Brussels-based Pole Folder has had an extensive career in electronic music, beginning in 2001 as a protégé of revered British DJ John Digweed. Since then, the multi-instrumentalist and live performer has released acclaimed music on Bedrock Records, Global Underground, and Digweed's Renaissance. Traces of him have appeared on hit US television shows, Channel 4 ad campaigns, and in the movie Stark Raving Mad. Additionally, his remix of Funkstar De Luxe's Sun Is Shining has racked up over 1.5 million views on Spotify.
As we get closer to the release of his next EP, The Great Beyond, the Belgian producer tells us some of his secrets.
Hey Ben (aka Pole Folder), how do you start your day? Do you believe routine is important for productivity?
I currently work one day per studio during the week and the rest of the time at home. After a coffee and dropping my daughter off at the nursery, I leave for Waterloo where the Mansion Playground studio is located. I install my equipment which takes me about twenty minutes and then I start. It's mainly a logistical routine here. The other routine for me is spending a couple of hours a week studying sound techniques or my plugins ... It's an important routine for me.
What is the story behind the name Pole Folder?
I was looking for a name twenty years ago that sounded real but made up of things you can find in a music studio. I focused on the sampler that I was using a lot at the time and combined two parts of it to find my name. The 'Pole' from the filters section and the 'Folder' where I was placing my samples ... That's how I chose this name. It gives me the opportunity to divide my life into music and the more personal part. :)
How is the music scene living in your city with this murky pandemic situation?
The musical performances have started again recently, which is a great thing. The clubs are unfortunately still closed at the moment. I can hardly get into the debate, which is complicated for many to manage calmly, but I was quite shocked to see that 'artistic' activities were officially classified as 'non-essential' by the authorities in place. It is clearly an abuse of position, in fact at odds with the constitution, and a personal interpretation of the space occupied by music or any other art form within society. I can hardly accept this vision and endorse it.
What are your favourite places to hang out in your city and why?
I really like the atmosphere in bars like DeHaus or the bars on Place Flagey. I often eat at Atelier de Jean, a very nice restaurant run by a friend. Otherwise it is a pleasure to stroll in the Sablon district, the Marolles, the rue de Flandre, ...
Are there promising producers and DJs in your city to watch out for?
Absolutely. There is a very active music scene in Brussels. I sometimes work with a talented young producer called Jay Dunham. A little outside of Brussels I produced an artist called Solemn Eye. But the city and the country are full of young talents.
Do you remember any album or concert that has changed everything for you since you started making music?
Definitely 'Violator' by Depeche Mode. I'm not going to be very original I guess in citing Pink Floyd in general and Dark Side Of The Moon in particular. I loved David Gilmour's concert a few years ago in Belgium. Massive Attack impressed me enormously during their last concert in Brussels. I'm a big fan of the albums but the live was filled with unsuspected energy. GusGus blown me away with their album 'Arabian Horse'. Their last concert in Brussels was also a great moment for me.
The list is long and I like a lot of artists who deeply inspired me.
Your next EP is a collab with Jinadu and Aethon – can you tell us about the track and how it was made?
I started a demo a few years ago, which I sent to Simon Jinadu. He wrote this wonderful melody and the lyrics quickly. We then worked on a few versions and a first mix was done in the studio with Kid Creme. I sent this one to Aethon 2 years later. He rebuilt the track around the main elements and we all loved the direction. We then worked together on the details of the arrangements and the mix to arrive at the final version.
Why did you choose Armonica and Fur Coat to remix?
Ugur, the label owner of Labyrinth, is a very good friend of Fur Coat. Thanks to that, we were able to send the original and enjoy this excellent remix. I have known Armonica for several years and it was for me a very good choice to add a deep and melodic version to the release. We all love the remixes.
During the last 18 months, have you had time to focus on making music, spending time with your family, or planning future projects?
I had the incredible chance to spend time with my newborn daughter and my wife. Pillars in these difficult times. Fatherhood held me back a bit in my activities, but I don't regret it at all. I was still able to produce a few releases and remixes as well as work on my Reworck label with new artists. Having a child made me discover the time it takes to raise and care for a baby. It allowed me to realize what women generally give in this situation, with a recognition that does not live up to their commitment. I eased off a bit in terms of music this summer to be with my family but the projects have just started again. This includes gigs after 20 months of no performance.
As for your studio, what is your setup currently made of?
I have been using Ableton Live for a few years. A program that allows me to work both live and my productions in the studio. I don't use too much hardware anymore and I work 'in the box'. My software comes from companies like Native Instruments, Izotope, Fabfilter, PluginAlliance, Soundtoys, Sugar Bytes, ... As a studio controller, I regularly use a Native Instruments M32 keyboard, a Maschine MK3, and an Expressive E touched SE. I also have a lot of Novation brand controllers, especially for Live.
What's the one item you'll never get rid of, no matter what and why?
This is a trick question ... but I would say my macbook pro. He gives me the possibility to compose anywhere and just with it as a tool.
What was the last record store you visited and what did you get out there?
I went to the excellent BPM Record Store in Péruwelz. That day I didn't buy any vinyls but my friend CP with whom I came robbed the store. :)
Finally, what are your next shows we can watch you play now that we have gigs back into the calendar?
I play this weekend in Woodstock / Netherlands before my friend Hernan Cattaneo, Sunday August 29th. The following week at the Atomium in Brussels, still with Hernan. Then at the Extrema festival on September 18th where I play live with Simon Jinadu. ADE is probably on the agenda next...