Strange Sounds From Beyond celebrated its sophomore year earlier this summer, bringing together a lineup that included Jan Schulte (under his Bufiman alias), South African selector DJ Okapi, Salon Des Amateurs resident Lena Wilikens and Stroom head honcho Nosedrip. The love child of Amsterdam clans Red Light Radio, Outsiders and The Rest Is Noise, the daylong festival is placed firmly left of centre in its curation, as is the radio show of the same name that it was born out of. Launched two years ago with locals Mata Hari and Luca at the helm, the duo have been weaving together disparate strains of evocative and peculiar music from their first broadcast on Red Light.
Leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of obscure sounds, Mata Hari doesn’t limit herself to the more orthodox resources like record stores and Discogs. In something of a middle finger to the genre snobs out there she specially recorded an hour long mix for us, firmly eschewing vinyl fetishism by drawing in sounds discovered in the darkest recesses of the Internet.
What can you tell us about the mix you have recorded?
Well since I was asked to do it with using songs with something in common somehow – like all from a certain region, so not like an emotional theme – I decided to just do one only with digitally only released material. Since that’s maybe sometimes almost a genre of it’s own and what I’ve been extra inspired by since that whole user18081971 hype on Soundcloud. Even though even during Myspace this was already a great source of music that was not necessarily commercial. The mix is though obviously the story of my emotions of the day I recorded it, which was on the night Venus and Jupiter were visible in the sky, hence the picture of what being on Jupiter and Jupiter’s sky might look like.
How did you go about sourcing the music featured? Mostly Soundcloud?
Yea, all but one found via Soundcloud. One I was able to buy at Bandcamp, but the rest was either free download or I ripped first and asked permission to use after finishing this mix. I ended up getting permission from every single one of them, which was ace.
Isn’t format of any particular importance to you then?
Nah, collecting vinyl can turn into a mad obsession and even for a lot of people just speculating in prices, which just turns me off completely. For a short while I’ve even had this feeling it was stupid to share music with people I didn’t (yet) own (the music not the people lol), because eventually the prices on Discogs sometimes went from 30 euro to 200 within a year. I’m not saying I did that, but sharing music often does have an exponential sharing effect if it’s very likeable. I’ve been even told by some not to share anything if you didn’t own it, but what the fuck, why, I’m not such a materialistic being and since music someone shared sometimes saves me, I’m positive it will sometimes save someone else too. I like sharing over owning and sharing via digital tends to (sadly but surely) be easier. I could have this whole rant of why I believe we should all listen to analog (because deep down I do, for metaphysical reasons). It’s just simply impossible in this day and age and thus stupid to advocate it right now. I do highly believe in the importance of hearing pure, even non-amplified sounds like the over a hundred crows in a tree near my house, but finding new exciting heartfelt music – even if (obviously digitally) online – has always been my main addiction.
How did you come to be involved with Strange Sounds From Beyond?
That’s quite a long story, but the short version is a friend of mine wanted to start a radio show at Red Light Radio and asked Luca (Lulu) and me to host it. It was called Strange Sounds From Beyond and later turned into a festival, into a magazine, into a platform…
How do you go about choosing guests for the SSFB radio show?
We generally just have a huge bunch of people we’d love to have, too many, both locals and internationals. And we try to see who’s in town, who’s available and who would compliment each other’s sounds, sometimes by being similar, but often just being very different yet in that complementary to each other.
Are you familiar with the Facebook group ‘Strange Music From Beyond’? I’ve found it’s a great place to connect and share with likeminded people that have a similar appetite for odd and obscure music.
Yea, that’s a group I was admin of for a while, since I was so active in it. I spend hours deleting spam and irrelevant content, mostly that against the policy of self-promotion, perma-banning members who continued to spam and selecting membership requests on whether or not it was likely to be some spambot or not. That all stopped when I closed my Facebook account for almost a year. The group was started by George Hysteric and it saved my life back in 2014 quite a bit. As a teen I would always be active in forums sharing and receiving music, but since Facebook that had kind of stopped. I’ve been sharing music on my timeline from the start, but that’s not the same. I needed it then more than ever, finding that group and just started to be a bit too active there and that’s kind of how I started DJ’ing. When someone who “knew” me from storm-posting there had asked me to do a mix for his blog, I eventually did. Other people heard that mix and the trail mix I uploaded on Soundcloud and that’s when I got asked for my first gigs. Anyway, the name indeed also has been an inspiration to SSFB. My friend who initiated the show at Red Light reached out to George to discuss it and he was very supportive.
Do you think the continuing centralisation of streaming services striving to be sustainable, with Soundcloud potentially the next victim, will make it even harder to discover these sorts of gems?
Nah, I honestly am a very pessimistic person in generally about life and the future, but with these things I’m kind optimistic and realistic. I still listen to the jams I found when myspace was the place to publish and find music.. As in gems will be gems, and yea well with some records it took over 40 years to be appreciated as a “gem,” so in all honesty I feel music sharing wise we might live in the best time. If Soundcloud kills itself, something else will emerge, like how that happened to Myspace…
Any DJs or memorable mixes that have inspired you along the way?
Hmm yea well I guess it was a huge mix of Red light radio shows that used to be up on Soundcloud that I listened for days on end. I’ve been addicted to them from the start and would always have it on at my old job in a shop where I would make weird custom bags and things. My colleagues loved it too, so that was ace.
People, artists, diggers, DJs like Haron, Traxx, Ron van de Kerkhof, Jeroen Vermandere, Mark “Knekelhuis”, Merel, Luca, Andreas, Izabel, Vladimir they were all very much the ones that inspired and still inspire me most.
One of my most memorable mixes was by Rem Gow for Ante Meridiem Story run by Zhenya Anfalof. I actually asked where that went the other day. Remco’s soon going to upload it hopefully on his Mixcloud, because that was really such a blissful trip.
And finally, what’s next on the agenda?
Too much, I honestly don’t want to think about it, since I actually should be doing a bunch of other stuff… but Pip on NYE, then some SSFB touring stuff coming up in January, a party I host in Studio K and something else exciting in Amsterdam… and then some exciting stuff scheduled after.