(Michiel van der Kuy & Rob van Eijk)
Interview with Michiel Van Der Kuy
Hello Michiel and welcome to Space Sound Records
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
I'm married and have a daughter that is 10 years old. For four years my family and I came back to Holland after a stay of 3 and a half years living in Spain (Barcelona-area). 8 years ago we decided to go there and to live there but we couldn't keep on. We missed our friends and family and decided to go back to Holland.
Now I live in a little town called Voorburg near The Hague. I work as a free-lancer in the video-production industry, as an editor, camera man and in sound-recording.
2. How did you get involved in music and do you have a music background?
I got involved in music because of my parents. As a young boy I started with piano-lessons, and later I received classical-education for piano. My favorite composer was and still is Frédéric Chopin. He is my hero. In those days I studied 6 hours a day behind the piano, I became a piano teacher. However after a while I started to get interested in modern music, and when my parents gave me my first synthesizer (Korg Polysix) I started to produce popular music. I have included some pictures from my first (home) studio somewhere around 1983. In this studio I produced the demo of my first record : “Laserdance - Goody’s return”. The title “Goody’s Return” was about the ending of the Goodymusic Records Label. I was big fan of it.
In the early 80’s I drove to Italy to look for rare Goodymusic Records. I've got them all !!! Here is some extra.
3. Tell us about your musical career. How did it all start and describe the projects that you have been working in and how they were set up.
It all started in 1984. After making some remixes of different records in where I played additional keyboards, I was discovered by Erik van Vliet. A cassette with one of those remixes reached him and after listening he invited me to go to a studio to produce a Laserdance track called “Goody’s Return". The record was recorded in the “STUDIO AB VAN OLM” in a city called SOEST here in Holland. I have included a proud picture from summer 1984 with the brand new release Goody's Return.
4. Besides spacesynth what other hobbies do you have?
My hobbies are still music of course, collecting old records (I'm collecting old disco records, 1977-1981 for 30 years now) and high technology.
5. Where did you get your influences from.
Patrick Cowley, Koto, Cyber People. Goody’s Return was inspired by “Breakout Crew, The - Breakout Theme”
6. What other music interests you?
In fact all kinds of genres: jazz, classical, lounge, etc, but I don't like reggae.
7. Why have there been so many projects during the years even though the music sounds the same: Laserdance, Perestroika Power, Kosmoz, Power Machine, Rygar, etc?
This is because different record-labels asked for that sound. As you know in those days that sound was pretty successful. Especially after "Future Generation" album, which was a great release.
8. On the cover of the first Laserdance album it is written that the tracks were composed by you. Is that correct or were there more people involved?
No, I was the only composer beside "Humanoid Invasion". I did that song together with Ruud van Es. The maxi-single was produced in his studio, the album version in my studio.
9 .There is a discography about you on the web that says that Ruud van Es was involved too, and I assume that Rob made some contributions too. On the album "Around The Planet" it is written that Erik composed some of the songs but many people have the opposite opinion. This is very confusing. Can you clarify all this for us ?
I did "Humanoid Invasion" together with Ruud van Es. We recorded the song in his studio (HNS in Dordrecht) later Erik van Vliet got involved more and more, just like Rob.
10. Your studio from the 80's was used by more artists than yourself. Did Erik van Vliet use that studio to master music for some of his Hotsound artists ?
Beside "Goody’s Return", "Energy Tonight", "Crazy for your love", and the tracks I did for Erik together with Ruud van Es, all the tracks I produced for Erik were produced in my own studio. Erik van Vliet was not using my studio for other releases than mine. He sometimes came to me to listen to what I was doing and to discuss some musical directions. Later Rob started to produce records for Erik in my studio. Rob also produced Proxyon for Ramshorn Records.
11. Can you name some artists that worked in your studio during that time ?
Artists that I recorded in that studio in the 80's are the same artist on the records I released like Claudia T., Gina, etc.
12. When you made the album "Future Generation" you already had that big studio which must have cost a fortune. How did you get the money to build up the Laserdance studio ?
All the money I made so far, plus some money my parents gave me, plus the advance from Erik of the album, “Future Generation”, together made it possible to build the studio. I played all the leads with the JX-10 from Roland . All bass lines with the Juno-60 and MSQ-100 as a sequencer, Drums , recording , Mixingconsole (D&R 4000 , The Vocoder .
The picture in the double-sleeve was not the real studio…..
13. Do you have any unreleased material from the 80's that you can share with us ? Photos, songs, synth samples ?
I still have some old recordings yes, also old samples and pictures. Years ago I produced a "Made Up" Sample-CD with all the typical synths, drum-sounds I have used in my productions, including sequencers, played parts, effects etc.
It was never released...
14. Can you provide us with the vocoder lyrics for some of the Laserdance songs ? Like for example the track" Digital Dream", "Goody's Return" , "Time".
Most of the vocoder-parts are just nonsense, no real language. Concerning "Digital Dream", there are some lyrics in there. That song was originally written for a singer, the title was "Scratch my back". You can still hear it in the chorus.
15. A few years later Sisley Ferre, Gina and Claudia T. came into the picture and some Hotsound remixes followed after that. Tell about those co-operations.
I produced Sisley Ferre for Hotsound. The singer we used for that was “Jody Pijper”. Peter Slaghuis mixed the Hotsound Remixes. (Peter Slaghuis is still a hero in Holland). I shared a studio with him, and we worked together. He died young.
On one of the early album releases of Hotsound, a photo of Peter, myself and Erik is on the sleeve. Gina and Claudia T. were released on my own label “Made Up Records”. Later around 90'-91' I produced some techno tracks for Erik, and the 9th Laserdance album.
16. Is it possible to hear your voice on some album ? Are you singing in some of the tracks without vocoder effects ?
Sauvage -''Do you want me'' is the only track I sung without the vocoder. I produced that song for a television-show called “De Pajama-Party”. On the day I had to finish the track, the singer was ill, so I tried to use my own voice. The female-singer in the track is Claudia T.
17. Your biggest hit during your career so far must be LA Style - "James Brown Is Dead", which won gold record in America and sold millions. Tell us the story about that track as it differs quite a lot from the Laserdance style.
I produced that song when Techno-music was very popular, that's why the musical approach is completely different than the Laserdance-style. However, if you listen to the baseline of JBID you hear the Koto-sound! Making that track started as a joke, but soon after it was released it became clear that it was something special.
18. What was the meaning of that title " James Brown is dead"?
The idea behind it was that in those days a lot of producers used samples from James Brown in there own music. The title was like a protest; "please stop doing that!!" I have much respect for the late James Brown, he was a huge pioneer in the music scene. To avoid misinterpretation with the lyrics "James Brown is dead", we decided to release a rap-version after it became clear that the instrumental version became a hit. The rap is about a newsman that said that James Brown was dead. But it happened in a nightmare....
19. You used the pseudonym Denzil Slemming for that release. Why ?
My own name doesn't sound very international. In those days I wanted to make a new international start in music.
20. Have you used even more pseudonyms during your musical career ?
Sure: Mike Loucas, Edward McDowell.
21. Some years later you were involved in the Alice DeeJay project. How did he get in contact with those people and what did that result in ?
The producers of Alice DeeJay are friends of mine, I've known them for a long time. For the album they needed italo-like songs with trance bassline/drums. They knew that I was active in the 80’s with Italo music, so they called me and together with Roel Schutrups (DJ Isaac) we produced 4 songs on the album.
22. Can you tell us a bit more about Nymphomania ''I Want Your Body'', and how did it appear on the soundtrack to "True Romance" movie?
I produced this track together with John Ewbank for Come Again Music in London. It was sung by Monique Sluyter. She was pretty popular in those days on television. As far as I know the reason that track appeared on the soundtrack of true romance was just a lucky shot.
23. What made you change your style in doing the album "Run 2" ?
It was great for me to produce the "Run 2" project, because of my classical background. In some of those tracks I used original classical melodies or chords. The "Run 2" album is still one of my favorite productions.
24. Who's idea was it to make Koto"Plays Synthesizer World Hits"and Koto"Plays Science-Fiction Movie Themes" albums -Yours or ZYX ?
It was the idea of Reinhard Piel. In those days Reinhard worked at ZYX and was my direct contact. As you know many more tracks of mine were released at ZYX. Not only Hotsound, but also Made Up Records Productions.
25. The modern music studio has moved from hardware to software. What are your thoughts about that change ?
In the beginning I just couldn't get used to that. In those days I often visited my friend Huib Schippers who was early active in the forefront of that field, but still it took some time to convince me. In 2002 I decided to sell all my stuff and make the turn to a complete software studio.
26. How is your studio set up today?
I work on a PC platform, with Cubase as the sequencer program. My favorite softwaresynth is the NEXUS. That synth can do everything you want!
27. Are there some musical styles that you like to try out? Perhaps the Symphonic Orchestra Movie style? Like Hans Zimmer, Xain?
I love soundtracks, I’m collecting them. My favorite producer is Harry Gregson-Williams, Hans Zimmer protege. The best soundtracks so far for me are: "Spy Game" and “Forrest Gump”. I'm also a fan of Ennio Morricone. For me his best production is “Malena”.
28. Have you made any more live performance besides the one that you made together with Huib Schippers in Hague 1999 ? Perhaps some TV-performance with LA Style ?
No, not really. It's a shame.
29. You seem to have many friends and many contacts. Has that been important for your musical career ?
Of course contacts are always good to have, because of them I could produce Alice Deejay, Demis Rousos etc.
30. Can you try to explain how you compose a song ?
When I start to compose a brand new song I start playing on the piano. On there I compose my melodies and after that I work them out on the computer.
31. What comes first - melodies or rhythm and why?
Melody. The Melody is more important than the rhythm. To find a good melody is harder than making a drum-pattern.
32. Many of your fans thinks that the early Laserdance albums were magic. Is it possible that you will make some music in that style again including the sound of the 80's ?
The first album of Laserdance was a moment in time. I produced that album in a trance state of mind. I don‘t mean drugs, but I was so enthusiastic, I just had my new studio, new synthesizers etc. For me that is the most special album of Laserdance. That was a situation I can never go through again.
Is this a question that you get often ?
33. What has been your biggest musical challenge so far?
That was working with Demis Roussos. He is such a great performer, very professional, with such high standards, that you have to do your upper best during the musical-process. One of his hits out of the 70's: "Forever And Ever"
34. Why did you decide to release the forthcoming album under the name Rygar and not something completely new (like you did before with for example Kozmoz). In case it will not sound like the old Rygar then why not choose something completely new ?
The brand Kozmoz does not belong to me. Raymond Muylle once released a maxi-single under that title, so I couldn't use that, and to start up something completely new, under a new name is harder than using a name people already know.
35. Where did the name Rygar come from?
It is the name of a computer game out of the early 80's
36. Can we expect an album sounding like Rygar in the eighties?
Yes and no.
The style of music is from the eighties but the sounds are from 2010. In the eighties music was analogue, now its digital. In those days I played all the parts (beside drums and baseline). Now everything comes out a sequencer and is extremely tight. As you can imagine, all the synthesizers I used in the old days are out of order.
37. Would you be interested in working with other artists. If yes who would that be?
I'm a person who likes to work alone by myself. I produced a lot of songs myself, but there are some exceptions. Rob van Eijk is one of them. I did a lot of records with Rob. I also worked with Phil Radford, Ruud van Es and Huib Schippers.
38. Do you like Italo Disco?
I was a collector in the eighties. I still have all the records.
39. What is your all time favorite track that you've composed?
Claudia T. "Dance with me".
40. Are there any future plans with Laserdance/Koto projects?
41. Any thoughts on how we could improve the genre (musically and gaining more mass appeal)?
I still hope of a revival !! As you know, fashion, music etc., comes and goes. Hopefully the Italo style of music will come back, maybe a little different. The happy sound and nice melodies is something that makes me smile. We must be grateful to guys like Mark (Space Sound Records) and Marcello ( I Venti D'Azurro). They are the heroes that keep this kind of music alive!
42. What‘s your favorite TV show?
I hardly watch television, but if I have to name a few: Discovery Channel and the History Channel.
43. What is your favorite SCI-FI film?
In the early 70’s I watched STAR TREK every week (Captain Kirk, Spock). I was a big fan. I just bought the complete television series on DVD. Nowdays I hardly visit the cinema.
Now for something light hearted. Just give the answer to one you prefer or “Neither” if they aren’t applicable. (No explanations required!!)
1. Tea or Coffee? - Coffee.
2. Market or Shopping Mall? - Shopping Mall
3. Demo or Italo? - Italo
4. TV or Sport? - Sport
5. Books or Cinema? - Books
6 Resort or Camping? - Resort
7. Summer or Winter? - Summer!
8. Cat or Dog? - Cat
9. Beer, wine or Spirits? - No alcohol for me !
10. Blonde or Brunette? - Blond
11. Sweet or savoury? - Sweet
45. What should your fans do if they would like to contact you to give some feedback ?
It is impossible for me to answer everybody personally, but it would be great if the fans put their feedback on your site, so that I can read it.
46. Before we end this interview we wonder if there is something that you like to say to your fans:
It makes me happy to know that still there is a group of people in the world who love Italo (space-synth) music. Hopefully this interview opens up some "secrets" and gives an answer on some questions people have. Keep the Spirit alive.
Once again thank you fo using your time in answering these questions, it is very much appreciated! We hope this gives the Spacesynth community a little better insight into you as an artist.
Space Sound Records Team and fans .December 2010