Jeroen Snik, who goes by the name Icicle, is a Dutchman who’s blown up onto the worldwide d&b scene with a dark, cold and vibey sound that takes no prisoners. With releases on Ram, Soul: R, Renegade Hardware and Critical, Icicle moved to England in 2008 and, having previously released an ep (Cold Fear) and a string of twelves on the label, recently signed exclusively to Friction’s Shogun Audio. He’s someone I’d class as a pioneer in d&b over recent years, and with an album just about to drop things look set to continue. He gave us an insight into the man behind the music.
Hi Icicle, cheers for taking the time out for this interview! Can you start off by giving us a bit of an insight into yourself, what else occupies your time and inspires you outside of music?
Recently music has taken up all my time, I used to do lots of mountain biking, sailing and other things. But writing an album is a huge claim on your time. I do study a little still, environmental studies at the Open University.
Just like your first day in school, tell us one fact about yourself, from a habit, to a story or anything else.
I sailed across the North Sea with a friend from Holland to the UK and back last year.
If you could choose just 3 albums to listen to for the rest of your life, what would they be?
That’s hard, how about Midnight Marauders by Tribe Called Quest, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis and Homework by Daft Punk.
What’s been your journey through drum and bass and where did it all start?
When I was about 15 I went out to a d&b night and was overwhelmed. I started buying vinyl and started trying to make it myself. When I was about 18 I started getting my first gig’s. I hooked up with other local DJ’s and together started running a small local night. Around 2006/2007 I got some interest from d&b labels and Dj’s and got my first couple of tracks signed. From there I have just kept going and I moved over to the UK 2 years ago, to fully pursue the music.
Your producing and pushing this deeper, almost minimalistic neuro kinda sound, where do you see this sound progressing, both in terms of yourself and other artists? Do you listen to other styles of d&b a lot still?
I’m not too keen on classifying all these styles within d&b. I listen to good d&b in my opinion what ever that is, and that seem to be the dark and more simplistic sound. I feel though right now d&b is getting a little saturated with straight up dark rollers. I think the way forward is to try and make your tunes stand out a bit more, and look for character rather than just a useful DJ tune.
Your earlier tracks, such as those with Switch, have a much more chilled out, nostalgic liquid feel to them with hip hop and jazz influences, whereas now the sound your making’s a lot sharper and colder. Would you say that’s an accurate description and was this a conscious decision, and how did the progression come about?
It hasn’t a progression like that. When I worked with Switch we almost always went for a more jazz influenced approach but In those days when I worked on my own, the music I made was always heavily Virus, Headz and Certificate 18 influenced.
Who would you describe as your main musical influences, both in and outside of d&b?
In d&b theres Source Direct, Photek, Jonny L, Ed & Op etc. Ouside of d&b it has always been very broad, from Miles Davis to Tribe Called Quest and Jeff Mills.
Your new album, Under the Ice, drops in April. Can you walk us through the tracks on that? How did it all come together and how did you find the process of working on an album?
It has been very hard work. It has taken me around 2 years to write this album. I’ve been very aware you can only make a debut album once so I wanted to do it right. I really wanted to show a much more diverse collection of music within my sound. I set out to write something that sounds coherent but is comprised of different styles, representing my early influences but also my personal vision of the direction modern bass music should go in. I pushed myself more than I had done before spending loads of time on single tracks. In the end it has just been about putting in the time. I had a rough idea of what I wanted the album to be and I just kept working towards that until it was there.
You’re exclusively signed to Shogun Audio, how did that come about and how are you finding it? What do you think has inspired this change in the label dynamic of d&b over the last few years where there’s a lot more exclusive signings as opposed to artists releasing across a range of labels?
At the time I was looking to give my music a bit more direction and I wanted to write and album. There where a few labels talking to me about a more close working relationship but Shogun seemed to make the most sense. They were prepared to support the full spectrum of the music I wanted to make. It is good for the scene to see the camps emerge again and it feels like we are taking it back to the 98 era a little bit, with strong labels and club nights and a bit more quality control.
What medium do you primarily mix on, both at home and for club sets, and would you describe yourself as a vinyl head? How do you feel about the decline of vinyl within the music industry over the last few years?
I DJ using a combination of Vinyl and Cd’s. I’d like to play strictly vinyl and dubplates but it’s just not realistic for me to cut new tracks because it is just too expensive. I’ve always been a vinyl collector and I do feel strongly about it. But there’s is no point in being too sentimental, you have to keep moving with the times. Besides unfortunately a lot of clubs have very poorly set up turntables these days anyway.
How were your experiences of forming the start of your career in Holland? Is there much of a scene out there and what setbacks did not being based somewhere with a larger d&b following create?
In Holland there was a nice little scene, everybody knows everybody. There used to be some really good night and it was a nice scene to learn to DJ in etc. It was really small though and only has gotten smaller since. Basically in Holland D&B is a hobby, in the UK it can be a career.
Can you pick one moment that’s been the highlight of your musical career? Perhaps a particular set?
I couldn’t pick a single moment. There have been lots of amazing times though, playing in Tokyo for the first time, or LA. Playing on a boat in the sun last year at Outlook festival. Or maybe just simply the first time I got booked to play in the club I used to go to as a teenager.
You’ve been releasing dubstep and working on tracks in other genres, have you always made tunes other than d&b? If not, what inspired this move and where do you see it progressing in the future?
I always made different music. I’ve waited a long time to actually put out any dubstep because I wanted to make sure the right people would actually support my tracks rather than just jumping on the bandwagon. I’ll keep doing different music and want to diversify a little more. It is a great way to keep your outlook on production fresh.
Any tips on fresh new producers we should be watching out for in 2011 or sneak peaks on new releases from other artists you can share?
I got a CD from a guy called Biome doing some really good techy dubstep, Also I’ve got really high expectations of Blawan, he makes mad Techno and House, but really well produced and very original.
Are there any other Icicle releases planned for 2011 aside for the album?
There is a remix I did of Friction and K-Tee’s track Set It Off which is coming later in the year but thats it, the main focus this year is the album.
Cheers Icicle! Any last words or shout outs?
Big up, thanks for listening to me ramble.
Breathing Again ft Proxima by ShogunAudio