INTERVIEW Olaf Stuut

Olaf Stuut is a driven producer in the electronic music scene. EPs on Atomnation and Engrave Ltd as well as remix works for the label Last Night On Earth and Australian Indie-band The Acid have drawn attention to Olaf and his work as an artist. Shortly after the release of his ‘A.I Fugitive EP’ on the Musumeci and Dodi Palese run label Engrave Torture the Artist had a little chat with the producer about artificial ingelligence, former Amsterdam nightlife institution Trouw and its follow-up club De School as well as his inspiration and parental influence in music.

Torture the Artist: Where are you right now and what are you doing?

Olaf Stuut: Currently, I am in Amsterdam-West finishing my last projects, including a new EP coming out Q2 and some remixes before I move into a new place in the near future.

I make music, for the fun and love of making music. Every artist needs to be reminded of that from time to time.

Torture the Artist: Is there any particularly notable experience of 2017 that has influenced you creatively?

Olaf Stuut: I’ve just come back from a South-America visit with my buddy Stijn (Polynation) and I gathered a lot of inspiration there. Not only sound and music wise, but it gave me a great insight into how to have a positive attitude in life and how to approach creativity. After performing gigs and producing music in the studio for a long time, the process gets a bit saturated and I had to rediscover once again why I make music, for the fun and love of making music. Every artist needs to be reminded of that from time to time.

Torture the Artist: As you come from Amsterdam, what would you say is your favourite dish out of the ever so famous snack vending machines?

Olaf Stuut: Must be a ‘Broodje Kroket‘ with mustard. Google will give the answers.

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Torture the Artist: ‘Trouw‘ was one of the most renowned nightclubs in the Netherlands until it closed. Has the atmosphere or the club itself influenced your musical being in any way?

Olaf Stuut: Yes definitely, it was a beautiful place with a lot of great electronic music that partly defined my taste.

Torture the Artist: Can ‘De School’ follow Trouw’s footsteps and in your opinion, what’s the club’s importance for the scene in Amsterdam?

Olaf Stuut: Many think it does, and it’s a cool place but it’s very different from Trouw in my opinion. The vibe changed a lot, it got a lot darker, which has its ups and downs. I always like a music venue that brings people together. In De School, I’ve had a few instances when some of my friends were there in the club at the same time as me, and I only discover that a few days later. That’s because you don’t see who is standing next to you most of the time. On the other hand, it makes the experience a lot more immersive and focused on the music. It’s a very good venue and I’m proud that we have it here in Amsterdam.

Torture the Artist: You were heavily exposed to music from an early age, do you recall any of the records that sparked the curiosity in you to explore more?

Olaf Stuut: My father was very much into jazz so I experienced the classics like Charlie Parker, Coltrane, Davis and Dexter Gordon from a very young age. My mother, on the other hand, was more into Folk and African music such as Miriam Makeba, Letta Mbulu, so I’ve heard a lot of different styles in my home growing up.

Torture the Artist: Has your father’s preference for jazz music influenced your musical as well as your personal development?

Olaf Stuut: It definitely defined my taste in music; I think it made me more interested in somewhat challenging rhythms and harmonies. I think jazz was always meant to be progressive, and explorative of new approaches to making music. In my opinion, all artists in creative disciplines should look at their art in this way, to keep on broadening the spectrum.

Torture the Artist: Would you say that ‘Polygon Vista’ is descriptive of your current versatile approach to weaving music genres through your releases and what was the inspiration behind the track?

Olaf Stuut: Well sure, I always try to find new inspiration in sounds and harmonics. I just advance with the ones I like and see where it brings me to. This gives me a freedom that isn’t that much attached to a genre. The downfall though, is that pieces/tracks often don’t fit together. Finding a balance between those two is the challenge. But I always try to let go as much as I can, hoping that my audience is willing to follow my evolution in the creative process.

We can make machines/software that learns, but we don’t even know the full scope of what it actually knows.

Torture the Artist: What is your view on Artificial Intelligence?

Olaf Stuut: It’s a very interesting subject, especially in the time we’re living right now. In the near future, A.I. is going to become a huge part of our lives and it’s going to bring big changes. This could be a very useful development, but it also implies a lot of risks which we might not even fully comprehend yet. We can make machines/software that learns, but we don’t even know the full scope of what it actually knows. We’re only aware that it knows how to solve problems we throw at it. Languages that we don’t understand are being made up and a lot more examples can be drawn. It’s something we have to be very careful with.

One thing I would personally like very much is a system that sorts everything out for you.

Torture the Artist: What’s a problem you would like to have solved by using A.I.?

Olaf Stuut: Well, one thing I would personally like very much is a system that sorts everything out for you, including taxes for the self-employed. A system where every time you buy something it gives you the option to select if it’s for personal use or a business associated expense so taxes immediately get deducted. It would also be good if it manages invoices and payments. All the money you see is what you can use to live on. That would make me very happy, but there are obviously more noble causes.

Torture the Artist: Do you think a companion can become a fugitive and have you experienced that previously?

Olaf Stuut: Well in terms of A.I. I haven’t <laughs> But of course, a companion can always become an enemy, although, I’ve rarely experienced that in my life.

I’m very interested in keeping my set-up as simple as possible.

Torture the Artist: Is there a sound you have recently discovered that you are interested in exploring more of?

Olaf Stuut: I have to say this is a continuous movement, but I’m very interested in keeping my set-up as simple as possible lately. So it’s not directly a particular sound, but more a focus on sound, it definitely changes the overall mix. A challenge I’ve been giving myself lately is using little reverb, trying to make everything sound good without ‘space’. This can sometimes make things a bit quirky, which I’m liking more and more lately.

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Torture the Artist: What is a major source of inspiration when you produce music?

Olaf Stuut: I think one of the main things is a focus during the production process, being open to hearing the potential in every sound. Every noise/sample/synth can be made into music, not good music per se, but following their paths can lead to discovering good potential. I often see myself recording weird glitches in software or sounds from obscure YouTube videos. Then, I get as weird as possible on a synth and try to make the chaotic synthesis work on a beat. From there it just goes.

Torture the Artist: Your discography seems to contain a higher number of remixes over your own productions. Is this a matter of coincidence or does your preference lean towards remixing?

Olaf Stuut: No, this is more of a coincidence. I’ve always been asked for remixes a lot, even my first release was actually a remix. I think I get a lot of requests because I always try to be true to the original. Make something new out of it yet with the same spirit or vibe.

The last track on my previous EP ‘Extended Travels (Excursion Two)’ was dedicated to my deceased stepfather. He always liked the melodies from the track when I used to play them on the piano back home.

Torture the Artist: Which remix/track you produced comes closest to your soul?

Olaf Stuut: I think almost all the tracks I’ve made are very close to my soul. That’s why my work can be very eclectic because I always feel different vibes. But some tracks are more special to me than others. For instance, the last track on my previous EP ‘Extended Travels (Excursion Two)‘ was dedicated to my deceased stepfather. He always liked the melodies from the track when I used to play them on the piano back home. And he used to tour with a salsa band back in the day, hence the drum section, making it a melancholy filled vibe but also carrying an uplifting positive groove.

Torture the Artist: What’s an artist you would like to remix, and why?

Olaf Stuut: Joy Orbison would be an artist I would like to remix. There are always so many interesting things going on in his productions, which I would love to use in creating something new. Very inspiring stuff!

Torture the Artist: Which releases made you further your career?

Olaf Stuut: Mmm not sure, but I think the remixes for The Acid made a lot happen.

Torture the Artist: Did it make you reach decisions that you maybe regret now?

Olaf Stuut: No, not at all. I rarely regret anything though, always looking forward creatively.

Torture the Artist: How much time do you devote to your music as opposed to any other interests, hobbies or projects? And what are they?

Olaf Stuut: I spend a lot of time making music, that’s my priority I feel. Listen to a lot of music as well obviously. I must say the hobbies I practised have been in the background lately. I used to skateboard a lot, which I’d like to pick up on again soon. Hanging out with friends will always be a busy hobby.

FOMO kills a spontaneous night nowadays.

Torture the Artist: How do you imagine the perfect night out with your friends and what would be the place of your choice?

Olaf Stuut: <laughs> The perfect night out with friends isn’t a planned one, for starters. But it always includes all lot of ‘bullshitery’. As long as there is enough freedom in letting the night take shape, along the way you will always be surprised and taken on an adventure. I think that is key for a really good night out. FOMO kills a spontaneous night nowadays. Just be where you are and have fun!

Torture the Artist: What was the last gift you gave someone, maybe this past Christmas?

Olaf Stuut: Haha, that must be a small oil burner including scented oils, the gift for my mother last Christmas.

Torture the Artist: Can you name one thing that you’re most excited about for 2018?

Olaf Stuut: I’m planning to learn a lot of new things so I can express myself better creatively. What these new things will be is somewhat clear to me but also, still very vague. It’s not all directed towards music, but I hope it will support the music in a way.

Torture the Artist: Describe yourself with three tracks or album titles.

Olaf Stuut: Wow, this must be one of the hardest questions I’ve had in all the interviews I’ve participated in. One of the best album titles I’ve encountered must be ‘The Idiots Are Winning‘, I know that’s not the question but I felt like sharing.