The thing you have to understand about Magnetron Music is that it is almost like a family business. The company was founded by two people who have been friends since long before they started the label and mostly releases music by a close-knit group of cross-collaborating artists /musicians / oddballs from the Netherlands. Sometimes they strike gold and have a hit on their hands, sometimes a release is just too funky for the general public and unceremoniously ignored. Sometimes it takes a while for the people to catch up. In any case, a Magnetron release is pretty much always unique and artistic and interesting. It’s really not a normal commercial enterprise, despite the gold plaques on the wall.
Another thing you have to understand about Magnetron Music is that its musical course is based on a dual love of hip-hop and club music (house and techno) and of the electro funk where this peculiar Venn diagram overlaps. It’s the shared musical vision of the label’s co-founders, musician and performer Bas Bron and (former) DJ and music journalist Kostijn Egberts. Both came of age in the 1980s where they witnessed these musical revolutions and concurring technological advances. The runaway success of Magnetron Music’s first act, Dutch rap group De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig (‘the youth of today’) is anchored in this musical heritage, which partly explains why they’ve been able to blow everyone out of the water with their singular sound.
As a producer, songwriter and performer with about a half-dozen aliases, Bas Bron has had a hand in a fair few Magnetron releases. In 2015 alone he managed to produce and release four full-lengths for four different projects: the fifth Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig album, the debut of Belmer (a new duo comprised of Bron and Jelmer Schütte), the first album from Dutch rapper Donnie, as well as Fatima Yamaha’s long-awaited longplayer.
Other acclaimed, parallel musical projects of Bron’s have been the live funk band Bastian, the playful electro-funk of Seymour Bits (two albums) and the Detroit-inspired techno/electro duo Comtron (with Rimer London; one album, numerous E.P.’s). In 2004 he released a record under the name Fatima Yamaha that turned out to be something of a slow burner: ‘What’s a Girl to Do’ was voted Track of the Year by Resident Advisor… in 2015.
In the Netherlands and Belgium, Bron is best known as the non-rapping fourth member of the massively popular De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig. Arising out of a series of informal studio sessions with some friends and friends of friends, the group’s first recordings promptly lead to the estabishment of Magnetron Music. During the crazy summer of 2005, De Jeugd’s barely intelligible debut single ‘Watskeburt?!’ shot to number one in Holland. Initially performing live without their musical mentor, rappers Pepijn Lanen AKA P. Dronq AKA P. Fabergé AKA Faberyayo, Fred Tratlehner AKA Vieze Freddy AKA Vjèze Fur and Olly Locadia AKA Willie Wartaal quickly established a reputation as wildy out of control mavericks. Against anyone’s expectations, there was longevity to their musical and linguistic innovations, the group’s live reputation solidified, and music fans from all walks of life embraced the group. Five albums, a DVD, two books and ten years in, they are still selling out major venues and continue to have a strong media profile.
All members of De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig have established themselves individually outside of the group. Vjèze is designing fashion and was in the band Coevorduh. Willie Wartaal is known both as a club DJ and a children’s TV presenter. Faberyayo sings in the electro pop group Le Le (which also includes Comtron man Rimer London and internationally renowned visual artist Piet Parra) which has released three full-length albums. He’s put out several mixtapes, including one with Amsterdam house master Tom Trago, has had a short story collection and a novel published, and released a solo album.
Swedish outfit Staygold have been missing in action since the release of their very underrated 2012 album on Magnetron Music, but their singles ‘Backseat’ and ‘Wallpaper’ (a top 10 hit) will never be forgotten.
Besides his work with Comtron and Le Le, Rimer London has put out one solo electro pop album and several singles. He has produced all of Sofie Winterson’s releases and released an ambient soundtrack to Faberyayo’s first novel.
The keyboard player in Faberyayo’s solo live band is a very talented fellow from Utrecht named Falco Benz. He was signed to Magnetron and his catchy disco/house/pop songs have been doing very well both on the radio and on the stage. He has released four E.P.’s on the label so far.
Singer/songwriter Sofie Winterson has impressed Dutch and US audiences with her carefully considered synth pop songs. Releasing her debut album Wires in 2014, Sofie is putting out her second EP of new music in March 2016, ahead of her performance at SXSW 2016.
With De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig’s – and the label’s – 10-year celebrations over and done with, Magnetron Music is, as always, looking ahead.