A chat with Amsterdam-based Scotsman, Vince Watson...

​​Vince Watson was born in Scotland, making his way over the to the Netherlands and never went back. One of the pioneers of that pure original blend of House of Techno over last 20 years, he has a slew of monumental releases behind him that have made him a DJ’s DJ. Vince Watson is about to drop his album ‘Another Moment in Time’ on his home label Everysoul. We get a chance to talk to the main man about his Dutch, his thoughts on the health of the scene, his mentoring in Music Tech to the bright young producers of tomorrow, and about squeezing every last drop of goodness out of his tracks. 

It’s a pleasure to speak with you Vince. What are you up to today?

Yoooo. Yesterday was my first day working on music for 5-6 weeks, as I got a nasty Covid strain and it gave me a lung infection…now I’m back to business just in time for the album to drop.

How did a Scotsman end up living in Amsterdam? What took you there in the beginning?

I’d been playing here once a month while still living back home, ended up meeting so many people and wanting to move here but it never happened, until I met my (now) wife when I was playing at Studio80 and that was that. Now we’re together 15 years and have a 6 year old. Life innit..

What is it that you love about the city you live in today?

It’s quite a different city from 10-15 years ago…I mean it looks the same, it’s still the same romantic, classic, quirky chaos it’s always been…but it’s much more conservative now. I will always love the view, the cuteness of it all though.

How’s your Dutch?

Mijn Nederlands is niet zo goed, maar mijn dochter leert het mij. 

Basically, my 6 year old is a better speaker than me...

You’re about to drop your new album ‘Another Moment In Time’. Is it really 20 years since you first released ‘Moments in Time’. What have you been up to since then if that’s not too big a question.

It’s actually 21 years since that dropped on Alola and Ibadan. It’s an extremely broad question but i’ll narrow it down as best I can…There have been many albums in between these 2 and I’ve basically resisted any temptations to follow trends and I’ve just went on my own journey trying to make the world a better place, one beat at a time…regardless of vibe.

Did you always know you had to make a sequel and what was it about the original album that made you feel it had to have a follow up?

I’ve been on a mission over the last 4-5 years to plan the next projects deeper. Moments was always in my mind, but only to do a deep house album of sorts, not so much a sequel…it wasn’t until I started working on it and ended up a sequel once I captured the vibe of it, it had to be Another Moment In Time. I wanted to express where I am at this moment in time with it too…so the cover is a mixture of the original album and the Netherlands flag, representing my location currently.

Over the last twenty years you’ve released a fair few records. What is it… like 10 albums? How many EP’s and remixes?

It’s now album 15 publicly, however you might not be that surprised to know there are 5 albums that are finished and not released yet…it’s kind of ridiculous, and I’m out of control a littie….I’m just scared one day it won’t come out anymore, so I’m like an animal in the studio churning out concepts and plotting the next projects 24/7. I’m strict with my studio/work/home time…so when I’m in the studio, don’t come near me.

You’re a full-time lecturer in music tech right? Tell us a little about that and who you teach.

Yes I teach at Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Me and four other core teachers started an electronic music school there 5 years ago called AEMA (Amsterdam Electronic Music Academy) which is a 2 year Associate Degree course currently, but we’re making plans now to develop into a 3 or 4 year program in the future. I have 3 subjects that I tech over 2 year groups : Stylelabs, DJ Class and Art of Remixing.

When do you sleep? 

I sleep 6-7 hours every night, I sleep like a baby, I’m one of the lucky people that’s envied for falling asleep instantly on a plane…yup that’s me! When I’m working in studio, I start at 0500 until 1230, have lunch, then work from 1400 until 1900. I’m very fortunate to have my studio in the garden…so if I have zero plans for the day except music, I’m probably still in my Pyjamas at 1900 :)

Your releases vary in flavour. How would you categorise the different sounds of Vince Watson?

Ethereal? Melancholic? Emotive? Sensory? There are many shades to my output, but the essence is to capture the listeners imagination and give them something just a bit different they may not have heard yet. I’m excluding the new Amorphic alias from this entirely as that’s a completely different planet to VW.

Your releases vary in flavour. How would you categorise the different sounds of Vince Watson?

Ethereal? Melancholic? Emotive? Sensory? There are many shades to my output, but the essence is to capture the listeners imagination and give them something just a bit different they may not have heard yet. I’m excluding the new Amorphic alias from this entirely as that’s a completely different planet to VW.

Vince Watson is strictly for deep house, Detroit inspired music. Amorphic is my techno alias; deep dark hypnotic eerie and a hardware only live set that goes with it(Amorphic and Morph are the two labels I have launched alongside it). Quart is my jazzy downtempo project - Only BBE have released an album so far but there will be more. Vincenzo Irvi will be the name I will be using for cinematic, ambient, and classical releases. The follow up to Serene next year will be under this name. Then there is one more to complete the list, it’s an IDM/Electronica audio and visual project. The first two albums are finished. We’re waiting on labels making decisions, then it will all be revealed.

 ‘Another Moment in Time’ takes you back to your original vibe. What are the elements that make up that nostalgia?

Deep House and emotive techno….some would call it the original ‘tech-house’ sound, but that name is now mud in the boots. There is real deep house with jazzy, keys, strings, funky baselines etc…and rounded off with something a bit more uptempo…I always like ending my albums with something a little dimensional. What I have not done is tried to be ‘hip’ or ‘trendy’ by using todays sounds and influences in the music….it’s pure, however the production quality is better than 2001 :)

When you were making that music 20 years ago, who were your icons then that inspired the sounds you were producing on the original album?

I have so many…but to narrow down to a select few you can count Larry Heard, Mad Mike, Carl Craig, Herbie Hancock, Louie Vega, Timmy Regisford, Joe Claussell, Kerri Chandler as being in there.

I guess you’ve learned a thing or two about the business over time. What do you know now that you wished you knew back then? What would you tell A young Vince starting out today?

Jesus….where to start. I would have been stronger in my defence of my IP, for sure. I would never have signed my VW name away exclusively (which I did once - hence the multiple alias over the years). I would have done some courses on Music Industry stuff so I could understand Publishing and Copyright much earlier…Musically, nothing …I would have changed nothing (except Mystical Rhythm with vocals….that was a mistake, oops).

Is it too broad a question to ask you your thoughts on the music industry right now? How is the health of the scene in your eyes and ears? 

We’ve entered the next era and a lot of the peeps that had their moments are no longer required to attend. This is gonna be hard for some to take. Time does this….it’s why it’s important to keep a fanbase that can go with you on your journey and not release throwaway music twice a month for likes, you have to think longevity and career-wise…but try telling that to short attention span TikTok artist fans and young producers, its hard!

One thing I really wish would happen is that all these ‘’Techno’’ artists that are actually playing trance, hardcore and hardstyle while posing with hands in the air…would just go over there somewhere and take all the fans with them, take all the pre-recorded festival stages with them, call themselves Neo Techno or something and just simply stop calling themselves ‘Techno’. Don’t get me wrong….rave culture is back big time and they are having fun doing it, and I’m super happy for them, to see and feel what we did many times before…it’s an incredibly fun experience to just let go and go nuts….but FFS make music that brings something different instead of simply ripping older tracks and not being innovative or at least trying! 

Rave stabs and hardcore kicks…really? That’s all you have got? It’s a gimmick….(see above my comment on Longevity)..but it’s working so fair play to them. Just go over there, thanks.

Do you feel that what it takes to be successful artist in 2023 is much different than 20 years ago or do you feel the fundamentals remain the same?

We’re in a brave new world for sure. Successful can mean different things. Successful can be visualising an album, conceptually putting it together, releasing it and getting messages from people telling you how much a track changed their lives. I think if you just do what you love and give your passion and all the heart and soul you can, success will come in different forms. The music world is tough, and you need thick skin to survive it, it’s a ‘one person for themselves’ type of affair at times and you have to be up for the fight….and that needs to come from inside, not driven by seeing Tomorrowland main stages and looking for the money solely. Sure go for it if you have the talent, contacts and finances to fund your rise to the top….but fundamentally it needs to come from inside to feel successful.

When you first started out what was your aim? Did you even have an aim in the beginning?

I have a nice story to tell…..I was standing in a Glasgow Under 18’s club listening to MC Duke playing…when the break came and the DJ playing this really weird but completely engrossing track, but I never knew what it was. A short while later I was at another club and Derrick May was playing…and he played the track, and that was it….hooked. The track was ‘It Is What It Is’. So I deep dived into Detroit and found my home. Icon and Kao-tic Harmony were two of my favourite tracks on a Buzz LP, grey cover with red Transmat logo on the front. Iconic stuff…Anyway, this is when I just had this far out dream to see DJs playing music that I had made…thinking it was a bit silly really. Over the years I was very lucky to work with Carl Craig and Derrick on Eps and projects…and hear many great artists play my music, was very humbling. Fast forward to 2018…and I made an album called DnA, which was entirely inspired by Derrick, Carl, Kenny Larkin, Stacey Pullen and Claude Young. I gave a copy to Derrick in Amsterdam…and I stood in Shelter and watched Derrick May play two tracks from the album that were inspired by him playing his tracks to me in 1988. A Full Circle moment.

Social media is part of the game now. Does it affect you/ impact you in any way positive or negative.  Does it irritate you, or does it not move you at all… as it’s just part of the process?

I have a love/hate relationship with it…it’s a time thing for me. It’s a necessary tool just to get info out there, ignoring the like addicts, for me mostly I just don’t have time to do it non stop every day of the year. I try my best…..I go quiet sometimes simply because I’m focused on a project.

I’m checking your Discogs and it is huge.  When did you begin producing Vince, what made you start, and what was your first release?

I was 17 when I got my first white label handed to me…my first release…amazing feeling, terrible music, but it wasn’t until 1996 when I was 22 that I was able to start the techno journey I always wanted to. Now it’s over 250 releases across all genres, artist names, remixes…pretty crazy!

When did you first write Rendezvous? Could you feel it was big when you were making it?

Rendezvous was 2005…I wanted to make something different than what was out there…so I took a risk on it. It wasn’t Detroit, it wasn’t house, it wasn’t techno….it was a song..just an emotional piece of music. At the time I was planning to make an EP for Planet E…but wasn’t sure to send this to Carl or not. I took the brave decision to send it…then the call came and it was Carl Craig on the phone immediately welcoming me to the Planet E family. He loved it! I’m pretty sure he simply heard the love and emotion in it like I did when I was making it. I was playing in Detroit later that year, and went to Carls studio to pick up the test pressing. Another full circle moment, I cannot tell you how many hours and nights I spent studying deeply Carl Craig’s music.

And the Yoruba Soul version – tell us a little about that.

The 2nd version actually was spawned from a house liveset I did. I hadn’t played Rendezvous live in that way before, and I started programming some new beats for it, and at that time I was due another Yoruba single…but wanted something special for it. Another Rendezvous was born….a much more afro-house centric version with even more violins and textures.

In its third incarnation ‘Rendezvous’ features on the new album. How was the original track upgraded for the 2023 version?

Actually this happened in an eerily similar way! I was playing for Carl Cox at DC10 in Ibiza for his birthday last year…and I was trying to pick some of my most uplifting tracks to match the birthday vibes…and I tried really hard to fit in Rendezvous but it just wasn’t party vibe enough…so I just set about making a new version for the party, and realised this is actually a beauty…so after the live performance, went back to the studio, stripped it down and recreated it for the album.

You worked with Underground Resistance’s ‘Timeline’ -Jon Dixon on ‘Peace Of Mind’. What was the shape of the collab between you two? 

Jon is a genius and a huge inspiration for me. He is the keyboard player I wish I was. I’m so grateful that he respects me as a producer…and trusts me with his work too. I had this track in my thoughts, the original version on the album sampler I was super happy with my playing on that, but I just knew he could take it to that next jazzy level with inversions that don’t exist yet! So we did a back and forth exchanging keyboard parts, improving and editing accordingly….and what we ended up with is really special. I have plans for the track to go further…this time with the right vocalist and session players. I’m working on it.

There are so many great tracks on ‘Another Moment in Time’. How on earth will you top this?

I already have. You just need to wait a while and it will be revealed. At the moment I’m 2-3 albums ahead. Aaaah its intense…sorry but I cannot reveal yet!

Is there even more goodness to squeeze out of  some of these tracks thenk?

‘Flashback’ is going to be a single with some big remixers. ‘Peace Of Mind’ as I mentioned above will go even more organic. ‘Lost In The Deep’, I’m looking at some remixes that fit the style…we shall see. There will not be ‘Another Moment In Time Again II’ :)

Once this monumental album is released, what else are you working on Vince?

I’m working on some more archive releases that were only on vinyl or CD, also a project for Carl Cox’s label AwesomeSoundwave. There is a remix for R&S that’s coming soon too. For my techno alias Amorphic, we have Morph 02 and Amorphic 04 coming before end of year. Busy busy…

As I’m writing these notes, I’m listening to ‘Peace of Mind’ and I’ve got goose bumps. ‘Another Moment in Time’ feels like a masterclass in production, a masterpiece in the making, a timeless future classic for aeons.  Best of luck with it Vince. It’s a killer.

I really appreciate it, thank you. It's a real rush now that I’m starting to see feedback rolling in, its being very well received so far.

Keep up with Vince Watson on Soundcloud

Buy/listen to Another Moment in Time here