Known for his sleek production of the liquid funk style of drum ‘n’ bass material, incorporating lavish layers of vocal and instrumental work, Belgian artist Boris Daenan (stage name Netsky) is bringing his live tour to Manchester in December.
Netsky has been working in the drum and bass scene for several years, signing with Hospital Records in 2009 and has since gone on to tour his material all over the world.
Talking to MM, Boris confesses he has a soft spot for many aspects of the UK, not only the wide open music scene but having a locally based management squad.
“It’s always really nice to have people hanging around that you know,” Boris said.
“As an artist with a label you really start working on UK media, it all mostly starts on Radio 1.
“You’ll see yourself acquire so much new music, and then it’s wonderful when you hear your material on the radio when you’ve been working on it all day to broadcast.”
— DICE (@dicefm) November 21, 2015
Boris continues with how beneficial just a little air time can be on an artist’s singles, and can help to build new audiences from places you’ve not yet reached.
“Having a little radio play on singles is great for attracting new crowds from various backgrounds, and it’s great that these mix with the hard core fans.
“This happens a lot in the UK which is also why I like it so much,” he said.
Originally starting off as a solo DJ, mixing his own tracks and incorporating numerous vocals, sounds and genres, Boris decided in 2012 he wanted to bring his material onto a live stage.
No backing tracks, with eclectic performances.
“It’s always been quite a logical transition for me,” said Boris.
“I’ve always liked the idea before of having a live drummer with me on stage striking up a unique rhythm and a guitarist to enrich us.
“So I just started playing around with more live stuff.”
— Netsky (@netskymusic) November 26, 2015
Despite the amount of experimentation in his work, Boris claims he ‘was never a musician’ when growing up, meaning the transition to live performances was a huge challenge.
He said: “I had to learn a lot about playing live.
“I’m really glad that I had those last two years to learn how to be on stage, and it’s still a massive learning curve for me.”
By the sounds of it, live performance is a constant learning process, and it can often leave you hurrying to keep up with talented co-performers.
As Boris, chuckling merrily as he does it, agrees.
— Lost Frequencies (@LFrequencies) November 7, 2015
“The two musicians next to me up on stage do this as a profession and have done for years,” he said.
“And it’s funny because a lot of the time they’re so good they make me look like an amateur.”
Despite the transitional challenge and the constant learning process, Boris believes live touring is a rewarding job.
Just as much as crafting DJ sets, which he still does regularly around the world.
“With a DJ set it’s more of a rift, and you can just work on so much more artistically.
“You can really build a show and make transitions and see how people come up, see how we dress, and get a unique feel from each performance.
“You’ve got a bit more control over the show rather than just turning up in a truck and have someone else do all the lighting and sound controls for you.”
While many can appreciate the energy of a live performance, DJ sets sometimes get accused of being half hearted – some accuse the artist of simply ‘pressing play’.
When pitching this notion to Boris, he puts forward a detailed account of how challenging DJ sets can be for the artist.
— Netsky (@netskymusic) November 2, 2015
“It’s a really tough question, and I need to be careful not to shoot myself in the foot,” he said, laughing slightly.
“It’s a lot harder to prepare for a live show, and also financially it’s a tough job to do an international live tour, the flights just make it almost impossible sometimes.
“With DJ sets obviously it’s very different with just one guy or girl travelling, and that’s the brilliant thing about it – it’s amazing logistically.
“With the DJ sets it’s a lot of fun to be able to choose what music you want to play in that moment, not sticking to a routine.”
Boris believes this fluidity of choice helps a DJ set to separate in its own merits from other shows, the need to know what your crowds want to hear and not just what you know from before.
“I think every gig should be different for a DJ, and how the DJ does that really is a big challenge,” he said.
“I’ve seen so many mainstream DJs having to stick purely to the songs the audience expects them to play – and it gets really boring for them.
“I feel bad for the ‘DJ slot’ because you really don’t have any artistic value in your sets anymore; you have to follow the rules so much more.”
— Netsky (@netskymusic) October 17, 2015
When discussing his own influences on the sets he produces, Boris says he deems it important to take on crow wishes as well as experimenting with your own ideas.
Although he and other artists can never be expected to please everyone.
“I think I take a bit too much of a risk sometimes with festivals [laughs heavily], and I haven’t gone without some complaints from old school fans.
“But I couldn’t live with playing the same set every day, if my management or label told me that’s what I had to do I would refuse.
“I couldn’t do that as a career,” he concludes.
A respectable statement from an educated and experience artist who knows what his vision is.
Not many artists can take the big jump from electronically produced music to full scale live performances, but Boris clearly knows what he’s doing.
Netsky is performing at Gorilla Manchester on December 11.
Tickets are available here.