.multibeat is a hip hop trio from The Netherlands. Consisting of Boudewijn Pleij (keys), Thijs van Zutphen (bass) and Aron Smit (drums). They make beats in collaboration with a diverse set of artists, as well as original tracks. Dimas, a Dutch beat maker, creates music under the alias Noflik, a name that honors his roots as it translates to 'pleasant' in Frisian, a language native to the Northern regions of the Netherlands. At the end of last year, shortly after the live session at Birdhouse, we paid a visit to the place where it all started. A creative complex that houses their studios in Utrecht, a place where .multibeat and Noflik came together. In this interview, we chop it up about their background, musical journeys, milestones, upcoming projects and individual pursuits.
What is the meaning behind the names of .multibeat & Noflik?
Dimas: Noflik is Frisian. It means pleasant, nice, cozy… there's not really a different Dutch or English word for it. It's like “gezellig” but with a hint of nostalgia. There's a Swedish word that’s very much the same. Hygge. In Frisian, it feels like a cup of tea with your grandma.
That’s the message I want to bring up with my music, but also with a bit of fun.
.multibeat: The ‘multi’ part came about with us doing all kinds of different things. What are we? What can we do? How can we explain that? We were brainstorming names, and the moment somebody said multibeat at some point, it just stuck. The name makes sense. And the dot just basically represents the featuring element of multibeat. We're featuring a lot of artists, so the idea was to make it part of our title in the first place. Also, the dot is something also on computer files, as an extension to something else. The dot is mainly an aesthetic.
How did .multibeat and Noflik come together? What were the beginnings of your collaboration like?
Thijs: .multibeat came together like by knowing each other from the conservatory. Me and Aron were in the same class. Boude’ was two years later than us. But we just found each other in the music. Together, we kind of found this place, but we started making beats before that. Boudewijn was kind of searching for a spot to make music at the same time.
Aron: First I was somewhere else, in a building that was about to be demolished. Luckily, they had this whole building for rent, where we were able to get a good deal on four spaces.
Dimas (Noflik): I think we’ve found connection through Ginge, because I know Ginge from way back. At some point I kind of realized that you (Boudewijn) were working with Ginge and that we were in the same building. She mentioned Thijs to me, because I was working on a track with her. And she was like “Oh, I know a very good bass guitarist.” I was a little skeptical, but then we kind of bumped into each other, at the living room.
Boudewijn: Most importantly, it was COVID when we met. 2020. But we've been in the same building since 2019. And I think when it hit the fan, concerts were being canceled and schedules were emptied, everybody had this strange feeling of not being able to play anymore. All of a sudden it was time to get into production. For me, it was kind of new for me to be producing, now having the time to figure it out properly. Dimas has been doing it a lot. We all just started going crazy. And then we met each other I think in the living room upstairs. It was this extra room Maurice and Dimas rented out just for chilling. We all came together in the evening, and played Mario Smash, card games, and it was good fun. I think we were drunk at New Year's Eve, when we made two lofi beats from some demos. And that's one of the biggest milestones for us right there, immediately.
Aron: From then on, everything went so smooth. The sessions were always like, just very good energy, good vibe… We were just having fun and going on til way too late. Then we decided we’d do one session every week on Monday evening, around eight til like two or three in the morning. Having to fill out forms to be able to ride our bikes home at night when it was “avondklok” and it was officially forbidden to be outside at the time, during COVID times.
We inspire each other a lot, and often listen to the same music. I think we would have worked together regardless. But the situation forced us to work together for a long stretch of time and it was really nice, because we really got to know each other very well. We had all the time to like experiment with everything, and no distractions. - Dimas
What came out of these sessions?
B: Mostly the first album, ‘Tool Box’, which we also played some tracks from at the session at Birdhouse. It was also kind of centered around the lofi genre. But we were also just jamming a lot, make some strange music in the sessions. We we're just playing, and it sounded really weird. A bit too weird to make the first album, but we liked it a lot, and wanted to do something with it.
D: After the release of the first album we planned a vacation in Berlin together to celebrate the release, and then you guys proposed the idea to me to make an album around the way the jams went down. The song that kicked off the second album was ‘A Muddy What Else’
T: It’s not a song. It’s just a vibe. (laughs)
D: There’s a crazy solo on keys, and this one chord.
B: No, no, there’s no chord, just a solo. And a baseline. And sauce.
T: But then, because the second album was more about the live jamming vibe, we were thinking that we can do this live. We can play some Toolbox tracks, add a sort of jazz vibe to it, but also with Dimas, because he plays percussion and live sampling.
B: We asked Jack to join us for the release party back in May, because our production always features guitar by Thijs, but you can’t play both at the same time.
A: Unless you’re Charlie Hunter.
I remember when we were making ‘A Muddy, What Else” we would almost always start every session off with some cool shit somebody heard. And we’d do this for about half an hour until we were inspired to make some music. - Aron
What about the live samples and snippets of stories that appear on some of the tracks with both projects?
D: The live samples I use are also a bit different in the live settings than on the album. One day I found a big stack of singles from the 60s. It's mostly kids stories to sing along with the whole class. These are the ones I use at live gigs, because I found them after we made this album. They are super cute and no one expects to hear a Dutch story out of nowhere with our music.
What is the story behind the track names?
T: We kind of already had the names for the tracks before the project even came together. For the names of ‘Tool Box’ we used ChatGPT (at that time it was called GPT2), which was autocompleting something you already have, so there were no prompts yet. We’ve put in a few words, and it just completed it in the weirdest way.
D: Some of the text is also incorporated in the album cover.
For the names of ‘Tool Box’ we used ChatGPT (at that time it was called GPT2), which was autocompleting something you already have, so there were no prompts yet.
What's in store for .multibeat and Noflik in 2024?
T, B & A: We're working very hard on our next .multibeat album, planning, and booking shows for that. The sound is very different from the previous two projects, but it's beautiful to have a few phases so distinct from each other. Our upcoming album might just be in between our two released projects, soundwise. One was more lofi, the other one was kind of experimental beat stuff. And then this one is maybe in the middle, and then also a little bit more Pop/R&B, I guess.
There's a multi tour coming up for .multibeat. Well, there's three shows actually. We're playing the support for Reuben James at the BIMHUIS at DATSKAT. That's gonna be super cool. And then we have two album release shows. One in EKKO here in Utrecht 25th of April, and then one also in Paradiso upstairs on May 2nd. These shows are going to be slightly different than the session at Birdhouse, since the new album of .multibeat is going a different route. It has a very different sound. We’re planning to release it on April 19th. We’ve already dropped two new singles from the album. ‘What More’ with Thierry Ganz, and ‘Don’t Count Me In’ with Joya Mooi.
D: For me, this was purely a passion project. Last year, I chose a bit more of a commercial focus, working with different artists, and expanding my horizon to Japan and Korea. Learning how can I fit my style into that landscape. I'm mostly focused on making lofi beats, and making beats for big playlists. I really like making music, and would like even more to make money with it.
Which song from the Birdhouse session did you choose to be published? What does this song mean to you personally?
A: From the session at Birdhouse, we all listened to the whole recording of the session and liked the vibe of ‘The Dog of the Future’ the most.
T: It has the best energy. If you want to make an impression of what we do, then I think this is a very nice way to present ourselves. I’d love to see more opportunities come by, for us to actually play in this formation. A few shows at jazz festivals or something.
B: I like that we have a sort of wide scope of doing things, bringing different flavors like lofi, hybrid jazz, pop… there are a few people that operate in a way that everything they do is different every time and it works. Like Robert Glasper. Or some deejays.
A: You can go to three different shows with the same artist and each one is different.
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