In conversation with Binkbeats
Interview by Shannon Lawlor
Frank Wienk aka Binkbeats is a multi-instrumentalist, percussionist and composer currently based in Utrecht, Netherlands. Initially gaining considerable exposure through his very own Boiler Room series titled ‘Beats Unravelled’, where Wienk would deconstruct his favourite electronic pieces into mostly acoustic covers by artists such as Aphex Twin, Flying Lotus, J Dilla, Atoms for Peace and Shlohmo, just to name a few.
After years of experimenting with timbre, texture and atmosphere, Binkbeats soon after released select singles that would eventually progress into an EP series titled Private Matter Previously Unavailable, utilizing a multitude of assorted acoustic and percussive instruments ranging from bells, vibraphone, guzheng (Chinese harp) and guitars right down to various toys, typewriters and found objects, Binkbeats continues to wow audiences and fans worldwide with his multifaceted, experimental journeys of sound.
We caught up with Binkbeats on learning instruments and changing lives:
For anyone unfamiliar with Binkbeats’ maelstrom of miscellanea, how would you personally describe the music you produce?
I like to think of it as electronic music with an organic texture. All the sounds are quite ’round’ and a bit more gritty since it’s an acoustic source a lot of the times. My songs mostly have a melancholic touch somewhere and float in between songs, beats or dance genres, and are quite lengthy a lot of the time. This hasn’t got anything to do with the fact that I’m looping – because I make complete sound journeys of them.
Your latest original body of work titled Private Matter Previously Unavailable Pt. 2 was released on January 19th. Could you detail this recording process and explain how it may have differed to Private Matter Previously Unavailable Pt. 1?
Actually it doesn’t differ much because all the material was made in the same timeframe.
I was working on it as a whole but decided to release it in parts. The songs came about in different ways. Some were made in a more traditional style, first coming up with the chords and then everything else around it (‘Earth’ or ‘The Waydown’).
Other songs derived completely from a single sound or instrument (‘Jake’s Journey’, ‘Little Nerves’)
For the live process I had to ‘unravel’ my own tracks again since I didn’t take the live process into account while creating the studio versions. Of course I couldn’t take all the instruments with me that I used so I had to be creative here and there.
What was the inspiration behind writing ‘Little Nerves’?
This is an example of a track that derived from the instruments.
The very base began with a kind of flute pipe which I recorded some rhythmic patterns.
From there I added some layers to that, but didn’t have a leading theme yet.
One night I was playing around on my bass guitar when I started discovering this theme, from there I knew where I wanted to take it.
Binkbeats is known for dabbling in almost every instrument in existence. Are there any instruments that you’d like to learn, or any you haven’t quite mastered yet?
Well, as a percussionist you are bound to a collection of instruments rather than just one, but to say I play every instrument in existence is far from true! As a kid I taught myself to play a bit of guitar and bass, but there are still so many instruments that I can’t play.
But there are some instruments that I would love to learn some day. I actually bought a Qanun a while ago which requires a special playing technique that I want to learn. I’d also love to learn the Japanese ‘sho’ too, but I simply just do not have the time to dive into these things yet.
Best known for Boiler Room’s ‘Beats Unraveled’ series, do you feel that your musical skill and wisdom have improved since successfully deconstructing your favourite pieces of music and the completion of this project?
Yes it definitely has! For me, this whole series was a learning experiment, not so much in playing instruments but more in producing and mixing. A lot of the work went into getting these instruments to sound like their originals. It took quite a lot of experimenting with different effects and mixing to get these results!
Care to name some of your most influential albums of all time?
D’Angelo – Voodoo : This was the first album where I became aware of the mix and how good everything sounded. It features produced (sampled) tracks and live tracks, but you can’t even really tell the difference.
Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes : I didn’t really get into his previous stuff before this album. But I really love the textures, and the concept of this album as a whole.
James Blake – Overgrown : The king of “less = more”. All the sounds are so well chosen, and to produce tracks with such minimal layers is really difficult.
I’m leaving out so many important albums right now; but these are just a few that come to mind instantly!
What are some of your favourite aspects of performing live, and how does this differ from being in the studio?
I think it’s hard to compare these two because being in the studio has everything to do with ‘creating’, where performing is mostly ‘recreating’; they’re both really different things.
The best thing about being in the studio is that anything is possible! When I have all my instruments and there’s no time frame – you can really get lost in it!
The best thing about performing, for me, is the kick of getting everything right in that moment and meeting the fans. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing people getting inspired and being enthusiastic about your music. Some people come up to me and say that I’ve “changed their lives” with my music. That means a whole lot to me.
Binkbeats is currently on a European tour, what have been some highlights for you on this trip so far? Any place you are particularly interested in visiting?
Like I said, meeting people is always really great! To know that all these people are listening to your music is just amazing. I don’t have any particular places I want to perform, although I do look forward to cross the pond one day and tour the United States.
Out of the plethora of gear and instruments used in Binkbeats music, do you feel there is anything absolutely essential when embracing your signature sound and style?
I think my ‘signature’ sound is a mix of certain instruments and mixing choices. Of course, there needs to be acoustic percussion instruments in there, and a touch of melancholy.
What does the future hold for Binkbeats?
Well, lots of new music for sure! I’m also thinking about working on some different projects that I already have planned, but it will take a while before I have time to work on those. But for now, I’m busy with touring the ‘Private Matter’ EPs and working on the 3rd part.
Upcoming Tour Dates:
Feb 21 – The Jazz Cafe, Camden, United Kingdom
Feb 23 – The Lantern, Bristol, United Kingdom
Mar 02 – Vega, Copenhagen, Denmark
Mar 03 – Atlas, Aarhus, Denmark
Mar 07 – En Avant Mars Festival, Ghent, Belgium
Mar 15 – Hakken, Hamburg, Germany
Mar 16 – Muffatwerk Ampere, Munich, Germany
Mar 17 – Club Gretchen, Berlin, Germany
Mar 28 – Confort Moderne, Poitiers, France
Apr 21 – Motel Mozaique Festival, Rotterdam, Netherlands
May 03 – &And Festival, Leuven, Belgium
Order Private Matter Previously Unavailable Pt. 2 by Binkbeats via Bandcamp
Order vinyl version here
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(Image credit: Isabelle Renate la Poutré)