The journey for rising Dutch producer Nachtbraker (or “nighthawk” – soundcloud) has been positively linear thus far. After cutting his teeth as a promoter and local jockey, the Amsterdam-based producer has gone on to build an acclaimed yet almost concise discography rooted in quality over quality. Notable releases on Detroit Swindle’s Heist Recordings and Dirt Crew Recordings have paved the way for Nachtbraker (legal name Maurits Verwoerd) to become a quickly rising name in the deep house scene.
In 2016, Maurits entered the realm of label management, founding the concept imprint Quartet Series. The label boasts an obsessive template of fours: four tracks per release, four artists, four records per concept or “series”. The inaugural series presented vinyl heads with a battle between “Good Guys” and “Bad Guys” throughout the four releases, which were neatly decorated with original comic book-style art on fully printed sleeves. Artwork is of utmost importance to the imprint, as it is custom-made and clearly essential to the concepts at play.
Maurits has employed an evolving vision with Quartet Series. “[At first I wanted to] have everything in fours”, the Dutchman reveals, “four different artists, four tracks, four [records] and concepts.” However, after receiving demos from Scott Franka, Nachtbraker couldn’t resist the package of tracks and decided to forego the V/A concept in favor of an artist EP. And thus came Quartet’s first entry in Bodybuilder series, which features a live bodybuilder that’s been framed and painted in a variety of ways for each EP.
French producer Tell continued the interest in artist EPs after catching the A&R’s attention with a batch of tracks. So, to hell with the original concept, he said. “It can still be a Quartet if you have four tunes and four [records]”, Maurits explains with a smile, “[Some of my friends, like] Lars and Maarten [of Detroit Swindle] were [teasing] me, saying ‘you’ve made it quite hard for yourself with the [Quartet] concept, because now you have to stick to it”.
Nachtbraker seems to have found a way to navigate the shift, though by building two separate Quartets in the artist EP vein: the aforementioned Bodybuilder Series, and the Trophy Series, which Tell’s record kicked off. The latter appears to somewhat emulate the “Good Guys” vibe of the V/As more closely; leaning closer to warm, brighter house sounds. Meanwhile, the former strays closer to the darker and spacey-er sound of the “Bad”. However, Maurits concedes that the musical lines have definitely been blurred between the two sides with the two new series. In any case, it’s clear he’s employing the partitions to allow for the curation of a variety of different sounds and textures.
The upcoming QS release is another Bodybuilder, this time from the hands of Portamento Boys. “It’s actually only one guy”, Maurits reveals, “He’s an old friend of mine [from] when I started making music when I was 16 or 17. . . I always really loved his music and [we] became good friends”. Though it was originally intended for him to join Quartet at the V/A stage under his SAN2 alias, Koos (Portamento Boys) instead joins the roster with a full artist EP. The grip of playful and quirky italo-disco rooted tracks resonated hard with Nachtbraker, “it reflects the way he is [and his sense of humor]. . . and [embodies] a vision I try to put in my own music as well – that sometimes it’s nice to have a laugh”.
Deeper on the label end of things, Nachtbraker describes that WordandSound has been extremely supportive in fulfilling the vision of Quartet Series, and praises his labels of residency, Heist and Dirt Crew, for influencing his management approach with their professionalism. On the A&R side, Maurits cites LuvJam’s Blind Jacks Journey as a major inspiration to his approach to running QS. He explains that the deep and new find approach and perhaps not-obvious vibe of the label is extremely appealing to him, “I’m still finding [old BJJ] records now and listening back and thinking, ‘oh wow this is really good. It’s kind of what I wanted to do with Quartet Series; everyone [is] playing the Good Guys music and no one is playing the Bad Guys music. My hope is that in due time, people will be playing the Bad Guys music”.
The QS bossman reveals that he’ll be at the helm for the second entry of the Trophy Series, due out late Fall. And though it won’t complete a full concept quartet in 2017, it does total to a sum of four records, leaving two more records to go in the respective artist EP lanes. Maurits assures that 2018 will see closure to the Bodybuilder and Trophy Series, though it’s still a mystery as to who’s on board. However, Nachtbraker’s solo entry for QS won’t be the only release we see from him in this calendar year. He’s next on deck for a Heist EP as well; coming with two records after about a year-long pause in record output.
The brief detente was deliberate, he explains, as he indicates he wants to remain mindful of releasing with labels that are suited to his sound and vision. Moreover, Nachtbraker stresses that solo EPs are really the essential product for career advancement, rather than V/A appearances or remix credits. In regards to his own output, the Amsterdam beatsmith emphasizes tight control over his product, recalling, “I used to have a lot of unsigned tunes, and I would just send [labels] everything because I wanted to put out everything I had. But now, I’m much more selective in what I want to put out myself”. The producer also provides some insight on the dangers of saturation, especially in up-and-coming producers, positing that “the more you put out, [especially] in a short amount of time, the less special the tunes get. . . in the end it’s not a good [approach] because you’re scattering your music and maybe putting out some stuff you shouldn’t have put out”.
Indeed, in a game flooded with thirsty new talent, quality control and deliberated release frequency is absolutely paramount. Release too often or too monotonously in sound and you might fall off, release too little and people might forget about you. Nachtbraker seems to have found a balance in his production and label management; seeking to keep reinventing himself (and his Quartet Series) to stay fresh, and hoping to make you long for that next release.
Enough words for now, though, take a dive into our latest MIXED BY, courtesy of Nachtbraker!