If you don’t know him from his obscure obsession with cats, trippy things in general and not to mention, next level productions, then you’d better acquaint yourself for the musical experience of a lifetime. Renowned for being hard dance’s signature tripper, it’s almost impossible not to admire his bold and unique approach to production, especially in hardstyle, a genre that sports clear boundaries.
Up until a matter of months ago, Geck-o was the figurehead for subground concept QULT and now that ship has sailed, he’s recently brought his own concept to life – The Funky Cat. With word out about his second album, The Funky Cat’s debut event right around the corner and his new radio show in full swing, we figured that it was the perfect time to catch up with our favourite experimentalist and pick his brains about some interesting topics.
– Yo Geck-o! What have you been up to lately?
Quite a lot actually; I’ve recently released a handful of new music and at the moment I’m also very busy with ‘The Funky Cat’ project. We’ve got the party coming up at in a few weeks, I’m doing the radio-show, working on the album and also the video-clip for “Tripper,” but I suppose we’ll get to that later.
– First of all, let’s take a little trip backwards. Can you tell me how you got in touch with hard dance music and some memories from your early days in the scene?
I got in touch with hard dance music around 2002 when I saw a commercial on TV for the first ID&T Hard Trance compilation CD. I was into trance music, which was very popular at the time, but this took my love for the music to the next level. The commercial had short clips of some tracks that were featured on the CD and I thought to myself “I NEED to have this!” So what did I do? I asked my parents to buy it for me as a birthday present and when I got the CD I couldn’t stop listening to it. On the second disk there were some early hardstyle tunes and I think I listened to those the most, so that’s really where I got into the whole ‘hardstyle’ thing.
In 2007, after collecting hardstyle for some years, I was on an online forum and came across a production contest. I thought that it would be a good chance for me, as I always had a lot of ideas in my head to make hardstyle that didn’t exist yet, so I installed FL Studio and that’s when I started producing. I actually don’t remember if I won that contest…
Back then I wasn’t exactly the ‘going out’ type of guy, however shortly after I began producing I visited a few small parties and was so overwhelmed by how the music sounded when played out loud in that environment. I always loved hardstyle but I’d only ever heard it at home through my little speakers or headphones and not on such a big sound-system, so it was actually quite a big thing for me. With that experience, I started to make more dance-floor minded music.
– You’ve always been a diverse artist and you’ve had quite a ‘different’ sound. Why did you get started on that particular sound as opposed to making straight up traditional hardstyle?
My first productions were a bit more traditional, with the triplet reversed bass and obligatory Lil’ Jon vocals of the time. However, shortly after I noticed that my inspiration lies in sounds that didn’t exist yet. I thrive on making something new and different from what I’ve made before.
– What are your thoughts on the resurgence of AVIO?
I actually released two tracks on AVIO recently; it’s a really nice label and it brings a lighter vibe through. I also support a lot of the artists on that label too; for example, I really like Aeros. His style is awesome, we made a track together and it’s clear that he understands how stuff is done – it’s something I really appreciate seeing in producers.
– You’re such a versatile artist that could fit on practically any stage – what’s the importance of having that unique touch?
For me, it’s really important to be able to be versatile, however sometimes I do ask myself “wouldn’t it be smart to go put myself in a box that makes things clear to the audience and organisations that want to book me?” Marketing-wise it seems smart to have your little ‘box,’ but then I always realise that’s not what I stand for – I have to be able to let all my creativity flow out. I appreciate so many styles of music, for example I’ve played techno sets and even produced techno tracks aside from my hard dance productions and performances. Last year I even played a disco set at a small festival! I had to dig up all kinds of disco music from the 70’s and 80’s – it was great fun.
– Recently you’ve also released some music on Freestyle label “Foolish.” Do you also want to keep pursing this sound?
Yeah, the ‘freestyle idea’ fits what I want to do; having fun with music and bringing good vibes in general. However, a lot of the freestyle out there is a little too flat for me; it really works on the dance-floor but I don’t enjoy it as much artistically. My latest release “International Outernational” is really happy and cheesy, but I definitely wouldn’t call it flat.
– Just a little more about your latest release “International Outernational,” it’s such a groovy track, what was the inspiration to experiment with tempo and also drum and bass elements?
I started off the track with the 90’s piano riff in the beginning, added the old-school break beat to it and then gave it a modern twist with this pumping reverse bass. The track starts off at 145BPM, however in the next break I thought “this is nice but it could use something extra. What if I turned up the BPM?” It somehow turned into some UK Hardcore-ish sound and I still wondered how far I could go, so I added in the crazy drum & bass part. After such a deviation, most tracks go back to the tempo they started off with, but I decided to keep it going on 160BPM with a pumping outro, and give DJs a nice challenge.
The response on the track has been great, especially in the freestyle scene. When I speak to the guys in freestyle they’re very positive about what I bring to the scene, which is nice to hear. Makes me think that maybe there’s a place for me in that scene too.
– I also want to ask about your collab with Frontliner “Up There.” It has a similar feeling to your older tracks but sounds so fresh and new. What’s the inspiration behind the track and how was it working with Barry?
The track actually started out as a solo track from me. I produced it early last year and also played it at X-Qlusive Frontliner, but back then I felt as though it was lacking. At the time it had another melody in the drops, and sounded a little more serious; it just didn’t feel right but at the same time I was stuck on how to improve it. So at X-Qlusive, Frontliner asked if I wanted to collaborate and when I went to his studio I took a bunch of demos with me and we immediately decided to use “Up There.” We rebuilt the whole track together, and the new additions were exactly what it needed.
Working with Frontliner was great; we had good chemistry in the studio and he also owns some sick gear. We made the mid-intro screeching synth with his Moog Voyager, what a sound!
– As opposed to some of your releases on QULT, it’s been evident that you’ve been going back to a more ‘hardstyle’ sound in 2015; what was your reason for this?
Around 2014 I got a bit lost within the whole QULT thing (in a good way, of course), but QULT just wasn’t enough for me to exist as an artist. I do need to keep up a career, so I decided to spread out both ways through my techno and hardstyle productions. I still love hardstyle and want to play it; but you can only play at hardstyle events when you produce it. I found myself trying out a lot of new things in hardstyle last year, and had a lot of fun with it in the studio as well as on stage. My roots are deep in the genre and it still brings a unique vibe that no other music style can bring for me. I’m far from done with hardstyle! Expect loads more from me.
– Let’s talk about The Funky Cat! Can you tell me what this concept means to you and your inspiration to start it after QULT?
The inspiration initially came to me when Q-Dance informed me that QULT was ending and I thought “why not do something myself?” I really need this place where I can express my experimental music, and challenge the crowd! At Defqon.1 I then had a really inspiring talk with Kutski and we randomly dropped the name ‘The Funky Cat,’ taken from one of my album tracks of last year. It was an instant yes!
The name itself was such an entity and seemed almost too good to be true. Nothing else out there was called The Funky Cat, so I just had to go for it! From then, I needed to develop the concept, the radio show, the party and also releases. It’s a huge project. For me, The Funky Cat stands for an intense blend of all types of music. Electronic, hard, but showcasing all genres.
– As your main demographic are hard dance listeners, are you worried that they will only be expecting hardstyle with The Funky Cat?
I think that the people don’t expect hardstyle because it’s pretty clear that The Funky Cat is my own follow-up of QULT. Over time, fans would’ve also gotten familiar with QULT and saying that, they may think that it’s going to be the same as QULT which is not the case. Personally, I’m also ground into the ‘QULT’ way of thinking and doing things that way, so I still have to grow out of that. Aside from that, it’s perfect; I take my audience with me from QULT, and we will grow in the direction that I want to go in, or better said, the direction that The Funky Cat wants us to go in. Let fate decide.
– You’ve got the first Funky Cat party coming up later this month; what can visitors expect from the night?
The one big thing about The Funky Cat is the music. You won’t hear this strong blend of styles anywhere else, resulting in a very special atmosphere with dedicated people only. Real music, real DJs and no bullshit. To achieve this, I booked some really awesome artists, who I think fit perfectly to the concept.
A*S*Y*S is one of my all-time heroes, he made some great stuff back in the days, but he’s still making fresh and forward-looking music today. Secondly, Bold Action is a great talent from The Netherlands. Last year I made a track with him and we’re also working on another one at the moment. He’s also a producer who really understands things; you can trust him in the studio.
As a closing act I put Wavolizer on the line-up. He’s a real out-of-the-box artist; at the moment he’s doing hardcore and industrial on The Third Movement, which is awesome. In hardstyle he seemed a little lost with his style, but when he chose to switch over to hardcore it worked out a lot better – his music gets picked up and played by everyone in that scene. For The Funky Cat it’s a bit too much to let him play a full-on hardcore set, so we discussed it and decided that he will be playing a cross-genre set with his sound as the main element. On the night you can expect drum and bass and lower BPMs as well; he’s already done a guest mix for the radio show to listeners a taste of what he’s going to play.
Oh I’ll also be playing there of course! I’ll be doing a warm-up set as I really wanted to open the first edition of my own party and later in the night I’ll be doing a power set where I’ll be going all out! I’ve got a whole bunch of tracks to premiere and I’ll also be the MC for the night, ha-ha. I don’t think my party really needs MC’s talking through the sets. Don’t get me wrong, they have their value but I want to let the music speak and just do some introductions between the sets and keep things pure.
What else can people expect? Well, at the moment we’re working on decorations and the atmosphere; we want to make it a cosy party but also very overwhelming. You can expect to be surprised, challenged and twisted, but most of all visitors will have a great time sharing this music with each other.
– Just out of curiosity, how many (funky) cats do you own yourself?
Well I own a lot of cats that aren’t alive; they’re painted on cups and other things, but unfortunately I don’t own a real-life cat. My apartment isn’t exactly fit for a cat, however when I’m living in a big mansion, I’ll have my furry cat.
– There’s also a Funky Cat album coming! Can you tell me more about it?
I really loved doing my previous album “A New Wave” and I actually started my new album in the same way when I realised I had a pile of tracks lying around. I enjoyed the process of making an album, so why not do it again? A release date and place are not set yet as I’m still working on it, but I’m getting to the last stages now, making final selections and gluing everything together as a whole.
Sound-wise, you can see it as a follow up of my previous album. It’s a little less EDM-ish and has more techno influences, but overall it’s still very diverse. For example, on one track I’ve blended hardstyle elements with old-school house and future house, very fresh stuff and I’m really looking forward to showing this one to the public! I see an album as an ideal way to release my underground music as you can work more conceptual on it than with single releases only, which I do with my hardstyle stuff.
– Recently you’ve involved yourself in crowd-funding to make a video-clip for “Tripper.” How’s that going so far?
We’ve actually just reached our crowd funding goal with an overwhelming 169% of our set goal of 3000 euros! The people have been very generous with their support and I’m very thankful. The idea behind the video came about when three people came up to me at The Last Supper and told me that they were professional film makers and that they wanted to make a video for me. They told me that they would work for free; it’s the best motivation you can have to do something – because you love it.
So I arranged a meeting with them and we decided that it had to be a video-clip for “Tripper” as we all agreed that we could do something great with this track. Even though the film-makers work for free – which is amazing, can’t say it often enough – there are simply a lot of other costs that you can’t compress such as props, cameras, lights, catering and post-production editing. To gather the money for these things, we’ve set up a crowdfunding campaign. I think it’s a unique thing within hard dance music! I’m really excited that we’ve reached the goal and can’t wait to film it.
– What’s the vision of the video?
It’s actually a really awesome story. It’s about these two little kids that are going through the whole track as phases of a trip. Within that, they have all of these impressions and go through various adventures that are based on famous ‘trip scenes’ from movies. The scenes are familiar to everybody and we will do our best to do our own take on them and mash everything together.
– If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
Hmmm… I have no idea. Music really is the thing for me and without it things would be completely different. Everything I do is somehow connected to the music; I even met most of my closest friends through music. When I finished high school I didn’t know what to do so I initially studied economics, however I didn’t like it and quit. After that I studied communications which was alright, but the greatest thing was that it gave me space to fit it to my desired career, which was really getting serious at the time. I ended up doing great internships at Theracords and Q-dance, and I was also able to do a minor in audio design. In the end I could put my study to good use, and I’m happy to have my diploma to fall back on in time of need, while continuing my journey as a fulltime artist.
– Finally, what did you eat for brekkie?
It was not intentional but I had a really special breakfast today. I had a slice of bread with hummus, sprinkled with superfruits and pumpkin seeds, and a nice cinnamon tea. It was lovely.
Thanks for the interview Cass! Skitz times.
A big thanks to Geck-o for this interview (and the skitz times). We wish him the very best for the first edition of The Funky Cat which will be held on the 20th of February in the P60 in Amstelveen. For those who haven’t purchased tickets yet, get your shit together and click: HERE. To stay up-to-date with the happenings of Geck-o and his album, get acquainted with his social links below.