band consisting of his classmates. Mees would write the compositions and they would play them. “It was just two scientists who were amazing with jazz music and just played the piano and guitar for fun.” This was a process that involved a lot of learning for Mees as a new artist but was lined with the innocence of enjoyment and fun.
At the time of the album’s development, Mees had literally no budget. “I was really figuring out how to do as much as possible with the little I had. All I had was a microphone, a sound card, and two midi controllers. Luckily, with software nowadays, you can do amazing things.” Wild Window was comprised of piano solos, guitar solos, recorded samples and sounds that came from a homemade synthesizer. It's amazing when something so complex can be produced with whatever the producer has lying around, that is true artistry.
Mees found wonder and challenge in working with music composed of electronic or non-instrumental notes. He fell in love with blending traditional and modern sounds that can be created with little or no tools. However, he wanted to keep electronic music alive and without the feel of real instruments it was not complete. He went on to produce everything with a little keyboard and a computer. Using Ableton, Operator and Collision software – tools that made beautiful sounds, but were missing some real traditional elements – he was able to blend organic sounds with modern electronic textures.
“I wanted to get more humanity in modern electronic music… most of the time it felt too machinery, lacking soul.”
Once the album was complete and he began sending his work to various labels, Mees received responses such as, “…lovely work, but unfortunately for the label only this and this fits…” At the time, Mees didn't fully comprehend that he had been showcasing a very different style of production. “During that time, I didn’t realize it because it was my sound and for me it was not very new, it was what I was making for the past few years. I now understand that for the big labels it was different… and that they wouldn’t dare to jump, maybe.” Eventually, he gave up on looking for a label and decided to put the album out under his own label. “I was like fuck it, it was 2013 I can do this, there's the internet, let’s see what happens.”
Once he put his album out Mees began receiving feedback from fans all over the globe; Mexico, France, and Spain. “It made me feel warm when somebody from the outside world says, ‘please don’t stop making music man, this is really touching me.’”
Mees Dierdorp’s style and production were truly unique and it attracted the attention of DC10’s owner. Within a matter of weeks, he was on an airplane going to Ibiza to play in one of the biggest clubs in all of Europe.
His music has been noted as something mystical and transcendent of modern electronic style. He has been featured on Alter Ego Amsterdam, Pleinvrees, Deep House Amsterdam and Circoloco’s Voice Podcast. Aside from his own label, MEES Records, his music can be found on labels like Eskimo Recordings, Poesie Musik and Manual Music as well. His eloquent fusion of piano, guitar, and synthetic sound creates an infectious melody that haunts your ears in the most graceful of ways.
Mees has also done various types of collaborations, edits, and remixes of highly acclaimed tracks. Some of my favorites to mention are his edit of Wilson Pickett's 'Midnight Hour' and his remix of 'You and Me' by Pupkulies & Rebecca. His remix for Nina Simone will also be featured on a compilation of remixes of Nina Simone called Little Girl Blue, The Remixes, which is being released on November 20th of next month.
“I am always trying to make music where you can go deeper, not one that you listen to one or two times and think, well that was a good story, but when you are listening to it four or five times and you hear new elements with each listen and just go, ‘Oh, wow!’” His music has been influenced heavily by components of world and jazz music because he finds that, even if you listen to them x amounts of times, even with extensive listening, you will always hear something new. A favorite record of his for the last ten years has been, 'Moanin' by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.
These past two years, Mees has been playing all over Europe. Spreading his music in the Netherlands, England, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and France. This year he even had an unplanned performance at I Feel...Wicked Wonderland in NYC, at the end of the season, for which I was fortunate enough to experience myself. After having an incredibly successful tour this summer, Mees is glad to be back in the studio continuing to create more work. “I can now channel all the energy I got from the people and bring it back into the new music I create. It’s like eating and sleeping for me, I need to make music”.
Refreshing, daring and innovative are the only ways I can describe, Mees Dierdorp. Having had an incredible time discussing his life, music and future plans was nothing short of rewarding for this writer. The music you hear him produce is a reflection of the person, himself.
“I want to encourage people to create, inspire to create, to do something different and make something new and daring… take the steps to create something alive!”