As Noisia celebrates 20 years as leaders in the electronic music world, the beloved trio will also embark on its final chapter.
Nik Roos, Martijn van Sonderen and Thijs de Vlieger met in the late ’90s as grafitti lovers in the small north Netherlands town of Groningen. A teenage rivalry blossomed into an infuential partnership when they traded their spray cans for digital audio workstations.
Noisia blew up in the drum’n’bass scene but quickly spread its technical tendrils into electro, house, pop and more, leading the charge for modern dance music’s genre-hopping tendencies while earning a reputation for futuristic productions and radical attention to detail.
In it’s 20 years, the trio released two albums, landmark remixes for Moby, What So Not, Katy Perry and others, discovered and mentored Skrillex, soundtracked popular video games including Devil May Cry, and developed, toured and self-controlled an eye-popping audio-visual tour. Its individual members have collaborated on various projects and personal side projects, but in the last six months, it’s become increasingly clear to each that the directions they wish to take no longer walk side by side.
“Noisia has always been about making as few compromises as we can,” the group says in its official statement. “When Noisia becomes a compromise in itself, it’s time to move on.”
Fans can celebrate the group’s final year by catching Noisia on a farewell tour. It’s not an easy decision to walk away, and all three members want to honor the work they’ve done in as joyful and meaningful way as the work was created.
Billboard Dance spoke to Noisia in a joint email interview to hear more about the decision to break up and what fans can expect through 2020 and beyond.
What led to this decision to split up?
It surely wasn’t easy. So after 20 years of development and growth, we found ourselves wanting different things in music. Trying to reconcile these three individual developments into one consistent entity became too much of a compromise. For the longest time, we could each sufficiently express what we wanted in our music, but that gradually became more and more of a struggle. Instead of choosing one direction, we preferred to choose three directions. We’re still friends. We have studios in the same space. We run companies together. We will still make music together. We still have projects together, and we would like to collaborate with each other more on other projects — just not as Noisia. With everything that Noisia has become over the years, we want to keep that history of Noisia intact, as we turn the page to the next chapter.
Why now? What new directions will each of you take?
It is never the right time. For the longest time, we tried to find ways in which we’d be able to keep Noisia going. We decided before the summer, but wanted to give ourselves ample time to consider the decision. The atmosphere has greatly improved since. A weight has fallen off our shoulders. It’s a risk we’re taking, to put an end to something we’ve built for two decades. We’re saying it now, because we have made the final decision only recently. We took time to think about it. It’s painful, but it is absolutely the right thing to do.
Our new directions will be our other collaborative and solo projects. None of us is quitting music. We still have other projects together, and we’re always looking for new projects. We’re only stopping with one of our projects, because we couldn’t find agreement about where to take it next, and that has cost us far too much energy already.
Why announce before finishing your career? Are there plans for a final tour or release?
We didn’t want to quit just short of 20 years, round number fetish, hahaha! No, but seriously, being Noisia has been a lot of fun. We want to do a proper round of farewell, for ourselves and for our audience. We just owe the world a proper goodbye, we think. We are so grateful for everything we’ve been able to do and see and experience. We wouldn’t just want to disappear suddenly. So yes, we want to take until the end of 2020 to go to all our favorite places again, for one last time. New Year’s Eve 2020/2021 should be the last blast. We still have a bunch of cool music to finish and release as well. We’re not gonna let this go without a proper last year.
What in your 20 year career have been your proudest moments with Noisia? Are there any particular memories you’ll take with you about this group and this creative professional experience?
Having an audiovisual show (Outer Edges) where we controlled the music, the lights and the visuals really felt like the culmination of the independent artist’s dream. Playing mainstage Dour, to a zillion people, that’s an incredible feeling. The team we worked with was amazing. Designing and working on the show, even though at times very exhausting, was also deeply rewarding. Touring together, as one big team, was unforgettable.
One of the most memorable tours was the I Am Legion bus tour. This was so sick. A 14-person nightliner all across Europe, with the Foreign Beggars guys, light, management — all together. What an amazing mess that was. Touring like that (traveling by night while “sleeping”) is one of the coolest things we’ve ever done. So many memories. 2010 was a year when so many things came together. We released our first album, did a BBC essential mix, signed with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation publishing company, and remixed our friend Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites.” The decision to stop our respective university, music school and art school educations to pursue a music career was definitely a big step. Some people definitely doubted us, but look where it took us, mom and dad!
We learnt everything together. We started this when we were still teenagers. We became adults together, taught ourselves how to make music together, taught ourselves how to not be idiots and run proper companies together. Wherever we end up, we will always recognize that we wouldn’t be there without the things we did with and for each other.
Looking back on nearly 20 years as a group, what do you think or hope your legacy will be?
In the midst of all of this, one of the first things that comes to mind is this: we hope that 20 years from now, history will tell us that it was the right decision to explore different directions under different names, keeping the memory of Noisia intact; quitting while we’re still ahead. We hope that, by then, we will look back on the last two decades as our forming years, where we taught ourselves how to make music, how to be creative but not a mess, how to find a balance between having fun, creative exploration and self-criticism. Most of all, we hope time will tell that it didn’t end there. For us, this is also the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.