Arjen Schat has been active in the field of electronic music under numerous monikers since the late ’90s. His much acclaimed “Reduct” series made him stand out as one of the top dub techno producers in the Netherlands, and he is still standing strong with a steady stream of releases and remixes on labels throughout the world. Besides dub techno, Arjen has been tailoring the ‘Berlin-school’ sound to his own unique sonic identity, alongside his ever expanding amount of ambient and meditative drone music.
“My interest in music started around 1993 with my brother’s copy of Turn Up The Bass 23 and quickly evolved into the more abrasive hardcore sound of the Thunderdome series. I was experiencing the scene vicariously through CDs and videos as I was too young to experience the events myself. These videos sparked my interest in DJ-ing and and I got a small mixer through my brother. At first I was mixing cassettes and CDs and was occasionally practicing with vinyl at my friend’s place who had two turntables. Around 1998 I got a copy of “Fasttracker” with a few songs and a bunch of samples and tried to understand the concept of making music with a tracker. This proved to be a steep learning curve for a twelve-year old, and I focussed more on DJ-ing and bought a second turntable. Whilst volunteering at our local youth center, I was involved in organizing and playing monthly events, and was also part of a drive-in show. These gigs didn’t share much common ground with the music I was interested in, which was still mainly hardcore. Meanwhile I had reached the age to visit the big events myself and had to save money for both records and entrance tickets. The owner of the record shop I bought them gradually exposed me to more diverse sounds as my taste in music evolved into more extreme and intense styles.
At this point (around 2002), my interest in producing was reignited by experiencing music on large scale sound systems and feeling the desire to hear my own music on those systems. Musically, intensity reached max level as I was recording noisecore and speedcore using “Noisetrekker” (which evolved into my current DAW, “Renoise”), and releasing it on my Lycos Tripod website. I was listening to industrial, breakcore, and powernoise, and from this pinnacle of extreme music, ambient music crossed my path. Drone music in particular, which isn’t far off from noise improvisations in terms of production, but carries a serenity I wasn’t aware of before. My interest in music was spanning the entirety of the electronic spectrum at this point, and this translated to the music I produced. Though I mainly produced industrial-themed music and toured the country as a breakcore DJ, I started experimenting with electronica and ambient and founded “Bloc Noise Electriks” in 2004 to release my music on CD-R. This resulted in my first full length album and interesting collaborations with friends, notably with Dirk Troost (Nerveprobe/Nano.strike). We knew each other from the youth centre I volunteered and we shared an interest in producing, his productions were hardware-based and mine were software-based, and in 2005 we recorded our first improvisation which was filed as the first “Elektronikum Ltd.” release. Since then, all our recordings were improvised, including our live sets. As we met up regularly, we inspired each other with the technology we used and Dirk was introduced to Renoise whilst I was introduced to synthesizers. This led to my first synthesizer purchase, a second hand Alesis Micron.
Inspired by the Berlin-school of electronic music from the 1970s, and their excessive use of (analog) equipment, my studio grew with more synthesizers and effects, and I carefully dabbled into recording this particular style which resulted in the first releases under my real name. Whilst exploring the possibilities of synthesis, I was heavily influenced by another style that originated in Berlin; dub techno. Though I was never really into techno, this music had the perfect blend of ambient and rhythmic elements, and I had accumulated enough specialized equipment to record this type of music myself. Initially I was practicing to perform at a dub techno event I organized with my friend Micha (Mius), “Reverberate”. Along the way I recorded tracks and uploaded them as Ohrwert to MySpace and connected with fans, fellow artists, and labels around the world. I found myself between releasing music on labels like Millions Of Moments (my first 12”) and Silent Season (first Ohrwert full length album), my own “Reduct” and “Infraklang” audio blog series, and performing live across the Netherlands and abroad.
The first releases under my real name and the Ohrwert audio blogs were released on Internet Archive. In 2010 I transitioned to Bandcamp for my Arjen Schat releases, which changed the game of digital releases. After a string of ambient releases I decided to migrate Ohrwert to the platform as well, but it took a while to increase the number of releases due to an emphasis on live performances. In between projects I played live house sets as Ultralogue and did Ohrwert sets on New Dutch School events, organized by a friend of mine. In 2013 we decided to work together and he became my booking agent. With growth in mind, I registered Ohrwert as a business and played main stage at Voltt Festival and ADE later that year. Despite an increase in bookings, I couldn’t gain a momentum and things started to slow down. I focussed on production again and started working on music that wasn’t based on a specific genre or style, but came directly from the mind. I decided to call this project Minute Of Arc, a very precise unit of measurement, which relates to the surgical precision in arrangement and meticulous sound design I put in this music.
Parallel to this, I was still recording music under my real name and was occasionally uploading videos of those recordings to YouTube. I decided to be more consistent and uploaded new videos every week for 37 weeks straight in 2015. This increased my subscriber count, but the views only increased with certain videos that were similar in style. I felt I couldn’t abide to uploading the same kind of video every week and stopped recording videos weekly. It did, however, attract more listeners over time, and by showcasing my expertise it allowed me to give private studio workshops throughout Europe, as well as my first solo theatre concert in Limoges (France). This concert was an inspiration for Rik de Voogd and myself to start the Trésor D’argent record label in 2017 and bring my music to a new level. In November of that year the first vinyl LP was released, followed by a two year hiatus for the label where I released new music of one of my three projects every month through Bandcamp. In December 2019, the second Trésor D’argent vinyl LP went into pre-order and has been released on February 29, 2020.”
As for the future, I hope to be able to focus at least as much on my main projects as I did the last couple of years and gradually evolve each of them, both musically and technically.