Terminal V Podcast 025 || Milo Spykers
Some artists wait a lifetime before breaking through to the big time. Not Milo Spykers. In just a few short years the Belgian artist has released a clutch of solo EP’s on Amelie Lens’ label Lenske as well as AIROD’s Elixyr imprint. Don’t hold this against him though as he is only getting started.
Like his countrymen and women Milo knows all too well the contribution that Belgium has made to the world of techno and he is poised to continue this at a blistering pace. His breakneck productions and rapid fire DJ sets are propelling Milo straight to the top of the techno pile. For an example of the muscular style that Milo has cultivated read on…
Great to meet you Milo, tell us about how you found the world of techno? What parties and DJ’s sparked your love for the genre?
Likewise, Terminal Team! When I was a teenager in Belgium there were a few clubs that really fascinated me. Fuse in Brussels and Petrol in Antwerp were two institutions that really captured my imagination so I would keep going to these two religiously. The programmers at these clubs basically helped shape my taste in music. In the beginning in Antwerp they booked a lot of drum & bass and electro DJs which I loved. But they would also book the techno giants out of Berlin. Once I heard the sounds of these rhythmically thundering bass drums pour out of the sound system I instantly fell in love. Soon after I would make my first trip to Berlin to experience its nightlife myself. Once I got a taste of that energy there, there was no going back.
Being from a country with such a strong techno city heritage do you feel a sense of pressure to succeed? How do you harness this?
Not at all! I do feel proud about our history but at the same time it’s kind of a tragic story. In the 80s and early 90s Belgium was one of the nightlife centres of Europe and people would travel from different countries to be part of it. Sadly, the government decided these clubs were a ‘hindrance’ and they didn’t see the cultural value they brought so many had to shut down over time. Perhaps the younger generation doesn’t know this history of ours so I do feel the need to promote it in a way and to be a part of our club culture heritage.
We hear that your first love was hip hop, how did you make the jump from hip hop to techno? Was there one particular experience that turned your head?
It was quite an easy jump to be honest. With hip hop I was always really interested in the technicalities of how the music was made. Once I found out it was mainly based on drum computers, samplers and synthesisers I started playing with them myself. Techno is based on these same instruments, they were only used to create different music. So, once I discovered techno I could already recognize the same sounds that were used in hip hop.
You have had a huge start to your discography with big releases on Lenske and Elixyr, where did you learn your skills?
I learned everything that I know about music on the internet. Nowadays you don’t need to go to music school anymore. Of course, many people still do and benefit from it but what I mean is that all the information that schools provide is out there on the internet for free. The only thing you need to do is to find some structure in the abundance of information that’s available. That’s probably the biggest challenge but a rewarding one nonetheless.
Are you in the box or are you a gear head? Do you have a piece of kit or plug in that is centric to your sound?
I love both! My first EP was fully in the box but since then I’ve always used hardware and software together. My favourite synth is the Dave Smith Pro2 and you can hear it on almost every track I’ve done in past few years. It’s great for heavy basslines and powerful leads. What I also like to do is to go to a friend’s studio with a USB drive and just noodle around for a few hours with their gear and record everything I do onto the USB. When I get back home, I cut up the audio in different sections. Out of one long recording like that I can probably make a few tracks.
In the software realm, I’m a huge fan of Ableton. I think in the past when the software wasn’t as developed yet you could really hear a difference in sound quality. But today the software quality is super high. In Ableton I rely mainly on the built-in instruments and effects so I don’t get distracted by the endless cycle of trying out every new plugin. Operator is my favourite software synth! It’s versatile and easy to use so it’s a real power house in my opinion. One word of advice I’d like to give to new producers is that you don’t need hardware and lots of plugins to make good music. Start to learn your DAW first before moving onto more gear. When I started making music I thought I needed all the new plugins to be a good producer but in reality, it was really slowing down my learning process because I had too many things in front of me. Once I started to focus on learning one instrument at a time, I began to make real progress.
What do you have coming up from your studio?
I have a new EP coming out soon on Lenske, my home base. Also, there’s a record in the make for Marcel Fengler’s label IMF which will come out this year as well. Other new projects will be announced very soon.
How do you prepare for your gigs to make sure you stay fresh and don’t sound like the rest of the scene?
For me preparation needs to take time. Half of the work that goes into playing a set is done at home by researching music for days. I’m in a continuous mode of looking for new music. One way to stay fresh is to play unreleased music from my producer friends and myself. I also fell in love with Bandcamp. It’s the perfect platform to find young artists that don’t have a big following yet but already make really interesting music. It’s always fun to play a big classic but I also get a big rush out of playing something I know nobody in that room has every heard before.
You have just mixed our latest podcast, tell us more about the mix and the tracks that you have included?
For my Terminal V mix I really wanted to bring the high-energy vibe. We all have been sitting inside for the past year so I was envisioning that I was surrounded by a likeminded crowd in a bliss like state swept away by a rumbling sound system. That’s the energy that I want to translate with my mix. In my sets, I always play old and new music together because I want to represent the full spectrum of techno not only what is happening right now. To spice things up more there’s unreleased music by myself as well.
What do you have in store for your set for us at our Halloween Festival?
Expect high quality dance music and let’s have a great time together! : )
Interview by Stu Todd