AN INTERVIEW WITH WOUTER VAN LEEUWEN
By Diana "DumeeGamer" Dumee and Wouter van Leeuwen on June 13, 2017
Sometimes, you meet people who are capable of creating something awesome out of nothing. Wouter van Leeuwen, a young aspiring musician and dj from Limburg, The Netherlands, is definitely one of those people. Inspired by old video game music, he started creating his own music, how cool is that?!
We, here at DumeeGamer.com thought it was time to ask Wouter a few questions and discover how this all came about.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us. So first question: What do you do in your daily life?
I currently have a job delivering mail. It's definitely not an amazing job, and I really hope that I can find a job that suits me better in the near future. Otherwise, I hope that one day I can make a living being a musician.
Our paths crossed because of your music and I really liked how you became inspired by playing videogames. How did this start?
I used to go to a school back in around 2007/2008 where they had a computer set up with a load of 90's games which I loved to play during breaks. One day when I got back home I searched around on the internet for said games, and managed to get some installed on my computer. A lot of them used tracker music for their soundtracks. I wanted to try and customize the music, and so I looked up how to do that, installed a tracker onto my computer, and started messing around with it. I don't use trackers for my main productions though, tracker music is more something I do on the side.
You have an impressive setup to make your music with. What kind of equipment/gear do you use?
For my hardware setup I have a Novation Bass Station II, Novation Circuit, Korg Volca Sample & Volca Bass, a Behringer Xenyx mixer, and a TC Electronic Flashback guitar pedal. For software stuff I use Ableton Live, OpenMPT/ModPlug Tracker, a Novation Launch Control and Launchpad Mini for controlling stuff, and a whole bunch of VST instruments and effects.
You told me about one of your heroes in the industry. You even have a Novation Circuit signed by him. What makes him so special in your opinion?
Ah, CALC! He's one of the awesome people at Novation, and when I was looking to purchase the Circuit, his performances on the machine really are what got me to buy it. He makes some really good music using the Circuit as the centerpiece in his setup, controlling all sorts of other electronic music equipment with it. On top of that, his job is basically to travel all over Europe to give demonstrations of music gear, which I'm rather jealous of.
Have you ever had the chance to meet him in person?
Yeah, and that's where I got my Circuit signed by him as well! There's a huge Facebook group called Circuit Owners for everyone who, well, owns a Circuit. One of the guys in the group decided to host a meet up at his house in Amsterdam during ADE last year, where everyone could come over and have a drink and a jam, and he got Chris (CALC) to come over too with a lot of cool Novation goodies. I had a great time there, at one point we ended up having a spontaneous live jam with about 5 to 6 people at once, which was live-streamed to YouTube as well. I spoke with Chris about a lot of things, like hardware gear and performing. I also thought that it would be a fun idea if I'd get him to sign my Circuit, since he's a big inspiration to me with his Circuit performances. So I put a blank sticker on the bottom of it, took a pen with me, and then asked him if he would like to sign my Circuit. He burst out into laughter since it was the first time anyone ever asked him to sign something, he said it really made his day. All together the whole meet up was an awesome experience, and it was very cool meeting him.
You recently came in second in a contest called Kunstbende. What was it that impressed the jury most?
I currently perform hardware-only, using synthesizers and drum machines. I'm effectively creating all the music I play live on stage, which is very different compared to most DJ's who use DJ controllers and/or software equipment to mix already finished tracks. I feel like performing with actual instruments adds a certain feeling or emotion to a set that just mixing tracks doesn't, since you're constantly shaping the sound yourself. The jury was also very impressed with that - they thought I had a very unique performance going on with all my hardware gear.
Now, back to gaming; do you still play videogames?
Of course! I have to say that I only really play Minecraft a lot right now, since my desktop rig broke down a few months ago, and my current computer isn't powerful enough to really run any games.
What's your favorite videogame or genre ever?
I don't really have a specific genre, but I enjoy creative games in general. I'm a big fan of games like LittleBigPlanet, TrackMania, Minecraft, Rollercoaster Tycoon, really any game that has a large creative aspect or an in-depth editor.
Is the music of modern videogames still an inspiration for you?
It depends. A lot of games nowadays just use various licensed tracks as the soundtrack, which I don't think is very interesting, as it's not often music that really accompanies the game very well. As an example, back in the days I used to play a ton of Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit. It's a great game, along with its successor Need for Speed IV: High Stakes. It had an amazing interactive soundtrack made by Electronic Arts' in-house producers, going from electronic music like Techno and Trance to some crazy Rock and Metal music. As a kid I was absolutely blown away by the music of those two games, it perfectly accompanied the games fast paced gameplay and style, and I still frequently listen to their soundtracks. Nowadays there really aren't any soundtracks like those anymore. With that I don't mean to say that licensed soundtracks are all bad - the Little Big Planet OST's have some weird electronic music in them for instance - but they really aren't as special as a soundtrack composed specifically for a game.
And last but not least; What are your thoughts on garden gnomes?
I don't really care about garden gnomes. We don't have a garden in front of our house so we have no way of even displaying them. And on top of that, what is their function anyways? To just stand in your garden so people can look at them? If so, i'd much rather get anything else than a garden gnome to put in my garden, since they're not even slightly enticing to look at. So no, I don't get the point of garden gnomes.
We would like to thank Wouter very much for taking the time to answer these questions! We wish him all the best in his music career and sincerely hope he gets where he wants to be! If you wish to know more about his music, why don't you check out one of his channels, listed below?