We caught up with the Dutch master on the verge of his 2nd album's release.
Whenever anyone mutters the words "bass music" and "sound design" in the same sentence, invariably the name Icicle follows. Jeroen Snik sits in a sparsely populated echelon of talent alongside acts like Noisia and Photek and pushes boundaries so nonchalantly that we've all just begun to expect it. His excellent debut album Under the Ice forayed everywhere from neurofunk to jazz, and his upcoming album Entropy follows the same trajectory of breadth.
"I learned a lot with the first album," Icicle tells THUMP. "Before that, I was just a guy making a bunch of tunes that people could dance to. The fun side of it all is that, in an album, you can do something that you can't do just by making a bunch of singles."
Entropy, 16 tracks in all and released next month on the perpetually relevant Shogun Audio, begins with a hip-hop influenced opening salvo and some of the techy rollers we all crave from Iceman, before falling into to some of the freshest sounding 140bpm tracks we've heard in a while alongside collabs with Austrian neurofunk whiz Mefjus and dubstep wavemaker Proxima.
The latter is no stranger to Icicle, and as his recent MIXED BY shows, the guy is making some of the most pertinent dubstep around at the moment. "Proxima is my cousin," Jeroen explains. "He's my best friend. We're really similar people in our interests, in our personalities, in our senses of humor..."
It was actually Jeroen that got Proxima on his first DAW. He explains, "I remember one day a long time ago I laid out roughly how I would make a tune for him. Within a month, he made tunes that were pretty on the par of my own, and yeah, he was just sort of killing it! He's got such a talent for it and he's made an album for Tempa, which is unbelievable. It's almost entirely 140 and just a redefinition of what 140 tempo music can be."
The 140bpm scene has been calling out for some fresh tones for a while. Snik agrees: "Dubstep is definitely going through a time, but that's great because when the genre is struggling, you've got an opportunity to distinguish yourself.
Although Icicle's settled into a precocious elder statesman's role of sorts, he's not quick to forget who inspires him. "When you listen to new music and you go 'I totally forgot that you can do whatever you want.' Sometimes it's hard to get into that mindset. It's an eye opener, though. Amon Tobin did that for me, a little bit. And the same goes for Noisia, listening to the mixdowns and the sonics of it. You find yourself thinking – "It shouldn't be possible, but it is!"
Snik's become an ambassador of sorts for progressive, darker bass music. "I've played in a lot of places, different continents in the world, and everybody is the same, people are just the same, people love drum and bass. The circumstances and the backdrop are different, but you enter a drum & bass party in Tokyo or New Zealand or America or Dubai, and they're all the same – and that's nice."
Icicle recalls playing Nocturnal Wonderland in California in 2011. "Just before our sets, me and Calyx and Teebee went on a little walk around and – these people! Where did these people come from?! Look at what they're wearing! It was definitely an eye-opener. Overall, I think America for the sake of the cooler, more underground kind of bass music, had a more tough time this last decade, perhaps. It seems to be coming back in these last few years."
Jemayel Khawaja is THUMP's Managing Editor in Los Angeles - @JemayelK