Fresh from his recent outstanding debut LP on his own Rugged Society imprint Amsterdam’s Manel Embrechts continues to impress with his accomplished and wide ranging musical style. Touching on downtempo, left-field, new age and classic house music energy, his album ‘ZEN’ is one of the stand out long players of the year and we cannot wait to hear more. Get lost in his super sound for us to get a flavour of the fantastical musical world of Love Ape.
Hi there ! Where can we find you right now? How did you start your day?Hi ! I am currently in my home in Amsterdam. Usually I start my day listening to new music while eating breakfast. This is also to calibrate my ears for music production and mixen & mastering. Early hours of the day are usually best for that type of work, when my ears are still fresh.
When did the idea of creating an album start to take shape? Has it always been something you wanted to do?
Yes, I always wanted to make an album. I liked having the challenge to create something diverse and interesting, but coherent at the same time. The idea for the album came naturally. There were a lot of big changes in my life at the same time that impacted my life significantly and I needed music to ease my mind. I started making music in a different way. It was like I was meditating while creating music and the music itself was also more relaxing than the club music I was used to making. I also went travelling through Vietnam and Bali at that time. Things appeared normal when I arrived in Hanoi, but just 1 week later everyone left in a hurry and the country went into lockdown. It was the start of the pandemic. I was already on the road with a bike and was lucky to find places to sleep. It was a very interesting time and it inspired the track «Mind Dive» and other tracks. I also shot a videoclip with my phone for «Mind Dive» there. I really wanted to capture the surreal and desolate state of the situation. I left Vietnam early to stay in Bali, where my sister lives. It inspired the track and videoclip for «Crossroads». Here I really wanted to capture that calming effect of nature combined with music in film and sound.I was very lucky to be in lockdown in Bali for 2 months. It gave me a lot of inspiration to create the album.
How would you define the sound of your latest work? What is the concept behind it?
It can be described as warm, organic, eclectic and sometimes deep. The ZEN album is a mixture of dub techno, house, balearic, trip hop and ambient. Some of the ideas for the tracks were made years ago and some were created during my travels. The tracks naturally came together and (hopefully) it became a project not only to ease my mind but also the listeners mind.
What artists are you interested in these days?
Lately I have been enjoying Boy Harsher, artists from the 100% Silk label, Hiroshi Yoshimura, Sansibar, Guy Contact, James Zeiter, Sunju Hargun and K-Lone. I also curate 100 tracks for the playlists of a local coffee bar every month. That music ranges from jazz, to reggae, hip hop, house, singer songwriter like JJ Cale and many more. Old and new stuff. I like listening to those playlists myself too.A few standouts I enjoyed lately from the music I curate are I-Level, Soichi Terada, Khotin, Mississippie John Hurt and Pachyman.
How do you manage to combine such disparate genres? How do you manage to give them unity and harmony? What do they have in common for you?I try not to think in genres, but rather in feelings. When a certain track has a vibe or feeling that matches with another track then that can vorm the basis for a new album or EP. I like to be as free as possible in my creative proces. It is different with every track. Some tracks are finished in an afternoon, some take years. I just make a lot of random stuff that I like and eventually I have a bunch of tracks that work well together. Because I don’t want to limit myself in any way, I have 3 aliases and am able to release my own music.
Can you tell us something about your current or future projects?
I have just finished a new EP which will be released on Shades Of Sound from Joe Morris in March. At the end of this month the remix compilation for the «ZEN» album will be released, featuring artists like Nuage, Adam Stromstedt, Mushrooms Project, Hugh Mane and more. I have a lot of new music coming up for my side projects, mainly techno, house, italo/80ies vibes and experimental. Also another Moiety & Manik release is coming up and a remix EP for the Voodoo Hoodoo EP in March.I am also finishing a few new downtempo LOVE APE releases, which I am aiming to release this summer. I try to release most myself on Rugged Society, but I am also keeping an eye out for other labels.I am also working on a live set. I would love to play my tracks in different ways and see what happens with my music in a live jam situation.