1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your work... both in musical and image/graphics terms...
1960 - Ben Liebrand
1976 - first DJ gigs
1980 - First "mash-up" (combining disco and andrew sisters vocals)
1982 - Now - Started in music business (See "Productions and Remixes" below)
1983 - 1993 - Radio programs "In The Mix", First nonstop mixed radioshow on Dutch Radio Veronica.
1983 - "Minimix" "Grandmix" Annual 100plus megadancemix often copied, never equaled
1991 - 3D Animation and Video Editing and compositing (See "Visuals" below)
1999 - weekly minimix on Radio 538 and the Millennium and Summer Grandmixes and a whole new series of Annual Grandmixes
2004 - started every saturday night 23:00 - 24:00 "In The Mix" on Radio Veronica featuring Non-Stop mixes and mash-ups.
Many of the top DJ's of this moment, including Armin van Buuren and Tiësto refer to Ben Liebrand as one of their main inspirations to become involved in mixing and dance-music. On all Ben's work he is the mixer/producer, as well as the engineer and the musician.
Production and remixes:
Phil Collins "In the air tonight", Forrest "Rock the Boat"(Hit in Holland,England top 5), Hot Chocolate "Sexy Thing" and "every 1's a winner.(Hit in Germany,England top 5) (Hit in Germany,England top 5), Bill Withers "Lovely Day"(Hit in Germany,England top 5), Ben Liebrand "Eve of the war" (England position 2) Art of Noise, Grace Jones,Twenty-4-Seven, Fun Fun , Doctor's Cat, Ryan Paris, Tina Turner, Inxs, Alf "Stuck on earth", Alexander O'Neal, MDMC, Jam and Spoon, Genesis, Sylvester, Karl Keaton "Love's Burn (Hit in Germany top 5 Award for best dance production of the year) Salt'N'Pepa "You showed me" ,"Do you really want me","Expression", "Shoop", "Whatta man" and "Let's talk about Sex" (Hit worldwide many countries number 1) Sting, "An Englishman in Newyork" and "Mad about You" Taja Sevelle "Love is contagious" Nathalie Cole "This will be" Dimples D "Sucker DJ" (Hit in Germany,Holland,England top 5) McMiker G & DJ Sven "The Holiday rap"(Hit worldwide) Ben Liebrand feat Tony Scott "Move To The Bigband"(Holland top 10), Armin van Buuren and many many more.
His CD compilations include the very succesful series of Grandmixes and special 12" version collections mastered form the original recordings and released on CD under the name Grand 12 inches.
In 1991 Ben added Vision to his sound and quickly mastered the technical side of Image Compositing and 3D animation. Since then he has done a lot of artwork for Arcade record company and others. His work includes stills and commercials for Holland, England , Germany, Spain and France. Projects are for example, The series of "Thunderdome" commercials, Return of Rave the city, Atlantic Ocean, Dance Trance, Rave On ,Happy Hardcore, Disco Duro, Mega dance 95, Leaders for "The Music Factory" Artwork for Radio 538, Speedy J's new Album Public Energy no.1 ,Armin,Videoclips for "2 brothers on the 4th floor", Adverts for Sourcy. In a period of only 2 years Ben has grown from a successful music producer to a visual man aiming for the highest quality in 3D animation. Ben also taught 3D animation at "The Royal Academy for Visual Arts" in the Hague, and gives lectures on 3D and image manipulation in Holland, England, and the far east. All the artwork for the Grandmix CD series is also created by Ben Liebrand. As Ben now masters the images as well as the music, it's only logical that for his 1997 production "Funkytown" Ben also made the video himself.
Projects include 6 TV commercials for RADIO 538 and the commercials for trance 100, Syntrance as well as bumpers for TMF , commercials for trance 100 parts 1, 2 & 3, as well as thunderdome20 & 21.A 3D course at Silicon Graphics and an animation of the Greyman character for the Dutch artist Dadara. This animation was presented at the Greyman exposition in gallery Reflex in Amsterdam. Videoclips for Ben Liebrand's 1997 production ISCO "Funkytown", Atlantic Ocean, Alan Parsons Project and 3D animation for KLM and Pepsi/Smiths commercials, TV commercials for Radio 538 and TV promos for the Klubbheads, Corporate Video's for Sun Microsystems. Recently Ben also made the DJ visuals for top DJ's like Armin van Buuren.
He also is happily married to Brenda, and has 2 wonderful sons, Fabian and Sascha, and a beautiful daughter called Linde.
2. How did you start to use graphical work programs?
First photoshop and Infini-D on a Mac in the mid-80's. Later with Electro-GIG 3D software running on a Silicon Graphics Computer.
3. How did ID&T contact you about doing Thunderdome commercials?
First contact was through Arcade who did the distribution and promotion.
It was at their request that I made the 1st commercial. http://www.liebrand.nl/li/gall_thunderdome/th10.html
4. Which commercials did you work on for Thunderdome series?
Thunderdome 10, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, box 97and box98.
5. How did you do them? What programs did you use?
3D: Electro-GiG (dutch developed 3D software which I still use). And Digital Fusion for compositing in later versions.
6. How long did it take to render a full commercial in average? Which one took longer to do?
For the first one, I had only one processor to render on comparable to a very fast Pentium 3. This however was early 90's and pentium still had a long way to go to achieve the speed of a Silicon Graphics Machine. The slowest frames to render where the movin carpet at the end of the commercial.
All in all, it took about 12 days.
7. You used Victor Feenstra's artwork in your commercials and turned it into 3D or was it the other way around?
You are correct about that. Later on, Victor even helped out by supplying extra textures I needed and he is a great guy to work with...
8. What inspired you for each commercial? Some have funny elements, like Thunderdome 10...
By giving it a funny twist it made it easier for me to make it without becoming a complete death and distruction trip.
8.1. ...the authopsy room in Best of 98...
Check out the morgue in Men in Black 1.
8.2. ...the strange pit in Best of 97...
Just a Dungeon idea to have some environment to work in.
8.3. ...the circus in Thunderdome 13...
To give it a creepy feel, again without becoming too dark..
8.4. ...and the helicopter in Thunderdome 15...
A search for the werewolf..
9. Did you make Thunderdome XX cover or you only used the images?
Made the whole thing.
10. Who did the talking in the commercials? why the different country editions? (and why no Portuguese edition? eheheh...)
Actually, I have no idea. I usuaaly got the dutch version as that was usually finished first and usually a couple of days to late.
11. What is your favorite Thunderdome commercial??
Thunderdome 19 is one of my favorites as the quality clearly moved up a notch using real fire elements..
12. What did you feel about having most of your Thunderdome work in the Thunderdome A Decade DVD?
Cool, it gave me the oppertunity to show a bit more of the actual rendered footage.
13. Did you know many Thunderdome fans were waiting a long time to see those commercials again and have them?
Didn't know that, but it's great to hear!
14. Thunderdome commercials played in VIVA a lot, and for many gabbers, they were their first awareness to Hardcore. In which way did you work the commercials in order to catch attention or make them suitable for the target audience?
Just did what felt right finding a balance between impact and funny touches.
15. Some people claim many Thunderdome commercials were cheesy (Thunderdome 10,11, 12, 18 for example), and were oriented towards a teenage audience, instead of an underground and more mature scene...is this true? (It was the feeling for the mainstream Gabber scene back then after all)
The cheesy part was also due to the fact that for thunderdome 10 the images where rendered in one pass without compositing and character animation was hell to do back then.
Further I am happy to see that 11, 12 and 18 weren't so great, as they were not done by me ;)
16. Some others like Thunderdome 14, 15, 17, 19, best of 97, best of 98, Global Hardcore Nation, were actually awesome, and still make many major Hardcore companies jealous nowadays... has any contacted you for making commercials for them?
Thanks for the compliments. Thing is, considering the amount of work involved they weren't expensive, but as sales plumeted there simply was no budget left to make them the way they should be.
Certainly for smaller companies a 3D commercial was out of reach and when budgets dried up, I refused to do it for peanuts as it still took a day or 10 to make a commercial.
17. Who mixed the sound for the commercials? After all, choosing the right tracks out of compilations with over 30 songs, and mixing it all for 20 seconds of airplay and target audience attention takes some skills... how was the selection made?
Fortunately that was done by someone at Arcade. I myself am a sound quality freak and mushing so much noise into distortion for a commercial went against every grain of my audio senses. As a DJ I did spin a lot of hardcore, but always the tracks that appealed to me sonically through their choice of sounds and not by their level of distortion.
18. You did the animations for Thunderdome A Decade DVD... they were actually very good, and the mixture was perfect... still I had once question since I saw them... Why did you use Thunderdome 5 Megamix song (Stars on 500)? It is really oldskool, and is not quite in the same line of sound as recent Thunderdome compilations, which are darker and more industrial...
It was to capture the oldskool feel rather than the new stuff and another matter was that you just can't take any track to stick images on it as this infringes what are called "synchronisation rights".
Basically one needs permission to combine audio with visuals if they are meant to be distributed in the form of film or DVD.
19. In this same animation, what seems like the Thunderdome 98 commercial shows up...There are some pictures of it also in your site... Where can one see it?
For each commercial approximatly 80 seconds of animation where made, cut down 20 seconds in the final commmercial. I'll see if I can dig up the files.
20. The other animation, with the most know "bits" of famous Gabber tracks, was a fine ideia and very well achieved... did ID&T request it, or was it 100% your imagination at work?
All the commercials I did sprouted from the "evil"side of me ;)
21. Once can also see almost the entire Thundertaste commercial... did it ever go on TV?
The product made it to this stage but research proved it would not be able to compete against red-bull.
22. You also made commercials for Rave the City, Rave On and Happy Hardcore, right? Where can we see them?
Again, a search through the archives would be needed, but
time is always short.
23. You have also made bumpers for TMF, which is also involved with the Hardcore scene, so one can say you have been somehow close to the scene?
The funny thing is, it looks like I dominated the looks of the commercials in the scene without following it.
24. I know you make commercials for other companies (including Pepsi), some of them very well known in Holland. Can you tell us a bit more about it? Is this a business in expansion nowadays?
Actually not as budget have become less and less and many people offer their 3D services for peanuts whilst delivering crap/playskool visuals on PC with hacked versions of PC 3D programs. This of course is devastating to people like me, who have invested big-time in high end computers and are running the needed software legally.
To give you an idea, the first Silicon Graphics computer I bought was almost 50.000 euros in 1991 and Electro GIG cost 7.000 euros whilst softimage 3D cost another 12.000 euros.
Mostly Audio, but a DVD is also in the pipeline called Grand Visuals and features 3D graphics I made for my own range of CD's and DJ sets: http://www.liebrand.nl/li/gallery/gallery_cd.html It will also feature full length videos I did. If readers are interested, they should mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It simply is not expected/accepted from me.
27. Radio Veronica 1983 - 1993 Radio programs "In The Mix" - You were quite sucessfull with this program, which seemed to mark many people at the time... will you be making anything like this in a near future?
In The Mix is back on Veronica check this out: http://www.liebrand.nl/inthemix/index.html
Hardcore however is not a great aprt of it apart form the interview I had with DJ Dano.
28. Are you a Hardcore/Gabber fan or was Thunderdome sctricly business?
Being a DJ/Producer/Engineer/Mixer/Remixer/Artork/3D/compositing/Artist left little time to emerse in the scene.
29. Tell us your favorites artists/producers in the hardcore scene...
30. Do you collect Thunderdome yourself?
I have them all.
31. What is your favorite Thunderdome cover?
Basically all vitor's work...
32. What did you think of WWW.THUNDERDOME.WEB.PT?
Haven't had time to check it out yet...
33. Want to say leave some publicity here for your site/irc channel/whatever?
34. Thanks for all this, this will be quite an original interview! :D Good luck for the future!
It was an honour!
Ben Liebrand (04.04.2005)