Bas Janssen – Passion, Percussion and the Engineer Musicians are Craving!

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Bas Janssen is a talented, young engineer hailing all the way from Eindhoven, Netherlands. Early on he was uprooted many times until he ended up in Cambridge, England. He began his musical journey by picking up drum sticks at the age of 8. Predominantly, classically trained, he truly got a chance to grow his mind and his ear up until he transferred to the same high school Pink Floyd wrote the iconic ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ about. That’s where he took the British version of AP music technology. Sequencing in MIDI, recording his friends and even recording his own drum covers, he dove head first into this new world of skills and possibilities. Bas was also attending the prestigious Junior Guildhall School of Music in London on Saturdays where he pushed his technical abilities still in percussion. This is what got him accepted at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He didn’t think he wanted to pursue engineering when he started, but soon came to realize he knew more than the rest. From there he was off to the races. He was in the studios as often as he could be, building his freelance career within the Berklee community. His nickname turned into Bas ‘2-6’ Janssen because 2-6am was always free in the studios and you would always find Bas there recording peers or mixing and honing his craft. Before graduating Bas had work featured by Meinl Cymbals, LP Percussion and the national Strange Arrange contest and has worked for artists such as Arnetta Johnson (Trumpet for Beyoncé), Lyric Rachaé (Opening for Janelle Monaé on 2018 tour) and won awards internationally for his work with Niu Raza (RDJ Mozika awards in a Madagascar and Karibu Music in Mayotte). After graduating, he decided to take his talents to the city of Angels and to go for broke. Since then he has started working for mega producer Alex Da Kid at his label KIDinaKORNER where he has so far worked with Fetty Wap, Santino Le Saint and namely Dana Williams on her deubt single ‘Holiday’. Above this he’s freelancing around town where he has worked live sound for artists such as Chloe X Halle at the MTV Awards, ALIX and CRSB and working for artists such as Curtis Lepore, Jencarlos Canela and Kevin Woods (Trumpet for Jessie J). As this only marks 1 year living in LA for Bas, this is only the tip of the ice berg as he is working everyday towards checking off his bucket list of goals within the music industry. He aspires to mix chart topping hits, mix front of house on world tours and engineer records in the world’s top studios. Catch his journey @Radioactive_Breakfast on Instagram.

The Levity Ball was honored to sit down with the artist himself to learn more.

1.     What inspired you to pick up a pair of sticks?

I was eight years old when I was moving from Utah to Cambridge, England and I had just watched the movie, Drumline starring Nick Cannon, and after watching that movie and enrolling in my new school in England and told my parents I wanted drum lessons. From then on, my early drumming years were with Mark Aldous and got me hooked for life!

2.     Tell us about your experience at the MTV Movie Awards. How was it working with Chloe X Halle?

First things first, Chloe and Halle are the sweetest girls I’ve ever met in my life. From the first second I met them in rehearsals they just lit up the room and made the whole week a breeze! As far as the award show itself, that was very easy. Since the whole event was unionized, I wasn’t allowed to touch any button or fader, but I basically just acted as a translator from Chloe X Halle and the band to the gentlemen operating the equipment. Since there are multiple speakers and artists performing at these types of events, it’s very important to have someone, like me, there that knows the artists and the technology very well that makes sure soundchecks are quick and effective. And then you get to watch those 2 stars perform their butts off while standing next to Kim K!

3.     What experience do you think grew you the most as an engineer?

Conveniently, this is now newly released and an easy plug! But Arnetta Johnson’s debut album, If You Hear a Trumpet It’s Me, was a 3 year long process with a very unique blend of influences, textures, sounds, combinations and instrumentations that with each song gave a new challenge of mixing to compete with the industry’s standard, but also finding the next new sound that was going to launch the industry forward. I could probably write a book on each challenge of each song, but to make a saga, short, Arnetta trusted me to find my sound, allowed me to add my input and pushed me until we knew it was perfect and nothing less.

4.     What advice would you give to young professionals moving to a new city looking to get their footing in a new music scene?

Firstly, prepare your move. Visit the new city as much as you can to network as much as possible and lay some ground work. Secondly, just be everywhere; keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Find any events or get togethers that you can find related to your field and become a regular, but the thing that actually got me my ‘biggest’ jobs/gigs is social media. On Facebook there are a lot of groups geared towards seeking/finding professionals that post like 10 times a day, but you who works where, which leads to what. Working at KIDinaKORNER, MTV Awards, featured by the Sunday Night Singers, the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra and other jobs that I have in works (that I don’t want to name my chickens before they hatch!) all from paying attention to the right places on social media at the right time. Social media is a POWERFUL tool these days.

5.     Now that you mention KIDinaKORNER, let’s talk about that. What’s it been like working in that record label responsible for names like Imagine Dragons, X Ambassadors, Dana Williams and more? And tell us what it’s like being part of a movement front by the genius Alex Da Kid and how he pushes his label to make a difference in the music industry?

Yeah! Well being at KIDinaKORNER is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I get to work one on one with the next wave of superstars right from the start; and a curse because of the sleep and social life I lose never wanting to leave! The writers on the label, such as Candice Pillay, Skylar Grey and LionChild, are the unsung heroes of the industry, writing hits we’ve all been obsessed with since we were young. The support team spanning from social media marketing to sync placements in movies and commercials etc are really what breeds the monetary success of an artist, putting them everywhere to a point where you can’t get away from their new project. The artists, that span all across the spectrum of styles and genres so that one of your favorite artists is on KIDinaKORNER no matter what style of music you prefer; between Imagine Dragons to Allan Rayman and Leon Thomas to Jamie N Commons. And to have that all led by an unapologetically progressive king pin, that is Alex Da Kid, makes for a unstoppable train that is taking the industry by storm.

It’s inspiring! Everyday, no matter who I might work with, I know I’m going to have a great day, making great music! I spent an extended amount of time working with Dana Williams, who I knew from day one would provide a unique contrast to Alex Da Kid’s big, powerful production style coming from her angelic, sweet, folky sound. I couldn’t hear in my head how the sound would end, but I knew it was going to be something special and never before heard. Her single Holiday, which I had the great fortune of engineering, was just that. A tale of a woman scorn that you think is so timid and harmless, but then you experience her strength and power with the production Cobaine Ivory and Alex beautifully built around her vocals.

6.     Do you prefer focusing and specializing in one genre of music or do you prefer variety?

I definitely prefer variety! Growing up in my drumming/percussion days I got the opportunity to be introduced a huge variety of genres and definitely appreciate that and use that to create my unique voice as an engineer. Conversely, if I get a call from a Malagasy artist like Niu Raza, I feel comfortable to take the job because I am very used to her unique blend of African genres that she wouldn’t commonly find in the U.S. Because that is another thing that I think is important to engineering and mixing. You should aim to match the standard at the top of the charts right now, but then create your new forward thinking, unique perspective above of that. Each genre has their own elements and/or instruments that might be more prevalent than other genres, so it’s definitely important to do your research and become comfortable with the standard of each genre so that you aren’t confusing your listeners with a sound they’re not used to, but meeting them and the standard and adding your spice on top to stand out.

7.     When an artist/artist manager contacts you, what goes through your mind before saying yes? Or no?

For me, the most important is thing is ‘Am I going to play this music in my own time after this is released?’ I hope every any person acts this way, but I only want to work on music that inspires me, makes me dance, makes me excited to work on it. Of course you have to make sure the money is worth it and they’re not going to make it a struggle to work on, but I’d be prepared to knock some off my pay to support the artist as long as this is music that moves me and already has me counting down to the release day. I want to work on music I’d be proud to have my name on. That’s it.

8.     How do the people keep up with your exciting journey?

I keep my Instagram most up to date. So yeah, follow me! @Radioactive_Breakfast

And thank you for having me on your site.