Tinlicker Serve Up a Towering Mix of Deep House, Trance, and Progressive
Dutch duo Tinlicker have become an essential component of the Anjunafamily. With releases on both Anjunabeats and its Anjunadeep sublabel, Jordi Van Achthoven and Micha Heyboer’s elegant productions have continued to be an uplifting force during our time of uncertainty and isolation.
Micha and Jordi are seasoned studio heads, but vastly different when it comes to their musical beginnings. Micha has been apart of the drum & bass group Black Sun Empire for over 20 years, and Jordi has been churning out hard-hitting club music via his various monikers for just as long. Both hailing from Utrecht, Netherlands, the two met through a mutual acquaintance. Hoping to find fresh chemistry while simultaneously working toward a new and challenging sound, Tinlicker released their debut EP. It’s My First Time Here, in 2013.
After revisiting the project from time to time over the years, the duo hit their stride in 2017 following the release of their collaborative single with Helsloot, “Because You Move Me,” on Armada Music, leading to further records on mau5trap and Anjunadeep. Tinlicker then thrilled the world of dance music in 2019 with the release of their lush Anjunabeats album, This Is Not Our Universe. A musing yet deeply warming LP, with marvelous tracks such as “Lost” and their colossal edit of Alt-J’s “Breezeblocks,” it’s music that feeds the hearts and souls of the jam-packed, happy-go-lucky crowds of any Anjunabeats showcase.
Despite the difference of their sonic characters, Jordi and Micha’s Tinlicker project is a triumph that exemplifies the exciting output that two artists from entirely separate sonic backgrounds can accomplish over time. On their way to becoming industry heavyweights, following dominant performances at CRSSD, ADE, Creamfields, and a successful worldwide This Is Not Our Universe album tour, the duo is currently waiting patiently to continue their stride once dancefloors open up again. In the meantime, Tinlicker have provided us with a gleaming hour-long mix, and answered some questions about their rise to the top, circuit bending, and mingling with uncharted territory.
Both of you had experience in DJing and production before forming Tinlicker. Explain a little about your earlier music careers, how you two met, and what made you land on the decision to link up as a duo.
I (Micha) have been part of a drum & bass collective called Black Sun Empire for more than 20 years. And still am, but after our album From the Shadows, I felt like I wanted to widen the horizon and just started playing around with different genres. It was an urge to keep challenging myself. And by doing so, I kept the love for D’N’B going while slowly creating something which eventually ended up being the start of Tinlicker. By the time I released the first music, Nicole Hofman (she had done the PR for both our individual releases) hooked me up with Jordi. She said you guys have similar styles and are from the same city, so why don’t you hook up. We decided to meet for a beer, and that fun night led to some studio dates, which eventually due to the chemistry while making music led to us deciding to become one act. Jordi, over the years, had been in several projects, making progressive, hardcore, ambient, house, and even ghost producing EDM for other artists. So his knowledge of these genres, in combination with my drum & bass background, is what makes our sound. We try not to box everything in genres, but just make the music we love.
You first started releasing music on your Zero Three Zero imprint before eventually grabbing the attention on behemoth labels such as mau5trap, Armada, and Anjunabeats. Was there a particular track or remix that you credit as being the one that brought Tinlicker more considerable acclaim from the global dance music scene?
That’s a hard question. It’s a lot of small steps that eventually lead to a more significant jump. I think our track “Nachtwerk” on Feed Me’s imprint Sotto Voce created interest from mau5trap, Anjunadeep, Armada, and ZeroThree. And then “Soon You’ll Be Gone,” “Maandag,” and “Because You Move Me” put us on the map. However, the biggest obstacle was finding labels that were open to our broad sound. An act that drifts between a lot of genres, like us, is hard to place, but once you are accepted, it becomes a strength.
Tell us about getting picked up by Anjunadeep for your single “Soon You’ll Be Gone” and how that eventually lead to the This Is Not Our Universe LP on Anjunabeats.
I think because of our sound, it took a while for them to bite, but I think the way “Soon You’ll Be Gone” and “Nothing Without VIP” were received by the fans and planted the seeds for an album. And for us, it felt like the right move. Anjuna is excellent when it comes to putting new talent in the spotlight.
Where does the name Tinlicker come from?
It started out as a joke, but first, you need to know about circuit bending. Circuit bending is the creative, chance-based customization of the circuits within electronic devices such as low-voltage, battery-powered guitar effects, children’s toys and digital synthesizers to create new musical or visual instruments and sound generators. Trying to circuit bend a synthesizer all by yourself is hard. You might not have enough hands, so the chances are you’d end up having to use your tongue and lick the tin to finish the job. At the same time, it also stands for not taking everything for granted. When needed, scraping the bottom of your tinned food and appreciating the small things that make you value life.
How has becoming a valued member of the Anjunafamily altered your career and shaped your perception of the music scene?
I don’t think there’s another label with such a dedicated following. It was a pleasant surprise. It generated so many fans for which we are grateful. At the same time, our sound is quite different and influenced by other styles of music. We hope we can widen the family’s horizon and take them on different journeys while mingling with uncharted territory.
Tell us about your This Is Not Our Universe tour in 2019 and how it differed from all the other gigs you’ve played around the world.
The beauty lies within the fact that every show and every crowd is different. Being able to play in India while the next weekend playing for our local audience is an amazing contrast. And of course, there are special locations like The Gorge that we’ll remember for a long time.
With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, what are your thoughts on the live streaming revolution that’s happened during our stay at home orders?
It’s a great way to keep in contact with your fans and give each other positive energy. We all need it. In these uncertain times, supporting one another is crucial, so let’s make the best of it because nobody knows when it will end.
Tell us about the mix you made for us.
Like most of our shows, we like to play a lot of our own music (and remixes/edits), just because we don’t really see ourselves as DJs. We see it more as a “band” performance. So if you come to one of our shows, we like to welcome you into the world of Tinlicker. This mix is like that: new, old, and remixes, but all us.