First dabbling in hip-hop during his teen years in the late Eighties, Martijn Ten Velden delved into the house music scene in the Nineties, quickly proving himself a force to be reckoned with. The Dutch DJ and producer has racked up a steady string of house hits since, including current the 2006/2007 Ibiza stormer "I Wish You Would," and a current chart-climbing remix of Orbital's "Chime."
He's even garnered several official-type rewards: At the 2007 House Music Awards, he snagged "Best Artist" and "Outstanding Remix." During this year’s Winter Music Conference, at the IDMA awards he was nominated for Best Compilation for the Toolroom Knights Volume 1 mix CD, which he co-piloted with Mark Knight of Ministry of Sound.
After having spun in London, Paris, and Dubai he is now giving people on this side of the pond a chance to see him rock the CDJs. New Times recently caught up with him by phone in advance of his appearance this Sunday at Set, on South Beach. We chatted about his history as a hip-hop DJ, the switch to house music, and his approach to DJing, remixing, and producing. -- William Hernandez
Stealth Records and Sundance present Martijn Ten Velden, Sunday, August 17 at Set, 320 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Doors open at 11 p.m., and tickets cost $20 in advance from www.wantickets.com. Ages 21+ with ID. Call 305-531-5535, or visit www.theopiumgroup.com.
New Times: Why are you doing this U.S. tour and what can we expect you to perform here in Miami?
Martijn Ten Velden: I’m going to kick some ass. (laughs) I’m going to play some fresh new house music; all the latest stuff that you haven’t heard before. It's going to be house music all night long.
How did you develop a relationship with Ministry of Sound, and can you talk about your project with Mark Knight of the Ministry of Sound and the Toolroom Knights mix CD?
The first time I played at Ministry of Sound was in London about 5 or 6 years ago. I’ve known the guys at Ministry for quite a while now. I come back there a couple of times a year and of course Toolroom now has very close ties with Ministry as well. Mark Knight and I go way back; we’ve been working together before he started Toolroom Records actually. We decided to do these mix compilations because I was there from the beginning. They decided to ask me to do the first one. So that’s how that one came about.
Talk about your early days with the hip-hop DJ collective Da Mad Scientists. How did they come together and what did you learn while with them?
That was in Holland when I was teenager. I was into old school hip-hop like Run DMC, Public Enemy, EPMD, Ultramagnetic MCs, etc. We started a hip-hop group when we were like 16, 17 and we were doing it almost every weekend. With live MCing, drum machines, and scratching, it was really fun. That was the beginning when I first started making music.
How did you end up DJing for Stereo MCs?
Ah man! That was fun. They were playing in my hometown and I had met one of them previously. So when they came to my hometown I went to hang out with them in the afternoon before they had to do the gig. They asked me if I wanted to freestyle with them tonight and they told me to bring some records. I would do some backspinning and they would rap over the top of the instrumentals. I brought my vinyl and on the night of the show they called me onstage. I started scratching the beat and they started rapping. I was never part of the group; it was just a guest appearance.
What made you want to switch from doing hip-hop music to house in the early Nineties?
At the time I was living in London. In London at that moment the hip-hop parties were too dark; there was too much violence, shooting, stabbing. It was a bad attitude and I didn’t like that. Because when I first came into hip-hop it was all about fun. Then I went to a house [music] party and I was blown away; because it was like going to an old school hip-hop party again. Everybody was happy and people were having a good time. There were no attitudes, no violence. That was how I started getting into house music.
What are your tools of the trade as far as DJing and production equipment?
I got the Mac pro, Logic 8; those are the main programs I use for programming and producing. I got a load of plug-ins for Logic 8 with digital effects and samples. I used to have a lot of analog gear, but now it’s all digital which smaller and compact. As far DJing I use the Pioneer CDJs-1000 and I love to use the EFX1000 a lot to add loads of effects, and that’s it. I don’t DJ with my laptop because I love mixing. So I just stick to CDs.
How do you approach remixing and producing tracks?
It’s all about the vibe. I’m really picky with the tracks that I choose to remix. I have to love the original. The original has to give me a vibe. It has to make me inspired. If I love the original it’s easier because I’m inspired by the music and I just make some new beats, play around with it, and it all comes together after a lot of hard work.