Tinlicker refuse to play it safe on junior album, ‘Cold Enough For Snow’ [Interview]


Tinlicker refuse to play it safe on junior album, ‘Cold Enough For Snow’ [Interview] 429231164 1418583532377762 153957119507507304 N 1080

Tinlicker have been licking the proverbial tin since they first formed in 2013. Over the course of a decade, Micah Heyboer and Jordi van Achthoven have continuously pushed boundaries in the world of house and techno with a steadfast refusal to stand in, and a continuous pursuit to stand out. The Dutch duo’s junior album Cold Enough For Snow—released February 16 via [PIAS] Électronique—comes as their most bold body of work yet, and it’s one that will certainly make the rounds when it comes time to discuss the year’s best albums. Dancing Astronaut sat down with Micah Heyboer to talk about their new album.

Micah Heyboer, sitting in the studio he started with his brother Milan, high school friend Rene Verdult (who together make up the drum and bass act, Black Sun Empire), and his Tinlicker counterpart Jordi van Achthoven, is basking in the glow of the duo’s newly released album Cold Enough For Snow—as much as he’ll allow himself to bask anyway. Laughing as he says it, Heyboer explains that “[they] just had cake and then [they] went back to prepping for the live show. So, not a lot of celebrating.” But that’s the Tinlicker way—constantly pushing themselves to make the best music—and experience surrounding it—that they can at all times. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Tinlicker’s 2023 calendar, and now 2024, featured a bevy of changes. They moved on from longtime label partner Anjunabeats to the newly minted label [PIAS] Électronique and transitioned from a group solely performing DJ sets to one with the ability to perform live as well. Change—and the ability to enact it—is precisely what the title of their album is all about. “It’s a moment in time where everybody and everything is able to change; your whole world could change into a different parallel universe, but it could also stay the same. This was a year of making big choices and Cold Enough For Snow is basically a metaphor for making those bold moves” explains Heyboer.

For Tinlicker, those bold moves have paid off time and time again, and their new album is no different. Spanning 13 tracks and sitting at a runtime at just beyond an hour, they tell a story that’s interwoven with the sonic styles and sounds of melodic house and techno. Soaring, euphoric tracks like “Glasshouse” featuring Julia Church and “This Life” featuring Tom Smith are complimented by clubbier, more techno-leaning tracks like “In Your Eyes” and “Revolution.” Tinlicker’s ability to bounce back and forth between two contrasting styles is not an easy feat for anyone, and yet for them, it’s something that comes so naturally.

“We don’t really think about it,” Heyboer says. And he goes on to explain that they chase what they’re feeling in the moment rather than boxing themselves into a certain sound or style. Somehow it works, “because it has our soul, our DNA in it,” he elaborates. “We just try not to have any boundaries in that perspective. There’s only one rule: we have to like it.”

The album features a pair of reoccurring vocalists, Julia Church and Nathan Nicholson. The latter in particular leaves their mark on the album with features on three of the album’s 13 tracks. Cold Enough For Now was recorded entirely in the same Dutch studio that Heyboar was sitting in for this interview, and Nicholson was the sole vocalist to record in that studio. “It just clicks,” Heyboer says of their relationship with Nicholson, adding that “it clicks friendship-wise as well and it fits, it feels real.”

Nicholson’s angelic vocals grace the most unique and unconventional track on the album, “Strawberry” which features the Metropole Orkest, a jazz and pop orchestra based in the Netherlands and the largest full-time ensemble of its kind in the world. It started as just a chord progression and Heyboer though “does it even need beats?” And as it turned out, it didn’t. The track has roots back to when Tinlicker was requested to open up the Amsterdam Dance Event alongside the orchestra in a special one-off show, with them explaining that they “had to come up with songs [they] wanted to play and [they] thought it would be cool to have a part with no beats.” From there, the composers did their thing and wrote over the original music creating the track that lives on the album today.

“The whole orchestra and the whole experience of that show is something really special for us. So as an ode to that night and all the effort that everyone put in, it felt right to put this version on the album as a song.”

While it’s not feasible—or even remotely reasonable—for Tinlicker to tour with an orchestra, they’re taking their live show on the road, a concept that they’ve been leaning into more and more. And their European leg kicks off in February, with a subsequent U.S. run set for later this fall.

The live show provides fans an entirely different experience than the traditional DJ set. It feels more intimate, more personal, and leaves attendees with an entirely different connection and perspective on the music. Both Heyboer and van Achthoven were drummers in the past and performing live is something they’d always wanted to come back to. “It’s more work and a lot more can go wrong, but it feels more fulfilling. We’re gonna try and do the entire US with a bus [and] my beard will be grey by the end of it” Heyboer quips.

The live show and the album’s corresponding tour are a calculated risk from Tinlicker. But the Dutch duo have built a career off of bold moves and their ability to seamlessly execute them. “You have to believe in what you do yourself because if you don’t believe in it, no one else will. You really have to want it,” states Heyboer.

Moving on from Anjunabeats is another good example of just that. Heyboer reaffirmed the unwavering love they still have for their past label partner, but moving on to [PIAS] Électronique felt like an opportunity to start something new, and carve out their own space in the scene. “Sometimes you have to go with your gut, and try something new,” he elaborates.

“We don’t like living safe” says Heyboer, with him going on to add that “I started making music, not because I wanted to make a living from making music. I wanted to make music because I wanted to make music. If it becomes a job, you have to find a new hobby.” For Tinlicker, they made Cold Enough For Snow because they wanted to make it, and they can rest easy knowing they won’t have to look for a new hobby anytime soon.

Listen to Tinlicker’s new album Cold Enough For Snow in full below.

Featured image: Tinlicker/Instagram

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