Podcast 755: bvdub
Heart-aching ambient and IDM.
Podcast 755: bvdub
Heart-aching ambient and IDM.
Later this month, Brock Van Wey, better known as bvdub, will release Decades on Divided Stars, the latest release in a career that spans more than 50 albums and two dozen singles of emotional ambient techno. Featuring four lengthy tracks, the album is Van Wey’s first release on Affin, the label of Joachim Spieth, founded in 2007. Few artists are able to release music with unrelenting quantity and quality.
A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Van Wey wrote his first pieces of music when he was around the age of 12, before devoting his teenage years to the local rave community. He began by DJing and promoting his own deep house and ambient events through the late ’80s and early ’90s, first under his real name, then under bvdub, before he began to produce his own music in 2006. You’ll find his music sprinkled on labels like n5MD, Glacial Movements, Darla, Echospace, and Kompakt, but he’s also self-released it through Bandcamp. For years, he called China home, keen to “escape the state of a scene he could no longer accept,” he tells XLR8R.
Nowadays, back in the United States, Van Wey is busier than ever, adding to a discography that knows no bounds. Over the next 18 months, he’s scheduled to release no fewer than seven new albums and his first original cinematic score, but first there’s his XLR8R podcast—a whirlwind of IDM and pulsating ambient music with rough textures and time-stretched vocals that he recorded at his studio in Nevada. Press play for just over an hour of hypnotic electronic music that’s beautiful, melancholic, and emotionally intense.
01. What have you been up to recently?
I’ve been mostly attempting to adjust from the better part of the last 21 years living in the urban chaos of China to now living in the middle of nowhere in Nevada so I could be closer to my Mom—an adjustment I handled unsuccessfully in every imaginable way until recently, when I began to score some small victories. It’s hard to deny one of the main advantages: the fact I was finally able to build my first permanent studio structurally from the ground up since it’s my house and no one can tell me not to!
I still work for my university in China, but that’s two evenings a week. (The advantage of being a professor is that you barely work, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!). So, the rest of the time is mostly locked in the studio, garage workouts, and shuttling my doberman to various parks where she goes nuts with her friends. I used to loathe the fact she made me leave the house. Now I’ve learned to like it, and I can’t lie, it’s a kind of necessary therapy to see her so happy.
02. What have you been listening to?
I listen to very little music, because I work on my own for nearly every waking moment every day. Besides usually choosing to give my ears a rest, I consciously don’t listen to other music because it keeps my own free from subconscious influences. I listen to drum & bass if I listen to anything at all, but lately I’ve been working the shit out of my good friend James Clements’ (ASC) ambient drum & bass mixes. He’s obviously one of the all-time kings of drum & bass, but since the inception of his new label, Spatial, and the deeper, more ambient directions it has revisited, everything he’s doing hits every spot more than ever. I even bought a new speaker setup just to be able to listen to them in their full glory when I’m in the backyard staring into the void.
03. Your new album is coming soon on Affin. What can you tell us about it?
It couldn’t possibly be a bigger honor for me to have this opportunity with Affin. Towards the back end of my DJ “career” in San Francisco, “You Don’t Fool Me” was such an absolutely seminal work for me. I don’t think a set went by that it didn’t find it’s way into. The track is so simple, yet so hypnotic and powerful; it’s one of those tracks that quietly changed history. I would never have thought to myself back then: “22 years from now I’ll bet I’ll be making my own music and on this guy’s label.” Add to that I’ve always been a techno head as well, and a huge fan of both Joachim and Affin way before I got to know him. It’s an amazing convergence of so many things. It’s really awesome Affin has taken on ambient directions as well, and to see that his label-base and fans have really responded well to his own ambient work. It’s always awesome to see artists being able to follow their own heart.
As far as what the album is about: I’ve never been able to put such things to words, nor do I think they should be, really. The music speaks for itself, and just like words, you’ll either understand or you won’t. Those who understand my work have, after more than 45 albums, developed an ability to understand exactly what I’m trying to say, sometimes even better than myself. In recent years, I’ve reached many revelations on my own work at the hands and words of the family of fans I am so fortunate to have in my life, and at my back. I look forward to learning something new about this one too.
04. Where did you record this mix?
I recorded the mix in my studio, in the middle of nowhere in Nevada.
05. What can the listener expect?
They can expect what they can always expect from everything I do, from my mixes to my own productions. The tales of a life, laid bare for us to examine, deconstruct, and put back together in our own way, teaching each other in the process. And hopefully learning as much about each other as ourselves. Anyone who knows what I do knows nothing is accidental. Everything is done with intent, and there is a specific tale to tell. My heart is always on my sleeve in everything I do (usually to my own detriment), and I would say this mix is no exception, but in this case I’d go a step further and say not only is it no exception: it may be the new rule. Stay way if you don’t wanna get emotional. Or if you hate vocals. But anyone who knows anything I do knows you should already stay away if either of those are not your strength.
07. What’s next on your agenda?
I’m just gonna keep pushing, trying to build positive bridges, making and spreading music I love, and hopefully leaving some kind of mark on this world. I’m on a mission this year to just spread a lot more positivity, and to be a catalyst for good wherever I can, both inside music and anywhere I can in life. I’m fortunate to have met many others in recent times who see the same need, and we have a lot of amazing things coming. The world of music has seen itself sink into a selfish, dark, insular place in recent years. It has been unhealthy for everyone involved, from the scene at large to those who live within its midst.
There’s definitely change coming, and change that’s already here. I’m honored to be a part of it in any way I can. Other than that, plenty of drunk video-gaming trapped under a dog. Remember,
you’re never drinking alone if your dog is home!
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to hear the podcast offline you will need to subscribe to our Select channel to listen offline, or subscribe to XLR8R+ to download the file. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
Full XLR8R+ Members can download the podcast below. If you’re not an XLR8R+ member, you can read more about it and subscribe here.