This interview has been paraphrased for consistency and clarity.
Joey: What’s up, everyone! I’m here with Bass Kleph.
Bass Kleph: Thanks for having me on!
Joey: Am I pronouncing that right?
Bass Kleph: Yeah, like bass clef. I made up this name when I was 20 years old, so I thought it was much cooler to spell it KLEPH haha.
The real meaning comes from music theory when you have a treble clef and bass clef. Basically, anything that’s an upper register instrument is going to use treble clef, and bass parts would be in bass clef. So essentially, bass clef is all the bass-heavy instruments. That was what made me fall in love with dance music. I come from playing rock n roll in bands. It was a different experience for me to go to clubs and dance venues and feel so much bass. I thought that was awesome. But hey, the name’s good for Google searches since it’s spelled differently.
Joey: Just to give the listeners some context, I played a lot of your songs when I was still Djing. I think describing your music would be a little bit tech house influenced, but yet powerful.
Bass Kleph: Yeah, definitely. Probably the records that you were playing might have been ones like “Shakedown” – that was my first number one on Beatport. Around that time, I was doing this kind of tech-house sound, but I’d come out with electro as well. It set me up to be in this halfway point. I was a gateway artist for tech house, and my style would also get me a lot of bookings to warm up for electro acts.
Joey: You’ve been in music for a long time, right? Even before the Bass Kleph act?
Bass Kleph: Yeah. I’ve always been in music. I was a drummer since I was eight years old and played in loads of bands at school. Then I started on punk rock bands and things like that. I then joined a band when I was 15 called Loki that was pretty well known. We were signed to Festival Records and even cut an album with the same studios that ACDC recorded their album. That was an incredible experience for me at 15 to 16 years old, going, recording in these top studios and being treated like an adult.
Joey: I can imagine that was pretty intense, right?
Bass Kleph: Yeah. Mostly just exciting. It felt nice that everybody, the label and people in the studios, would treat me like an adult. At school, you’re always looked down upon. The band was also where I definitely fell in love with the recording process. Seeing the way they recorded the album in the studios, I was like, “this is awesome.”
There was eventually a defining moment where I realized that vocals and guitars played a bigger role in rock music than the drums. That’s when I started to listen to the Crystal Method and the Chemical Brothers – the drums were so loud and upfront. I knew that that was my type of music.
Joey: And that’s how you got into the dance scene?
Bass Kleph: Yeah, pretty much. It was a hobby at that point. I started on an Atari ST, later a Playstation music maker game, and then eventually got into Reason. Around then was when I began to get my first record deals. I then sold my drums and cymbals, bought more studio equipment, and just started giving demos to DJ’s. I fucking loved it. I’d be up to like three or four in the morning every night writing music.
Joey: And then you just started dropping CDs, or was it email at that time?
Bass Kleph: Yeah, mostly CD’s. I would hand them in person in the club. Eventually, DJ’s took notice and would message me to come down to the clubs.
Joey: Those are different times. Right now it’s war.
Bass Kleph: Yeah, you would only get the number of demos that were physically handed to you.
Joey: That’s one of the things that a lot of people are struggling with right now: getting music supported by a DJ, which is a great way to gain an audience. It seems like it worked out well for you.
Bass Kleph: It did. I was lucky in some ways since demos were more direct, not as much noise, but also it was a smaller scale. Recently, I started my new side project called Analog Sol. I didn’t tell anyone since I wanted to see how people reacted and didn’t want to call in any favors. So I sent a track out to Solomun, who I don’t know personally. But I just sent him a cold email, and he ended up playing it at Cercle Festival in France. His live set video now has over 10 million views. But that was just purely through a demo email. He actually never replied. I followed him up afterward and didn’t hear anything haha. That’s a great example of the fact that you really never know.
Joey: In the end, it’s all about the music. You can do everything in the best way possible, but nothing could be successful if your music sucks.
Bass Kleph: It could also bring a lot of negative consequences. If you send ten tracks to somebody, and each time, it’s not up to the standard they’re hoping for, they might stop looking at your emails after a while. It’s essential to have a good group of peers or professionals. Ideally, a coach or someone that you can send your music to and receive advice.
Joey: You’ve been an artist in times when there wasn’t as much noise. I’m wondering if it’s becoming harder now?
Bass Kleph: I think it was already hard at the time. Like ten years ago, it was just as hard, but I think you only see a lot more people trying because it’s been made visual through social media. The internet changed a lot.
Now you can meet all these people through the internet, and people can become famous through the web. Also selling music through the internet has become a double-edged sword. Everyone can now have the same records as each other. DJ’s used to have vinyl records that no one else could have. Now we’re all getting stuff on Beatport or SoundCloud; we all got the same records as each other. That’s really great in some ways, but it takes the appeal out of it.
I think DJ’s playing their own records and unreleased records is really helpful. You got to consider still, what’s unique about my set? Why would people want to come and see me?
Joey: It’s not even music anymore. If you go to a regular festival right now, there are 50 DJ’s playing in one day. How are you going to set yourself apart?
There’s a lot more entertainment value that you need to add. I think Sam Feldt is a great example where he takes live artists and melds them into the show. Steve Aoki, for instance, likes throwing cakes and stuff – it’s all about the entertainment value.
Bass Kleph: When I started playing, most of the times I got booked because of my music and reputation in the industry. The only way to become a more prominent name was by releasing on big labels and getting supported by bigger names. That was the gateway to success. Right now, there are a lot more opportunities. There’s so much potential with things like YouTube and Instagram and other content you can create that’s not just music. I think that’s awesome. Dance music’s about reinventing whatever technology is in front of us.
Joey: Exactly. If you have a look at most producers, in the end, we’re all nerds. Most DJ’s and producers that I know are really interested in gadgets as well.
Bass Kleph: Well, it all makes sense. They say that the part of your brain that makes a lot of the music is the same that handles math. It’s something to do with the way we recognize and appreciate patterns. A lot of DJ’s are really into cooking and food too. It’s a similar kind of thing. You’re mixing some ingredients to get an end result. That’s what we do with music.
The same applies to my mentoring courses. I love helping people and guiding them through their careers.
Joey: With your mentoring courses, do you think you have more possibilities now that you’re not financially connected to being an artist?
Bass Kleph: Oh, yeah. That helps so much. The funny thing is that most people have a day job, and they’re writing music on the side. They’re really eager to quit their day job and make full-time music, but I would say, don’t rush that. I can tell you from experience that making music as your sole income puts a lot of pressure on yourself. You’re not going to be as experimental when you’re worried about stuff like rent. You’re not going to as true to yourself. I am guilty of feeling that pressure and changing my work. I had my managers and agents at the time, telling me to produce certain tracks to play a festival and make money.
Joey: How did that affect your sound?
Bass Kleph: It made my music sound more big room, more commercial than I ever would have probably done by myself.
I was blinded because I was so under pressure from these guys. It’s very easy to go down that path. But at some point, it then feels like work. I suppose its good for your work ethic. It taught me how to push through. And that’s why I, fortunately, ended up finding something like this education company.
Now I’m here in Barcelona being surrounded by all the fantastic tech house. I wanted to get back to my roots and also to produce with hardware.
Joey: What’s funny is that you see this happening with so many other artists: they start by doing what they love, then somehow waste most of their time because of other people’s opinions, and then find out they don’t want to do that anymore. What you see is that they go back to the thing that they started off doing.
Bass Kleph: Just do what you love. Sounds too simple, right? But seriously, everybody should take five seconds, just really let that sink in. I can’t emphasize how important it is. It’s so tempting and easy to give people what they want, especially as a DJ because you see the immediate crowd reaction. But then you start going down that rabbit hole of making songs that you think people and labels are going to like. It’ll work for sure; you’ll probably get popular, you might get famous and make some money. But you will hit a point where you’re don’t like what you’re doing. It’s going to break your soul.
Joey: It’s also another one of those cliches, you know – like, money isn’t the most important thing. It’s just not a long term plan if you’re not doing what you love doing,
It’s scary. That’s probably why most people don’t do it. I think that’s more because you’re exposing yourself. It’s 100% the truth, right? If you really do what you love, it’s 100% of you. That’s scary because if someone doesn’t like it, it’s even scarier.
Bass Kleph: Right, exactly, man. But it also explains why we often don’t do it. Because if it’s your 100%, you’re completely vulnerable. If someone says your song sucks, well, that’s on you. But if you’re doing some other style, you take it less personally. A lot of it has to do with finding your sound.
Joey: Yeah, finding a unique sound means picking the things that you like in the whole music production process. Every hi-hat that you pick- there’s a million hi-hat’s that you can pick, but you chose that one – changes the whole track. The kick, clap, all those little decisions stack up. That’s your sound. And no one on this earth can replicate it.
Bass Kleph: Just be true to yourself. Stop trying to be anybody else. Maybe you like a specific electro artist, and you’ve been copying some of their stuff. It’s okay if you want the vibe and are influenced by it, but don’t try to be them. Also, don’t ignore your other influences. Maybe you also like classical music or Techno. Stick them all together. People will tell you that it won’t work, but that’s all the more reason to do it.
Joey: I think that that’s where new genres begin. Oliver Heldens is an excellent example of someone who combined multiple styles. In the beginning, everyone was like, ‘Oh, this sounds weird.’ But then when you start pushing through, people will like it.
Bass Kleph: That’s right. And as that sound gets more and more popular, they’ll always be booking you as the headliner to come in and showcase it because you originated it. You’re set for life. It’s worth a couple of years of quietness that it might take for that to kick in. It pays off. In the end, it’s a long game.
I look back in hindsight to my career and looking at all the clients that I have now as well. It all seems so simple looking back, you know, like, why did I make that decision? Why did I do this? Why did I do that? And at that moment, it just made sense. And right now, I think, “why did I listen to someone else? Why did I didn’t just stick to what I like doing?”
Joey: Thanks for taking the time to do this! Good luck with the education company and the new artist career. Stay in touch!
Bass Kleph: Absolutely! Take care, Joey.