Part of a generation deconstructing the seemingly religious confines of techno, Van Boom brings an outsider’s perspective, reimagining the genre and injecting the style of the Gulf region into his work. Prosthetics, released on Swedish producer Varg2tm’s label, Cease to Exist, represents Van Boom’s focus and dedication to exploring the wide-ranging possibilities of techno music.
For any digging into Van Boom’s singular style as a DJ, check the mix for Boiler Room’s star-studded Hard Dance series or the one for the cult classic Jerome mixfile series, revealing the boundaries between genres to be gleefully erased, as Soft Cell’s Tainted Love gives way to pounding techno, and a jersey club infused edit bounces into a Xiao Quan’s Gqom influenced track New Ties, its mayhem of the best kind.
Van Boom, is evidently focused on artistic expression as a manifesto rather than a glib phrase, making his work equally essential for those invested in the future of hardcore, and those unfamiliar with the darker side of dance music. There’s a strange sort of whimsy paired with urgency to Van Boom’s djing, but his productions, which aim to capture the feeling of being othered, are an organic alchemy that rings with venom, the embrace of all these sonic dualities a testament to Van Boom’s brilliance as an artist.
Congratulations on the release of your debut album, Prosthetics! How would you describe the sound, and your style more generally, to someone who is unfamiliar with your work? 
Thank you! As far as sound goes, the album explores my personal narrative of my background in the Middle East, specifically in Kuwait. I am heavily influenced by the industrial terrain around me growing up in Kuwait. The soundscapes I produce capture, distort, and then fragment the industrial terrain I grew up around. There are elements of gabber, nu-metal, post-punk, and deconstructed club. But like many music producers today, I embrace the innate fluidity traversed between these genres. 
You describe yourself as an outsider, with a future-cut take on industrial techno, what sparked your transition into production, and how does being outside of the mainstream come into your style? 
I definitely would consider myself to be an outsider, but I mostly felt that way growing up in Kuwait. It’s also been difficult to connect with musicians in Kuwait who found my sound to be too abrasive and outside of what they’re used to. My music is a personal expression that, I hope, can resonate with the feeling of ‘otherness’ – of feeling othered in your own country. I did, however, find an incredibly supportive community online. Most of the musicians and producers I work with, am friends with, and perform with, are ones I initially met online. 
What is the electronic music scene in Kuwait like and how would you define the Gulf Sound more broadly? 
I wouldn’t say that there’s an established electronic music scene. I was however lucky to have met Kadisabincat, a Sudanese electronic musician and artist living in Kuwait, and eye floss, a Kuwaiti producer and co-founder of Al-Indithar Records. For the last 5 years, we’ve created a space to experiment and connect over electronic music. On a regional level, I find inspiration in artists like Hasan Hujairi: a Bahraini composer, artist, independent researcher, and captivating storyteller across mediums.
Aside from, but not entirely divorced from electronic music, are the rich musical sensibilities and traditions of the Gulf region. For starters, Kuwaiti music originated as an idiophonic sound, a resonant solid material (self-sounding instrument). That probably sums up my production, which uses Arabic scales heavily but in a complex way and embraces a Gulf-sound approach.  
What does artistic expression mean to you as someone who produces art in a region where state repression and censorship are a factor? Do you see your work as having a political bent? 
Artistic expression is vital to me. My work is heavily expressive and cathartic. As I mentioned earlier, I’m deeply interested and connected to the feeling of being ‘othered,’ and perhaps this comes from having my work censored in Kuwait. 
Listening to your NTS mix for Ma3azef, there is an injection of ballroom, pop edits, trap and general playfulness into what is otherwise quite a dark soundscape. What role do you see these genres playing in the development of hardcore, and your sound more specifically? What role does irreverence play in your style? 
I think that it’s crucial to keep an open mind when it comes to music. I truly enjoy blending genres and challenging the binaries that separate them. It’s also important not to take ourselves too seriously as musicians and enjoy the playfulness of club music. Sets are far more interesting when they’re dynamic and take unexpected turns. My method of djing is highly collaborative, so many of the tracks I play are by people that I'm either friends with or part of the communities I’m a part of. 
Your b2b with Oldyungmayn on HOR from last month is riotous and again is exemplified by switches between industrial sounds and eclectic club genres. As a viewer your chemistry as a duo is palpable, what is your collaborative relationship like with Oldyungmayn? As both a producer and DJ? 
Oldyungmayn and I have been friends for years, and our set at HOR radio was actually the first time we did a B2B set in person. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had while DJing. The energy was electric and I’m happy to hear that it was palpable on video. I think the idea of us DJing without the pressures of a crowd or a commercial club fostered a space for an incredible collaboration. 
On the subject of collaborations, Prosthetics features remixes from a star-studded cast of producers such as VTSS, Slikback, estoc and others, how did these collaborations come to be? 
Due to the pandemic, the record was actually on hold for a while. Making the most out of this delay, I decided to produce a dual-release record for the album specifically for collaborative remixes. Everyone included in the album are musicians I have truly looked up to or have inspired me over the years. To see our relationships grow over the process has been really gratifying. A huge part of putting together the remixes was to give the artists the creative freedom to experiment and ultimately come up with something that’s true to their sound. Some of the tracks are distorted beyond recognition, and I think that’s the best part of it all. 
Your design collaboration with Bedouin Records, resulted in recognition from Acronym's Errolson Hugh, is fashion design something you are interested in pursuing? What intersections do you see between fashion and music? 
I’m really interested in the intersection of club music and fashion runways. I’m not currently pursuing full-on fashion design, but I am always studying up fashion-related archives as part of researching new sounds and inspiration. I’m specifically in counter-culture movements that are expressed through fashion and music. They are both tools of self-expression and acts of resistance. 
Releasing Prosthetics on Varg2tm’s label Cease 2 Exist is an exciting international collaboration, what drew you to Varg’s label, and what resonates with you about Varg’s practice as a producer? 
At a time when I was reaching out to labels to put out my record, most labels were backing up releases due to the pandemic and lack of funding. A close friend of mine, E-Saggila, had worked with Varg2tm and Anthony Linell’s label Northern Electronics before and suggested that I should reach out to join their new label Cease 2 Exist which is focused on pure club and experimentation rather than techno records. A few weeks after sending in my pre-masters of the album, they responded quite promptly and gave me the green light to put out my record with their label and additional vinyl pressings.
Anthony and Varg2tm’s support and guidance have played a huge role in building this album. The fact that I’m able to tour, get press recognition, and overall support from the community is pretty much a result of that support.  
The incorporation of such a wide range of influences and stylings within your sound makes me intrigued as to what you are listening to currently. What releases have you enjoyed of late, electronic or otherwise? 
I’ve been revisiting a lot of older tracks on my playlist. Currently, it's a lot of Deftones, Gary Numan, and Ecco2k. So it's an eclectic mix. 
As the year comes to a close, what was your favourite set/performance from 2022? And what upcoming shows or future projects are you looking forward to in the foreseeable? 
Of all my performances in Europe, my favourite has to be the one at La Station in Paris. I’d never been so close to the crowd before and the energy was incredible. The venue was unexpectedly packed. I’m definitely excited about the CTM festival in Berghain, Berlin. It’s going to be my first live performance where I’ll also be playing orchestral percussion (bass drum), alongside my set. Hopefully, that will occur sometime in early February next year.
I’m still touring at the moment, but definitely more projects are in the works, which I'm excited about. So far it has been quite a ride.