Hailing from the busy city of Utrecht, Wendel Sield is one of the most promising artists of the new Dutch house wave. Together with his partner Mounir el Ghouat, he rose to fame a few years ago with their Deep n Lazy DJ and Production duo, but has since decided to follow his own introspective musical path, starting all over again. We had a talk with the young artist about everything from why he decided to go back to his roots, his involvement in many projects and collaborations, his well thought plans for the future and even about one of his highly conceptual tattoos. Find out everything about Wendel Sield in the following interview!
Let’s start with a bit about yourself. How did you get into music in the first place? Was it family, friends, school?
I think it was a mix of family influence and self curiosity. My parents used to listen to a lot of soul, funk and jazz so I grew up hearing those sounds. It’s not that different from most kids or DJ’s stories, but one of the differences could be that I grew up on the island of Aruba, so besides the soul, funk and jazz I heard a lot of happy calypso-like music. I think you can hear the happy and joyful feeling back in my mixes.
What influenced you the most throughout the years? Who would you consider your biggest musical hero?
What influenced me the most is the knowledge about music. Where certain styles come from, knowing the root of music gives a lot more meaning to the records and I think every artist or DJ should go true in this process. It’s because of the process that you can create your own opinion about what good music should sound like. It’s an ever on going debate and it’s pretty personal, but it all starts with knowing your stuff.
My biggest musical hero therefore didn’t come to me at an early age, I would listen to stuff like funk, jazz and used to think that it was nice, however I really found my true hero after listening to about every genre there is in music. The name of the hero is Herbie Hancock. This man made a big difference in my life, I was intrigued by how he would play piano or keyboards, composing jazz and funk... I think I bought about every record he put out.
So how did you come into contact with electronic music and how did this lead to making your own music?
I have always watched a lot of documentaries about music. I couldn’t play an instrument so I wasn’t really interested in making music because I thought I had to be able to play something in order to create. Then, one day, I saw a documentary about how electronic music was changing the sound of disco, and about what music actually is: simply said it’s just organising sounds. And I thought “well I could do that, just cut something here and put something there, play a few easy notes on a keyboard…” However, it didn’t really start until after a high school friend of mine taught me about producing. That’s when I started my first DJ and producing collaboration called Deep n Lazy.
Tell me more about the Deep n Lazy project. How did that began in the first place and what led to its demise?
So this high school friend who was making music at that time was interested in mixing records. I taught him how to mix and he taught me how to produce music using computer software. If you can, you should really look up one of the first tracks that I ever made which was released on Sniff Your Ear Recordings by a friend of mine called Soul De Marin. The record was called ‘That Man’ by Deep n Lazy and I still get a smile on my face listing to my old stuff. So yeah, we played a lot of venue’s during that period. Looking back it was a really fun time, but at the same moment you can lose yourself in the music industry. A lesson well learned. We were eager to play so we accepted almost every gig. This is where almost every starting DJ will lose himself or his credibility as an artist. You get influenced by a lot of things: other DJs, club owners, friends, the crowd and most of all the ever-changing musical hypes. After a couple of years we asked ourself the question “Are we doing this for fame? Money? Or are we music lovers?” We completely shut down all activity and disappeared from the music scene. After a year or two I came back solo, I knew my place, I went back to my roots, to the funk, the original disco and house sound straight out of Chicago and playing only wax. I never felt better by doing so, even though this meant starting all over again and that nobody knew me. I already played venues counting thousands of people and now I’m playing small clubs with just a few hundred. Damn, this feels so much better, connecting with your audience, seeing the smile on people’s faces when you just switch up a bassline… This underground scene is more than music, this is love!
You speak nothing but the truth Wendel, I totally feel you on this one. So after such a long break how did you get involved in In II Deep and 0356 Kollektiv? Tell me about these projects and what the future holds for them.
0356 Kollektiv was formed with a group of musical friends all coming from the same town, the number represents the town’s area code. It’s because of this group that all individuals get inspired to learn more and listen more to music. We all have different styles and yet we all have the same taste about what good music should sound like. I can remember one day we bought this huge huge stock of records, I think it had to be about 2 to 3 thousand records. And we all sat down in a friend’s kitchen who lives in this nice classic old house in Amsterdam and we listened to each and every single record. I still got a picture of it. It took us about 2 months of getting together and deciding who will get what record. A lot of it was decided by rock paper scissors! Haha fun times!
In II Deep started in this same period, it’s a collaboration between me and Parrish Smith. Although we play really different styles, we found like a middle ground of interest consisting of chicago drumtracks, acid tracks, and some house stuff. With this name we will put out mixes and tracks, stuff we both like and maybe not put out as much using our own names. After a while of each member working on his own profile we noticed that there was an interest starting to grow in our Kollektiv, so this summer we decided to perform radio shows using our Kollektiv. The first one will be on Shourai Sessions next month, after that we will play Red Light Radio in November and in December we will stream a special session from the most famous record store in Rotterdam, Triphouse.
I’ve read that you are collecting vinyl since the early age of 15. How and why did you choose vinyl in the first place? What does vinyl ultimately mean to you?
To me it means being a DJ. It’s a whole different experience of music when you start playing vinyl. You’re paying more attention to detail, you take time to go to record stores and dig for music, you end up simply working a job just to buy more records. I’ve seen people in the mp3 industry never buying a record in their lives. They can find everything for free. This takes away a certain value for the record and the music. And it takes away the respect you’re paying to the artist who made it. Besides that, vinyl is a more physical thing. It’s harder to mix, so it means you have to develop more skills as a DJ. The touch of hand on vinyl is pure love for a record, next to spinning a plastic spindle on a CDJ 2000. You worry about a needle scratching your record and after a gig you clean your records like they are the only thing of value in the world.
The tattoo on your right arm-chest area has a strikingly familiar shape. What is the story and meaning behind it?
It’s nice you noticed that. it stands for music yes. They are the symbols from the Voyager Golden Record, it’s a gold plate record shot into outer space during the seventies with the voyager space craft. On this record there are sounds and symbols representing all life on planet earth. It’s for the aliens to find, or so they say… Just so they know how we lived, how we spoke, what music we listened to and how we looked. Of course, this is more symbolic, the true message is for mankind to know how special we are. Once I read about the meaning of the record I took the symbols as a tattoo to keep me motivated in making music and to keep playing records so people can enjoy themselves.
Being from Utrecht means you get your annual dose of ADE. Tell me about the festival from a native Dutch DJ point of view. Many people say it changed their lives, how did it influence yours?
ADE is like this big get together for all the great artist allover the world. Everyone gets to showcase their labels and all artists are on top of their game. I’m looking forward to one night in particular: Rush Hour’s special with Ron Trent and Traxx, but I can’t just name these two guys, the other artists are all in my top favourite as well. Hunee & Antal, Young Marco, San Proper, Interstellerfunk & Robert Bergman. Can’t wait for this party, I think that Ron Trent is my number one DJ. Everything about this guy is what I like to see in a DJ/producer. He’s focused like crazy behind the decks staying super calm and just delivering really good music. No need to act crazy, just play the records and feel the love. The second party I’m sure to be at is from Knekelhuis. One of my best friends Parrish Smith is playing at this party next to Hieroglyphic Being, Beau Wanzer and the Knekelhuis Crew: Ron Van Kerkhof & Mark Van De Maat.
So speaking of clubbing, what are your plans for this autumn? Will we get to hear you play at ADE as well? What about music? Any upcoming releases we should keep an eye out for?
Unfortunately my gig at ADE got canceled. I’m part of an organisation called Our Society, and the plans for hosting a party at ADE didn’t came to life. Next year we’ll be sure to host our evening in collaboration with a nice underground label. A lot of people are asking me about my upcoming releases, it’s like the key ingredient for my next big step. I’ve posted an EP called ‘Tha Funk Capital’ on my soundcloud page, just to give people a slight impression of what is coming. This contains house and downtempo funk. But thats not all that I’ve got in store for everyone. I’m working on a whole bunch of EPs ranging from the old school ghetto house sounds to the acid drum tracks and warm deep house vibe from nowadays.
It’s coming, be patient. I know I am. It has to be… perfect!
Thank you kindly for your time and looking forward to your exclusive We Play Wax podcast episode later this year!