I-f – real name Ferenc van der Sluijs – is among underground dance music’s most iconic figures.
A disco fiend first and foremost, the Dutchman’s seminal mix CD of 1999, Mixed Up In The Hague Vol.1, is cited by many – including fellow freak Morgan Geist – as the catalyst for the italo disco revival which has persisted throughout the 00s, and Cocadisco (2001), the aptly titled album Ferenc recorded with Intergalactic Gary as The Parallax Corporation, is simply one of this decade’s finest.
I-f’s involvement in dance music begins in the early 90s, when he was a member of Unit Moebius, the seminal Hague-based acid-techno act often referred to as “Europe’s answer to Underground Resistance”. Raw, jacking acid quickly became the fledgling producer’s bread and butter, and the various tracks he recorded under the name Beverly Hills 808303 – including ‘Acid Planet 4′ and ‘Greatest Shit’ – are some of the craziest squat party jams you’ll ever hear. In 1997 he turned out the proto-electroclash classic ‘Space Invaders Are Smoking Grass’ – still one of the most influential dance tracks ever made – by which time his cult status was rigorously assured.
That didn’t mean he took his foot off the gas. Though the last couple of years have been quiet on the production front, over the course of this decade Ferenc has made music under a bewildering array of aliases, including Housemaid, Jungian Archetype and Frank Castle, and groups like Los Muchachos Gruesos and Brothers Fuck & Friend. He has founded and helmed a number of acclaimed record labels, primarily Viewlexx and Murder Capital, the aesthetic of the latter inspired by the stylized violence of 70s cop movies and The Hague’s all too real status today as, yes, “murder capital” of Holland.
But for all the production and label work that’s made I-f’s name, it’s arguably his role as radio broadcaster that’s most distinguishing and impressive. Following some short-lived pirate dalliances in the late 80s and early 90s, Ferenc founded the legendary, now defunct CBS (Cybernetic Broadcasting System), which gave a level of attention to out-there disco, italo and electro that would have been unthinkable for a mainstream station.
CBS paved the way for the bigger, bolder and more “future-proof” Intergalactic FM, without doubt the greatest internet radio service and community on the planet (well, if you like electronic music). Across its four continuously streaming channels you’ll hear everything from giallo scores, library music, electro classics, underground hip-hop, synth-pop, spooky jazz, techno – there are no rules, just an unwavering commitment to great music.
What’s great about Intergalactic FM, above and beyond the quality of its music and personality of its presenters – Legowelt’s Astro Unicorn show is a weekly highlight, by the way – is that it actually tells you what the hell it is you’re listening to. Stream IFM in your iTunes and the track title of the currently playing song and the one that played before it will roll before your eyes; the IFM homepage will display the playlist for the last hour. Intergalactic FM rally shares its finds and its expertise, it doesn’t just show off, and that’s what makes it so remarkable.
Be sure to check out I-f’s FACT Mix, originally broadcast on Intergalactic FM and available to download here.
With the Intergalactic FM empire growing steadily – two new channels are planned for 2010 – we spoke to Ferenc about the origins of the station, its aims, its practical difficulties. “Radio just has more possibilities than releasing records,” he says. “I can play a lot more stuff I’d like you to hear on the radio in one hour than I can release on vinyl in a year…”
Your first foray into internet radio was with CBS. What was the original vision behind that, and how did you go about making it happen?
“The reason for starting CBS was a long-standing wish to provide the planet with a 24/7 quality music stream. In Holland we always have been terrorized by horrible prefab music on the radio, pushed by the industry. This was the basis for a reasonably large pirate radio culture in the Netherlands, so at least it was good for something…
“The blueprint for CBS came actually from those days: apart from some typical disco or Chicago acid hours we played basically all kinds of music that we liked through each other.
“But that pirate radio thing was an expensive hobby so by the late 90s it was basically over. Sometimes we’d put up a transmitter for the last week of the year but it was rare that it would last longer than a few days. Then, in late 2001, me and my former radio friends started experimenting with internet radio. They really did not want to go through with it at a certain point and so in December 2002 I started CBS.”
The west coast of Holland has a rich pirate radio history. What were the most important pirates back in the day?
“One that was really big here in The Hague was Radio Stad. Their primary focus was italo disco, which for those days was great.
“Later on there was Nightlife 105 from Rotterdam in which we were heavily involved and maybe a few others. We never made it big time though…There were a lot of Dutch schlager stations active in those days too. Some of those were really big.”