Conrad Hoyer, known in hardcore circles as Ophidian, has changed direction to produce a breakcore under the name Meander. Carbon is released on Low Res Records at the end of the month featuring eight brand-new tracks as well as the four tracks from the 2008 Low Res release Dreaming in Reverse. Hoyer is no stranger to music composition, having earned a Bachelor of Music Composition and Production degree from the Utrecht School of Arts in 2004. Since then he has continued to expand and diversify his accomplishments, which now include studio engineering, mastering, and producing/composing for the video game industry. zap! bang! Magazine caught up with the Dutch act to find out more about his influences for Meander and Carbon.
First, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How was it growing up in Gelderland?
I didn’t actually start out in Gelderland at all. Shortly after I was born (in the Netherlands) my parents moved to Australia where I spend my younger years as a kid. Back then I didn’t listen to a whole lot of current music, but I did start out on the piano and wrote my first little songs on it. When I was about 9 we moved back to Holland which was quite a culture shock for me. Suddenly it was important to have an opinion about artists who were hot at that moment and know every new track that came out. It was then when I was first introduced to electronic music.
What was the first style or genre of music you really got into? Was their a particular song or artist who inspired you?
In ‘91/’92 dance music was getting bigger and bigger, and it started featuring on the radio. These commercial eurodance tracks were the first things I had in mind when I started writing music on keyboards and my old computer. In ‘93 I started getting into hardcore (techno) and a friend introduced me to the Ruffneck Records label, which he considered the best thing ever. I really liked it a lot and for many years after that one of my main goals was getting to grips with DJ Ruffneck’s sound and getting signed to that label.
When you completed your Bachelor of Music Composition and Production degree in 2004, were you intending on taking your music production in the direction it is going now?
Not really. I was still pretty clueless about how the industry really worked and I don’t think anybody was properly prepared for the digital revolution that was about to happen a few years later. A lot of stuff that has happened since then has forced me to rethink my position and goals. There’s no more laying back and doing a couple of (hardcore) EPs here and there anymore.
What I did pick up during my time at school there was taste for IDM and artists like Aphex Twin and Venetian Snares. Obviously, these guys have inspired my own style of production.
What I did pick up during my time at school there was taste for IDM and artists like Aphex Twin and Venetian Snares.
How have you developed your composition since 2004?
I think I’ve become a lot more all-round and am starting to understand more about things like classical composition and working with a mix and master in mind. I feel I’m getting to grips with techniques involving understatement, dissonance, contrast etc. which make music a lot richer and more emotional.
Are there any productions you’ve composed for the video game industry you are particularly proud of?
No. Until now I’ve only been part of a couple of video game productions and I feel that I’ve only scratched the surface of what I could potentially do. I’m still very much waiting for the right opportunity to dig in and create something really nice. It’s something I would still really like to do in the future.
How did you reach your Meander output style?
I always feel a bit cramped if I have to stick to the same style or genre for a long time. After doing a lot of hardcore and techno I started experimenting more with other sounds in 2003. At first I was a bit ashamed to show my roots and wanted to show that I could write a proper drum ‘n bass or IDM track without people being able to tell that I was originally “from another genre”. In the end however, I found it was a lot more fun to incorporate all my different backgrounds and influences into a style I could just run with. So, if that means I feel like using chords and melodies, hardcore kick drums, drum ‘n bass rhythms and cutting up everything breakcore style, that just what I’m going to do. It’s made it a lot easier to write music.
Even though it’s not essentially new, I think there is still territory left to explore when it comes to melodic or atmospheric breakcore.
How did you come to release “Dreaming in Reverse” on Low Res Records?
After experimenting for a while I started to create a bit of an own sound, but I was having a bit of trouble getting people to listen to my tracks, as I was obviously a newcomer in the genre. I bundled the first couple of tracks I was reasonably happy with into an EP, but as it didn’t fit any of the labels I was usually associated with, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Eye-D, who is a friend of mine, knows Adjust who in turn owns Low Res Records and suggested that I send him a demo. Adjust though it was great and approved it for a release, which was really cool considering Low Res was one of the labels that had inspired my new style.
We’re loving “Carbon”, your debut album, which is blissed out yet has a drill and bass mentality at its heart. Would you consider yourself to be offering up a new facet of breakcore or would you say your building on the work of others?
I would be the last person to say that I’m inventing anything really new – other artists have been working very hard to define and shape the genre for years and have been doing a great job at it. What I hope is that my personal reshuffling of ingredients results in something people will find interesting to listen to. Even though it’s not essentially new, I think there is still territory left to explore when it comes to melodic or atmospheric breakcore.
Do Meander and your other alias Ophidian occupy different places in your musical mind? Do you have to change focus to work on each or can you switch between them seamlessly?
Yes, for me there is a very different approach to working on a Meander or an Ophidian (hardcore) track. It’s like writing with a different vocabulary. Of course there are grey areas in the middle genre-wise, and they are a lot of fun to experiment with, but usually when I’m writing the purpose or form of a track is very different when I’m working as one alias as opposed to the other. This does not mean that I can’t switch between the two styles – I often work on many different songs and genres simultaneously – but it has hardly ever occurred that I have a finished track that is not very clearly either Ophidian or Meander. In almost all cases it is clear to me even before I start to work on it.
What’s next for Meander? Will you be giving Ophidian a bit of a break while you promote “Carbon”?
It would be nice, but producing is for me very much a parallel process. When one release is done the next project is usually already in an advanced stage. I am planning a new Ophidian album as well, which is not quite done yet, but I hope to release it somewhere towards the end of the year. I’m also working on new Meander sounds, which I can’t wait to show people, but that project is still in an earlier stage and not a lot is clear about it as of now. I can say that it will sound a lot darker and harder than this album. First of all though, I hope to play a couple of gigs and show off my “Carbon” tracks!
Carbon is released on Monday, July 30th on Low Res Records.