The Formula 1 triple world champion Lewis Hamilton is venturing into the realm of R&B music – meet his Dutch counterpart Torus, a sublime hip-hop and electronic music producer/visual artist, who is now taking on the Formula 1 through his projects. After wrapping up gigs in Japan, the States and Norway this year, Joeri Woudstra aka Torus is working for the design think tank Metahaven and finishing his studies at The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. We spoke to Joeri to find out more about his current and future circuits.
Hey Joeri, what’s happening?
I’m chilling, preparing for a Halloween party tonight – I’ll be wearing a karting outfit that belongs to my dad. During the weeks, I work at Metahaven five days a week and I’m writing my thesis.
What is your thesis about?
I’m writing about the future of the visual side of music: how artists present their music to the public, and how their presentation works in the context of the internet. I’m looking at different ways to explore the limits of social media and find creative ways to escape these frontiers.
Tell us about it! What have you learnt?
Size is an example of a limitation. In the past, Instagram would only allow for square pictures to be published and picture resolutions on Facebook are an example of this too. You’ll find a lot of artists doing the same shit these days. They’ll announce a record two months ahead, and post mixes and interviews in anticipation on the usual sites. It’s very formulaic, and makes it all the more interesting when artists challenge these standards.
Does anyone come to mind in particular?
The way Aphex Twin promoted his last record by flying a zeppelin over London and publishing a file dump on the darknet is a good example. I like the way Holly Herndon asks for live feedback during her performances and projects them on a screen behind her, too. When it comes to pop, Drake is a good example of how to do things differently. In fact, he has changed the game so much that at this point he almost has too much exposure. When it comes to anything he does, it immediately changes into a meme.
Visual repetition and referencing other records is also a big part of the rap game.
Yeah, when you go through these mixtape sites the majority of covers look alike. I like how Future disrupts that by simply putting stock images on his covers instead of going for customary imagery. It’s a completely off centre concept for hip-hop, which is what makes it so great!
Vince Staples was recently under fire for saying the ‘90s and the golden era get too much credit. Your DJ mixes play with a combination of older music as well as contemporary music, especially rap. How do you feel about his thoughts?
I agree, I don’t understand why people come for him. The problem lies with his critics for refusing to appreciate new music. Contemporary music has little nostalgic value, and we’ll need at least twenty years for that to happen. What makes current music exciting is that people have a lot of reference material to build on. You will find this in my music too. Even though it is different, I build on my older stuff and develop and change it. Change is not a bad development, it is wonderful. I mostly play older music alongside more contemporary stuff in my sets exactly because of nostalgic value, not because I think it is more progressive or interesting than what is being made nowadays. On the contrary. People need to find a balance, and be mindful of appreciating music in its own context.
Does your longing for nostalgia tie back in with your interest in racing aesthetics? Are you drawing from it both visually and aurally?
Yeah, I’m definitely down with Eurodance, Trance and even EDM. It’s fast music, and it always went hand in hand with a lot of speed related visuals back in the days. In rap music of course you will find fancy cars as well. It’s a status thing. In my forthcoming music, I allude to Trance and Eurodance but I manipulate these references into how I would make a record. The visual aspect of the new Torus came about from the music I’ve been making lately. My visual aesthetics are always a reflection of the music I make.
And lastly, is there a particular reason as to why you stopped playing the MSN bubbling remix in your sets? It was your trademark track!
I played it too many times. I feel like I revived this track when I played it at Boiler Room, I even got it on national radio (3FM). It gets played all over Amsterdam at this point. It’s time to quit before people think I stole it off of someone else. That’d be fuckin’ wack!
Torus takes on Urban Outfitters’ 1 Year Anniversary In-Store Party this Thursday, 12 November. You can also catch him at L.A.N. @ Le Guess Who? at EKKO, Utrecht on the 19th.