Anyone who's dialed in to the burgeoning sample-based beats ecosystem knows the name Poldoore. And if you don't, today's a great day to start.
Coming from just outside of Brussels, Belgium, producer and musician Thomas Schillebeeckx has never stopped revisiting the drawing board to improve his composition and explore new production techniques.
His 2016 full-length The Day After took him to the proving grounds of his own abilities by sourcing all samples from live studio sessions he conducted himself. Stepping it up with his latest album entitled Mosaic, he takes it one further with a full patchwork of musicianship to display.
We had the chance to dig a bit deeper with the producer himself, so switch this fresh Poldoore transmission on and get some insights on Mosaic below:
Hey Thomas, it’s great to catch up… it’s been awhile! How’s life been lately?
Hey Mike, thanks for having me again man. It’s been awhile indeed. Life’s been pretty good! The last month or two was all about preparing the album release and touring, but I’ve also been working on a lot of new music at the same time. Finish up an album or EP always triggers so many ideas in me for the next one. That’s what keeps me going.
Your latest creation – Mosaic. What would your say this release means to you personally and professionally?
Well, it’s been about 3 years since I released my last studio album, so you can definitely say that I took my time. I wanted to take my production to the next level and not deliver the same record as my previous ones, while still maintaining that Poldoore sound. I worked with some musicians that are also close friends of mine, so it was a really fun and face-to-face process with a lot of good times hanging in my humble studio.
There’s a fair amount of imagery in the song titles alone… How did you approach the songs from a creative perspective?
After the past records I grew a bit tired of working 100% in the box. I was constantly sitting behind my computer, looking at a screen and clicking away until I came up with a solid idea for a song. Nothing wrong with that of course, but I felt the need to ‘move’ more in the studio for this record and wanted a new workflow in order to trigger new ideas. That’s why I rearranged my studio and invested in a fair amount of hardware so I could work hands-on. Fooling around with synths, delays, pedals and compressors really gave the production of this album a new dimension and made it even more fun to work on. I believe every producer will at a certain point feel the need to kind of re-invent him- or herself, and for me this album was that turning point. I learned so much during the process.
You have some prominent collaborators from international trio ASM to trumpet player and producer Balkan Bump. Give me a rundown of those involved on these tracks.
Will (Balkan Bump) has been a friend and collaborator for a while, so it was a no-brainer to have him jam around on this record. He’s one of the most talented musicians I know and after all these years he knows exactly what kind of licks and vibes I like, which makes working together super efficient. I met the ASM guys when I was playing a show with Chinese Man in France about two years ago. I had done a remix for a track that they were featured on and they came up to me to tell me they really liked it. We started talking, I sent them two beats and we started working from there. The process was very natural. I’ve known Awon for a while too. I made this beat and while I was producing it I could already hear Awon’s voice and flow over it, so I hit him up. Emeraude aka EME is a local vocalist with the most soulful vocal timbre who sang the chorus on Ghetto Child. We’ve been bumping into each other here in Leuven for a couple of years and always had a good connection and a similar taste in music. Last but not least there’s my man Seppe, a friend and local bass player who’s been playing for about 20 years I believe. We had lots of fun recording sessions here in the studio and he’s actually been teaching me bass guitar recently. I think it would be hard for me to work with musicians with whom I don’t feel a connection, so that’s why I always tried to find people to work with through mutual friends or real life encounters.
You mentioned in our last interview how going from creating sample-based beats to more in the direction of “songs”, which ensured you paid more attention to musicality. How has this attention shift grown into your life and career since then?
I indeed tried to take my tracks a bit further than the usual beats I often released in the past. A thing I have always loved is a song that really takes you on a journey, where a certain part isn’t just repeated for 2 minutes with only some slight changes here and there. It has always been a challenge to keep an instrumental song interesting for over 4 minutes, so it was definitely a fun challenge. Tracks like "Can’t Love You More", "Solace" and "Melatonin" are good examples of this. I feel like they nicely evolve over time.
You’re a busy guy on top of being creative, so I am curious: what kinds of routines, habits, or mindsets do you embody to ensure you “upshift your aura” and stay sharp in life?
That’s actually an intriguing question. One of the things that has kept my mind ‘sane’ so to speak, is the dog that I got with my girlfriend about a year ago. Every time I take her (the dog, not the girlfriend) out for a walk I consciously don’t take my phone with me. I’m not at all a smartphone addict, but it’s still a nice feeling to not have it with me from time to time. Being disconnected really lets my mind wander and allows my brain to come up with new creative ideas, instead of being online and soaking up a bunch of (often useless) information from the internet. Apart from that I try to physically stay in shape by doing sports and taking the time to cook a nice meal as often as I can.
You’ve got an North American tour coming up with the Geek x VRV. What are you looking forward to and what can the audience expect from Poldoore?
I most definitely look forward to meeting all those people in person who have been messaging me the last few years about coming to the US and Canada. I’m delighted that I can finally make them happy. I enjoy making music and being in the studio a ton, but actually playing your songs for an audience and seeing their honest reactions to the songs you’ve spent hours working on truly is something magical. I’ll bring a mix of tunes from the new album, older ones and of course some unreleased songs.
Besides tour and riding the wave of this album, what’s Poldoore up to during the next months?
I like to take a step back from music from time to time, even if it’s only for a few days or a week, because I know it always triggers new inspiration and creative ideas in me. So I’ll be making a couple of non-music related trips to Slovenia, Poland and France with my girlfriend this summer. Apart from that I’ll probably visit some festivals and just hang out with my friends. It definitely takes discipline to spend time in the studio during the summer because there’s so much stuff to do pretty much everywhere, but every year I manage to find a good balance between my passion and enjoying the other things in life.
Stream and buys Mosaic on all platforms here.