The Peoples Republic of Europe's are back again this year in high form with Course Oblivion. Though not too familiar with the act, I've listened to the hard hitting beats that's been processed by this sometimes controversial, often club rocking electronic act has put out in the past. Liking some of their music but loving most, I got the chance to do a bit of an ask and answer with Pieter Winkelaar. Not only the maestro behind tPROE, he also contributes to this magazine from time to time, runs several other side projects, and is a very busy man. Nonetheless, I was able to steal some of his time for this enlightening interview:

Alright, let's just get a short little introduction out of the way for shits and giggles. Tell us who you are and what you do.

Pieter - "I am Pieter Winkelaar and I make the music for The Peoples Republic of Europe. I also run a few other projects like the techno acts Higgs Foton and Hendrik Van Avesaat, the ambient project Kratarknathrak and also Halcyon Days which is old skool EBM which I do together with Daryl Grootfaam."

It was in 2000 that tPROE started when you bought a version of Cubase VST 3.5 and experimented with it. What called you to this specific software, and, at the time, did you know what direction you were heading in regards to musical genre?

Pieter - "I had already worked with CuBase on the Atari with a friend of mine for an industrial gabber project called Titanium UNh of which we released one track on a metal compilation and made a demo. I already knew something about the program, so for me it was logical to get this instead of logic or something similar. We are talking 1997 here, so there was not much software around.

Originally i had envisioned TPROE to be an EBM act, because i had found the name already in a Mission Impossible episode from the 70's. But when I started working I made noisy industrial darkambient and used the name for that. It was just for experiments and fun, but it became more serious when I added beats to it and went the powernoise way."

Before you released your first official album, you went out and made four demo albums and one live album. The demo albums received good attention and response from critics, so why did you decide to wait so long before putting out a real CD?

Pieter - "The first real CD I put out was released on my own label New Darkness Recordings, so I had to pay for it myself. This was purely a money thing. When I noticed the last demo album (Among The Ruins) sold about 70 copies on CDr I thought it was worth the risk having an official CD pressing for 'Juche'."

With a bit of a reputation already surrounding you, it was your second CD "Monopoly Of Violence" that really solidified you within the scene. Were you shocked at the response, or expecting it?

Pieter - "I was not expecting it. I thought it was a pretty decent album myself. I made most of the music myself, but Daryl with which I am running Halcyon Days now was also in the band and we had a lot of fun doing pranks. The biggest one was that we covered an extreme right wing song like 'Pulling On The Boots'. This was Daryl's idea, and given he is black he thought it to be funny to have a white power song sung by him. Until this day we still receive deaththreats about that.

But when 'Antiglobalist' and the title song became clubhits it was quite the surprise. I was not shocked, because I knew 'Monopoly Of Violence' was a solid album, but it went better than I had envisioned myself."

I also understand that you were signed with Vendetta music under a three album contract. I understand that you're based in Europe, so why sign with a record label that's based in a country overseas?

Pieter - "I got offered a deal with Vendetta Music in 2008 and I decided to sign. Apparently Dave Vendetta was interested in Dutch industrial because he also signed Statik Sky and Mono-Amine. For me it was a way to get the name out there and see how far we could get. To an extent it worked, because we did fairly well in the States, and we even did a small tour over there. But I decided not to renew the contract because of the distance. The USA is very difficult to get to and do stuff as an European band because of visa regulations. Also the fact that Vendetta Music had no presence at all in Europe was a factor. If me and Stefan (Statik Sky) were at the Wave Gotik Treffen we would find no releases from Vendetta Music at all on the market there, and that is the biggest market for dark scene music in Europe. It proved difficult for us to get shows in Europe, while the USA was too expensive and troublesome to do shows there."

Once that contract was over, however, you signed with Dark Descent, Spirit of Progress and Dark Like Hell to release EPs and full length albums. Was that to spread your name around even more, or just to get more material out?

Pieter - "For another reason. These labels operate in the Dutch hardcore, hardtechno and gabba scene and they do stuff very different. Traditional industrial labels sign you for a few albums, but these labels cherrypick your tracks, and they release what they deem good enough. Your contract would be on a release basis. So you are always free to release on other labels as well. I think its a good way to work, because it forces you to get better, and you retain a good deal of freedom about your own work which is great.

Another thing which was important to me was that these labels are from another industrial scene. The traditional scene has been dumbed down by retard acts like Mordacious, <oidd>00tz-00tz and [x]-Rx and I had a hard time being put in the same bracket with these guys. When my contract with Vendetta was at an end, i found out my music was getting some play on Dutch hardcore radioshows in which they called our music 'Alternative Hardcore'. I liked that better and since over here in the Netherlands most people assume you sound like Angerfist when you tell them you make 'industrial' the choice was easy. I also saw I had the labelboss of Dark. Descent. in my Facebook friends list, so when I had a new album ready I asked if he would like to release it, and he did!"

However, that all leads to now with the release of your latest album, "Course Oblivion". Tell me, how do you think this album stands out from previous tPROE releases?

Pieter - "It's faster, more aggressive and its more kick oriented. In Dutch hardcore and industrial music the kickdrum is the most important factor in the music, and I have been experimenting with that a lot. I have always been impressed with the level of production and the sheer brutality of the kicks in hardcore and industrial hardcore and deemed it far superior to traditional industrial music. I had already been DJing that stuff alongside normal industrial and the mostly Dutch stuff would blow German Electro-Industrial stuff right out of the water.

On the new album I tried to combine the art of making brutal kicks with influences from rhythmic noise, industrial and dark ambient and I think I succeeded for a good part. I am still not 100% happy, but I am still learning. The production has become a lot better and clearer from previous releases. I also pushed up the tempos quite a bit. Most songs are 150 BPM or above. In the past it would be in the 120-140 BPM range, but on the new album it's 132-175 BPM."

And, so far, if any, how has response been for the album? Have you heard anything negative from it so far?

Pieter - "I haven't heard any negative so far. I had a lot of compliments from producers from the hardcore and industrial hardcore scene so the verdict seems to be positive for now. It could be some negative would come from the traditional scene because the new material is more hardcore/gabba oriented, or from that scene because its still a bit odd for the hardcore scene. But so far my peers think its a great album, so I am happy about that."

Now, something that I would love to ask you is that you also write for this site when you can in your busy schedule, busting out a review every so often. Do you take to heart with what critics say, or do you just shrug it off like it doesn't matter?

Pieter - "It depends on who's saying it. I had a few very bad reviews in the recent past for our more hardcore oriented material in Russian media. But when i went to check it the people behind that turned out to be mopey goths who were into Joy Division and The Cure. I am not surprised a bunch of Dutch industrial is a bit too much to take if that is your background. Those reviews I deem unimportant and even funny. But if it's someone who delivers a bit of constructive criticism i always take it into consideration. Or not. A remark I hear a lot is that my material tends to be monotonous, but that's how I like it myself. That's not something I will change. A lot of harsh music I listen to myself is monotonous."

And, that goes to say, in your history with tPROE, has there ever been a review that really irked you and caused a bad relationship between yourself and a critic?

Pieter - "No, this never happened, and I doubt it will happen in the future. I can take a fair bit of criticism, and if it's downright nasty I even think it's funny. The opinion of a certain critic is also not that important. I read it, and if it gives me good ideas, that's great. But for me it's more important how the people in the clubs react to it, because it's the dancefloor where it really happens. The opinion of DJ's i take very serious."

Speaking on that note, I understand you had a bit of a problem recently when it came to Side Line. They wanted a physical release for review, but you bluntly told them no. Could you talk about that with us for a bit?

Pieter - "This is something I know which irks a lot of bands and labels. Its not only Side Line, but there are others too. I heard this many times from befriended bands and producers. Its mostly webzines who threaten you to not review your material if you do not send them a CD or even vinyl might it be out on that. Side Line was a bit more cautious saying they couldn't promise to review it if it wasn't sent to them on CD.

Fact of the matter is that it has become very difficult for a band or a label to break even in this cultural climate with streaming services and torrents. Sending out CD's cost a lot of money which almost all bands and labels simply don't have anymore. So most promotional material is sent out as digital downloads. It's affordable and efficient. And almost all DJ's now use digital rigs or USB sticks with recordbox on CDJ players from Pioneer, so they are ok with it.

But what i found most irritating is that a webzine, which used to be a printed magazine, demands hardcopies of releases while themselves quit the printed magazine because of the internet. I would have thought they would at least understand. Brutal Resonance never made a problem about it, so they are cool."

Aside from that, has there been any other issues with getting out promotional material for the new album?

Pieter - "None at all. Myself and Noisj have mailing lists and we send out the material to those. I mostly hope the DJ's will be using some tracks in their DJ sets. I already saw END:The DJ like the new album very much, and Norwegian hardcore DJ Ragnarok had one of our songs at #2 of his DJ list of hardcore tracks for October."

And what's next for tPROE? Are you guys going to continue with remixes, EPs, or are you already working on a new album?

Pieter - "I already have about 11 new tracks which could be an album, or several EP's or maybe tracks for a compilation. Not sure about that. I am waiting to see what 'Course Oblivion' is going to do and then I'll decide what will happen. I will probably send off the material to several labels in the hardcore scene to see if they want to take it, or I can release them on my own label.

There will be a dark ambient track out on a compilation of Ghost Box Radio dark ambient together with a lot of other great artists, and we also did a track for a compilation of a new sublabel from Swiss industrial/hardcore label Nekrolog1c. Mono-Amine, The Relic, Iszoloscope, Desolation and a bunch of other great artists are also on there. I already have the unmastered version of that release and its gonna be kick ass! "

Do you have any live shows coming up where you'll be promoting the new album?

Pieter - "Right now only one, and that is on a BDSM party on a secret location. So that's need to know basis. We have nothing in the plans right now, but if people want to book us for a live show they can always drop us a line though the mail or Facebook, and then we see what we can do."

And this is where we leave off. I thank you for your time, and leave the space below free for you to put any last words.

Pieter - "TPROE has started to run a new label called 'Monsters Of Doomcore' for experimental harsh industrial, rhythmnic noise and industrial hardcore and doomcore. We already have 5 great releases out, and if artists think they have what it takes to be on Monsters Of Doomcore, they can send us a demo on our Facebook group. NO aggrotech or industrial rock/metal please!"
The Peoples Republic of Europe interview
November 1, 2014
Brutal Resonance

The Peoples Republic of Europe

Nov 2014
The Peoples Republic of Europe's are back again this year in high form with Course Oblivion. Though not too familiar with the act, I've listened to the hard hitting beats that's been processed by this sometimes controversial, often club rocking electronic act has put out in the past. Liking some of their music but loving most, I got the chance to do a bit of an ask and answer with Pieter Winkelaar. Not only the maestro behind tPROE, he also contributes to this magazine from time to time, runs several other side projects, and is a very busy man. Nonetheless, I was able to steal some of his time for this enlightening interview:

Alright, let's just get a short little introduction out of the way for shits and giggles. Tell us who you are and what you do.

Pieter - "I am Pieter Winkelaar and I make the music for The Peoples Republic of Europe. I also run a few other projects like the techno acts Higgs Foton and Hendrik Van Avesaat, the ambient project Kratarknathrak and also Halcyon Days which is old skool EBM which I do together with Daryl Grootfaam."

It was in 2000 that tPROE started when you bought a version of Cubase VST 3.5 and experimented with it. What called you to this specific software, and, at the time, did you know what direction you were heading in regards to musical genre?

Pieter - "I had already worked with CuBase on the Atari with a friend of mine for an industrial gabber project called Titanium UNh of which we released one track on a metal compilation and made a demo. I already knew something about the program, so for me it was logical to get this instead of logic or something similar. We are talking 1997 here, so there was not much software around.

Originally i had envisioned TPROE to be an EBM act, because i had found the name already in a Mission Impossible episode from the 70's. But when I started working I made noisy industrial darkambient and used the name for that. It was just for experiments and fun, but it became more serious when I added beats to it and went the powernoise way."

Before you released your first official album, you went out and made four demo albums and one live album. The demo albums received good attention and response from critics, so why did you decide to wait so long before putting out a real CD?

Pieter - "The first real CD I put out was released on my own label New Darkness Recordings, so I had to pay for it myself. This was purely a money thing. When I noticed the last demo album (Among The Ruins) sold about 70 copies on CDr I thought it was worth the risk having an official CD pressing for 'Juche'."

With a bit of a reputation already surrounding you, it was your second CD "Monopoly Of Violence" that really solidified you within the scene. Were you shocked at the response, or expecting it?

Pieter - "I was not expecting it. I thought it was a pretty decent album myself. I made most of the music myself, but Daryl with which I am running Halcyon Days now was also in the band and we had a lot of fun doing pranks. The biggest one was that we covered an extreme right wing song like 'Pulling On The Boots'. This was Daryl's idea, and given he is black he thought it to be funny to have a white power song sung by him. Until this day we still receive deaththreats about that.

But when 'Antiglobalist' and the title song became clubhits it was quite the surprise. I was not shocked, because I knew 'Monopoly Of Violence' was a solid album, but it went better than I had envisioned myself."

I also understand that you were signed with Vendetta music under a three album contract. I understand that you're based in Europe, so why sign with a record label that's based in a country overseas?

Pieter - "I got offered a deal with Vendetta Music in 2008 and I decided to sign. Apparently Dave Vendetta was interested in Dutch industrial because he also signed Statik Sky and Mono-Amine. For me it was a way to get the name out there and see how far we could get. To an extent it worked, because we did fairly well in the States, and we even did a small tour over there. But I decided not to renew the contract because of the distance. The USA is very difficult to get to and do stuff as an European band because of visa regulations. Also the fact that Vendetta Music had no presence at all in Europe was a factor. If me and Stefan (Statik Sky) were at the Wave Gotik Treffen we would find no releases from Vendetta Music at all on the market there, and that is the biggest market for dark scene music in Europe. It proved difficult for us to get shows in Europe, while the USA was too expensive and troublesome to do shows there."

Once that contract was over, however, you signed with Dark Descent, Spirit of Progress and Dark Like Hell to release EPs and full length albums. Was that to spread your name around even more, or just to get more material out?

Pieter - "For another reason. These labels operate in the Dutch hardcore, hardtechno and gabba scene and they do stuff very different. Traditional industrial labels sign you for a few albums, but these labels cherrypick your tracks, and they release what they deem good enough. Your contract would be on a release basis. So you are always free to release on other labels as well. I think its a good way to work, because it forces you to get better, and you retain a good deal of freedom about your own work which is great.

Another thing which was important to me was that these labels are from another industrial scene. The traditional scene has been dumbed down by retard acts like Mordacious, <oidd>00tz-00tz and [x]-Rx and I had a hard time being put in the same bracket with these guys. When my contract with Vendetta was at an end, i found out my music was getting some play on Dutch hardcore radioshows in which they called our music 'Alternative Hardcore'. I liked that better and since over here in the Netherlands most people assume you sound like Angerfist when you tell them you make 'industrial' the choice was easy. I also saw I had the labelboss of Dark. Descent. in my Facebook friends list, so when I had a new album ready I asked if he would like to release it, and he did!"

However, that all leads to now with the release of your latest album, "Course Oblivion". Tell me, how do you think this album stands out from previous tPROE releases?

Pieter - "It's faster, more aggressive and its more kick oriented. In Dutch hardcore and industrial music the kickdrum is the most important factor in the music, and I have been experimenting with that a lot. I have always been impressed with the level of production and the sheer brutality of the kicks in hardcore and industrial hardcore and deemed it far superior to traditional industrial music. I had already been DJing that stuff alongside normal industrial and the mostly Dutch stuff would blow German Electro-Industrial stuff right out of the water.

On the new album I tried to combine the art of making brutal kicks with influences from rhythmic noise, industrial and dark ambient and I think I succeeded for a good part. I am still not 100% happy, but I am still learning. The production has become a lot better and clearer from previous releases. I also pushed up the tempos quite a bit. Most songs are 150 BPM or above. In the past it would be in the 120-140 BPM range, but on the new album it's 132-175 BPM."

And, so far, if any, how has response been for the album? Have you heard anything negative from it so far?

Pieter - "I haven't heard any negative so far. I had a lot of compliments from producers from the hardcore and industrial hardcore scene so the verdict seems to be positive for now. It could be some negative would come from the traditional scene because the new material is more hardcore/gabba oriented, or from that scene because its still a bit odd for the hardcore scene. But so far my peers think its a great album, so I am happy about that."

Now, something that I would love to ask you is that you also write for this site when you can in your busy schedule, busting out a review every so often. Do you take to heart with what critics say, or do you just shrug it off like it doesn't matter?

Pieter - "It depends on who's saying it. I had a few very bad reviews in the recent past for our more hardcore oriented material in Russian media. But when i went to check it the people behind that turned out to be mopey goths who were into Joy Division and The Cure. I am not surprised a bunch of Dutch industrial is a bit too much to take if that is your background. Those reviews I deem unimportant and even funny. But if it's someone who delivers a bit of constructive criticism i always take it into consideration. Or not. A remark I hear a lot is that my material tends to be monotonous, but that's how I like it myself. That's not something I will change. A lot of harsh music I listen to myself is monotonous."

And, that goes to say, in your history with tPROE, has there ever been a review that really irked you and caused a bad relationship between yourself and a critic?

Pieter - "No, this never happened, and I doubt it will happen in the future. I can take a fair bit of criticism, and if it's downright nasty I even think it's funny. The opinion of a certain critic is also not that important. I read it, and if it gives me good ideas, that's great. But for me it's more important how the people in the clubs react to it, because it's the dancefloor where it really happens. The opinion of DJ's i take very serious."

Speaking on that note, I understand you had a bit of a problem recently when it came to Side Line. They wanted a physical release for review, but you bluntly told them no. Could you talk about that with us for a bit?

Pieter - "This is something I know which irks a lot of bands and labels. Its not only Side Line, but there are others too. I heard this many times from befriended bands and producers. Its mostly webzines who threaten you to not review your material if you do not send them a CD or even vinyl might it be out on that. Side Line was a bit more cautious saying they couldn't promise to review it if it wasn't sent to them on CD.

Fact of the matter is that it has become very difficult for a band or a label to break even in this cultural climate with streaming services and torrents. Sending out CD's cost a lot of money which almost all bands and labels simply don't have anymore. So most promotional material is sent out as digital downloads. It's affordable and efficient. And almost all DJ's now use digital rigs or USB sticks with recordbox on CDJ players from Pioneer, so they are ok with it.

But what i found most irritating is that a webzine, which used to be a printed magazine, demands hardcopies of releases while themselves quit the printed magazine because of the internet. I would have thought they would at least understand. Brutal Resonance never made a problem about it, so they are cool."

Aside from that, has there been any other issues with getting out promotional material for the new album?

Pieter - "None at all. Myself and Noisj have mailing lists and we send out the material to those. I mostly hope the DJ's will be using some tracks in their DJ sets. I already saw END:The DJ like the new album very much, and Norwegian hardcore DJ Ragnarok had one of our songs at #2 of his DJ list of hardcore tracks for October."

And what's next for tPROE? Are you guys going to continue with remixes, EPs, or are you already working on a new album?

Pieter - "I already have about 11 new tracks which could be an album, or several EP's or maybe tracks for a compilation. Not sure about that. I am waiting to see what 'Course Oblivion' is going to do and then I'll decide what will happen. I will probably send off the material to several labels in the hardcore scene to see if they want to take it, or I can release them on my own label.

There will be a dark ambient track out on a compilation of Ghost Box Radio dark ambient together with a lot of other great artists, and we also did a track for a compilation of a new sublabel from Swiss industrial/hardcore label Nekrolog1c. Mono-Amine, The Relic, Iszoloscope, Desolation and a bunch of other great artists are also on there. I already have the unmastered version of that release and its gonna be kick ass! "

Do you have any live shows coming up where you'll be promoting the new album?

Pieter - "Right now only one, and that is on a BDSM party on a secret location. So that's need to know basis. We have nothing in the plans right now, but if people want to book us for a live show they can always drop us a line though the mail or Facebook, and then we see what we can do."

And this is where we leave off. I thank you for your time, and leave the space below free for you to put any last words.

Pieter - "TPROE has started to run a new label called 'Monsters Of Doomcore' for experimental harsh industrial, rhythmnic noise and industrial hardcore and doomcore. We already have 5 great releases out, and if artists think they have what it takes to be on Monsters Of Doomcore, they can send us a demo on our Facebook group. NO aggrotech or industrial rock/metal please!"
Nov 01 2014
We do music. That is what we do.
Militant Cheerleaders On The Move, Jan 01 2005

Steven Gullotta

info@brutalresonance.com
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.

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Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

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