Namatjira a.k.a. Joost van der Vleuten was born in the Netherlands in 1978 and developed a passion for music at a very young age. A big break in 2006 saw the mighty Markus Schulz sign the Joost Van der Vleuten track ‘New Horizon’ to his Cold Harbour Recordings label. In 2007, feeling a desire to diversify his sound further, Joost began producing as Namatjira and his ‘1000 Of Years Ago’ track on Armada Music’s Cyber Records, featured on several compilations and picked up support from many of the world’s biggest DJs. Deciding that the Namatjira direction should be deeper than his other projects, Joost took increasing inspiration from artists such as Hernan Cattaneo, Sasha and John Digweed, as he proceeded to put his new style of deep progressive house firmly on the musical map. Since then, he has released a plethora of huge tracks on numerous labels worldwide, so we thought it was high time that DMC had a chat with the man behind the moniker and also find out more about his latest project…
Joost, a big welcome to DMCWORLD and congratulations on the release of your new collaborative single – ‘Mokuyobi’ – on Tripswitch’s new OneDotSixTwo label. So, the first thing we’ve got to ask is how did this project with fellow Dutch producers C-Jay and Yoram happen?
Chris (C-Jay) & Joram (Yoram) and me go way back. Chris and I met at Extrema Festival in 2008 dancing at the Lake Side area. Joram and I got in contact via a mutual musical friend. Chris contacted me when he and Joram had started this track and asked me if I was interested in contributing to give the track what it needed to be finished.
Do you like collaborating with other artists? Is there a certain magic? In what ways is it creatively more interesting than working alone?
In the past I only collaborated with singer/songwriters, but since 2016 I did a few collaborations with STVN (Steven van den Brink). The best thing about collaborations is finishing a track when your own creative ideas are blocked, but the other person is having fresh ideas.
Tripswitch himself has remixed ‘Mokuyobi’ – and we think it is an excellent take on your original version. How do you feel when you first hear other artists’ interpretations of your work?
Every time I get to hear a remix of one of my own tracks it surprises me what you can do with the ideas I had when I was working on the original.
If you could remix any track by any artist (ever) what would be at the top of your wish list?
Pff, that’s a damn good question… Last year, I did a remix of one of Guy J’s classics for a special cause. To be able to do such a thing, from the bottom of my heart was the best thing I’ve done so far.
For anyone not familiar with your music, how would you describe your style? Can you put your finger on the elements of your music that makes it so distinctive?
I think you can describe it as warm, melodic, emotional, deep, progressive, tech, house music.
You’ve worked under numerous aliases in your career – what do you think the advantages and disadvantages are to this approach?
I stopped working with so many aka’s, since I had many problems finishing music. I started a track at 138, went to 128 then to 131 and all the different aka’s passed by, but I couldn’t finish a track. Now with one project – Namatjira – it’s easier to focus.
In 2007 you began producing as Namatjira – how did your career progress from this point?
I started this as a side project. The tracks that were too deep for my other projects I signed as Namatjira. In 2012, I decided to fully focus on the Namatjira project and that was my best musical decision. From there things went fast! Some of my personal highlights, so far, have been releasing my debut album in 2015 and remixing Armin van Buuren in 2016.
Do you have a creative link to Albert Namatjira, one of Australia’s great artists?
In 2006, my wife and I went down under and visited an Aboriginal village in Hermannsburg (near Alice Springs). Albert Namatjira grew up in this village. I saw his paintings and saw a connection with my music. That’s why I decided to use the name Namatjira for my project.
Do you find defining music by genres useful or limiting?
Limiting, you can’t put music in a box. Don’t be surprised to hear different things in my music you aren’t expecting – that’s the beautiful thing in music, expect the unexpected.
How did you get sucked into the electronic music scene? In what ways do you think your particular journey has influenced the electronic music you make now?
A cousin introduced me into music by artists like Snap, MC Hammer, C&C Music Factory. Not the typical dance music but from that moment, I was listening to electronic music 24/7. My music spectrum in that time started widening, that’s why I can still listen to various “genres” and appreciate them as well.
Who can you say has been most influential to your development as an artist?
When I started in 2004, I looked up at artists like Armin, Above & Beyond, Paul Van Dyk and others – I wanted to make trance music like them, but I listened more to the music of Sasha, Digweed, Sander Kleinenberg, Hernan Catteno etc. I think that’s why I decided in 2012 to full focus on the Namatjira project, because that’s where my passion always was.
Which of your tracks do you consider to be your most accomplished creation to date? Why?
I’m not sure what to answer here… I’m proud of the remix I did to honour Jerry van Schie, but I’m also proud of my ‘Drizzly Summer’ EP causing a lot of damage on the floor. I’m also proud on my EP on the imprint of one of my hero’s – Gabriel Ananda. So, they are all different stories.
Tell us something about the psychological effects of music that totally blows your mind?
Music is emotion. When you see people go completely nuts on your track, that always blows me away.
Let’s rewind for a moment, what are your earliest musical memories?
My mother was always singing, that’s why I still know a lot of old Dutch songs. My father sang too, but only his favourite, ‘Buona Sera’.
Having witnessed the evolution of the underground scene in Holland over the years, how do you view where things are at now? Is it healthy? What could improve things?
I think a lot of guys do what they are good at – entertaining the masses. That’s not my intention in music, but it’s great the see what they accomplish.
What piece of studio equipment couldn’t you live without?
My iMac. I just moved places and I’m happy I was able to fire it up to do this interview and didn’t have to do in on my phone…
Since we’re nearing the end of yet another great year of music, how about you tell us your Top 5 tracks of 2017 (by other artists)?
In alphabetical order:
Chicola – Could Heaven Be (LP) – this Israeli guy is so talented, just listen to his album and you know why I’m charting it.
Eelke Kleijn – Days Like Nights (Label) – every release on his own imprint is pure bliss.
H.O.S.H. – Fryhide (Label) – check out music from artists like Simao and you’ll get the picture.
Tim Engelhardt – Moment Of Truth (Remixes) – amazing EP.
WoodS – Desert Storms (Original Mix) – keep an eye on this Dutch producer, I’m expecting a lot of him in the future!
Best piece of advice you have ever been given?
How to build a house music arrangement.
What are your plans for 2018?
Continuing the musical path I started and focus more on originals.
C-Jay, Yoram & Namatjira
- Mokuyobi (Original Mix)
- Mokuyobi (Tripswitch Remix)
All Stores: 11 Dec 2017
Beatport Exclusive: 27 Nov 2017