DJ Penta Interview (2016)
Updated: Aug 18, 2018
TCD is honoured and proud to introduce to you the next artist: DJ Penta. This name only came to my attention a couple of months ago, when I spotted his Defqon.1 promo mix, and from that moment on he gained a new fan, me. This Belgian DJ and producer has taken the world by storm, and due to his dedication and passion to bring the rawest Hardcore to the masses, he was signed to the mighty label ‘The Third Movement’ back in 2015. It’s time to talk to this upcoming artist, and who will gain more followers and fans in the near future: ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you…. DJ Penta!
Hi Penta, how are you? Have you recovered from Defqon.1 yet? “Hey, I’m fine thank you. Héhé yes I’ve managed to recover just fine.”
Normally at this stage I talk to DJs/producers about their artist names, and I think it’s suitable to ask you where the name comes from? It sounds quite dark and edgy…. “Well, my name is actually a shortened version of what I had originally planned. Lets start from the beginning. In the very beginning, when everything was still far from serious, I mixed under the (horrible) name:”X-razor”, but as soon as things started to get a bit serious, I knew It was time for a more professional name.
Back in the day, during my day-time-job, I was working on this client-portfolio and all of a sudden I saw very cool company-name “Penta Core Industries”. It was a manufacturting company to whom my client had leased several huge “next-gen”-machines. But the name really gave me the feeling like it could be some Hardcore concept. At the time, one of my “trademarks” was that I always mixed several styles into 1 set and my entire track-portfolio covered 5 styles. As I don’t believe in coincidences, I just knew this was the way to go. After some thought (and good advice), I figured Penta Core Industries was way too long, so I decided to narrow it down to something easy & catchy: Penta.”
You are a DJ and a producer, and you literally live and breathe Industrial Hardcore. But let’s go back in time, time to find out when it was you discovered Hardcore (in general) and when the love for the rougher and tougher stuff grew? “Haha this my favourite and probably most told story I know. I remember like it as was yesterday: I was +- 14 years old and we we’re in the recreation-room at our school, when all of a sudden, one of the older students puts on his CD, a some serious nasty electronic music started pounding. somehow it instantly “took” me and I just had to find out what it was. I found out it was a CD from a local club called “Lagoa” and afterwards I started looking up all their music. The funny thing is that from the very beginning , even withing the “harder styles”, I always found myself liking the harder/aggressive and more distorted sounds. This quickly led to me discovering Hard Techno & Footworxx, which on its turn, led to me discovering an even harder version of electornic music: Industrial Hardcore. Looking back at my youth, the one thing that stuck to me was always wanting that harder, filithier sound and hearing the filhty distorted screech cut through everything else, leaving all “normal” music far behind.
The peek of my musical youth was around 2006, when I really started “investing” more time in music and I started to realize that music was just more than a fase to me. It was also around that time I just couldn’t accept any music that wasn’t as hard as hardcore. Throughout 2007 untill 2014 I think 99% of what I listened, was Hardcore and eventhough I researched the entire genre with all its subgenres & era’s, the dark & filthy sound always prevealed over all the rest. So I guess that’s the story (in a nutshell) of my musical journey into Industrial Hardcore.
Where 2006 was the year of my Hard Techno peak, 2009 was for my Industrial Hardcore-peak.”
Many DJs start raving on the dancefloor, and so did you. When you were a raver, going nuts on the dancefloors, which DJs made you rave the hardest? Who were your idols? “Well, throughout the years, discovering all the things Hardcore, I had many idols. But I do have a few who I will always consider “lifetime” idols. The first is definitly Sven Wittekind. In my Hard Techno fase he was my ultimate hero. I consider “Maybe we’re crazy” & “Sunstorm” to be 2 of my life-time-top-tunes. Promo, obviously, is also one of those idols that I’ll respect my entire life. I looked up so much to him because of his sound and what he had already achieved back then with The Third Movement. Aside from Idols, I also have 2 albums who I will always consider to be the best of the best: D-Passion’s Data Recovery & Negative A’s – Modern music is destroying our youth”
You started listening to TTM from 2004 onwards, but it took 9 years for you to leave the dancefloor and start DJing/producing. What took you so long? “Héhé, well I’m somebody who thinks and thinks and overthinks, and in this case, I doubted very long to start DJ’ing. I don’t remember when I had the first thought but I remember considering buying technisc and Hard Techno on vinyl, so I think I’ve had the idea for a long long time. Aside from that, I’m also somebody who likes to do things properly. I either go for it completely or I don’t do it all. In this case I suppose I waited for the exact moment when I was ready to really launch myself into it and that moment finally arrived in the beginning of 2012. I actually did the research, because I remember exactly what party made me “change sides”. We celebrated NYE at “Raving Nightmare” in Gent, 2011. and after the party I realized how much time I spent analyzing & commenting the sets instead of partying. I propably considered starting for the 100th time but then I just cut the cord and said fuck it, lets do this. So, the day (literally) after I got myself some gear and I also immediately grabbed fruity loops and the rest, as they say, is history.”
There must have been a reason why you ‘left’ the dancefloor and joined the DJ scene. Why did you make the transition from dancefloor to the stage? “Well as I said, I noticed myself, being more critical, analyzing the music and sets. And slowly but surely that led to me thinking: I can do this better (well or at least do it so that It fits my own vision)”
2013 you started DJing, and even though it is only 3 years ago, can you see progression in your mixing skills? If you listen back to your first ever mix, is it different mixing wise to your latest mix? “Oh yes, I notice a huge difference. Over the years, my sets have evolved in very different ways. To be honest, I’m very happy to see such a evolution in my sets. It just goes to show I’m still growing & learning.”
DJs are always very picky when it comes to equipment, so what is your favourite setup? “Well DJ-wise, I’m not very picky, as long as they have the latest Pioneer gear. As long as the equipment is failproof and I can do my thing. I’m happy but if I would have a favorite setup. It would be a live-setup. But more on that later ”
When did you receive your first booking, and which event did you play at? “Well, my first gig, was a DJ contest, and my first booking came not long after. The DJ contest was somewhere far in north of Holland (Groningen) : Kings of Core DJ contest . it was a 6-people contest and my first performance ever. I was nervous as hell and practiced set as crazy. We ended up having a really nice time and eventhough I didn’t win (as to be expected) it was an amazing experience which boosted my motivation as crazy.
My first gig/booking, was Brutal Sounds ! I’ll never forget this one (or the dj contest). We had such an epic time there. We got welcomed with open arms by the BS-Crew. We even had a nice afterparty afterwards and when we finally drove home (yes all the way from Hengelo) we got pulled over by the police (which also was my first pullover). But thankfully I was sober (enough), and I could continue my 3hour drive back to Belgium. Over the years, the guys from BS & me always stayed good friends and its always nice to meet up whereever we can ! Actually I’m the secret 5th member of the crew haha (or the international version of the crew is with me included haha).
Producing was the next step. But what made you decide to ‘leave’ the decks and start producing your own music? Wasn’t DJing enough for you? “No it wasn’t, as I was already kneedeep in the scene before I even started, I was well aware of the fact that in this era of the scene, you needed to be a producer to get somewhere. That’s why I grabbed Fruity loops as soon as I could. On the other hand I have to admit my producer-level stayed very low in the beginning due to the focus on perfectionising my DJ-skills. As soon as that was where I wanted it to be, I focussed more on producing. if I recall correctly, that switch came around august 2013. I decided it was time to get serious about producing and bought my Mac and Ableton and just went for it. Nowadays I can say that I feel more like a producer than a DJ. 75% of my free time goes to producing. And then whats left over goes mostly to track-selection, -research and trying out new combo’s.”
Were you a sell taught producer, or did you follow any producing masterclasses? “I was/am a sell taught producer and DJ. I started alone, I learned alone, and today I still do my own thing alone (but I think that’s basicly the case for every solo-artist?). Most of what I know comes from researching & reading (yes I’m a nerd and theorycrafter). I started from scratch in terms of producing & dj’ing, but obviously, I had my fare share of conversation & feedback-session with various experienced DJ’s. And of those, Promo is definitly the person from who I learned the most via feedback on my projects (and the occasional random theory-discussions).”
Your first EP which was called ‘Stormrage’ and it got released on the mighty The Third Movement. But before it coming out, how did you get recognised and signed? Did it go the way artists get signed in the good ol’ days, by sending out mixtapes? “Yes It was exactly like that, I just sent my demo to Promo and he really liked it. Even though we’ve been talking for a while before, I think I never got a reply as fast as when I sent the Stormrage demo (haha).”
The EP literally set your name on the map. But when it comes to your tracks, do you have a specific style, a signature sound? “Well I don’t know, I don’t purposely aim for a certain “sound”. I just do my thing and what comes out seems to always be within certain criteria. I do have a lot of rules and things in my head to which every element has to comply, so maybe that’s kind off my sound. I think the most important thing for me, is to have something that I’ve never heard before and sounds original to me.”
For DJing you already mentioned your favourite setup, but producing wise: what’s your favourite setup? What’s really necessary to make a Penta record? “Lots & Lots of Coffee ! Aside from that, I just use a Mac, external sound-card and a normal midi-keyboard. Nothing fancy really, but I do have some stuff on my wishlist but I don’t really feel like I need something more at the moment, otherwise I would’ve bought it.”
Fairly new to this scene, but if you could work with anyone on a record, who would it be and why? “That’s a hard one, my collab-wishlist is very long. I have so many hero’s I’ld like to work with but I think I would prefer to wait untill I’m a conformtable level of producing, so I doesn’t feel like I’m leeching of the other artist. I want to be able to contribute in an equal way.”
You have recently played at the mighty Defqon.1, and the set blew me away. How was it to play at Defqon.1? “Pure magic! It was so intense and such an amazing experience. Everything was just so amazing, especially the crowd !! this is easily my most favorit set I ever did (so far).”
Do you ever wake up and think ‘this is all a dream’? “Haha, it is a privilege to do what I do and to just imagine what lies ahead, it sometimes does feel very unreal. But I guess that makes it all the more special! I really look forward to see where this all ends up. Meanwhile, I just sit back and grab whatever comes at me. I’m very happy to be able to take this amazing journey.”
Random question of the day: Industrial Hardcore, is there a market in Belgium for it? I thought Belgians only liked cheesy pop music, and the occasional Techno tune? “Well, what used to be a big underground scene, today, is something completely different. But I guess the generation that created the underground scene is replaced by a new generation, with different priorities & tastes. Business-wise everything has become more difficult, more legit, inhibiting smaller/less-legal raves. Aside from that, many of the old underground “sanctuaries” have been closed down/destroyed. So this combination of crowd-movement, location-shortage and legal-hassle, has made it very hard for our scene to stay alive. But If its destined to continue, it surely will.”
Penta, what will happen in the future? Anything exciting you want to mention? “Well, since I took ages to finalize this interview, I made a lot of new music that will be coming out in 2017 (which is also a reason why it took so long to reply haha). Aside from that, there are some nice bookings coming up in countries I’ve never played before like Denmark, Spain and some others which I cant disclose yet.”
If people are interesting in what you do after hearing the mix underneath the interview, where can they find you playing next? “Well my agenda is always up to date @ the concrete website, currently I have Belgium, France & Denmark coming up next. And for 2017 everything is still undisclosed, but I would recommend everyone to keep an eye on my artist-page !”
Belgium, not only famous for their Belgian waffles, chocolates, small kid who urinates constantly, or their contribution to the Techno scene since the early days of the 90s, but also famous for their Industrial Hardcore and their artists. Penta is a name you should already follow and worship. Thank you a lot for this insightful interview. To fully understand his capability and his strength as a DJ and as a producer, we’ve added Penta’s set, recorded at Defqon.1! Make sure you check it out, and turn up your speakers! Whilst listening, why not check out these links: