For the latest art:cast Torture the Artist welcomes Rotterdam-based Beyun, whose EP of beautifully crafted electronic goodness, the Spectral Calibration EP, is out on her own Vault Wax imprint. The release further showcases Beyun’s love for the Acid sound, plus is a firm reminder of her in-depth production skills and that her name is very much in the ascendency. Ahead of the release, Beyun had a chat with Torture The Artist looking back over her career so far, ruminating over space, synths, shoddy mixdowns and working with legendary DJ Pierre. She has also provided us with a truly exceptional mix, blending a variety of sounds to create a stunning addition to the art:cast series.
Torture the Artist: Hello hello, tell us something about your day.
Beyun: I had a relaxed Sunday after a busy couple of weeks. The day started with a boxing session in the late morning, followed by a walk in Kralingse Bos. I played some records, and now I’m doing this interview. Thank you so much for having me, by the way!
Working with vinyl, I’ve learned to be patient and wait until I have the physical records before making any announcements.
Torture the Artist: Pleasure to have you and welcome back to Vault Wax! How does it feel to be releasing your own music again on the label?
Beyun: It’s been a long wait, but I am grateful and happy. The timing now is as it should be. I finished the EP in May last year before packing and moving my whole life from the States to the Netherlands. Unfortunately, with the pressure on pressing plants lately, the wait was over six months. Admittedly I did drag my feet a bit and submitted the release in August, as it took me a while to create the artwork amidst all the apartment hunting and day job stuff. I also procrastinated a little out of anxiety, as a lot of vulnerability and self-excavation went into its creation. Working with vinyl, I’ve learned to be patient and wait until I have the physical records before making any announcements. In 2020 my EP A Path of One was delayed for months due to the pandemic, so I learned this the hard way. Nothing can be precisely planned these days; you must surrender to flow.
I might have been an astrophysicist working at JPL…
Torture the Artist: The four tracks are all very spacey and the artwork reflects this with its moon image; how does ‘space’ or ‘other worldliness’ influence you and is this something you have always had an interest in?
Beyun: Is it a moon or a planet? And is it Earth or in another galaxy far, far away? Yes, I’ve always had an interest in space and other worlds. In middle school, I wrote stories – whole novels, actually – about traveling to other worlds and alien encounters on Earth. I also have an undergraduate degree in physics. Had I not become so disillusioned with academia, I might have been an astrophysicist working at JPL… who knows? However, I’ve learned there are many other ways of exploring the cosmos.
Torture the Artist: What was the synth-to-go-with for this release and how did you decide on the track order of this EP?
Beyun: The most essential one is my RE-303—a replica, not a clone, of the original TB-303. Then the SH-01A for bass and bleeps and Arturia’s Solina V2 for those beautiful strings. My other workhorse is the Elektron RYTM MKI which I use for drums and samples.
The track order tells a story that’s very personal for me. While I could go into detail, I prefer leaving this storyline open for the listener to create their own. That’s the power of music—you put something out there that’s deeply personal, but it resonates with people in so many ways that the narrative takes on a life of its own and becomes part of the collective. Everyone contributes to a piece of that story in the process, not with words but with energy.
Torture the Artist: You have moved around a fair amount in your life but are currently based in Rotterdam. What was the reason for moving there specifically, after leaving the US and working with DJ Pierre?
Beyun: Intuition. I had been contemplating this move since 2018 when I first visited Rotterdam. It’s following that feeling when you get to a city, and this little ping goes off in your head that says, “yeah, I have to be here.” I’m very grateful to have a German passport (thanks, mom!), so it was easy for me to move once I saved up and decided on a date. I’ve also always wanted to move to Europe – having family here and preferring the quality of life over the States.
What I learned was beyond what I’d ever expected. It eventually gave me the confidence to start my own label.
Torture the Artist: Following on from the question before, working with Pierre must have been amazing. How exactly did that come about and what did you learn while with him?
Beyun: Many aspects of it were, and I am very thankful for that experience. That was also a very challenging part of my life that sparked tremendous personal growth, for which I am also incredibly grateful.
It started when we had Pierre play the anniversary for Vault in Boston – a monthly Tuesday party at Middlesex Lounge I was running with Bob Diesel. That little club was packed (on a Tuesday!), and the energy was super high. It was his birthday too, and we even made a TB-303 cake. Pierre was impressed and invited us to Atlanta to visit the studio, which eventually led to another visit to play at Wildpitch (the club he was building), which ultimately led to the suggestion that I move there. So I did.
Shortly after moving, Pierre asked if I could fill in as the label manager and A&R for his three labels, so (a bit nervously) I accepted. I’d never run a record label before, but I was grateful to have been trusted with the opportunity and didn’t want to disappoint. Two years later, after signing over 100 tracks and 40 artists and coordinating several vinyl releases, what I learned was beyond what I’d ever expected. It eventually gave me the confidence to start my own label.
During that time, I also had the incredible experience of being a fly on the wall to many legends passing through the studio, hearing their stories firsthand: Lil’ Louis, A Guy Called Gerald, Ron Trent, DJ Sneak, Felix da Housecat, Kevin Hedge. And then to hear sets from so many more playing at Wildpitch each month. What a fucking history lesson!
I’m also grateful to have had a space in the studio to create, as I was able to set up a workstation in the vocal room. While I wasn’t as productive as I’d have liked—focusing mainly on the labels and working my day job remotely – my ears got quite the training from hearing Pierre working in the studio next door and working in a nicely treated room myself. Pierre also influenced my choice of DAW – Reason – which I now absolutely love.
None of this came about without some sacrifice, of course. I am purposely going to gloss over the details. At one point, I lived on a pull-out couch in the windowless vocal room for nine months. My morning routine consisted of walking my five plants to the front door and me sitting in a chair in the parking lot so that we could all get some sunlight. Thankfully there was a beautiful park not too far away, which was my saving grace.
Torture the Artist: You ran your ‘Vault’ parties in Boston for two years before moving to Atlanta to be alongside Pierre. Is that something you miss doing and do you have plans to start any ‘Vault’ events in Rotterdam (or beyond)?
Beyun: Yes, I miss doing them! I want to bring them back at some point, perhaps later this year or next year, but I am still working out where to have them. Currently, my primary focus is adjusting to life here and ramping up my production workflow.
Torture the Artist: What’s the track that immediately pops up in your head when you think of those events in Boston and what story/ incident do you connect with it?
Beyun: Haaaaa… what pops into mind are two tracks: An Acid edit I made of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit that I mixed into Plastikman Spastik when I closed Vault one night. Listening back, the mixdown of that edit is absolute trash. Still, its energy into Spastik was perfect for the moment, and Middlesex’s sound system was…very forgiving. People went nuts. Hmm… now that it’s in my head again, I might reconstruct it as my ear has vastly improved.
Torture the Artist: Your music is predominantly Acid-focused; what would be your top three Acid tracks of all time, and why?
Beyun: Aside from Phuture Acid Trax for the obvious reasons…
Mr. White / Larry Heard – The Sun Can’t Compare
This track hits you right in the heart every time. Deepness, beautiful vocal, message, and acid! This track has such intense healing energy and instantly melts any dancefloor.
Bam Bam – Where’s Your Child
Deep and dark acid with a hypnotic groove that will send you straight into the depths of the darkest corners of your psyche.
Akabu / Dave Lee – Another Generation
Who knew a belting saxophone and the acid squelch fit so well together? Dave Lee did, obviously. A true journey from beginning to end.
Torture the Artist: Aside from the aforementioned DJ Pierre, which producers/musicians have had the biggest influence on you, electronic or otherwise, and why?
Beyun: I’ve been part of Martyn’s 3024 mentoring program since April 2020, and I can say that’s contributed enormously to me incorporating more breaks in my productions and expanding my tastes far beyond just 4-on-the-floor house and techno. I’m so grateful to have that opportunity and be part of that community. Since then, I’ve joined a couple of other programs because I love hearing different perspectives, workflows, and people’s stories. Danny Berman’s (Red Rack’em) How I Program guest masterclasses have been fantastic and super inspiring. And recently, I just started some 1-to-1 lessons with George Levings (Commix) to take my Breakbeat workflow to the next level.
Ron Trent has also been a massive influence on me. The groove, deepness, and storytelling in his productions… The layers and attention to detail. His tracks can go on and on forever, and I’m along for the whole ride. While making this EP, I had the Prescription album on repeat and some of his newer productions—that Indigo Tracks remix! Wow.
Then, of course, Larry Heard. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rewatched his RBMA lectures. I resonate deeply with his meditative, intuitive workflow in creating music. Letting the sounds dictate the direction of the track, channeling energy that’s beyond yourself. Also, him being a more quiet, observational introverted type of person. Qwazars is one of my all-time favorite tracks. I liked it even before I learned that he sampled Neil deGrasse Tyson’s voice on it – I guess subconsciously, the astrophysics nerd side of me had already caught on.
And before I ever started music production, my dad’s taste in psychedelic rock had always been a significant influence on me, especially Pink Floyd and Jefferson Airplane. Dark Side of the Moon is an album that I return to again and again. That album’s storytelling power and sonic explorations instantly transport me to another world. Great Gig in the Sky…yes, enough said.
Torture the Artist: What’s an artist/ producer you’d love to have a studio sit-in with, and why?
Beyun: Ron Trent, for sure. The layers and detail in his productions. The meditative grooves. I feel there is a lot I can learn about working with the details just by getting a glimpse into his workflow. Details for me are the little fun easter eggs and intentions you leave so that each time someone listens, it still sounds fresh. Or perhaps a track you initially skipped grows on you when you didn’t quite get it at first (or your ear wasn’t ready for it yet), and then you realize it’s actually brilliant! That’s the depth.
Torture the Artist: What other artists can we look forward to on forthcoming Vault Wax releases?
Beyun: I don’t want to spoil any surprises… you will have to wait and see.
You can’t force creativity.
Torture the Artist: Aside from this release, where else can we find your music being released during 2022, either original or remix-wise?
Beyun: I have one track on a VA EP and another remix forthcoming on friends’ labels. Whether that is 2022 or later remains a mystery as they are both vinyl releases – and yeah, vinyl is a slow game right now. Because of that uncertainty, I won’t say much more and just let things unfold at their own pace.
I’m working on some new tracks right now, though. It took me a minute to settle into things after the move. It’s only been the past couple of months that I can comfortably say I’m feeling at home and there is flow in my creative process again. You can’t force creativity. When the channel is open again, you know it. In the meantime, the greatest inspiration comes from just living your life.
Torture the Artist: What’s the TV-show you’d both: love to be starring in and produce the soundtrack for?
Beyun: Well… I hate to leave you off on this note, but I don’t really watch TV! Time is precious for me, especially when working 40 hours a week at my day job on top of all the music stuff. Decompression is essential, and being outside in nature, moving my body, meditating, or chilling with people closest to me feels way more effective than TV. The last TV series I attempted to follow was the Mandalorian. While I certainly enjoyed the first few episodes, I can’t say I’m highly motivated to continue when I live an 8-minute bike ride away from a beautiful park.
I guess if I had to go way back to when I watched a lot more TV, it would probably be Doctor Who. I haven’t really followed the series closely after Matt Smith, but who wouldn’t want a TARDIS to travel through time, the cosmos, and different dimensions? And considering the theme song was one of the first synthesized for TV, I feel it lends itself naturally to some interesting soundtrack work.
Words by Al Bradley