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5 apr. 2020

Interview met Hunter Complex

Ik beschouw Lars Meijer aka Hunter Complex als een begrip binnen de Nederlandse synthesizer scène. Zijn muziek gaat de hele wereld over en Lars ontvangt overal lovende recensies. Zo ook met zijn laatste album ¨Dead Calm and Zero Degrees¨. Het is dan ook een enorme eer voor mij om een interview te mogen houden met deze briljante muzikant en ik hoop op een dag nog eens een live optreden van hem mogen mee te maken. En daarna dan nog even napraten onder het genot van een goed glas (Jopen) bier. Tijd voor een interview!

I consider Lars Meijer aka Hunter Complex as an authority within the Dutch synthesizer scene. His music is spread all over the world and Lars has received wonderful reviews everywhere. This is also the case with his latest album "Dead Calm and Zero Degrees". It is therefore a great honor for me to be able to have an interview with this brilliant musician and I hope to see him perform live one day. And afterwards have a chat while enjoying a good glass of (Jopen) beer. Time for an interview!

Hunter Complex

Lars, can you please introduce yourself?
I’m releasing music as Hunter Complex since 2009, but I have been making music since 1989, when I made an improv tape called ¨Atlantic Seashores¨. Sadly, I lost a copy of that one. My new album is called ¨Dead Calm and Zero Degrees¨ and it’s the follow-up and twin record to last year’s ¨Open Sea¨, released on Death Waltz Originals. If you’re interested in the pre-Hunter Complex years, check out this playlist on Spotify featuring the best stuff.

Congratulations with your new album ¨Dead Calm and Zero Degrees¨. I love it more each time I listen to it. How was it to work on this album?
Thanks man, I’m glad you enjoy it. I started mixing the album after I delivered the final version of ¨Open Sea¨ (2019) to Death Waltz. I was in perfect harmony with all my equipment and I think that made it easier to get to the essence of this album. Stripping layers, getting the sound right and organic. It was enjoyable process, especially when you know it’s going to come out on a great label. Darren Page and Gary Dimes, the two guys who run Burning Witches Records, are the absolute best.


What can you tell us about the title of the album?
It’s a line from the documentary ¨Alone in the Wilderness¨ about a man named Dick Proenneke, who chooses self-isolation above being a part of society. It coudn’t be more relevant now, in these strange times where we all are on our own and have to improvise, adept and stay true to yourself.

Last year your album ¨Open Sea¨ was released on Death Waltz Originals. I listed this album as one of my favorites of 2019. When you compare your new album to ¨Open Sea¨, what things did you do differently this time?
Well actually, all of the songs originated around the same time. ¨Open Sea¨ is a big record, hence the title. It’s about big themes, like living on other planets, the strange beauty of the war in the Vietnam, modern architecture. Musically it goes in different directions. ¨Dead Calm and Zero Degrees¨ is more focused, more personal.


What gear did you use to produce ¨Dead Calm and Zero Degrees¨?
I use real synths, I love the feel and processes of those machines: Casio CZ-5000, Ensoniq SQ2 32 Voice, Kawai K1 rII, Korg M1R, Roland Alpha Juno 2, Roland D-50 and the Yamaha DX7. And I use the MPC 1000 as a drum machine, loaded up with samples from Godbaby. On this album I used the Linn a lot, and also the Oberheim DMX and the Roland TR-727, magically combined with the TR-707. I mix everything on a Tascam board, with a lot of outboard effects. I use Cubase to record it and to to adjust the mix, like EQ, volume, balance.

Do you have plans to perform live this year and play some new tracks from the album?
I just did a livestream from my studio to celebrate the release of ¨Dead Calm and Zero Degrees¨. I didn’t play any tracks from the new album, because I’m already working on the next one. I doesn’t excite me to reproduce the tracks live, it excites me to investigate the possibilities of a new track. When you perform a new track live, you can take it into directions you haven’t thought of before. The context changes, emotions can take a hold of you, it opens up your mind. When I released my first album back in 2010, I was singing and playing along to an iPod. It was like doing karaoke. I didn’t give me a creative boost. But I need that. Hopefully we will able to do concerts soon. I really miss going to shows, such wealth.


What does synth music mean to you?
Back in the ´80s the radio was full of synths. Everybody was using them. They were the go-to instruments of the time. Guitars weren’t important, they were down in the mix. Pop music started with guitars in the ´50 and ´60s, so there’s always this notion from a historic perspective that guitars are the foundation, the patient zero of pop music. But I don’t agree with that all. Synths gave pop music more depth. Listen to ¨Night Ride Home¨ (1991) by Joni Mitchell, ¨Union¨ (1988) by Toni Childs, ¨Everything¨ (1987) by Climie Fisher or ¨Real Life¨ (1991) by Simple Minds. Those are records that go further, deeper. And synths made that happen. Synths add mystery. I once saw Jean-Michel Jarre play at Mont Saint-Michel in France in 1993 and it had such a deep impact. I’m still thankful to my parents for letting me see that show. Jarre is a master in adding mystery.

Can you give us some names of other artists we need to keep an eye on and inspire you?
¨Dead Calm and Zeo Degrees¨ came out on Burning Witches Records and they are releasing some amazing records. ¨Darkly Dreaming¨ by Rory Mohan is an absolute beauty, so is ¨When It All Gets To Be Too Much¨ by Cory Kilduff and the latest Timothy Fife. Great artists who push the music forward. I’m also into jazz a lot, the ´80s ECM stuff, like the brilliant guitar player John Abercrombie and piano player Mike Nock. We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want Records from Switzerland started a jazz sublabel; everyone should check out Ryo Fukui, a wonderful pianist from Japan operating in the late ´70s. But I’m also into new jazz a lot. The International Anthem label is releasing the music of today. But Roedelius is giving me a lot of comfort in these lockdown days. I try to be out in nature as much as possible, Roedelius is the musical equivalent of nature. He keeps you sane.

What do you like most about the ´80s?
The innocence. And the Prince songs that we haven’t heard before, but are about to in the next years.

And finally, any last words to the synthwave community?
Don’t copy the ´80s, don’t copy each other. Make something new, use new sounds, or use old sounds in a different way, take them out of context. Try to be different, or actually, try to be yourself, experiment, make mistakes, have fun.

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