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Yves De Mey
E-mail interview
Sendai, sound design, mastering

Welcoming Yves De Mey to our newest Outsiders episode at Kiosk Radio. Yves is our mastering engineer, a quintessential member of the Souvenirs team.

Yves De Mey started releasing music in the mid-nineties of last century. Back then, his releases were clearly rooted in breakbeats and UK drum'n'bass. Soon after that, through working for theater and dance performances and doing large scale sound installations, his interest in experimental sound design found its way into his music. He’s also very active as a sound designer, sound engineer and re-recording mixer for film and tv.
As of late, he added music mastering to his service package as well. Since 2009, he’s been releasing mostly under his own name. At the same time, his focus shifted towards the most singular form of sound synthesis through using modular synths. His work, so far, has been released by Line, Opal Tapes, Spectrum Spools, Editions Mego, Sandwell District, Entr’acte, Modal Aanalysis , Latency Superpang,... He's also part of Sendai (with Peter Vanhoesen ) and Grid Ravage, a trio with synths, drums and cello.

1. Where and when were you born and raised ?

I was born in Mechelen (Belgium) in 1972.

2. What music did you grow up with ?

As a young kid, I kind of followed my older brothers’ taste. Initially they were into metal. We’re talking late 70’s, early 80’s. So a lot of AC DC, Iron Maiden,… At a certain point, when they started to go out, they brought home some mixtapes with electronic music, mostly new wave. That’s when my ears popped. And I kind of never looked back. I think i was 11 or 12 years old then.

3. What kind of music was alive there at the time ?

Besides new wave and affiliated styles, also a lot of pop music. Early Madonna, Prince, Wham,… but I didn’t care much for that. Except for bands like Depeche Mode, Thompson Twins, people like that. Synth pop, you could say. Still a huge fan of Depeche Mode, although everything they did after Violator was a bit meh, in my opinion.

4. What kind of music can we expect in the following two hours ?

I’ve mainly picked harmonically rich music, slow builders, music from people I know and respect a lot. But also some bass heavy stuff, lots of love for that as well, of course. And I tried to keep a good balance between the electronic and the acoustic side of things.

5. You are a self-employed sound designer, an all-encompassing concept in the music and film world. How did you get involved in the wide world of sounddesign and can you tell us a bit more about the projects and assignments you are most involved in today?

Since my teenager years, I’ve been into sound for film. I watched quite a lot of sci-fi and horror, and later on of course David Lynch films. At first I dreamt of doing soundtracks, but I quickly figured sound design suited me better. I did a few soundtracks though, and I really enjoyed that. But my whole sound design parcours has been a combination of meeting the right people at the right time, and stumbling from one freelance job into the other. And a certain point, it simply became a fulltime occupation.

These days, I mainly do tv-series, which is fortunately the nicer stuff (when it comes to sound). It doesn’t necessarily need to be the most hyper futuristic sound design for me. I equally enjoy doing very naturalistic jobs, making cities sound realistic, picking the right bird sound for the right season, playing with silence, things like that….

2. In my eyes you are, as it were, a jack of all trades when it comes to music. You work both as a sound designer/ mastering engineeer, composer,.. Do you find enough time throughout all your assignments to compose and create your own music? And where do you get the most satisfaction from?

It’s often indeed a bit difficult to find the time to sit down and make new work. And not just because of the job; I have a daughter, I practice the piano a lot, I do some extra study from time to time (mainly Max), social life,…. But over the last few years, I became less “stressed” about having to make music. There’s no rush anyway, I don’t think anyone cares whether I have some new music ready this coming October or January next year… And that’s when the satisfaction kicks in: I can do it on my own terms. I’m the happiest when i can program or patch a couple of sounds and make them work together. Or process them, and all of a sudden something harmonically interesting happens… pure bliss. I also love to spend a lot of time with just one machine, usually a synth. I have quite a few tools to choose from, but i think I made my best work when there were not that many machines involved. This way, the composing/producing also becomes some kind of study, very focused. I like that. My “Exit Strategies 1” release is a good example: one sequence, one synth (Modor) and programming the hell out of it. It’s a quick process, in a way… not many distractions, no “what if I add this or that from this or that machine…”

3. You started the Universal Exports label a while ago with Allon Kaye of Entr'acte and Roman Hiele. Can you tell us a bit more about the origins and musical future of UE Records?

The origins: three guys in Antwerp decide on a (probably alcohol fuelled) night to come up with a label to release music we like. Initially, we wanted to primarily focus on local artists, but that quickly proved to be pointless. When you can release an album by the great Asmus Tietchens, it would be stupid to not do it. It’s still available, by the way:

Musical future: that’s a difficult one, because we don’t know. We like to keep it open, also towards other things, different from music. There have been some art gallery related events, and I think it’s a good way of diversifying. I rather see the label as some sort of vessel for different disciplines, and not just a label as such. But we’ll see. There will be music releases for sure, but I can’t say when or what yet.

4. As a versatile producer you have a lot of releases on your name. Can you give us a sneak peak of what is coming out in 2022 /2023?

There’s a new album on its way, should be released after summer on a Swedish label. It’s been in the works for a very long time. But since we decided to release it on CD, things went (unsurprisingly) faster. There’s another 6-track release ready, something i’d love to release on vinyl, but it might take too long. I could release it digitally today, perhaps. I also want to start working on a new Sendai release with my friend Peter Van Hoesen. He recently sent me some things that are very interesting as a starting point. I’d love to make new tracks for the trio I started a couple of years ago (Grid Ravage), with Louis Evrard on drums and Gino Coomans on cello. It’s excellent fun to play with these guys, and it’s a bit out of my comfort zone, what makes for some very inspiring adventures.
And i’ll soon start working on tracks for SM-LL, a UK label that, in one of its series, releases music anonymously. I like that idea: so far they have 16 releases, with vinyl copies made to order, but everything is available as a download as well. It’s always a hard guess who’s doing the releases. It’s intense electronic music, for the heads, really. Not sure when it’s going to be ready, and I can’t tell when it’s there either. I like the people running the label a lot, we became good friends over the years, and I can’t wait to make something for them again.

5. When is the next opportunity to enjoy an Yves De Mey Show ?

Depending on the timing: August 18 in Café Central in Brussels, August 27 in Ghent for a night of modular synth music, and otherwise September 1 with the trio in Antwerp or September 2 at Meakusma, also with the trio.

And that’s it for shows, so far. Hopefully more to come, but equally happy to work from home on new stuff.