In 2012 we asked Pascal Terstappen aka Applescal to contribute an isolatedmix, creating a sublime and original addition the series that remains one of the most popular isolatedmixes to this day. Pascal continued to hone his sound and curation efforts over the years, and began Atomnation. The Amsterdam-based label is at the forefront of a unique and melodic style of electronica that sways into both ambient and techno, depending on the quickly growing roster of artists. Along with the likes of Gidge, David Douglas, Tunnel Visions, Portable Sunsets; Olaf Stuut’s ‘Inner River’ project has emerged (although until now, you may not have known the guise behind the Inner River alias)…
Olaf Stuut has been producing under his own names for a few years, but only recently began the Inner River project. With several releases on Atomnation and a release on our beloved Traum Schallplatten, Olaf’s Inner River project takes his sound into a deeper, more textured world, that, in a similar manner to the Atomnation label’s clear aesthetics, can sway from one style to the other while staying true to the colorful and energetic sound the label is effortlessly busy crafting.
To shed some light on Olaf and his new Inner River project we sent over a few questions to talk about his approach and inspirations. Listen to his new album as Inner River, and dive into the sound further with Olaf’s isolatedmix and interview below.
01. Robag Whrume - Ausgang
02. I:Cube - Sequence III
03. Djrum - Creature Pt. 1
04. Luke Abbott - Dumb
05. Joe - MPH
06. 1991 - No More Dreams I
07. Inner River - Tributary
08. Hans-Joachim Roedelius - Veilchenwurzein
09. Floating Points - For Marmish Pt. II
10. Fah - Uninterpreted
11. Raz Ohara and the Odd Orchestra - Fragment I
12. TV Victor - You
13. Suzanne Ciani - Concert at WBAI Free Music Store
14. Joan Bibiloni - Sobrevivir
15. Dorisburg - 148
16. Longineu Parson - The Gathering
17. Inner River - Redissolution
18. DJ Healer - Geminiden Regen
Interview with Olaf Stuut / Inner River:
Hi Olaf. How did you get into producing music?
Olaf: Producing music came shortly after I started playing the piano and the guitar. I came into contact with my first DAW around the age of 15, which was Proppelerhead’s Reason. It was a real playground for me. I didn’t think about genres or styles, I was just so impressed I could recreate sounds I knew from all the music I heard around me. From there on creating more and more, slowly shaping my own style. After I took it a bit more serious I switched to Logic and Ableton.
So what does your setup look like now?
My setup is pretty basic I must say, but I tend to get as much out of the few things I have. For instance I’ve got a DSI Tempest (Drum Computer/Synthesizer) for quite some years already, but I’m still discovering new features and ways to use in a new and original way. There is a lot to find out in the machine which makes the learning curve a bit high, but once you get the hang of it this machine is a beast.
For the Inner River album I’ve used the Vermona Permourmer a lot, for this rich and warm sound for many of the melodies. Other than that I used the Analog Heat, to shape the sound and many plugins in the box. One of my favourite plugins are the Soundtoys plugins, they’re very intuitive and can get many different results. Also I’m in love with my Fender Rhodes MKII which is also on quite some tracks. There are many other devices on the album and in my studio but only got a small stage on the album. Other than that I’ve used the sampler in Ableton a lot. The first track on the album (Floe Flow) is actually a sampled vocal I found somewhere I don’t remember. It sounds so electronic but it comes from vocal chords, I love the way it’s possible to get something completely different and get surprised like that. I think that’s what being creative is all about, seeing things that are not “supposed” to be there and make a whole new thing out of it.
How did you become involved with the Atomnation label?
I actually commented on a track of Applescal’s on Soundcloud somewhere in the early 10’s, we started talking music and hooked up a few times. He helped me getting started releasing music through the german label Traum with my debut remix for Minilogue. So after some time and when Pascal set up his label, Atomnation, we talked about doing an EP which was “Siren” that came out in 2013. We stayed close to each other ever since.
Ah Traum, one of my favorites. Were they a big influence on your style or how you approached music?
Yes definitely, but I have to say everything I heard was back then. I was just getting started and got influenced by so many things. Everything I liked, I found something that could be applicable in my own music and sound. But yeah the earlier days of Traum influenced me for sure with names like Minilogue, Max Cooper and Extrawelt.
Can you talk about the music scene in Amsterdam? How is ambient music received there?
I wouldn’t say ambient music is huge in Amsterdam, but there’s definitely a scene to be found. Big names always get a chance to play anywhere I guess, but there are some organisations like “The Rest Is Noise” who invite some really cool ambient and experimental artists. Electronic music (especially club music) is very big of course in Amsterdam and you don’t have to look far to find some really good electronic music, but to hear some proper ambient you have to look a bit harder. But I have to say, I enjoy ambient the most in my own living room or on the road.
What’s on your stereo right now (or your road trip playlist?)
While I’m writing this I’m listening to something entirely different; Ken Thomson - Helpless which I think is very beautiful and pure. On my road trips I listen to many different kinds of music, and changes a lot every now and then. What's on my phone as we speak:
Glenn Asto & Hodini - Turquoise Turtoise
Khotin - New Tab
Lndcroy - Much Less Normal
Kilchhofer - The Book Room
Laurel Halo - Dust
Leon Vynehall - Nothing Is Still
NxWorries - Yes Lawd!
Markus Guentner - Empire
Hans-Joachim Roedelius - Wenn Der Südwind Weht (in the mix)
Elifantree - Anemone
Some people might not be aware that you are behind the Inner River project, so what can people expect from you as Olaf Stuut versus your new project?
Well “Olaf Stuut” will be getting a bit more danceable in contrast what I did before, not necessarily a lot more, but the slower and more experimental stuff will be saved for “Inner River”. I believe it makes more sense to divide it into two separate projects, not only for myself to have a clearer vision but also for the listener. If you want to relax, put on “Inner River” if you want to dance, put on “Olaf Stuut”.
Do you have different goals for each name / project? Or is it simply a way to separate styles?
I have some plans and different goals for each. But it still has to be shaped much more before I want to let anything go on that, as it will get less abstract when I’m moving forward on those ideas and probably be a whole other thing after I get closer to the final idea. I want to be as open as possible before I say or make anything definite.
Both the ‘Inner River’ name and some of the track titles are water inspired - what’s the connection?
The name “Inner River” actually comes from my stepfather who I knew since I was little. He started a project called “Inner-River” which was a breathing/meditation CD for people to get more focus and clarity. I really loved the name and it resonated with me a lot. He passed away a few years ago, before he did I asked if I could re-use the name for my own new project and he said yes. So essentially it didn't really have anything to do with water, but I have always been fascinated by nature in general, and we all know life couldn't exist without water. Water is always very calming because of its constant movement. If you want to relax and feel more connected, sit next to some moving water and just sit and look. You will become relaxed very fast, especially when you also put on this mix haha. The names for the tracks on the album is actually a journey water makes from ice (Floe) to the eventual re-dissolution.
Will this water theme continue with the Inner River project?
It might, I’m not entirely sure what will be next. But it will definitely be nature inspired. I do already have some ideas and ambitions for future releases, but it will have to unfold a bit more before I can say anything about it. Time will tell.
You also DJ as Olaf Stuut, what are some of your favorite tracks to play?
That changes really fast, sometimes I have a track I play a lot for a month or two and might never again after that. But to name a few tracks I’m really into lately for my Olaf Stuut sets are:
What kind of DJ mixes inspire you? Do they come naturally to you or would you rather be playing live?
In my opinion there are two kinds of mixes, at least how I look at it when I’m making a mix myself; a mix that really flows and smoothly transitions from track to track to tell a covering story in its entirety or a mix that has the sole purpose to show and tell, playing tracks you want people to hear and get inspired by. I think with this mix it’s a combination of the two. Lately I have to say I’m enjoying DJ-ing a bit more than playing live as I get inspired by all the great music other people have made. But this changes from time to time.
Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration for your isolatedmix?
I really wanted people to get to know the new project “Inner River” with this mix. So it’s a combination between really nice and smooth ambient mixed with a bit more experimental and electronica tracks. There are many tracks to be found in this mix, some are even sort of mashups that originated during mixing. 19 tracks in one hour is something I don't do that often, especially not with “Olaf Stuut”, but it was a nice challenge. I’m very happy with the result, I hope many people will feel the same way. Let your inner river flow.