Martyn and Steffi Interview: Doms & Deykers

Following the release of 'Evidence From A Good Source', we spoke to underground icons Martyn and Steffi about the collaboration process, their separate paths into club music, and where they're heading next.

Mike Warburton

Last updated: 30th Nov 2016

Photo: Martyn and Steffi Credit: Stephan Redel

Despite growing up in the same area of the Netherlands and attending the same nightclubs, Martijn Deykers and Steffie Doms took very different paths when breaking into the club scene, particularly when it came to their own productions.

Back in 2005, Martyn launched his career as a producer with drum n bass EP Get Down on Marcus Intalex's Revolve:r imprint, and from there continued to explore bass heavy club music matched with dusty atmospherics and jazzy Chicago inspired synths with warmth and positivity.

Tracks like 'Vancouver' and 'Twenty Four' still stand out as completely original inserts in the annals of dubstep without ever being formulaic. With the launch of his label 3024 in 2007, the boundaries between genres have constantly been usurped, with extracts of techno, house, bass music all weaving their way into his increasingly original sound.

Steffi on the other hand cut her teeth as a DJ first and foremost, and in the early 2000s joined forces with fellow Dutch electro enthusiast Dexter to launch Klakson, a label housing synth heavy, sound system destroying electro jams.

Rightly regarded as one of the scene's most technically gifted selectors, her natural progression to the role of producer has yielded two immense albums on Berghain and Panorama Bar's in house label Ostgut Ton (listen to the lead track from her latest, 'Power of Anonymity' below), a club she's been a constant feature of for many years now.

She's since established herself as a compelling exponent of hardware fueled, bass heavy techno, electro and house, with elements reduced to their leanest, rawest elements, while retaining a subdued, emotionally charged undercurrent.

With the two Dutch icons hooking up to release the incredibly diverse and endlessly enjoyable LP Evidence From A Good Source under their surnamed alias Doms & Deykers, we jumped at the chance to quiz them about the collaborative process, their separate paths into club music, and where they're heading next.

The brand new Doms & Deykers LP landed just a matter of days ago. How did the idea to collaborate come about and how did it reach the stage of a full length album? What’s been the reception so far?

Martyn: We have been good friends for a while and have always exchanged music, ideas and things we're inspired by, so it was quite a natural progression to start doing music together. Steffi invited me to jam in her studio in Berlin and the results of that became the 'Fonts for the People EP', released in 2014. After that, the idea for another EP and eventually an LP was born.  

It's landing on 3024, a label that's really evolved over the years, how would you say 3024 has grown in its nine years and how does the new LP fit in with the canon?

Martyn: The label started mainly as a personal outlet for music and artwork, a platform where we put out whatever we liked and whenever we felt the need to. From mainly my solo work it has slowly evolved over the years into a family affair, with records by some of my favorite musicians out there. The Doms & Deykers project fits perfectly in that concept. It's only the third full length LP on 3024, after my first album 'Great Lengths' (listen to 'Natural Selection' below) and Leon Vynehall's 'Music for the Uninvited', but I'm really proud of the discography so far. 

Dolly and Dolly Dubs are likewise both going from strength to strength, and have featured you both in recent times, are there any future releases planned that we should keep an ear out for?

Stefi: All of them!

Haha! Well of course...

Stefii: There is another Basic Soul Unit on the way with a really nice Voiski remix and I'll be releasing a 12 inch myself after that one. Martyn is about to return on Dolly Dubs and there's a fun various artists project. I recently relaunched my other label Klakson for more electro-oriented stuff. Me and Dexter are up next, a really talented producer called Privacy and Mesak will return, so there's lots of stuff on the way!

You’re both no strangers to collaboration - Steffi you’ve done some immense stuff with Dexter for example and Martyn you’ve worked beautifully with Four Tet and of course the late , great, Spaceape, what do you both get out of working alongside another producer?

In the past, I was never that keen on collaborating as I preferred to fly solo, but the last few years I've opened up a bit and learnt a lot from my collabs, especially the Doms & Deykers one.

It's not just the obvious differences in what synths you use, tips and tricks etc but you learn from each others' approach to music in general. Sometimes you feel stuck with a song and a fresh idea can completely alter the outcome. I think a lot of the music on the D&D record is music we couldn't have made solo - all the songs are true blends of both our ideas and methods of operation.

It must also have its own challenges - were there many disagreements during the writing and producing phase!? Can you briefly talk us through an example of your process for writing each track, from the initial idea to finishing?

It's a mix of live jamming and exchanging sketches that we both made as solo artists. I'd say a lot of the music on the LP is based on recordings we made during jam sessions in Berlin, where we sit together, bounce ideas around and record the results. After the initial sketch phase we send ideas and music back and forth between Steffi in Berlin and me in Washington DC, and finish the songs that way. Other tracks were born out of brainstorming sessions about old sketches that we played to each other. 

There’s a real mixture of styles and ideas bubbling throughout the album. Martyn’s warm bass throbs and broken up beats are a strong feature, alongside the more atmospheric and measured style of Steffi’s work as well as the busy percussion of you both, it seems to have a really strong ‘Dutch’ feel as well with that mesh of house, techno, bass, acid and these blissful, Chicago and Detroit-inspired synth sections - what were some of your inspirations for the album, and which are your respective favourite tracks from the LP?

Martyn: We are the same age and grew up in the same area of The Netherlands, so we have a lot of common influences; from clubs that we frequented, DJs we heard play, records we bought. We are both "known" for a certain sound but obviously our record collections stretch much further than that.

This helped a lot in the studio as we could reference music we both know very well. The Doms & Deykers sound is a mix of new and old music we love, but more importantly is that it's focused on melody rather than on soundscape type stuff. Good melodies make a song last a lot longer and we both love lush pads and sharp riffs!  My personal favorite from the record is "Sweet Sanctuary".

You’ve both put out really well received albums in the last couple of years, was it easier or more difficult to do a collaborative one? 

Martyn: It's just a completely different process. My solo albums have taken much longer to finish than the Doms & Deykers LP. When you work as a team and you get stuck with a certain song, there's always the other one to add a fresh idea and propel it forward again. That really speeds up the process, and you keep motivating each other to work on the music more intensely. In that sense it's easier to work with two people.

On the other hand, you also have to find the confidence to admit that you both have certain qualities and that for a good result it's sometimes necessary to throw out your own idea and go with what the other proposes.

You’ve no doubt both got busy winters ahead, we know we’re looking forward to Steffi hitting Manchester for Meat Free at the weekend time alongside Virginia and the Zenker Brothers - what parties are you both looking forward to?

Martyn: I'm really looking forward to NYE. First I'm playing in Nijmegen with Mike Huckaby and then go to Berlin to play the ambient space next to Berghain. For that gig I've been tracking down music for a few weeks now, revisiting my collection of odd soundscape, ambient and downtempo records, buying new stuff, listening to found sound recordings... Maybe I'll bring some extra equipment for it because I want to try and make it a one-of-a-kind set.

Steffi: It's going to be a busy period before my big six month break in January. I'll be in the studio until June to work on a lot of new projects.

Last question - if you could both collaborate with any artist of your choosing, alive or dead, who would it be?

Martyn: Prince, but I would just watch and learn and let him do all the work.

Steffi: Stevie Nicks, please call me!

Get tickets to Steffi at Meat Free here.

Tickets are no longer available for this event