Loads of good things come in fours. The seasons, the elements, The Beatles, BBC four, jazz quartets.. [struggling] Four Heads? Although a one man operation, the number ‘four’ (you guessed it) holds a particular pertinence to label in question, Quartet Series. Helmed by Dutchman, Maurits Verwoerd aka. Nachtbraker, the label has gone from strength to strength since it’s inception, while ensuring it’s prodigious and unique identity remains in tact. We spoke to Maurits about QS, the number four, his album, The Big Lebowski and of course, music.
Hey Maurits, thanks for speaking to us. How’s it going?
Great thank you, thanks for having me
Right so first and foremost; Quartet Series. What’s with you and the number four!?
Well, when I had the idea of starting a label about 5 years ago I first just wanted to do a white label vinyl only thing. Keep it special and simple. But after thinking about it a lot, I felt that it would make sense to put the artist name on the record. Then I took it a couple steps further, where I found that it would be cool to make a concept and thereby the artwork a leading factor in the identity of the label!
So obviously a formative facet of Quartet Series’ identity was the four track VA’s. Four cuts from four different artists. With the one artist EP’s, have you moved away from idea this now?
I moved away from VA's because I simply got multiple amazing tracks from some of the producers I was working with. However, even though everybody loves the concept, still some people don't truly understand it yet. A lot of people miss the fact that there are two quartets [the four part EP series’ too]
So was it always the plan to start a label?
Well I'm 27 now and I started making music when i was 16/17. I think around my 22nd birthday, I felt the urge to start a record label. I think it’s partly the DJ in me, that just wants to share good music and partly me wanting to do something besides making music and DJ'ing.
By means of the label I can also showcase what kind of music I do and like through other artists because these days you get labeled real easily.. especially if you have a couple of big tracks in a certain sound. Not that I had really big tracks, but tracks like Backstabber and Hamdi really popped off; and that is not really what I would continue to play out these days
Do you find your taste in music and your own productions shape a path for Quartet Series?
Most definitely! Everything I release is something I would play out.. otherwise I won't release it. That’s criteria number one
I guess that makes it an entity which can forever grow with the times too?
Exactly! That’s also why I wanted to work with Quartets, because I could theoretically reboot the label with each Quartet and do something completely different
Do you have any external input with A&R, or is this something you handle yourself?
No. It sounds a bit selfish maybe but the music I produce myself and the music I put out, I kind of do it for myself. With QS, I wouldn't be able to work with anyone on an A&R level or maybe not conceptually either [haha]. I really know what I want, and don't really like discussing that with someone if that person doesn't feel the same. at least not for this project.
As the fruit of your labours, did you always plan to release your own stuff off QS too?
At first not really. I wanted to release other people's music mostly. But that happened naturally, because I had releases planned with other labels, and the others just kept sending me good music
That leads me nicely on to your new album, “When You Find a Stranger in the Alps”. Firstly, I have to ask.. what’s with the title?
[haha] It comes from a scene of one of my favourite movies by the Cohen Brothers, The Big Lebowski. Walter and ‘The Dude’ go and visit the house of a kid whom they think stole their suitcase with ransom money? It’s the part where he smashes the car window and says, “Do you see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps”. While he's actually saying, “Do you see what happen when you fuck a stranger in the ass”.
The album is a real holistic and cohesive piece of work - something which isn’t always associated with Dance music historically or in the modern era. What was the thought process behind it all?
Thanks man. Yes, I think some songs separately don't make as much sense, which is maybe a bit against ‘the trend’. Where now days, one song that has to pop out and stand out on its own.. It’s funny, I also got some feedback where people said it lacked coherency. Then some other people say the opposite. I intended it to be a coherent piece of work of course
Do you have a track on the album which means a lot to you or you have connected most with?
Mate, thats the toughest question you can ask [haha]. I think "Driving Me Lazy” runs deep with me. Pure melancholic vibes… and then the changeover, which kind of wakes you up after all the dreamy vibe. Sort of a wake up call halfway the album, that you need to sit up and pay attention!
With the music Quartet Series pushes and certainly in your own work, there is always a strong element of melody - whether that be through sampling or just the general body of the song. Could you talk through your musical influences a bit?
I’ve never thought of it that way, but it probably has, yes. I think I really enjoy music I can play out but listen to at home at the same time. However I can really enjoy good (Detroit) techno or minimal techno which is maybe just percussive and without melody but then still I think there is a melody to be heard in the groove of the percussion or other elements
Give us some names..
I'm a big fan of producers like Floating Points, Fred P, Move D, Anton Zap. Obviously missing a few there, but can't come up with all of em now!
Did your love of music and the inclination to surround yourself with it in stem from an early age or are your roots in music?
My dad has played Cello in an orchestra when he was young, but semi-professional. I've never seen him play though, which is a shame. My Mom isn't musical at all and my Grandparents are far from it. I do think that it doesn't have to be music itself, I think its also how you are as a person. I think as creative person in general you need to be empathic and curious of mind. My parents are both empathic people who are maybe not so curious now when they are old but I think they used to be! It’s like they say (house) music is a feeling. If you're good at feeling, it'll take you a long way with music
Right rounding it off with a quick-fire. Three favourite non-dance music records - GO!
Okay so not my top three but here are three from my top, say, 100..
Grab a copy of the fantastic ‘When You Find a Stranger In The Alps’ here or head to the Bandcamp here for more QS goodies. Make sure you listen to the Quartet Series mix below. Huge thanks and love to Maurits.