By : Nikki Evans
(Sean Groen on the left)
Its a rainy Saturday evening and my clock reads 10 past 18, rudely reminding me that I am already running late. Instead of doing the logical thing that one should do when running late, I tell myself that now is a great time to throw Tzusing’s “A Name Out of Place” on my newly inherited decks. Instantly my favorite track, 4 Floors of Whores, comes blazing throughout the speakers, I light my joint, raise the master, and pour my coffee from the French press. As the coffee cools, I lay back on my bed and reach out to pet my cat..This is me “preparing” for this interview. Luckily we reside in Amsterdam, so by default almost everyone is always 15 to 20 minutes behind, today it’s raining so we’ll tack on another 5 to 10. The record soon comes to its completion and I rise to flip it to the B side when I notice the blinking light from my phone. It’s a message from Sean Groen and she too is running behind. I breathe a sigh of relief as Khi-Tang begins to blare and think: of course she’s running late, a fellow party girl after my own heart. No matter how hard we try, we can just never seem to be on time.
It’s now about 45 minutes past when I finally arrive, and there is Sean patiently waiting outside on the terrace safely covered from the weather. In typical Dutch fashion it’s pouring down rain which usually makes everyone irritated and miserable, but Sean’s high energy can be seen and felt from across the dark and wet street, giving the ominous looking terrace some light and life. We’re alone so it’s much quieter than it is inside, and the rain ads a certain calmness to the evening (that is if you’re no longer biking in it) which allows for it to be quite nice and gezellig. We decide this is the best place to stay for the interview. Before we begin we quickly chat about a myriad of topics; from what’s going on this weekend, to ADE, and of course our home away from home De School. De School chat leads to Trouw chat, and we quickly reminisce about meeting one another there about five or so years ago, wondering where the time went and remarking on how much has changed in “The Scene” since Trouw’s departure.
After some beers, hummus, and light conversation have been shared, I ask her to tell me more about her life and her relationship with electronic music so I can paint a bit more of a complete picture as to what brought us both here today, her baby, ELS.
Sean is an Amsterdammer, born and raised and it’s something you can tell, like most OG Amsterdammers, is something she takes a lot of pride in. Her relationship with the music scene started early, and like most of us, it started with partying. She began her love affair with music as a teen with dirty house parties when she was yet of legal age, and soon started to promote the parties she was sneaking into. After she became legally able to go, the thrill had ceased so naturally, she searched for something more, something better. We talk of organizations and club nights that are no longer around, as well as old haunts such as Studio 80, and laugh about how she used to beg the door girl at 80, to let her in, as she used a copy of a copy, of someone else’s fake ID. At some point she made her way into the techno scene, and that is when everything changed. She talks about how the sense of community was strong and pulled her in tight, how it changed from just partying, to something deeper, something she began to care much more about. Like most of us know, it’s not just the party it’s the people that make the party. Over time, those people became friends, and we all know what happens with friends in this scene, they quickly become your family.
ELS, short for Electronic Live Sessions, is what she fondly refers to as “her baby”. What started as a group project for school soon became her own undertaking after the project ended and it became obvious that she was the one that wanted to continue the project as a venture between herself and her best friend Lenne Ruijter. We talk of the night, from its meaning, to its ambiance, and how it differentiates to other club nights in Amsterdam. For starters, she warns, it’s not a club night, we should see it more as a concert that can have its party moments but it’s really more of a show, a concert if you will. We talk about how since starting this project, her education in electronic music has only grown and how much she welcomes the further schooling. It’s not something everyone in this industry is ready to admit, that they don’t know it all, yet she admits it with such ease that it makes you wonder why everyone else has such a hard time admitting it themselves. We speak more about the meaning of the music and the LIVE aspect, meaning the artists are producing as they go. Live music has seemed to gather up much more traction this past year, than those previous, whereas before it was something many people might have been unaware was happening in front of them.
More and more curators have begun to take notice and focus solely on that aspect of music making when making their agenda’s. With nights like those, and projects like ELS, many people are beginning to pay attention to what goes on behind the decks and educate themselves as well. Not all producers are DJ’s, not all DJ’s are producers, and not all producers want to play live, but lucky enough for those that do, Sean has now created a platform for them to do just that. She’s not only educating herself and the music scene, but she’s also changing it, something I’m not quite sure she’s yet aware of. We talk of the past artists she’s booked such as Star–kid, LY Foulidis, tempodooloo, yEs!yEs! and how she’s found them. She took i initiative by enthusiastically Facebook messaging them to ask if they would like to be a part of the night, and being surprised when they graciously accepted. Her dream line up would be KLM she saw recently at Nachtdigital Festival in Germany, Steevio & Suzybee, and Jacques a french artist that makes minimal techno out of everyday objects.
The conversation is heading towards its close and as I started it out feeling a bit anxious, that feeling has been long since forgotten. As a creative myself, I can tell how much this project means to Sean, not just with the way she speaks of it, but with the emotions she emits with each word. The absolute lack of pretension she has will do her well in this industry, and the stars in her eyes when speaking of ELS, are enormous, I hope they will forever stay this way. For now we part ways, and will see one another next Monday night. I’m going myself to check out Elisa Batti, CYB, and looking forward to hearing Florantijn van Spronsen and Tibor Pasman as Flozias & Robit. These two are usually giving shows in their living room, but they’re gracing us with an opening and closing set. You can look forward to seeing live analogue visuals from Roel Weerdenburg and Jakob Povel otherwise known as the VJ duo Correlate . To check out more about the event, or it’s artists, check links provided.
NEXT EVENT: Electronic Live Sessions: Elisa Batti / CYB, Sugarfactory
Pictures by Adinda Van Groeningen