“We were both playing a festival called Technodrome and I met Pim [aka SQL] in a lift and I thought was very rude,” says Elliot aka Child, without divulging any more details.
They spent the next few days getting drunk together, which turned into the next few years making music together. If it weren’t true, it might be a cliché.
“After India it felt like we wanted to hang out more, so we started trying to book gigs together”.
With Pim in the Netherlands and Elliot in Australia, it might have been a difficult friendship to manage. As it happens the duo have worked their touring schedule so that they spent a large portion of the year together – producing and performing, performing and producing.
“We almost spend, nearly a third of the year together,” says Pim.
“We’re going to Brazil together,” adds Elliot. “When I have an opportunity to play in Europe, and for all my offers next year, I always say, ‘Take SQL aswell’. Similarly if SQL get’s a gig he suggests me”.
Alongside their joint touring schedule, both come together in the studio to make music. Their joint release on German label, Trapez, came with remixes by Robert Babicz and local Melbourne colleague, Steve Ward.
“We started working on our first record together and Trapez picked that up,” recounts Pim. “From the beginning of making the record to the release was around one year and eight months…It got released October this year.”
Although they collaborate, both are quick to make clear that they have separate solo projects.
“Recently I’ve started working with this Dutch label from Secret Cinema,” says Pim with pride, “it’s called Gem. I’ve signed a release with them due in December. It’s my favourite label in Holland…It’s really high quality techno and house, but they share the same mentality that me and Elliot have”.
Elliot interjects, “It’s actually funny because at about the same time, I got picked up by my biggest influence as well, Funk D’Void and his label Outpost, who’s going to be representing and managing me.”
There’s a gentle competition between SQL and Child that’s served them incredibly well – they urge one another and push one another in different directions. Within this relationship things just seem to unfold before them.
In the age of the Internet, of course, their physical distance is not such a big deal.
“When I’m working on something and I’m thinking maybe Elliot has some inspiration I’ll just send over the project to him,” says Pim. “He could start working on it and then we send it back and forth and try and make it into something”.
But then, for two young producers who are such good friends and collaborators, what’s the line between solo and collaboration and how do you stop from crossing it? “Well I cross it all the time,” says Pim simply.
“I wouldn’t ever hold anything back from Pim,” adds Elliot. Even if it’s for solo production, each offers the other invaluable advice and criticism that comes from treading similar musical journeys.
Both had been producing, or “experimenting,” as Pim calls it since their teens. Though they’d grown up on separate sides of the world both recall the massive influence that psychedelic trance plays in their production. And though both now consider their sound more partial to techno or tech-house, their last release on Trapez nods its head to a more progressive tip.
“I’ve made a lot of different styles of music, but I only realised last a few years ago that I wanted to make tech-house and techno,” says Pim, quite hastily. Both SQL and Child are reluctant to be typecast by genres like ‘progressive’, or even ‘techno’. There’s an ambivalence toward genre that keeps them free and creative.
But yet again, we seem to arrive back to the ‘internationalist’ perspective that has guided the relationship between SQL and Child. Where many producers might look to their native locale for inspiration, you get the sense that Elliot and Pim are global citizens who are more interested in networking around the world.
“There’s a big community worldwide, which is one reason we get so many international bookings,” says Pim, as if to prove this point. “There are a lot of people with the same sort of backgrounds who started throwing parties.”
This is refreshingly different to many of Elliot’s Australian contemporaries who are vehemently inward looking, and patriotic.
On Melbourne? “Motivation? No,” says Elliot, albeit tentatively. “Recently I’ve been doing so much with Steve Ward, that’s probably the only motivation to stay here musically. I can’t think of another reason”.
At the mention of Steve Ward and his Chameleon Records label, SQL and Child seem to get a glint in their eyes. Both have nothing but respect for the lone Melbourne label that’s taking music in the direction they’re happy with.
“Chameleon is so particular about everything they do,” gushes Elliot. “There’s so many people in Europe who think it’s just the best shit. Secret Cinema, Egbert, Pete Horrevorts, Christian Smith…”
Pim is quick to agree. “The quality that they deliver is amazing, like all the artwork. There’s a whole concept. It’s not just a few tracks on an EP. They have a creative writer that puts everything together and it looks really professional. The music has a certain quality”.
Often whatever is closest to home is generally ignored. Australian electronic music enthusiasts compensate for their physical distance by looking ashore for the latest, and most cutting edge release. When you have artists like Egbert and Secret Cinema all fawning over a local Melbourne label it gives a greater degree of credibility.
So, Chameleon Records is one reason to stay in Melbourne. The other ‘reason’ has become an obligation that would disappoint many a punter if it would stop. The Strawberry Fields Festival is only in its third year, but has is already become a ‘must-do’ on the summer festival circuit. Of course, for Elliot, who is the director of the festival, it demands and ever-growing dedication and demand on his time. The lineup has expanded in 2011 to include some of the world’s biggest names in house, including Fred P aka Black Jazz Consortium and Move D.
“Probably if I didn’t have the festival and I’d be trying to make ends meet in Europe”.
There is an altruistic tone to Elliot’s reflection, however. He is well aware of how many people he would disappoint by not putting on the festival. It’s a burden he wears with quiet confidence.
With Strawberry Fields just around the corner, “at the moment I don’t get many hours to focus on production,” sighs Elliot, “but this is a really busy time. I do a bit during the week, but after November is done, after the festival is done, I will come to my studio and spend full days just mucking around making music.”
For Pim and Elliot, what lies ahead is very much in their hands. Together, they’re working towards a release on Chameleon, due in the near future. Pim will head back to Holland after the Australian summer and continue to throw parties in much the same fashion as Elliot does Down Under.
“I really take a lot of inspiration from what Elliot’s doing here, in capturing the unpretentious mood of the parties,” says Pim.
“That’s the exact thing that we’re trying to do with Strawberry Fields,” confirms Elliot.
SQL and Child are very much on the same wavelength. Where much of their productive relationship is ahead of them, their philosophy will keep them working towards their goals – no matter how much distance separates them.
BY TONY STEVENS