INTERVIEW | Thys (of Noisia) Discusses His New Solo EP, Becoming A Film Composer, & More

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The amount of room for creativity within electronic music is unparalleled, especially when you have the same level of experience as Noisia‘s Thys. As one third of one of electronic music’s most seasoned trios, Thys has been at the forefront of some of the most forward thinking music out there, and today he releases a new solo EP, Unmoved Mover/ Unwound.

If you feel at home in the thick of dark club bangers, this project is for you. From kinetic breakbeats, to mystifying breathable space, Thys explores a myriad of sounds and concepts within a dark driving energy.

We knew this latest EP would be something else, so we were itching to pick the brain of the mastermind behind it, and thankfully, he was able to carve out some time to chat with us. Check out Thys’s new solo EP below, as well as our conversation with him. Enjoy!

Thys – Unmoved Mover / Unwound

Current favorite artists:

Club stuff: Stenny, Sinistarr, Skee Mask, A Fruit, Bastiengoat.
Score stuff: Jonny Greenwood, Geoff Barrow, Hildur Guthnadottir

Most recent Google search: “Novation Summit Peak Differences” – I’ve got a summit at the studio now (AMAZING), and took the peak home, through the online patch librarian I can easily share presets between the two places, but there’s some subtle differences that I need to be aware of.

Favorite quarantine pastime: Fortunately, we all have separate studio rooms, so we could just keep going to the studio. One thing that’s really new since quarantine is that every Wednesday our group of old friends (including Nik, Martijn and our manager Walter) get together online and play boardgames while chatting shit. We started playing Carcassonne and never played anything else. Love it.

Favorite production session snack: Toast with peanutbutter and sambal (an Indonesian hot sauce with peppers, fried onions and molasses)

What’s the story behind this new EP? What does the title mean to you?

I was looking for a good title for my first solo club music release. I wanted the title to somehow interact with the fact that this release was club music, music to move your body to, as opposed to all the other music I released as Thys before. So I remembered this concept from my time in university: “The Unmover Mover” is a concept from ancient Greek philosophy (I studied philosophy in uni). Basically the Greeks felt a need for a cause for everything, that wasn’t caused by anything other than itself. They wanted time to start at some point, I guess. Infinity is hard to grasp. Anyway, I relate to this concept because I love dance music, but I don’t like to dance. I love club music, but I like to be on the sidewall of the club, sipping a drink, listening to the music, watching the performance, watching the dancers. I realized that I would never want to be in that club alone, that would be terrible. But I don’t want to interact with anyone either. I just want to be there, with the music, with a group of people, but left alone 🙂 And then I’m a DJ myself as well, so I like to make people move. I love to see people get a bit rowdy.

We can hear everything from dark garage, to breaks, to techno on this project. What do you love about these styles of music?

I mean, what’s not to love there? I just love dark club music. These days, I prefer slower tempos than 170. 170 feels a bit pushy, let alone when it’s pitched up to 180 as some DJ’s do. I like to kind of swim around in music and explore it at my own pace, while some other people want to be swept away by it, and want it to be as strong as dominant as they can find it. It’s just personal preference, I guess. But I love the sense of space in the dark 130-160 bpm music that I listen to.

What’s the best way for us to listen to Unmoved Mover / Unwound ?

It’s made to work both in a club in a DJ set (where it will be a cinematic outlier) and at home on a good sound system or nice headphones, but definitely in a dark room..

Love the orchestral section on “Unwound.” Where didi the inspiration for that come from? 

Thanks! I was going through modular synth recordings I’d made and marked one as a potential nice outro for Unwound. Then, when I found it fit, it triggered all kinds of ideas. So I transported the session into Cubase (me and Laurence (Lordel/Halogenix) made it in Ableton) and started adding layers and layers of orchestral melody lines..

My next step in life is to become a film composer. I am doing a lot of research, reading up and watching youtube, I’m working with a private teacher, I’m really serious about this. I’m going to be a film composer next. So I’ve been working with orchestral libraries a lot, to get better at it. Because the foundation of the “sound of the movies” is the orchestra. And I’ve always loved the orchestra, I grew up in a house where there was always classical music playing.. And so this is what led up to that outro. I’m really happy with it 🙂

How have you been motivating yourselves to create during this time? Is it any different than usual?

I’ve spent a lot of time in recognizing my patterns, trying to understand myself, what motivates me, what holds me back.. It’s very personal. But I tend to get obsessed with the big picture, with concepts and macro-movements, and also strategies. This can sometimes prevent me from just getting started and just getting my head down and make something, anything. I’m experimenting with this, but rather than enforcing random productivity rules on myself, I’m trying to recognize what drives me, and work with that, to gently guide myself towards wholesome productivity.

Having the whole scene kind of crumble around us, losing income, seeing our peers lose their income, seeing the economy collapse, having friends in the hospital and neighbours passing away.. It’s been a tough time to focus. I’m not hard on myself. But the lack of distractions, the lack of draining DJ weekends with little sleep, 3 or more days of consecutive international travels, and emotional highs and anxiety, that has been helpful as well. Not being allowed to do DJ weekends has showed me who I am without those weekends, and to be honest I like who I am. When I’m not feeling down because of the state of the world, in general I have much more energy and a much more healthy rhythm now than before covid kicked us all over..

If you could play a show right now anywhere in the world, without any restrictions, where would it be and why? 

Oof, to be honest, it hardly matters where. I’d like to play a small club, where everyone in the room is involved and only there because they want to be there, not because their friends happened to want to go. A small club, where I am close enough so I can see facial expressions in the crowd when the lights go a bit brighter. A small club, where I can hear people make noise when I play a track they were waiting for, or better yet when they realize they are hearing a sick new tune they’ve never heard before… Yeah actually I’d like to play a small club show in the UK. In my experience, crowds are by far the most knowledgeable in the UK, that’s where people go mental over a tune they’ve never heard before. In most of the world, people react to what they know. I love it when they react to what they don’t know, because that’s what I love the most as well!

Okay we have to ask about the project you mentioned with Skrillex. Any movement there?

I mean that set that was recorded at Oost in February, that was like a perfect example. Small, dark club. Booth right on the dancefloor so if you want you can fist bump the fans. We were meant to play for an hour and then see how we feel, we played for about three hours! (The released recording was cut short.) Anyway, ‘I Love You’ as a question is an inside joke between me and Sonny from the first time he came over to work with us, before he’d really started off on his Skrillex adventures, and when I said “man that should be our band name” he loved it and then mentioned it in that behind the stage video. I’d love to play more sets together, we really caught a vibe that night. But for now, we’re stuck on different sides of the Atlantic with nightclubs shut and no vaccines..