It’s been seven years since we kicked off this project running underground street parties in Brisbane, Australia, and we couldn’t think of anyone more genuine and sincere in their intentions in this scene to host our special birthday broadcast. His views and perspective on what really does matter outside of the music we hear resonates with why we all participate, regardless of the extent. Perhaps it’s that underlying vision of tomorrow that catalyses the inspiration that’s a derivative of the work he’s pressed. His releases span across Perc Trax, Wolfskuil Records, and his own imprints Tripeo and BALANS. The latter has housed the likes of Samuli Kemppi, Staffan Linzatti and most recently, Jordan Peak.
After his showing in Australia last year, we certainly hoping there’s a return leg to back up that clinical tour, and on the back of his first Tripeo long player, another round of heavy bookings wouldn’t be surprising. Darko Esser fronts up under his Tripeo guise to steer this left of centre contribution.
EC: Right. You had a great time in Australia last time we caught up, and since then there’s a lot of exciting stuff happening lately on the music front, though lets put that aside for a moment. I remember having a good chat with you about what life means to you in the context of what you do, let’s start from there.
DE: First of all, like for many, music is a hobby that got ‘out of hand’. Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to be involved in the music industry in a creative way. In what way wasn’t relevant perse. I got my first break at a local club (Simplon in Groningen) where I became the in-house booker and a resident DJ in 1996. It taught me a lot about the mechanics behind the music industry, which later got fine tuned when I started working for Doornroosje (Nijmegen) in 2000. I still work there and have no plans leaving there soon. It’s my second home. One of the things I learned over the years is not rush anything and take your time to enjoy the moment. The quality of it is really important to me. That’s why I enjoyed Australia so much: I was there for 3 weeks and able to connect with local people in the places where I stayed all thanks to one thing we all had in common: love of music. This way you are able to build relationships with people you otherwise would have never met, see places you would never have seen and experience all the beautiful things life in general has to offer. There’s more to it then gigs, clubs, festivals, releases. These things seem more often then not a means to an end: living a rich life. To me at least.
EC: Yeah, and those moments and the time you take to build meaningful relationships matter, irrespective of what you do. One thing we sometimes lose touch of are those people in our lives that have shaped us, or perhaps where we grew up, or even what’s going on around us when we don’t have time to stop and take it all in. What are your thoughts on maintaining that balance?
DE: Without friends, relationships, the social factor so to say, this would all be pretty much meaningless to me. It can be hard when you are on the road a lot to keep friendships alive, but I find that if you put in the work it’s very rewarding. And I try to do that as much as possible. I have a group of friends, my inner circle, who are extremely important to me as they keep me grounded. Especially after hectic weekends with lots of impressions, I find it important to have a moment to reflect and calm down. That’s one of the main reasons why I’ve never made a move to a big city like Amsterdam or Berlin. Nijmegen is exciting enough to keep it interesting and boring enough to let the dust settle. The tempo is a lot lower and people seem to be taking more time for each other. It’s finding the right balance between the extremes (hahaha).
EC: We all go through periods where it’s hard to work on that though. There’s a lot of things going your way at the moment looking at all the recent success. Is there anything you do to stabilise life when things aren’t going your way, musically, or life, or in general? (thats a tough one, sorry)
DE: Hahaha, nice one. I’m a very reasonable person and I try not to set the bar too high. It’s a great way to avoid disappointment. And it’s also a matter of what you consider to be a disappointment and also success yourself. I’ve never put all my eggs in one basket. I work for a club, which has been doing really well for many years, but also freelance and did and do bookings for festivals. I run a label, produce, DJ and play live. I never wanted to stick to just the one thing, if that falls apart you’re empty handed. People often say I’m an allrounder, rather then a specialist and I agree with that.
EC: It’s good to place things in context about why people do the things they do, and I guess what you’re doing at the moment is pretty special. Lets talk about Tripeo. Not only is it the imprint you’ve made your life, but it’s also your masked project that’s manufactured some pretty exciting work that’s due soon. How does that tie into your disposition?
DE: When I started the Tripeo project, I didn’t really have a long term plan with it. I put out the first twelve, because I made a few tunes I didn’t feel like releasing under my own name. I got such an overwhelming amount of response to it, that I decided to do another one and it started to grow from there and take a whole life of it’s own in less then a year. I had so much fun with this new sound and new way of making music, that most of the tunes I make in the studio turned out to be Tripeo tracks. That’s when I decided to take it more ‘seriously’ and the idea for an album popped in my head. I gave myself a deadline of 3 months to try and find out how flexible Tripeo could be without compromising the puristic idea behind it. Also more and more request for live shows and DJ-sets under this name started to pour in. It all kinda grew really organically and I must say I really enjoy performing under a different name then my own. It gives me a feeling of separation between me as an artist and me in real life.
EC: Do you feel that separation has an effect on your consciousness with respect to it?
DE: Yes it does. It’s was a surprise and I consider it a great side effect. I’ve never been interested in the glitter and glory and I am a very private person. In the music scene your personal and professional life easily get intertwined. I struggled with that for a long time years ago, before I could find my balance in it (there it is again!). Performing as Tripeo seems to be creating even more distance between the two.
EC: Can you elaborate on what you struggled with or rather not?
DE: No problem! If people consider you to be successful, they tend to approach you in a different way. And there are those that try to take advantage of that or hate. At some point, and this is going to sound paranoid, I really had a hard time to distinguish between people that were nice to me because they where genuine and the ones that only were nice because I could help further their own agenda. And then there’s the gossip. I’ve heard so many stories about myself, that just weren’t true. Some of them were pretty hurtful. Over the years I’ve developed a thick skin, thankfully without getting cynical about it. Nowadays stuff like that tends to bounce of and I don’t give it any more attention then it deserves. And that’s very little haha.
EC: If there’s ever been a secret to happiness, it’d be to focus on yourself right?
DE: Yourself and the ones YOU care about. Without people to share the good and the bad, it’s meaningless to me, but you yourself are always the starting point of course. If you don’t love yourself, it’s pretty much impossible to love others.
EC: Totally agree. I mean if you look at your own inner force and look around the world at the moment, what’s a couple of things that really resonate with you?
DE: Humanity as a whole is pretty appalling to me. Ever since I can remember, I’ve never really felt a part of society. That’s probably why I do what I do. When I was young I wanted to make the world a better place. Now I’ve reduced that child’s wish to I want to make my own micro world a better place by surrounding myself with like minded persons and find enjoyment and happiness with them and what I do. And music itself is one of the most positive forces around. Noone in their right mind goes to a club f.e. to have a shitty time. It’s an amazing outlet and gives meaning to my time here. I’ve met so many interesting and inspiring persons thanks to this ‘job’. It has enriched my life on so many levels.
EC: We haven’t spoken too much about music tonight..but every now and then that’s a good thing, it’s certainly a movement in its own right. If we looked past to success and were fortunate enough to continue this conversation in 30 years, what would you like to talk about?
DE: Hopefully we’ll have a chat about the weather on the beach with a cold beer in our hands, since I’ll be living in Australia by then hahaha
Elliot Clarke, Wednesday May 14 2014