You need to talk to Huismans for a while to get him to speak on the issue. The well-spoken Dutch producer claims that he "finds it a lot harder to talk about music than to make [it] or play [it]." But eventually he reveals a bit when he claims that he's been "quite obsessed with making ballsy music, uncompromising, maybe even brutal." Creating rhythms that "are kind of odd in a way, but still work." When he started cutting his tunes up to prepare his live set a few years ago, "it was almost like a revelation," he says. "I suddenly could see what was me in all of them."
Huismans' idiosyncratic sound seemed to emerge fully-formed when he arrived on the scene in the mid-'00s. His early 12-inch for Philpot slumped forward with all the deep house signifiers you could ask for but presented with few of the clichés. Even better was his work on Tectonic released soon after as 2562, which immediately marked him out as a singular voice in dubstep—if you care to call Aerial that. In a 2008 interview with RA, Huismans was keen to pay tribute—and distance himself as well—from the genre: "It's no use if an outsider from The Hague starts doing the same thing. But at the same time I was excited about the sound and felt like I had to add something different to it as well, as my musical background and preferences would be different from theirs."
The idea of "adding something" is something that also comes up four years later in our conversation as well. I ask Huismans if he has material that he's sitting on—stuff that he won't release—and he confirms that he does, tracks that he "made for fun, but won't add too much" to what he's already done and what is out there already. It's a common refrain among DJs—few of them say that they're going to release just to keep their name out there, and most of them will gladly point the finger at nameless others that do—but if you listen to the progression that Huismans has undergone over the past few years, it's clear that he means it.
Air Jordan, his most recent EP as 2562, is an intimate release that draws inspiration from field recordings that he made in the Middle East while on vacation last year. He'd never been to that area of the world, and the country's diversity drew him in—"from deserts to the old city of Petra to the [modern] cities, which are really vibrant and lively." He emerged with some of his most self-consciously beautiful work—"Desert Lament"'s plaintive synth is given ample room to breathe, "Solitary Sheepbell" is a rare beatless track built around a haunting melody from the titular bell.
Huismans is currently focusing on his A Made Up Sound alias with releases on Clone’s Basement Series and 50Weapons out this month. A few years ago it was easier to tell which song belonged with which project. But as dubstep, techno and house have all melted into one big bouillabaisse, it's become less clear. "I do sometimes feel like I shot myself in the foot a little bit there," admits Huismans. “Everytime, as soon as I’ve built up some momentum with one project, I return to the other, almost as an escape. I sometimes wonder if there’s a subconscious self-destruction mechanism going on.”
He still seems happy to go back and forth, however. And at the beginning of his career, it seemed necessary. People forget that there was a time when people like Huismans would play "house or techno in a set five years there would have been a fair chance of getting booed off the stage." Times have changed. "Nowadays I have suddenly found myself in a time where it is actually welcome—and the other way around as well. I notice it very much in Berlin. If I play techno here some people come and say to me that they have already heard it before. 'Play the new stuff.' It’s funny because I have played the new stuff for five years, and it was always really hard to fit certain techno and house in between that. I am happy to finally get that chance and dig up my old records."
Yet another future-facing DJ/producer digging deep into their crates in 2012 is hardly an anomaly. There is a difference to what he has in there, however. "Particularly in the UK I get the impression a lot of people are playing the same classics recently. Even when it's great music I find that a bit unsatisfactory. There is so much more good music out there." He explains that growing up in Holland in the mid-'90s introduced him to a lot of good local stuff: "There was this thing called pancake house—as in, flat as a pancake, easy, cheesy feel good club house. But even with self-deprecating names like that floating about, some of the Dutch house and techno in the mid-'90s when I started buying records was actually really good. The nice thing is I can still surprise people with some of that in my DJ sets, because those tunes weren't big outside Holland. More importantly though, I feel like by playing records I actually invested in back then, and that have been with me ever since, I'm bringing my own history into play, instead of someone elses."
When creating his own music, one of the more recent inspirations that Huismans has name-checked in interviews in relation to his Fever LP is Rick Wade. The Detroit producer's simple grooves seem like an unlikely interest for Huisman's uncompromising and oft-broken beats. One of the keys to enjoying 2562 tracks, however, is giving them a full airing. It's often only after four (or more) minutes that the rhythm seems to "lock in," its stutter becoming a normal state of affairs. Like many of your favorite artists (and Wade especially), they are songs that reveal more secrets the more attention that you give them.
Huismans' music is rarely immediately pleasing. And, for him, "that's kind of the point. It's good when music is offensive to some. You don't want everyone to like it straight away, because that usually means it doesn't push any envelopes." He knows this better than anyone. The tracks that became the first Archive EP on Clone in 2009 were sent to 10 - 15 labels in 2005/2006, and no one was interested at the time. Eventually, we may just catch up.