The Face Behind: Interview with Zen Mechanics
Updated: Jan 21, 2020
If you have ever heard some of Zen Mechanics's music, or moreover, if you have ever was on the dance-floor while he plays- you probably felt some kind of Mechanic metal sounds cross your brain while a deep drum and bass are working on moving your body without any control on it...
With no doubt, Wouter Thomassen, A.K.A Zen Mechanics, is one of my favorites out there and I am so glad and honored to bring you an interview with such a mind-blowing Artist.
Besides Zen Mechanics Project, Wouter is also a part of Zentura, a mutual project with no other than the king of prog- Yoni Oshrat, A.K.A Ace Ventura.
My little story:
The first time I got engaged with Wouter's music was in the first day of Ozora Festival 2013.
Wouter played the closing set (a common thing for him to do) and that was the first time I felt the way someone supposed to feel in one of the most known dance-floors in the world, Ozora.
Wouter just nailed it!
Unfortunately, I couldn't find Wouter gigs is Israel (we will talk about it) so the second time I got to feel that feeling I felt in Ozora 2013 was only in 2016, on the Boomland, where Wouter bombed the dance-floor just before one of the last set's of Loud (They don't perform anymore).
Anyway, I crossed by Wouter incidentally on that day, telling him he just did that to me again (still remember he played one of my favorites there: Zentura & Symbolic - Unified Field) and here is the result:
Interview with Zen Mechanics
Where did you grow up?
A small coastal town in Holland called Schoorl
Where do you live today?
A small coastal town in Australia called Ocean Shores
What kind of kid you were?
I was always doing creative stuff like drawing and was been into music from a young age (being raised in an artistic and musicians family).
Can you tell me more about your family? What musicians were they? My father was in a Bluesy kinda band and he and my mum (who still goes to Rammstein concerts in her 70's) are total music freaks with an insane record, art and book collection. This also rubbed off on my older brother who has always been in numerous bands to this day and introduced me to more far-out, obscure music and art.
He started taking me to concerts when I was 11 and in my early teens, I was deeply involved in the worldwide underground Metal scene. Trading demo tapes and corresponding with freaks and bands all over the world (before the internet) and even running a magazine. Basically I was destined to be in a band...
Until I discovered weed and Eat Static and got hooked to strange electronic psychedelic music instead.
Home is where my true education began. I didn't last long at schools ;)
What were your hobbies as a child?
Drawing, music, soccer and getting into all sorts of mischief around the neighborhood
When was your first acquaintance with trance?
I got into electronic music around the summer of 94. All sorts of stuff like Aphex Twin, FSOL, The Orb, Electro etc. Around the same time I heard Eat Static and System 7, my life was never the same since.
Most of my mates were into Techno, but I got heavily into (Goa) Trance. Coming from an underground Metal background, the wildly far-out underground vibe of Goa Trance really resonated with me.
Did you know it is going to take such a big part of your life when you heard back then?
I always felt like I was gonna be involved in music. My family really supported this as my father and older brother were also in bands.
How did you evolve to be a DJ?
That started right after I discovered Electronic music. I got totally obsessed with it and spent more time in local record stores than school. Me and my mates lived in a small boring town, so we started throwing our own parties/gatherings in the forest, beach and basically every venue/squat building we could get our hands on. That's where I started playing and not soon after I was deeply involved in the dutch underground Trance scene. DJ-ing, making flyers, organizing parties etc. Production came later, because back in those days it was still required to buy hardware in able to make stuff.
What is the origin of the name Zen Mechanics?
It's from a book called Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance.
What does the name mean?
It's open to many interpretations. to me it represents the fusion of spirituality and technology, which is what Psytrance is all about for me.
And for me as well... What inspiring you when producing (what vibe, sounds, drive)?
Everything inspires me...mainly being in nature, traveling, driving around, gigs, blasting on an epic outdoor dancefloors, browsing my music collection, trying out new gear and plugins.
To be honest, I'm not sure about the growing Israeli crowd familiarity with you. I don't remember a show of yours in Israel since Doof 2013.
Can you share why we don't see you here more often?
Should we expect something to happen soon?
I've been there after Doof 2013 but yeah it's been a while since my last visit. Ever since I moved to Australia a few years ago I have been asked many times, but it has been challenging to organize the right dates.
And specifically, about the Israeli crowd compared to other nations crowds?
What do you have to say about the Israeli scene?
My first ever international gig was 3rd Empire party near the Dead Sea in 2006 (Hi Boris!).
I was hosted by the great wise Shahar (Trancentral) and Yuli (Perfect Stranger/BLT) and after the party we made a jam called Desert Sessions.
I remember the first time coming to Israel being blown away by the strength of Trance culture. I heard Psytrance blasting from every 1 out of 3 cars and in just one weekend in Tel Aviv alone, I was introduced to so many producers/DJ's etc. Very inspiring!
There's a vast amount of artists, labels and promoters collaborating, and people in general really support their local artists.
I might be wrong but, the way I see it, you guys uplift each other, rather than compete and that's why the scene remains strong and many new upcoming artists have a chance to grow quicker in the game.
And man...What to say about the crowd.
I play for dance floors all over the world, and 9 times out of 10 the people stomping the hardest are from Israel :)
There's no such thing as an Israeli dance-floor going off.
Yeah, the Isareli crowd is something...
I see you don't have gigs 3-4 times a week like other artists...
Why is that?
I moved to Australia a couple of years ago now and almost every gig outside OZ requires extremely long and expensive flights. It was different when I lived in Holland which is very central to the action. I'm not a huge fan of long-haul flights so I rather keep them to a minimum nowadays and focus on longer tours instead of being away every weekend. Luckily there's an incredible outdoor Doof scene in Australia and it's paradise in general!
What fulfill you the most these days?
Making art everyday. Unfortunately I haven't had a professional studio for the last few years, therefor my release schedule has been a slow, but I have a home filled with synths, instruments, analog video VJ/DJ gear and a view on the pacific ocean. Me and my wife are always in a creative space, working on new Trance stuff or jamming Electro, Ambient synth soundcapes and running our label Sourcecode Transmissions which I also make artwork for. Besides I got really into gardening, go on nature missions (we're surrounded by rainforests, waterfalls, beaches) and designing my studio which hopefully will be done this year!
What can you tell about your next big project as a musician (Album)?
The next big project will be a new Zen Mechanics album which is long overdue. I won't commit to any release dates, but it's well underway.
Also, I have plans for a vinyl-based label for all my other non-Trance related output.
What track can you use and it will always do the job?
Naked, Stoned & Exalted
What's your favorite Track?
That's like asking about the meaning of life.. Impossible to answer sorry haha. Anyways let's say Underground Resistance - Final Frontier
A DJ you would like to play with?
What is your peak moment as a D.J?
There's been many peak moments but playing right after the solar eclipse in Oregon last year was pure magic.
What's the biggest embarrassment that happened to you as a DJ?
When the sound cuts out is always a huge cringe moment. Happened a few times, but yeah just stay 'professional' by throwing your arms up in despair and look angry sideways at the sound guy, even when it's my fault, or when there's no one else on stage hehe...
If you were a pop star, what star would you be?
Tell me something no one knows about you:
I have a cat named Astroboy
Message to the audience:
I'm truly humbled by your amazing support and presence on the dance floors worldwide for all these years.
And be Love!