Tripeo / Darko Esser

MEAT FREE INTERVIEWS: TRIPEO

(flip your phones sideways for optimum viewing!) – Totally top interview from our man Tripeo! Label boss of Wolfskuil and BALANS, endurance techno DJ and an absolute gem – speaking of which, hear him talk below on 5 hidden gems in his record bag, and give some great advice for aspiring DJs and producers out there. Thank you so much for chatting to us Tripeo!!

Tripeo will be playing for our Meat Free MORD Records Showcase, alongside Bas Mooy, Stanislav Tolkachev, SHXCXCHCXSH (live), Sleeparchive (live), UVB, Zadig and the Meat Free DJs. That’ll be at Mantra Warehouse on 1st October. Lovely stuff.

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Just when we thought it couldn’t get better with Darko Esser, in 2012 you start to release under a new moniker, Tripeo! Do you enjoy the freedom of having several aliases? Are there any hindrances you find with it?

Well first of all thank you for the kind words. It’s really great to see and read how you, the Meat Free crew, really dives into the discographies and backgrounds of the artists you book. That level of commitment makes me more excited about October 1st, I can tell you that.

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When I started releasing the first Tripeo records, I never thought it would end up in me travelling and performing all over the world under that name. One of those great gifts life can give you. There wasn’t a plan for it, as it was basically just me having fun in the studio with a new made up persona. I went along for the ride and I’m quite happy I did. I find working under an alter ego mostly quite liberating. It changed my workflow and it gave me something to hide behind so to speak. It’s just a part of you that you show the world, whereas when you play under your real name it feels different, more exposed. To me at least.

There’s only 1 hindrance I can think of and that’s that this alter ego is more boxed in (only techno) and my taste is a lot broader than that. Sometimes I have to restrain myself not to put a house record on for example and there have been occasions where all that goes out the window and I basically play a Darko Esser set haha. But that’s a first world problem.

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We had XDB play for us recently, and had a good laugh about his other passion in life – tennis, and working as a tennis coach. If you could start again, would you still choose music?

I would without a single doubt choose for a career in music again.

Thinking about doing something else literally makes me depressed. It’s my big passion and has become a way of life pretty early on in my development. It’s the only thing I’m remotely good at as well haha.

You’re the head of the very successful Wolfskull and BALANS labels – what has running them taught you, have you felt that it has helped you develop as an artist? Has it ever surprised you?

All the different aspects of my professional life, whether it’s my day job (booking and management for Doornroosje in Nijmegen), DJing, producing or the labels: they all influence one another. The imprints taught me the joy of making other people happy in a different way then promoting a party does. It’s more intimate to me to building a relationship with a fellow artist and seeing a demo grow into a twelve inch that’s distributed all over the globe. It’s more tangeable as it’s a physical product and intersects on different disciplines.

The artwork for example is a very important part of the process. It’s also more abstract in the sense that you don’t exactly know who is buying and playing the records, other then the feedback you get back from colleagues and personal messages through social media. It is easier nowadays though to get an idea of what people think of the releases, compared to when I started. Thanks to the inter web!

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Is there a favourite track (or tracks) that you have in your record bag that are maybe hidden gems, that you felt didn’t get enough recognition at the time?

There are too many!! There’s, at any given time, gems that get overlooked. I could go on and rant for hours and give you dozens of (personal) favourites, but I’ll stick to a few for know:

Punto – 3Tempo3 – Orange Grooves

A very early Dozzy production, that I still play on special occasions. It needs to be times just right, otherwise it won’t work. I like these kind of tracks, where you need to build up for hours just at a chance to play them.

Astrophunk – Better Times (Part 4)

An early 90’s Dutch record I discovered only a few years ago thanks to a friend. Lowlands Detroit techno at it’s best. (we couldn’t locate pt 4 – so here’s pt 2 below!)

Fred Giannelli – Distant Gratification – Dust Science

Underrated producer all through his career, my favourite track of his.

I-f – The Search – Disko B

Best electro track ever made. Period. Literally in tears when I heard this for the first time.

King Britt presents Firefly – The Light – Sound Limited

Nothing but respect for this man. Britt made so many essential tunes, that deserved more attention from where I’m sitting. I could have named a dozen other tunes.

What’s your favourite book? And, what’s your favourite film?

My favourite book is The Neverending Story from Michael Ende. It’s a child’s book you can read as an adult as well. There’s hidden criticism on society between the lines. I even got the Auryn tattooed on my left arm. Favourite movie is a bit trickier.. There are so many great flicks. The first one that comes to mind is ‘Leon’, that one really struck a nerve.

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Auryn

Your 7-hr mix at Under Club is Lucy (of Meat Free’s) weekly on repeat mix, and has been basically since last year. It’s a devastatingly well-crafted journey from start to finish. For any DJs listening, is there any advice you can give on how you developed that level of skill on the decks?

Thank you, that’s so nice to hear. That night was absolute magic and Under is one of my favourite places in the world to play. The owner, staff and crowd have an incredible understanding and dedication to electronic music and are the main reason why the set turned out like that. It felt over in the blink of an eye.

It took me many years before I was able to play an allnight set in a logical way. Trial and error.

One piece of advice I can give is: don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We all make them, there’s nothing shameful about it. I wanted to die behind the decks many times because I cleared dancefloors with trainwrecks, wrong track at the wrong time etc.

Another one is: don’t give up. It takes a lot of stamina and endurance to develop real DJ skills. Beatmatching is only a small part of it. Sensing a crowd, building up a solid collection: those things take up much more time and patience. I live under the presumptions that it might take a decade or more to become really comfortable with what you’re doing and to develop your own style. And even then: it’s never finished, there’s always more to learn.

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Time to talk production. We’re really keen to know what caused the initial spark to start producing music, are you self taught?

Ever since I started to learn to play instruments (piano and guitar in my youth), I made my own ‘songs’ and sketches. I’ve got dozens of tapes in my basement of me fiddling on my guitar, recording sketches of what were supposed to become songs. I’ve played in punk bands when I started university and we only played original material. When electronic music took over, it was a logical step for me to start making my own tunes in this genre as well. It took me a few years to get the right equipment to get the ball rolling. It was a lot more expensive in those days to get started as computers weren’t as powerful as they are now and you had to rely on hardware. I’m mainly self taught as there weren’t many producers where I lived at the time (Groningen). That also explains why it took so long before I released my first records haha.

I had absolutely no clue of what I was doing, MIDI was like Chinese to me and I wanted to call it quits on a weekly basis at some point. I’m glad I hung in there, because once I started to understand how machines communicated, the breakthroughs piled up and the real fun finally began.

If we go through the keyhole to your studio, what would you want to show us?

  • DAW – Ableton
  • Polyphonic synth – Analog 4, Nordlead 2, Virus TI, MiniKorg
  • Monophonic synth – 303 (I’ve got several clones, I’m not nostalgic enough to pay 2500 EUR for a second hand machine lol) and I just got a small modular setup I don’t fully understand yet.
  • Drum Machine – TR-8, brilliant machine. I use that in a lot of productions. Analog Rytm is also a staple in my workflow.
  • Studio monitors – Roland DS90-A. The first set of studio monitors I ever got. Never replaced them because I know them through and through.
  • Outboard effects unit (delay / reverb…) – I’ve got quite a few guitar pedals. The ones I use most are 2 Eventide stompboxes: Black Hole and Time Factor.

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Is there anything you want to tell us that you’ve never said in an interview before?

I’ve never told in an interview that I turned 13 on a friday the 13th and I lived through it! But then again, I don’t think that will interest a lot of people 😉

We’re sad we can’t offer you a 7-hr set when you come to play for us – but we’re super excited to have you play for is in Manchester nonetheless! What can we expect from you on the night?

There’s always next time 😉 But let’s first see if I’m worthy of playing an allnighter for you. I play pretty early in the night, so my plan is not to bang it out. That can be quite the mood killer. At the same time I will try to build up the energy levels so that the artists after have their bed made. I’m quite OCD with my preparations.

I carry 256 GB USB sticks filled with tunes with me, with dozens of playlists so that I’m as much prepared for any moment as I can be.

Besides that I like to do some research of the artists that play before or after me. Especially if I’m not familiar with the way they play. Currently I’m enjoying a few sets from the Meatfree DJ’s SoundCloud page actually. I love that you don’t limit yourself to just one genre. It will be interesting to take over from that!

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Featured image photo credit: http://okkana.com/2014/05/kana-broadcast-7th-birthday-special-047-tripeo-darko-esser

Image credit: http://valhallafestival.nl/2015/artists/tripeo-live

Image credit: https://www.amazon.com/Neverending-Story-Michael-Ende/dp/0140386335

Image credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/321866704591809386/

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