Interview: Dexter

As the definition of his artist name suggests, Dexter‘s (real name Remy Verheijen) back catalogue is highly auspicious. Starting out in the nineties the producer and DJ has been putting out a wide range of records under different monikers like Skindeep, Butterfly Kiss and Berserk but got most recognition under his current artist name after serving up impeccable Electro records like “I Don’t Care” and “Intruder“. Both records were released through his own label Klakson Records, that he set up with fellow Dutch musicians Steven De Peven and Steffi over a decade ago. The label paved a way for him and consorts to get more playful records out there, as opposed to the influx of the straight-laced dancefloor music from around that time. This progressive frame of mind hasn’t changed ever since when it comes to his own productions – linking the junctions of House, Electro and Techno, Dexter’s releases are dynamic and not in the slightest apprehensive to delve into new sounds.

Having done almost a quinquagenarian of remixes over the last ten years, he took it slowly on the originals meanwhile although the last two years saw no less than four releases on two labels of Clone, Rush Hour Recordings and Klakson’s sub-label Dolly. His contribution to the Clone Basement Series (as to be streamed below) is undoubtedly one of our favourite releases that came out this year: it contains three floor-driven Techno tracks that lean more towards the low-end as opposed to his earlier work. The release, which is named “Great Northern Diver“, contains a mixture of slower dubstep tempos, a pinch of acid, restrained percussion, a bit of garage and a flush of his trademark Electro/Funk sounds and undoubtedly the best use of an Amerie sample in the current sea of R&B samples out there yet. There is a lot new work from Dexter about to emerge soon, such as an album which he talks about in our interview, as well as remixes for Balans and Turbo Recordings. Listen to his recent Resident Advisor podcast here while you read our interview with the man below. And for our readers who will be in Amsterdam this weekend, scroll down to get a chance to win two tickets to his performance at Colors Amsterdam this weekend.

Clone Basement Series 09: Dexter – Great Northern Diver EP Preview

Hey Remy, how are you doing and what have you been up to? “I’m fine, thanks! I’ve been very busy lately.  At the moment I’m working on a remix for the Clone Records imprint and a remix that will come out on Tiga’s label, Turbo Recordings.”

You recently contributed an incredible 12’’ to the Clone Basement Series. It took a slightly different course compared to a lot of your older work. Were there any conscious motives for this new sequence? “It’s the way I work, basically. I constantly try out new things but I will never step too far away from my so-called roots, these being Hip-Hop, House/Techno, Electro and Funk. On top of that I’ve been listening to a lot of so-called “bass music” over the last couple of months, so you could say I am influenced by that genre quite a bit, too.”

In the past you’ve mentioned that you enjoy being left completely free in the remix process and not being confined to a certain direction. How do you go about converging something on your own with the original as a base? “Nowadays, I try to focus much more on the original material as opposed to what I did with my earlier remixes, especially when it comes to the instrumentals of songs. However, with tracks that have vocals in it I’m still able to change it around completely without using anything other than the vocals from the original. It happens more naturally than it is a pre-emptive decision to aim for a certain sound.” Could you tell us a little bit about what your creative process looks like in general? “It’s all a bit unpredictable, really. I can start out with the idea for an House track and at the end come up with a track that has more of an Electro vibe. When it comes to the mood I deliver my best work in.. I think that’s during the general stress I have to cope with that comes and goes with the deadlines I get for delivering remixes and of course my own productions – I mainly deliver my best work after playing live sets, or hearing other people do their live-sets, and good DJ sets too.”

You prefer playing live sets with your own music as opposed to DJing ‘conventionally’ as there’s a bigger kick in playing your own music out. Who are some ‘conventional’ DJs in your eyes that do the art of DJ’ing justice? “I enjoy a lot of DJs out there, actually. The last time I played at Fabric in London, which was a few weeks ago, I really enjoyed hearing Serge and Blawan. I’ve been playing around with the idea of combining my live sets with DJ’ing too. I enjoyed doing my recent podcast for Resident Advisor so much that I’m actually thinking of playing out records again but with more of a live element to the whole thing.”

As far as live sets are concerned, what are the elements that would define a good show to you? “The main element of a good performance depends on the people in the crowd, really. If the dancefloor doesn’t react to whatever thing you’re doing during your set, well, of course that kind of sucks but it’s always really unpredictable. When the DJ who plays before you comes up with a straight-up four to the floor kind of set, then that would make me want to try a set slightly in the same vibe but I feel that the people dancing react better to the more distinct Dexter Electro sound. My most memorable set must’ve been when I played Los Angeles with Egyptian Lover freestyling over my set, but I also played some amazing sets at the Panoramabar. How do you approach doing your live-sets, is there any preparation involved at all? “Not really, I don’t prepare my sets beforehand. I always add a lot of material to my set on the spot and just see what happens next. Often I don’t even remember what occurred in all that chaos..”

Dexter – 1992 (Vocal Version)

You have a release coming up on Steffi’s Dolly label as well as a collaboration with Steffi for Klakson, the imprint you both curate. Could you tell us a little bit about these upcoming releases? “It felt like the right thing to put the record out on our own imprint, as opposed to continuing putting our releases out on Dolly, because this is our first proper release together. I’m not sure what else I have in the pipeline for Klakson yet, there are no solid plans as of now. I left the label for what it was a few years ago to give myself the space to focus on making music.”

Can you let us in a little bit on your album plans? “I’m still trying to come up with different ideas. I’m not sure whether this is going to be a concept album or not, at the moment I’m thinking it will turn out to be a mixture of different styles, more or less.” Is recording a full-length a lot different than working on an EP for you? “I’m not really sure if it differs all that much, really. My approach to producing an EP is that I choose a certain sound or direction I want to work towards beforehand, but I don’t want to come up with an album based around a certain sound. I’m not sure where I want to go with the album yet.”

On the subject of full-lengths, what’s the last record you bought that you’ve enjoyed a lot? “That would be the album Empire Of The Sun released a few years ago, it’s called “Walking On A Dream” – I enjoy every single track on it. I’m not sure why, but then again I don’t try to analyze music too much. I’ve studied audio technology at an audio engineering college in the past, where we had to do that a couple of times. After analyzing certain records, I listened to them in a completely different way, especially with music that I didn’t like because you don’t actually bother to listen to it properly in the first place. I don’t know, maybe I have to actually analyze this album a bit more, haha.”

Complete this sentence: At heart I’m just a frustrated… “Bold fuck.”

When was the last time you danced? “Last weekend, with my girlfriend.” ♦


Win tickets to see Dexter in Amsterdam: In order to win 2×2 tickets to see Dexter play at Colors at Trouw this weekend (Friday December 2nd) alongside Mosca, Jam City and Cinnaman, like us on Facebook here and Colors here, then fill out the form below. The two lucky winners will be notified by mail on Friday morning. For any further details regarding the party, see the event page here. COMPETITION CLOSED.

Written by: Immy Soraya & Sindhuja Shyam.