Who the hell is gladde paling?

July 25, 2022 - Interview

Call it a trigger-happy drop extravaganza, call it ravey, or simply call it a dubstep and drum ‘n bass-inspired trip down memory lane, mashed with samples from old DOS videogames. But however you want to call gladde paling, the results so far are staggering.

In little more than a year, gladde paling – which translates to ‘smooth eel’ – has taken the Dutch scene by storm, making ever increasing ripples. He managed at passing the 750,000 plays mark on Spotify in little more than one trip around the sun. gladde palings’s recent performance at Rampage Open Air is another achievement most can only dream about, let alone achieve so quickly.

To keep up with the quick succession of notable highlights, the ambitions of the meme-inspired producer turned performer are switching gears, too. His recent signing at MB Artist Agency comes at the perfect time, hinting at plenty more gigs still to come. Also, a debut album is in the works called dansmuziek, arriving as a self-release at the end of August.

We met with gladde paling to talk about his journey – to get some more insights into that ‘eel’ behaviour. Read on for his vivid answers below.

You’re known for being an avid Rampage fan…

Yes, that’s correct. I have been going to Rampage ever since I was allowed age-wise. I started going to the editions at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp, since 2016. And the love for bass music always’ been there. I used to live in Roosendaal, in half an hour you could get from there to Antwerp by train. So it was a very logical decision to go to Rampage.

Did you dream about performing there?

Yes, it was always a dream of mine. A surreal experience to actually play there, after being added to the line-up last-minute.

How did it feel to play there?

Very intense. I played the tunnel-stage and didn’t know what to expect, also because of sharing the same timeslot that Levela played elsewhere. Looking back now, it was really amazing.

Wessel Hop, who’s my manager, said that at some point a drone crashed while recording a video. It made contact with the tent and ended up falling into a moshpit.

That’s wild. So besides this performance, what were other highlights during your first year?

I had the chance to play at numerous events. Some smaller ones and bigger ones, too. One that I played twice, NOX, does stand out, though. Mainly, because a lot of people who go to NOX really dance their asses off.

Another really memorable gig was Het Groot Ortegisch Feest in Nijmegen, at De Onderbroek. It took place in a cellar and somewhat contrasts the above-mentioned gig. I was getting started in terms of actual club gigs, and I did not release music before. So it felt very awesome, seeing people liking my sound and coming out to see me play.

Looking forward: what are you excited about in the next months?

I especially hope to play a lot of sets, like the recent one at Liquicity, together with De Toeterboys. In August, I will play at Lokerse Feesten in Belgium (Lokeren). Really look forward to that one. It isn’t really a drum ‘n bass festival, together with Used I am the only drum’ n bass act at this party.

I will get to play there on Friday, performing on a stage hosted by the famous alternative radio station Studio Brussel (StuBru). Which is really nice. Ever since I lived in Roosendaal, I used to listen strictly to Studio Brussel. They’re more willing to play the less appreciated styles.

What’s the idea behind gladde paling?

gladde paling is an act aimed at providing as hyped as possible DJ-sets. A combination of insane drops with nostalgia, memes, and everything that works, really. I aim to keep the energy during sets as high as possible with plenty of switches, so listeners don’t know what to really expect. The amount of energy and drive really reminded me of hardcore. I myself was always interested in dubstep, but it is somewhat of a niche. Having this formula with gladde paling and seeing it work, provides me plenty of reasons to continue with this direction.

At what point did you realize gladde paling is really taking off?

After that set in Nijmegen. People came to me saying it was nothing they experienced before. Prior to this, most of it felt like entertainment; writing songs my friends would listen to and that’s it. From then on, I got the feeling it’s becoming way more, than that.

Please tell us how the name gladde paling came to be

It actually started as an inside joke. I played a lot of Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 back in the days. Three or four years ago, someone released a mod. It brought multiplayer to the game, enabling you to build parks and rollercoasters together with friends.

I and some friends were messing around with it. I was going through the settings and noticed you could change the train of a rollercoaster into an eel theme. It looked very funny, so I decided to call my rollercoaster ‘gladde paling’. When deciding on trying something totally new as a producer, I chose to use this name.

You recently collaborated with Dutch hardcore act Chaotic Hostility. How did this collab come about?

Chaotic Hostility is known for being active on Twitch. They stream, producing music etc. Someone linked them to one of my songs (een vliegtuig) during a stream. They checked it and thought it was funny. Their audience thought the same. Eventually this turned into an inside joke. When a certain amount of points is reached on their stream, they nowadays have to play a gladde paling tune. This led to the idea of writing a song together.

A few weeks ago, I joined them at Defqon.1 festival, to open their set with our song. A different crowd than I am used to. Some really loved it, others were like ‘huh?’ They were playing at this uptempo stage with BPM’s of above 200. To suddenly hear a drum ‘n bass drop wasn’t what some were waiting for. Surely it isn’t for everyone, but the experience itself was very fun.

How do you get hold of these often forgotten, but still recognizable samples your tracks are so known for?

Well, there’s a thrift store close to where I live. They always have a big box with old software. I look for old games to sample, stuff like Freddi Fish. While using a laptop with a floppy disc-drive, I rip the audio files and find what’s usable. Often times there’s something cool there. When you take away the context these samples were created for, you get to use it in a very different way. And the results are often very entertaining.

If you had to decide, do you see yourself as a producer or a performer?

I have been writing music much longer than I have been performing, so I am still fresh to that aspect. A tough question though, I think I see myself more as a producer currently – even though I love to perform as well. But having to decide between both: I would prefer to be writing music.

Do tell us more about your upcoming debut album

I always had the idea of doing an album, but when you don’t have a fanbase, doing so doesn’t really make sense. At some point, people started to approach me. They asked when I was doing an album. It seemed as a right moment to me (to write an album).

We are aiming to release the album at the end of August. It will be called dansmuziek (dance music) and the name pretty much speaks for itself. It will be broad in sense of genres, with influences from electro-house, trap, half-time, hardcore, techno, and so on.

Different collaborations were done for dansmuziek. I made tracks with Tantron and Vieze Asbak for example. There’s more with other producers. And even some rappers. Solo material will be on the album as well.

We’re doing an actual release party on August 26 at 013 in Tilburg.

How do you view the future of gladde paling?

That’s hard to say, really. The meme aspect of it  – you can’t really say how long this might last. I never dared to expect playing Rampage as gladde paling…. Where gladde paling ultimately is going is really hard to say at this point.

gladde paling – overstorming is out now 

Join gladde paling for the dansmuziek album launch at 013, Tilburg on August 26

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