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Balthazar & JackRock talk "In The Dark"

Balthazar & JackRock's latest EP, "In The Dark," is a riveting journey through the realms of techno, showcasing their mastery in crafting immersive sonic experiences. With a reputation already firmly established in the techno scene, the duo once again proves their prowess with this release on RPM by KNTXT.

The EP opens with the titular track, "In The Dark," a mesmerizing blend of dark beats and luminous synths that beckon listeners into a world of electrifying soundscapes. It's a track that seamlessly fuses comforting nostalgia with an invigorating energy, promising a glimpse into the future of techno.

"Better" follows suit with its relentless rhythm, propelled by hammering kick drums and rumbling bass, all underscored by celestial synths that evoke a sense of otherworldly allure. Each element of the track works in harmony to create a visceral experience that captivates from start to finish.

Closing the EP is "In The Machine," a dynamic exploration of acid-infused techno. Its linear tech drums and hypnotic vocal hooks are juxtaposed with freaky vocals and pulsating trance synths, culminating in a hypnotic finale that leaves a lasting impression.

Charlotte de Witte's endorsement of the EP further solidifies its impact, with her praise underscoring the magnetic appeal of each track. "In The Dark" is not just a collection of songs; it's a testament to Balthazar & JackRock's ability to transport listeners to new sonic dimensions, where emotions run deep and the music speaks volumes.

We had the chance to catch up with the duo and asked them a few questions about this new EP, collabs, gig and the Techno landscape.

Balthazar & JackRock, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Your journey in the techno scene spans nearly three decades, taking you across the globe and through numerous collaborations and releases. Let's dive into your music and your latest EP, "In The Dark" on KNTXT.

Your techno sound has been described as having a signature rave energy that's unforgettable. How do you consistently infuse that energy into your tracks, and what inspires your creative process?

The music someone first enjoys as a child always remains engraved in their soul as the most special for life. Back in the 90s when we started, we were completely fascinated by the original rave and hard trance scenes, and somehow, that fascination has remained an endless well of inspiration from which we can always draw. Inspiration can be triggered by anything— an amazing party, the spring morning air, a peculiar sound, a vocal hook, a chat with a friend, and so on.

"In The Dark" is your latest EP, set to release on KNTXT. Can you tell us about the concept behind this EP and what listeners can expect from its three tracks?

Let’s start by quoting ourselves regarding the release: “For us it has always been important to convey strong emotion through our music. With “In The Dark” we fuse comforting nostalgia and energising, inspiring sounds that bring promise for the future. There’s no feeling quite like witnessing everyone coming together as one, reflecting on that emotion.”

This is what happens ‘In The Dark’. The second track, ‘Better’ acts like a sequel, but here the drive and energy intensify, leading to ‘In The Machine’ where the spirit evolves into a joyful raving stage, transcending time and space.

Each track on the EP offers a distinct sonic experience. Could you walk us through the creative process behind one of the tracks, perhaps highlighting any specific influences, challenges, or moments of inspiration encountered during its production?

Let’s talk about “In The Machine”. As mentioned, our roots lie in the initial rave culture from the early 90s. We decided that we didn’t just want to create a track influenced by those times, but one that feels like it could have been made back then, with a modern tightness in the sound. We have some super vintage samples stored deep in our hard drive from that era, which are no longer available online. We thought it was the perfect moment to use some of them. By merging and layering them with the synths we use, the result is truly exciting.

Your music seamlessly blends disparate elements into dynamic and haunting club tracks. How do you approach the fusion of different sonic shades and textures in your production process, and what role does experimentation play in crafting your signature sound?

Experimentation is a fundamental part of our process. Nowadays, it’s very challenging to come up with a sound or idea that sounds completely different yet good. Sometimes, we can spend weeks tweaking the machines until something clicks inside, and we feel excitement from that sound. When you’ve been immersed in music creation for a long time, you start to see the sounds, frequencies, and textures almost visually. You know and feel how you want to shape them, what sound you want to add, and so on. I guess years of experience help to blend the ideas into a piece in a way that resonates well with the people on the dance floor.

Your sound highlights a balance between heavy, industrial-grade sonics and ethereal, emotive elements. How do you navigate this contrast in your compositions, and what do you believe sets your sound apart in an ever-evolving techno landscape?

The main focus of our sound lies in powerful drums and bass drive, often with multiple bass lines layered to achieve maximum tightness and pressure. However, on top of that foundation, we strive to evoke emotions with memorable melodies, ethereal pads, and captivating leads. Additionally, we dedicate a significant amount of time to crafting unique analog shots and sequences. Our goal is always to find that special point of resonance where it generates a ‘rubber’ tension, adding the dynamic flavour we enjoy.

Collaborations have been a significant part of your career, including working with artists like Richie Hawtin and remixing tracks from various iconic names. How do these collaborations influence your approach to music-making, and do you have any memorable experiences from working with other artists?

It’s always incredibly special, almost sacred, to work with the creations of those iconic artists who, in one way or another, helped shape our scene. It provides insight into how they crafted every sound and seamlessly fused them together. This often offers valuable tips that we incorporate into our future work. When it comes to our edits, we strive to remain true to our vibe while honouring the original essence and emotion.

With a plethora of performances in over 31 countries, you've undoubtedly experienced diverse crowds and venues. How does the audience's energy influence your live sets, and do you have any standout moments from your performances?

The audience’s response is, of course, the main determinant of an artist’s mood. Around the world, some crowds are more expressive, while others prefer to enjoy the music more internally. We enjoy incorporating diversity into our sets, as it allows us to gauge the crowd’s preferences—whether they react better to a certain BPM, are more into melodies, prefer long buildups, or prefer a more straightforward approach. Every time we achieve a perfect fusion with the crowd, it creates a truly special moment.

KNTXT, the label hosting your latest EP, has been praised for its commitment to quality techno experiences while staying true to the underground spirit. How does it feel to be a part of such a renowned platform, and how do you see your music fitting within the ethos of KNTXT?

For an artist, the greatest feeling is when someone resonates with their creation. This signifies, in a way, that the minds and vibes of people are aligned on the same frequency.

Being invited by Charlotte to release on her label, and thus becoming a part of her vision, was exciting on another level and truly rewarding.

We see our music as taking the original raving techno energy and bringing it into the future, and we hope this resonates with the spirit of KNTXT.

Over the years, you've seen the techno landscape evolve and change. What are your thoughts on the current state of techno, and how do you see your music contributing to its evolution?

Well, it has been a long journey. From a time when techno was known only to a few, to now, when it is everywhere and a complete hype. NOW is a very special moment for techno.

There is a place for all the sub-genres, and they even influence each other. Many people miss the old times and the initial exclusivity of each released track, but techno has grown too big now. We must be present and do our part to raise the bar and continue seeking ideas to further its evolution. As we’ve said, we are in a constant search for new sounds, emotions, and ways to excite and provoke the crowd. This is how we push techno further, just as it began as the music of the future.

Looking ahead, what are your future plans and aspirations in terms of your music career, collaborations, and upcoming projects? And is there anything specific you hope to achieve or explore in the coming years?

After some rest, we’ve begun a new creative cycle, and as always, the focus will be on our music. We also have some exciting collaborations planned and more new music set to be released later this year. BUT for now, all the focus is on the release of ‘In The Dark’.

Thank you again for sharing your insights with us, Balthazar & JackRock. We're excited to see where your journey takes you next.

"In The Dark" is out May 2nd on KNTXT

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