Spirit Catcher Biography
History has spawned hundreds of genius double acts – where two minds and talents collide to form something innovative and artistically challenging. Unfortunately, Spirit Catcher are just a pair of european weirdos. As we all know, exciting and romantic collisions happen in, say, Hollywood or London. Not in Belgium. I mean, does Belgium have C.H.I.P.s ? Or Hart to Hart ? It doesn’t. It has bugger all. No heroes, no drama, no action. Chocolates….beer….and Spirit Catcher.
Now listen – Jean Vanesse and Thomas Sohet have been exposed to music for as long as they have been conscious. Jean was even born in a recording studio. His father owned a studio, and absolutely insisted on capturing a high quality recording of the birth. However, initial feedback problems due to the unexpectedly high pitch of Jean’s first baby screams meant that Jean had to ‘climb back in’ for a second and third take, so his father could take care of the rogue frequency. This led to a deep-seated psychological need for Jean to keep going back in to studios, over and over, again and again, in search of the perfect EQ settings which could set him free from this cycle.
Thomas, meanwhile, was born in an ordinary Belgian hospital room to the sounds of an Earth, Wind and Fire cassette of his mother’s. As he took his first gaze around the room, he soaked up its covering of black and white tiles. White, black, white, black…strange levers and machines…the vision burned deep into his psyche while the music played, then lay dormant for years. It was suddenly triggered when he saw a synthesizer as a teenager. Those black and white keys, the modulation wheel….the tiles and levers of the grooving hospital room suddenly surged back through his brain. A booming voice inside Tom told him that if one day he pressed them in the right combination, he would be free. He must find The Formula. So he played and played, hiding away in funk bands, trying as many combinations as he could, waiting for the explosive moment when life would finally make sense, as it had in that hospital room.
The two were fated to meet. Jean was walking to the shops to get some fresh air and a bite to eat, when he was gripped into zombie mode again, and dragged by unseen forces back towards the studio. Tom was returning from taking his beloved Juno106 into a shop to be repaired, when a tall figure loomed towards him, muttering "2dB down at 90 Hertz….make some room for bottom end….separate the kick….16khz shine…studio…..studio….". Tom stared for a while at this possessed man. "Freak !", he thought, until he stopped – and realised that he himself was a goddamn freak too. Hmmm ? And anyway – this talk of studios….who knows….they would be sure to have modulation wheels….The Formula ! The Formula !! Tom’s eyes flashed white and black, black and white. They were seized together in a gnashing frenzy, bound by their pasts into a crazed march back towards the lure of the studio. And so Spirit Catcher was born.
And now ? Well, Spirit Catcher have become one of the most in-demand house acts, gracing the finest underground labels with their polished future disco sound. But to those who know them, Tom and Jean are simply a pair of misfits looking for life and love between the keyboard keys and the automated faders. Two kids born into the sounds of the seventies, then immediately grabbed by the cruel talons of music and doomed to seek solution in the groove. Luckily, through the help of well-meaning record labels such as Silver Network, Freerange, Winding Road, Missive and Moodmusic, we can all listen in to the frenzied disco workouts through which they exorcise their murky pasts.
Interview with Spirit Catcher by Kazuumi Ishii
If you check your upcoming calendar there is a wide variety of countries you’re about to head to, Japan, Russia, Brazil etc and your first residency was actually in Belgium. Can you think of any reason why your sound seems to be so widely accepted by people everywhere ?
Yes we visit many countries all over the world, that’s so nice. We never expected so much to be honest. It’s very difficult to answer your question.. It’s the magic side of music and the new status of music distribution. With online shops and mp3 download, your music is spread everywhere in one finger snap. So the music can easily be found by the people wherever they are. Now the fact that our music is widely accepted by people everywhere is more a kind of benediction..;-)
You are best known as a live PA and as one of the few artists to merge disco, techo, funk and house into one new sound that is uniquely identifiable. Can you comment at all on how you are able to meld these together so seamlessly ?
Well, we just try to do the music that we like and that we feel at the moment. We are not really able to preestablish a direction before we enter the studio, we just look for something which makes us vibrate. And believe me it’s already difficult like that. Now I think that it’s sounding melded together so seamlessly because we work a lot on each track and spend many time to improve as far as we can each sound even the most little one without any compromise and looking for an homogeneous sound.
You are coming to Japan to perform live but Jean you DJ as well. Do you think your DJing has helped Spirit Catcher’s production career ?
Of course yes. It’s good to be in the skin of the DJ to do tracks made for them. It helped also a lot to build our live as there are some similarities with a DJ set into his whole contruction and into the aim which is to bring people into dance.
Can we move onto your studio work ? Do you all work together or are you doing different things on different days ?
We want to share the studio work together as much as possible. But we have both our own strengths. Jean is the "produceur" thanks to him ideas are clear and are brought them to the most efficient state possible.
I’m the musician. Playing keyboards and bringing the Human and wild touch in the tracks. But at the end we have both taken part to the whole production work.
When did you two meet and start making music together ?
Everything started in a Belgian sound engineer hi-school 7 years ago. We started to work together for some ‘studio practice works’ for school. As the rates from our teachers were not too bad we wanted to go further together.
Your music is strongly influenced by disco would you say that was the genre which most inspired you in terms of making music ?
We’re both influenced by the black american funk of George Duke, Quincy Jones Herbie Hancock, D’train, Skyy, Zapp, Chic, and Earth Wind & Fire…
We like to mix old analogue gears from this period with new modern technologies it "futurize" the past very well. This is the shortest an closest description we can give for the Spirit Catcher’s sound.
How about your studio setup and the software you’re using ? Are you using mainly outboard synthesizers or software synthesizers ?
We are both analogue freaks !! We cannot do in another way. We have tons of chance to have in our collection Jupiter8, Roland SH101&SH2, Yamaha CS30, Sequential Circuits Pro-one, Moog Voyager, Juno 106, Siel DK80, Roland JX3P, Yamaha DX7&SY77, Rhodes, Oberheim Matrix1000, Nord Lead 1&2,… Also TR909, TR626,… And our wish list is still long ;-) We are also using VST instruments like Minimoonsta, Polysix, Battery,… An many many more !
Some people say the positive side of new technology is to make music production easier, but the negative side is that there will be so much emotionless music because it is easy to make. What do you think about this ?
Yes, the positive side is that now it’s easier to have the tools to create music for very cheap price. But making music will always be a very difficult and personnal thing which you cannot buy. The plug-in which will be directly connected on your neurons and automatically realize your ideas is not for tomorrow, I think.. With artistical things you cannot deceive the people and hopefully true artists who makes the music with heart will always exist and make the difference. People who really love the music will recognise them.
Jean, you worked on South Union and R.S.P. project with Fabrice Lig is there anything else you guys will be working on in the future ?
For the moment we’re really focused on Spirit Catcher. We’ll see what future have for us.
You receive so many offers to produce remixes so how do you decide what to work on ? Do you have any sort of criteria ?
There is something very interesting with remixes in the sharing you can have with other artists and labels from different influences. Our first criteria is the label who will release the 12inch. Only with remixes you can imagine a house track released on a techno label or a combination between a hip-hop band and an eletrohouse producer working on the same idea with their own point of view. It really opens doors between the different kind of music without any fear of the other. There is a kind of freedom of expression with remixes. It’s really inspiring.
Have you finished any interesting remixes recently ?
The next one will be a remix we did for Tim Fuller on Canadian label Bombay Recordings. Spirit Catcher treatments also for Alex Flatner on Circle (Germany) and for Mister Swift on Irma records (the label which distribute our album in Japan), Funk Di Fino on Juno records and many more… afterthat, it’s time for us to take a little break about remix. We receive new propositions every week but we don’t want to enter into the "production line work", if we do that we’ll kill Spirit Catcher for sure…
About "Night Vision", the album, we love it, it’s great. the concept behind it, Jean & Thomas, can you tell us a little about that ?
For the album, we wanted to go out from DJ structures/mixes and his usual boring "build up" construction. We wanted to work more on details that you cannot hear on a big soundsystem but very important for a great home listening CD. We also wanted to build a story where each track find his place and own sense. As we wanted to have the full palette of colors of our sound we added some previously released tracks which represent important steps of our evolution. Tracks like ‘Dirty Circuit’ or ‘Voodoo Knight’ enter perfectly in the story that we tried to build and which are very complementary with all the new cuts we did. It was essential for us to have a good summary our work during these last 4 years.
What feedback have you had from other DJ’s on the album ?
Until now we had very nice feedbacks. We’re surprised sometimes when people says "Waouw it’s deep" because for us it’s not so deep. Maybe in comparison with other album of nowadays, I don’t know…
I think it’s your third time in Japan (Thomas, your first time in Japan ?). What’s your impression on the Japanese club scene ?
Yes it’s my first time in Japan and my impression is already good as I only hear very good things from all the people who already went in Tokyo. And the first one is Jean who never stop to tell everywhere that we can find the most exciting clubs and best crowd in Japan. I don’t want to charm you too much, but in every case, when somebody ask us what’s the best country we visited we answer Japan. And also Dublin, for the same reasons.
Do you have any messages to Japanese fans who are really looking forward to seeing you at ageHa ?
Yes we received some very nice comments and messages on our MySpace from people telling us that they will come in ageHa to see us . I think the night will be amazing… Really can’t wait.. D-Day -20 !
Debut Album out now
Spirit Catcher – Night Vision [2020 Vision]
- 01. Motown Spring
- 02. Roller Coaster
- 03. Space Crash
- 04. Sweet Deal
- 05. Search Is Over
- 06. Time Emulator
- 07. Night Vision
- 08. Voodoo Knight
- 09. Hidden Memories
- 10. Harmonize
- 11. Dirty Circuit
Spirit Catcher Discography
as Spirit Catcher
- Lazerbeams EP, 12"
Silver Network (2003)
- Night Walker EP, 12"
Silver Network (2004)
- Dirty Circuit, 12"
- Voodoo Knight, 12"
- Between Brother EP, 12"
- Outer Space EP, 12"
Winding Road (2005)
- Headliner EP, 12"
Silver Network (2005)
- Key Generator / Code Breaker, 12"
- Rise & Shine, 12"
- Fission Trips EP, 12"
Winding Road (2006)
- Sweet Deal, 12"
2020 Vision (2006)
- Harmonize / Night Vision, 12"
2020 Vision (2007)
- Night Vision, CD / 2xLP
2020 Vision (2007)
as Only Freak
- Planet Deep, 12"
- Tiny Forces, 12"
- Can’t Get Away, 12"