Frits Wentink is my kind of dude,’cos he loves oldschool hip hop tunes and he implements this passion into his rusty house beats. This interview was conducted for the one and only DJBroadcast.
Dutch house star Frits Wentink goes under many aliases including Steve Mensink, Felix Lenferink, Urkelle, Kuhlmannmensink and more famously, as the full half of Will & Ink. Having recently moved to Berlin Wentink appeared in Traxsource’s top 20 Deep House Artists of 2014 chart. Unlike other DJs, he doesn’t confuse hard work with steadfast seriousness and makes his groove-loving, sample-packed music with ease. Wentink’s true passion emanates throughout his music, with the occasional moments of humour.
In the last few years, Frits Wentink released many EPs that focussed on the less polished and sweatier side of deep house music. In the beginning of March 2015, Wentink releases his first long-player called Rarely Pure, Never Simple on WOLF Music. Despite the album’s name, the tracks are actually quite pure and not overcomplicated, merging Wentink’s love for house, 90s hip-hop and jazz in surprising, soulful combinations. Premiering three tracks exclusively on DJBroadcast, we spoke to Wentink via email about his artistic intentions, collaborations with vocalist Loes Jongerling and why he prefers tape saturation to sound perfection.
The title of your album comes from an Oscar Wilde quote about truth. Do you look for truth in music and if so, in what sense?
The less said about truth the better. So I left that word out. I feel that what I wished to express is covered in just ‘Rarely Pure, Never Simple’. That part to me contains a rather uncomfortable feeling, which I think is present in my music. The quote also touches on a feeling of being unclear and not conforming to rules. I guess I don’t always produce the obvious tunes, and I’m quite happy that way.
You’ve released five EPs in less than three years. Do you prefer the shorter format of an EP and what made you decide to release an album? Would you describe this debut as taking on a new musical direction?
An album is a big thing, and I didn’t want to release a set of tunes combined with skits. It took my quite some time to come up with a direction for an album; not only house music, but tunes from different genres that are connected. I’ve wanted to release an album for quite some time now, but it was only until the guys at Wolf gave asked me that the idea did it real being to take shape.
As producer I have always been active in many different genres other than house, so it was not a completely new musical direction. However I think I’m showing a side of me here that people haven’t heard in the previous Frits Wentink releases.
Do you sample from vinyl? What kind of music do you like to sample apart of jazz?
I would say the main thing is jazz. Apart from that I have a collection of folk music; records from Folkways Records and such. One of the last tracks features just the basic loop of Gavin Bryars minimal composition.
Apart from vocal samples, you use the Loes Jongerling’s vocal talents. How long have you worked together and how did that start?
We have been working together for roughly four years now. Loes was a friend of a friend. I heard her sing a few times before we met personally. At some point I just started sending her loops and she would do her thing on that. The first release we did was on Triphouse, a track called ‘Barry Two.’ We also collaborated on Felix Lenferink tracks. It’s fair to say that we always had some discussion on how to use her voice and for what genre. Loes was more into the soul funk spectrum, like downtempo stuff, and at the time it was more difficult for me to get downtempo tunes released. But on an album it fits perfectly. I’m very happy the way this turned out.
Apart from house, several tracks on the album sound like 90s old school hip-hop. Why did you include them on the album?
Because I absolutely adore that sound. House has always been my main thing as an artist. But when I’m at home all I do is listen to 90s hip-hop. And that’s not just all the old tracks. There is a large community of producers making new lo-fi hip-hop, quite original actually. So that sound is still very alive. I feel that a lot of the sample based house music has a firm base in that genre. And I took this as an angle to produce the album.
In your own music, as well as in your selection in mixes, you prefer grubby and dirty samples over crystal clear and spatially designed sound. What are the important things in music production in your point of view?
I do prefer things like tape saturation. However just distorting the master channel is a bit too easy. The remix I did recently for Nachtbraker on Heist has a noise background -again tape saturation- but I kept the mix pretty clear. That’s how I like it. I feel that tape sounds and saturated samples give most of the character to a track. I maybe a bit nostalgic here.