Based in Amsterdam, the Dutch DJ signed to record label Metalheadz, gave us an inside view of how he came to be one of Europe's top upcoming D&B heads.
Where did the name Lenzman come from?
Back in the '90s I was a rapper and heavily in to hip-hop. At that time you had artists like Method Man and Redman that were making it big. I was also into manga and came across this manga movie from the '80s called 'Lensman'. I have a lazy eye as well so I thought what about 'Lenzman'. It was a combination of all of those things.
How did you get into DJing?
Back in the day I always wanted people to hear the stuff that I liked, and so in my mind I was a natural DJ. In secondary school I used to use a cassette player in the canteen to play my Hip-Hop tapes (N.W.A and so on). I always wanted people to hear the music I liked.
I grew up in Holland, but my mother moved to England when I was still young. I used to visit her every school holiday and made a lot of friends there. A friend of mine had a pair of decks and at 13 I was really into the idea of DJing and I would give it a go on them.
I bought some cheap turntables as I couldn't afford Technics and I practiced and practiced. If you can learn to DJ on cheap turntables you can DJ on anything. I got better and after 2-3 years I started to blag sets in places and put on a few of my own nights. It was 4-5 years before I really got out there. I had a dream of doing music for a living, and so I started writing music (drum and bass). It’s a completely different discipline than hip-hop and it took me about 5 years to get anything signed. Then to get my first vinyl release took another 2 years and that was released in 2007.
When I was into rapping I also had a hand in producing, as I was always interested in how things worked. Watching others I learned a bit of Cubase and sampling things – the basics. I don’t think you can know about writing music until you have your own set up and you start trying to figure things out for yourself. Back then you had to have quite a bit of money to have your own set up. In the early ‘00s they started getting to the point where you can write things just using a computer, so I basically had to wait for that technology.
There are two disciplines in the music for me. There is producing and making music which is personal and introverted, and there is DJing which is extroverted and is about sharing. I really like making music, but what I love is DJing.
What about your rapping career?
I never made anything of it. I made some tracks but they will never leave the vault, haha. I gave it up because I knew it would never work out.
When did you decide that drum and bass was your thing?
I went to the famous Metalheadz night at London’s Blue Note. I personally think that you have to hear the music live and loud to truly understand drum and bass.
I first got a drum and bass tape in ’93-’94, in the LTJ Bukem era, which was something I had taken to. The broken beats gave me the same feeling as hip-hop. It was pretty fresh and experimental. When I had a pop at mixing Drum and Bass on my friend's turntables it was something I just understood. I started buying records in ’96 (that’s where all my money went) and I got practicing.
What happened after you signed with Goldie on Metalheadz?
When I first signed my first vinyl release with Metalheadz that turned into talks about an album release. Metalheadz was a big label for me as a kid. If you want a label to invest in you then you have to invest in them – kind of like an old school hip-hop mentality. It’s about respect.
What would you have done if you weren’t a DJ?
I was working in advertising, studying as well, and my head wasn’t really in it. All I knew is that I wanted to do music.
Is Goldie as scary as he looks?
Haha. He can be, but most of the time he’s a pussycat. He’s a chilled, lovely guy and I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He’s been in the game for a long time (almost 25 years) making beats and DJing. He is still so passionate about the music.
Motto Lenzman lives by?
“I got you stuck off the realness”
Are you happy with your progress at the moment?
I am not religious but I feel really blessed. I like jumping in at the deep end. Everyone has a chance to pursue something, and if they love it they should do it, or else they'll regret it for the rest of their life.
Who in your opinion is hot right now in the drum and bass world?
Ivy Lab (Halogenix, Stray & Sabre)
– As a team they are one of best things to come out of drum and bass at the moment. They’re all very talented in their own right.
– He has been around for a while but in the last year has been coming up with some incredible stuff.
What’s next for Lenzman?
A remix EP of ‘Looking At The Stars’ is due to drop in July. Producers that I rate personally are remixing six of my favourite tunes from my debut album. Also a Lenzman EP is due on Metalheadz some time later in the year.
What festivals are you going to be playing at this year?
Let It Roll - Czech Republic
22fest – Amsterdam
Tokyo Dub - Bristol
Top 5 tips for any festival-goers?
1. Don’t wear your freshest kicks.
2.Realise you're not going to be able to wash for the duration of the festival.
3.Arrange a meeting place with your friends - you are going to lose them at some point.
5. Watch me if I am playing.
Any advice for up and coming producers?
Work hard and persevere. Anything in life you want to pursue you have to work hard. Talent is nothing without hard work.Be yourself. There are so many copycats out there you’re not going to get anywhere being 1 of 1000 cats doing the same thing.Get good monitors (speakers) and spend time to get your setup sounding right. If you don't have much money, do the best you can within your budget. If you can get some decent studio monitors and studio headphones that will make things a lot easier for you. Quality and presentation - don’t send labels everything you make, just send the best things. People get sent so much music all the time that you will be lucky to get your track played for only a few seconds. If there's anything you can do to stand out from the rest you should do it.Make sure your contact details and spellings are all correct.
Listen to Lenzman's album Looking at the Stars below: