apaull is a dutch-canadian electronic music producer, focusing mostly on techno and house genres, with an occasional sprinkling of ambient music. What makes apaull unique is that he started producing and releasing music in his mid-fifties, after a successful career as an environmental scientist, business owner and academic. While an avid consumer of today’s electronic music, his own musical ‘muscle memory’ and inspirations pulls him back to the 1980s and the start of electronic music making.
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In 2022 apaull released his first three EPs: 4Sol, mushMouth and Sans Phobia, on the furnace room records label. Stylistically, they show the range of apaull’s music production interests. All nine of these tracks were premiered on various internet radio shows, including Mutant Disco Radio and Abaddon. apaull’s music has also been included on other internet radio shows including Brain Voyageur and Science Cult Radio.
apaull’s musical philosophy, quite simply, is to produce high quality music that DJs and music listeners want to play. With time, consistency and some good fortune success will emerge.
Riding the highs of his revamped musical career and with lots going on, apaull has a chat with SIX AM to fill us in on his story.
Welcome to SIX AM apaull, it’s a pleasure to speak with you! How is everything?
Likewise, and thanks for having me. Everything is pretty good. I’ve just released “Depths”, my 5th EP since June 2022, so things are moving forward at a good pace. Progress takes time, of course, but it is measurable.
It must be noted that you didn’t start making music until you were 55 years old, after a successful career as an environmental scientist and owning an environmental consulting company. What was your inspiration to kick start your musical career, especially at a stage of your life that most people wouldn’t consider trying anything new? And while waste management and music production may seem completely different on paper, how do you think your 3 decades in that field prepared you for your career as a musician?
Music has always been deep in my veins. My father was a professional musician. My whole family was into music, in one way or another. I played piano and then drums in my youth. Even at a young age I wanted to create music. I had to set music aside to support myself while in university and then building a career as an environmental scientist. I got back into music in 2019, after selling my consulting business. I have long been fascinated by electronic dance music and its creation has now become my primary endeavor.
I used to think that it might be too late to try new things but starting my PhD at 50, performing at a high level and finishing it 3.5 years later (while running a company) gave me an incredible shot of confidence that I can do anything.
Waste management and music may seem worlds apart, but the psychology of what people find valuable or not works its way into some of my tracks. Mostly though I dove into music production to get away from all of that or at least have a significant, interesting and meaningful counterpoint. I get bored thinking of the same things all the time. Music allows me to fully tap into my creativity, express ideas, be subversive and push boundaries. The one thing that I consistently use from my professional career are my business skills. Music is business.
You make music that’s almost exclusively “out of the box”. What are the types of things that influence your sound?
As a child of the 1980s my early musical influences run from the Orb to Skinny Puppy to Depeche Mode to Ministry to Front Line Assembly and to the Pet Shop Boys. The sounds that really drew me in were the kick drum, the brave new world of 80s synths, out of context vocal samples and their mashup from melodic and poppy to hard driving and industrial. I meld these older ideas with more modern sound sensibilities.
I don’t set out to write any particular kind of song, but you can definitely hear those influences in my tracks. I try to write techno tracks but sometimes they veer into house and even ambient territory. I don’t think my tracks sound like anything else out there and that can be good and challenging. It is good because it means I am creating my own sound. It is challenging because I am relatively new. This means serious hard work introducing my music to DJs and building an audience.
Ultimately though, I don’t need to sound like anybody, just the best version of myself.
You’ve got 5 EP’s out so far, with your debut EP releasing only in June 2022. It’s very impressive to be able to put out so much music in such a short amount of time, what’s your creative process like when producing? When can we expect your next piece of work to be released?
Thank you. My creative process is joyful. I start with a blank slate, sometimes with no idea of what I am going to write but generally with a few ideas. Those ideas run the gamut from a cool sounding kick drum or bassline to some synth sounds I have designed to interesting vocal or samples I have collected. I start playing around with a couple of parts and build, delete, build etc. from there.
I strive to produce music that can serve two functions. First off, I want listeners to be able to dance and/or chill to my music. Secondly, and only if they feel like it, listeners can listen more closely to my music for the social and other commentary I embed in my tracks. I definitely have something to say.
I am putting the finishing touches on my first album “Fought and Won” that is set for release in September.
Not only have you started making music, but you’ve also started your very own label. As a label owner, what do you aim to accomplish with it?
The furnace room records label gives me complete autonomy to present whatever music I see fit. At this point it is primarily a vehicle for apaull releases. It adds an important layer of structure and professionalism that I think is important for success. The longer-term goal is to find other like artists and add them to the label. That is in its formative stage.
You’ve admitted that your musical journey is on a different timeline than someone making music in their 20’s, what does this unique timeline look like for you? What are some of your goals as an artist, and where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
My goals are simple: 1. Produce high quality music and a unique sound; 2. Receive critical acclaim for that music; and 3. Use the results of the first two goals to build an audience of DJs that play my music in clubs and music listeners that stream my music wherever they may be. While streams, social media followers etc. are important, my philosophy is that if I create a high-quality product and diligently promote it the rest will follow.
Given my age, to have any opportunity for success my development as an artist has to be swift and focussed. To that end I am putting in the time to hone my craft and develop my sound. To help expedite this I have worked extensively with New York’s 343 Labs to help develop important technical skills. Further, I have developed a team to help me professionalize my musical outputs. This includes New York City techno producer Abe Duque, the executive producer on all tracks; Hamburg’s Superstition Entertainment Network, responsible for distribution; and Berlin’s Pull Proxy who promotes my music. Finally, I work extensively with remixers that re-interpret my music and introduce it to their audiences. To date this has included John Selway, on my current Depths EP, Abe Duque, Maedon and Developer. On that front there is a lot more to come.
Ten years from now I will be a successful producing and performing artist as deemed by my peers and the audiences that listen to my music. I will have a following that awaits my new releases and looks forward to listening to my tracks on the dance floor or in the comfort of their lives.
Thank you for your time apaull! Is there anything else you would like to share?
Yes, I just wanted to take a movement to highlight the “Depths” EP, my fifth and latest release out on 19 May 2023.
Art, in its many forms, have long plumbed the depths of despair to create artistic outcomes. Nothing new here, just people trying to make sense of their circumstances. Public Enemy’s Chuck D put it well so many years ago when he rapped “How low can you go? Death row?”. The Depths EP takes lowness underwater or underground to a place where it is impossible to breath for long, with dirgy vocals intoning “Bottom level, bottom feeder, sublimation, on vacation”.
“Depths” (original mix) takes us on a gloomy trip. Using a punchy 1980s inspired bass line to drive it the original mix then turns into a duet. Maybe not standard fare for a techno track but do techno lovers not want to work out their sadness sometimes? Maybe it’s the techno version of a country & western song, Sonny and Cher style. While it all seems so dire and perhaps a little overwrought there is the usual apaull aesthetic of some hope when it seems so hard to find. This track includes London, Ontario’s Kara Heddle on vocals.
I was super fortunate to have veritable veteran techno, electro and house producer and acclaimed DJ John Selway take an extensive turn at remixing Depths, creating four decisive club ready stabs, two techno and two electro, that await a wide span of DJ stages.
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