We caught up with Laurent Veronnez and Jurgen Leyers the one time duo of Fire & Ice and now on the verge of their new release as Airwave & DJ Fire with “Kabalash”. Two hard working guys with studio and gigging taking up their time but we get a chance to get them settled and ask a few questions about their schedules and lifestyles.
Hi guys thanks so much for taking the time to have a quick chat with us, how are you both?
L: Fine here thanks. I’m having a very hectic schedule nowadays. I have no single second to breathe.
J: Hi Brian, I’m fine thanks. Actually at this moment I’m not doing a lot of DJing or producing, since I’m getting a room in our house ready for our second boy which will be born in a couple of weeks!
Congratulations Jurgen and Mrs Fire!
Outside of music what are your interests, what do you like to do in your downtime?
L: Back in the old years I would have had a ton of hobbies and things outside music. Today I’d say I keep watching movies, I still play games a tiny bit (10 mins a week? LOL), and most of the time gets spent with the kids as they’re what matters most after all! Teaching my daughters a lot of things about life is the most enjoyable experience in life.
J: I’ve always been into movies, usually the new stuff but a nice classic from time to time is nice too. Besides that I love playing tennis and travelling to foreign countries.
You have both been connected with Bonzai for a long time now, what is it about Bonzai do you think has allowed that relationship to last so long?
L: We’ve been connected thanks to Bonzai because the people running the labels, the management, are themselves devoted to only one thing, Good Music, which results into a sense of self-commitment. Many people inside the Music industry think about two matters, themselves and money. While it’s very important not to forget yourself in life and while there’s no acceptable alternative to money for the outside world yet, self-commitment and passion bring people together. I think you’ve got your answer. This thin and fragile line, almost imperceptible in a world where you’re blinded by money and fame, makes a relationship last forever.
J: Indeed, I was a customer in the Bonzai recordstore since the end of ’92, when I started buying my first vinyls. I met up with Fly and all the other DJ’s-producers that were around at the time. That way I got my first contacts in the business and started working in the record store a few years later. Bonzai is really like a family, I think that’s why I’m still working with them as a DJ and a producer. They’re weren’t only my employer, but also personal friends (which they still are).
Let’s take a moment to talk about your most popular project together, Fire & Ice. How did you guys got together for F&I and how did the working set up go, were you both in studio together or was there some remote working?
L: Back in 96-97, NO Internet, NO Digital Audio, NO virtual effects and instruments. I was fortunate enough to have a computer with a soundcard that could import Samples into RAM. Each piece of hardware would cost you an arm, but that was amazing. I remember Jurgen and I sharing some mutual ideas about music at the 97 Love Parade in Berlin, and get in the studio in September of the same year. In 3 hours, Lost emotions was born. The die-hard fans know the rest of the story I guess.
J: Fire & Ice started up by accident. Me and Laurent both were on the Bonzai Truck at the 1997 Love Parade in Berlin. During the long journey on the bus from Antwerp to Berlin, we started talking about music. I already had a project called Energy Source and Laurent had started up several successful projects which I liked a lot. So one thing led to another and a few months later we were in his home studio producing “Lost Emotions”. Still one of our biggest tracks to date!
The latest single Airwave & DJ Fire – “Kabalash” (which is awesome by the way) will be out soon, how did you get working together on this particular track?
L: You know, everything has changed today, there’s much more importance brought to sound and tech stuff. As we had this very tribal idea working for both our styles, we had to put ideas together very quickly, which we did in April of last year. Then it took us weeks after that to figure out how to mix it down correctly until the very last details, but it paid off. By far one of my favourite tracks on Parallel Lines and currently getting a well deserved bunch of outstanding remixes now.
J: Laurent contacted me since we hadn’t produced a track together in some time. He was working on his latest album and asked me if I was interested in doing a collab, since he wanted to do some collabs with different DJ’s-producers. Of course I immediately said yes, and because it wasn’t Fire & Ice he wanted to do something special, we ended up doing a tribalish track with some oriental influences. Wait till you hear the remixes, they’re amazing too!
Clearly you guys have a great understanding of each other’s style, what do you think the other guy does so well and why?
L: Jurgen in a good shape is like a train that never stops when DJing. That and his very good memory make it very easy to work with him into a studio environment. He has the “feel” that so many DJ’s lack today.
J: I think we’ve always tried to meet each other in the middle. Laurent is a bit more underground-prog-oriented than I am, so I think there’s a good mix between commercial-dancefloor music and high quality progressive. Since I used to play in clubs every week, I was able to communicate with Laurent what really worked on the dance floors. We blended ideas and came up with some good stuff that did well on the floors all over the world and was also on a lot of compilations and on track lists of the top jocks.
Given that you do work very well together can we expect to see some more projects from you both as a duo?
L: Of course! When Things Go Well (sigh!!), and get made out of passion, why question these facts?
J: Who knows? If we both find the time to do some work in the studio, I’m sure we’ll be back as a duo!
Laurent, rumour has it that you are revamping another of your past projects, can you tell us anything about that?
L: Oh yeah? Which one are you talking about? LOL. If I had to resurrect another side-project besides Planisphere and Velvet Girl, that’d be a big surprise in terms of sounds. For example, I think the Green Martian project would get the same 140 BPM beat, but going a lot more hypnotic. Oh, yeah, I am still open for collabs with past collaborators, but time will tell if they can happen or not!
Jurgen, you have many other guises you have worked under, do you have any plans for more studio work and do you think you will consider bringing back some of your past projects?
J: I’ve had some guises in the past, let’s think, Energy Source, Power Station, E.N.E.R.G.Y., Captain Kirk, Fire & Ice, Freebase, Intimo (with Mike-Push) and of course DJ Fire. I guess that’s it. Not nearly as many as Laurent! I’ve already started on some new studio projects, together with different producers. I think some completely different styles as well. I’ve already been in the studio with Manu Riga (big up and coming producer in the Bonzai Team) and DJ Bountyhunter. Normally these projects should see a release this year. I might consider doing a final but huge Fire & Ice with Laurent or a new Intimo with Mike. But that’s only possible if they’re up for it…
Recently gigging has been something you guys are doing more of, do you prefer DJing or producing?
L: I prefer simply making and performing music. The way I see things evolve is that DJing will remain a matter for Music Lovers and respect to that, while True creation will happen much more often on the fly. The Technology is here with us, only a question of months. The superstar DJ days are completely gone, although you still have a few exceptions, meanwhile EDM Musicians still make it on every level.
J: I do prefer producing lately since I’m getting more offers for classic retroparties, while I normally prefer playing new music. So I play on parties, but lately only play the classics… Producing is something I’ve started doing solo lately, so I might come up with some more stuff later on.
Last year you guys were the opener for Bonzai’s 20 Year party, how was that for you both?
L: Such a kick. That’s when playing all this music from 15 – 20 years ago that you realize how disposable and forgettable the mainstream music is today, just as it was back then, but now including the mainstream electronic stuff.
J: It was a cool experience, we already played together on some other festivals the past years. It always works out, although we didn’t really put together a track list.
Overall what do you guys have in the pipeline for the future, are there anymore gigs planned either as individuals or as a team?
L: I for sure have a few plans into my head, although Jurgen doesn’t know about them yet LOL. I’m now throwing parties in Belgium, starting from zero again, what a blessing and a relief it is! Jurgen doesn’t know but he’s part of those plans .
J: As a production team, there are no concrete plans just yet, I might make a new DJ Fire with Laurent if we can find the time to get into the studio. As a DJ-team I don’t think we’ve been booked this year, I have some gigs coming up in Belgium. In June there’s the Sunrise Festival and in September I’ve also got a booking for a new festival in Belgium. And in November there’s the big annual Bonzai anniversary!
And finally for now, you have both worked with some brilliant artists over the years, is there anyone you would really like to get studio time with (apart from each other of course)?
L: I have a ton of good names on a list, and you know what? Half of those already have confirmed they’re in! You see. My next few months will see me collaborate with great guys, Manu Riga to begin with, but also surprising collabs will see the light of day in the next few days already. Keep an eye on my blog-facebook and you’ll see!
J: I’d love to work with guys like Eric Prydz or EDX, I like their productions a lot. Also Jeremy Olander is on fire lately.
Well it’s been a real pleasure to talk with you guys, thanks again for sitting with us, take care.
J: Thanks for the interview!