INTERVIEW: Firebeatz (2013)
2012 was a massive year for the Dutch duo Firebeatz, Jurgio Ratello and Tim Benjamin. Their track with Chocolate Puma, “Just One More Time,” was a big Beatport hit and gained massive support from Pete Tong. A slew of solid remixes, including Pink’s “Blow Me,” has expanded their reach from the underground to the mainstream. With so much going, they were quite in demand during the Amsterdam Dance Event, and I caught up with them for a quick chat.
RS: How did the two of you meet up?
Jurgio Ratello: We met at School of Rock in Tilburg.
RS: Were you DJs first or producers?
Tim Benjamin: I was a DJ first and played music, and then I started to create the sounds that I played. In the beginning, it was mostly drum and bass/hip-hop stuff. Later on when we met at school, it was more house music and that genre.
Jurgio: I started DJing first and was more into the original house sound. That is where we get this unique combination of all different influences.
RS: When the two of you work together, what software do you use?
Tim: We work with Logic Pro.
RS: Where did the vocal sample for “Just One More Time” come from?
Jurgio: I believe it was from a really old school soul record.
Tim: From what I can remember, it was not that old school, it was from an African artist that makes soul inspired tracks. The guys from Chocolate Puma came up with a sound bite of it and we decided to incorporate it in our tracks. Actually, all of the samples from that track were used in our track “Just One More Time.” We later rerecorded all the parts and vocals.
RS: Is that where the horn sound came from also?
Jurgio: No, it is just a horn that we put in the picture and worked around with.
Tim: When we work with Chocolate Puma, we always do crazy stuff so the sounds could come from ten million different records.
RS: How did you guys hook up with Chocolate Puma?
Jurgio: We really liked what Chocolate Puma did, so we made some records and sent them some tracks for feedback and that is how it started. They invited us to come to the studio to listen to some stuff and suggested that we make something together. It was really cool and an honor to make something with them.
Tim: They are house heroes so it was really an honor.
RS: “Always and Forever.” Are there any other big collaborations coming up?
Tim: We have some cool stuff coming up. We have a track done with W&W, DJ Apster, BassJackers, and another really big collaboration coming up that we can’t say anything about.
RS: For “Dear New York,” how were you able to clear the Beastie Boys sample?
Jurgio: We love the Beastie Boys’ voices, so we skipped through some of their acappellas, made a track, and decided that there had to be a shout in it to make it recognizable. We combined two acappellas and we created the shout “Dear New York, it’s time to rewind!” We also rerecorded that.
RS: I heard that BBC Radio 1 picked up the track; what is it like to hear yourself on the radio?
Jurgio: It is a great honor that Pete Tong played our song and eventually even made it an Essential New Tune, it’s crazy.
RS: Great job on the Pink “Blow Me (One Last Kiss) remix, is it a challenge for you to remix a full-on pop song like that?
Tim: We have some experience with it; we did some tracks a few years ago for Flo Rida, so we are actually very used to remixing. We mostly just use the vocals, so it wasn’t a huge challenge, and we love to do it so it comes naturally. I thought that it was a cool remix to do, especially because it is such a pop song.
Jurgio: It is cool to make our own remix of it, that is why we only use the acappella part of it and try to build our own Firebeatz soundtrack around it.
Tim: It’s actually a Firebeatz track with the other vocals on it.
RS: Has it inspired you to do full vocal versions of your own tracks?
Tim: We are actually starting to make more full vocal tracks right now to get the crossover record that we need.
RS: A few years ago you redid “Where’s Your Head At.” Are there any other classic house or electronic records that you would like to get your hands on to redo?
Jurgio: There are a lot of great old records that we like, but most of the time we make bootlegs for fun just for our own sets. Now we want to create some of our own stuff so that people don’t think that we only use samples for our stuff, which is not the way that it is, we just started with the bootlegs and it worked really well.
Tim: Then the label decides to release it (laughing).
RS: With EDM becoming so popular, how do you maintain the balance of music going mainstream in the genre and yet stay true to your fans while still gaining that crossover?
Tim: I think that Firebeatz has a really distinct sound, and through that you can make something look more appealing to the mass crowd, you can still keep your own sound in it. Naturally we don’t think about that stuff when we are making records, we just do what we love to do and it turns out that other people like it too and it gets mass appeal.
RS: What remixes do you all have coming up?
Tim: We have a remix that we just did for Sidney Sampson and Will.i.am, the new track is actually a dance smash right here in Holland.
Jurgio: We are working on a remix for Congorock with Sean Paul. At the moment we have put a little stop on the remixes, we want to do more of our own collaborations and originals.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Tim: Thanks for following and supporting us, we hope to see you at our shows soon.
RS: What is the best way to follow you?
Tim: The best way is Twitter.com/firebeatz and Facebook.com/firebeatz.
Interview conducted at Amsterdam Dance Event 2012.