Category: The Nights

Arno Bouma: Diplomat of the non-commercial dancefloor

For years, Arno Bouma has been on a quest to create space for non-commercial events on vast urban ground; a quest he started in Amsterdam and continued in Berlin. Being an eclectic DJ and attendee of experimental events himself, he has turned his affinity for the experimental underground scene into the mission of bridging the gap between potential experimental events and the politics problematizing these initiatives. It is a heavily loaded task in times where cities gentrify and megalomane buildings prevail over urban space for creatives that seek cultural manifestations. Living in a city that was on the verge of diminishing one of Amsterdam’s last cultural free spaces (ADM) for commercial reasons, Arno’s mission is a very important one to the people enjoying and developing cultural freedom in urban landscapes.

I first met Arno from when he curated the opening night in the cultural free space Lighthouse, a warehouse that warmly welcomed new musicians to take the stage and experiment, launched by Arno and his companion Bart van Overbeek. It was a night with a close circle of people that engaged with electronic music, including Arno himself. Eventually participating in the organisation, I closely observed the rise and demise of an innovating space that Amsterdam was gasping for. One of the main reasons of Lighthouse’s demise was policymaking in Amsterdam, where cultural manifestations involving electronic music are quickly subject to the strict rules of ‘dance events’ or even festivals. Nowadays, Arno lives in  Berlin engaging with projects that mediate between politics and cultural initiatives, in order to enable the rise of cultural free spaces in an age of constraint.

Hi Arno, in what kind of projects are you involved and what issues do these projects tackle?

I mostly work for the Clubcommission in Berlin, where we fight for the interests of clubs. For instance, ‘Club Sterben’ is a widely heard term in Berlin now, as club space has become too expensive due to gentrification. A key example of this problem was exposed when cultural free space Johnny Knuppel had a small fire, resulting in expensive demands from the government. They had already existed for two years, but this one incident in which they crossed paths with the municipality has led to the death of the club. We’re trying to tackle these kind of issues with the Clubcommission. Other projects that I take part in are conferences about night life – we organised one ourselves last year in Salon zur Wilden Renate.

A big project I’m working on now is named Model Space Project, in which we want to create spaces in the city where youngsters can organize non-commercial cultural events with a low threshold. After all, there is a distinction between a commercial event for 10000 or a non-commercial for 100 people; this distinction is overlooked by municipalities. We want to develop a map with parameters that indicate a suitable spot for small-scale events and offer an advisory report for guiding the administration with the implementation. We will fulfill these goals by working together with a law university, a technical university and the government. We are now in the first year of the project and have received funding from the cultural senate as well. Hopefully, this project will run on a long term.

Another project we’re setting up is Rave Diplomacy: an open-source platform for international collectives that face suppressing political conditions in organizing events. Here, dancing is a political statement – something we tend to forget in Amsterdam and Berlin. Through the Rave Diplomacy platform, we connect these collectives by setting up a network, organizing conferences and events and strengthening each other by developing strategies. The kick-off was at our conference last year, featuring collectives from Sao Paulo (Mamba Negra), Tbilisi (Bassiani), Belgrado (Drugstore) and Palestina (Jazar Crew). This month, I am flying to Haifa, where we will present Rave Diplomacy – including a party – in the first Palestine club on Israëli territory since 1948.

I am also involved an transnational project named Enter The Void: a project that tries to bridge the gap between youth culture and the government in Riga, Amsterdam, Budapest and Berlin. The project is coming to an end, but the results are fruitful. We have developed a common language between the subcultures and politics and involved political figures that have the ability to influence local policies. All in all, you could say that I’m working on facilitating events by engaging with the politics that define the conditions under which events can be held, rather than organizing events myself.

You do have a history organizing events yourself in Amsterdam?

I always engaged with open-airs and small parties in venues like Cruquius. Once, I was also involved in repurposing a non-active train wagon near Station Lelylaan. However, this turned out to be more commercial than it seemed due to the project developer renting the space in collaboration with the NS (National Railways). The rent kept rising, so there was no way to do anything other than the commercial stuff. I think the high cost of urban space is a general problem that prospers the launch of commercial projects at the cost of experiment. I also hosted a cultural free space in Amsterdam-Noord, named Lighthouse, which eventually had to go because of the municipality’s plans to build more housing and because of their ‘dance event’ regulations.

How would you compare Amsterdam with Berlin when it comes to organizing small-scaled experimental events?

Amsterdam is definitely worse off than Berlin with regard to curating non-commercial events. First of all, it is way smaller, so there is less space to deploy these activities, whereas Berlin is bigger and offers more opportunities to cultivate urban space for non-commercial purposes. Second, in Amsterdam, people are used to a club culture where you pay to utilize the club’s space, which results in less responsibility. This is what I also noticed when curating events in Lighthouse: people are not used to clean after themselves and keep the space tidy. Of course, you can’t expect this from people who are new to this. The point is that it is difficult to change this type of behaviour. Third, less people are active in establishing idealistic, non-commercial events in Amsterdam. Berlin attracts people – like me – who want to participate in cultural freezones. Berlin may be more political, dogmatic and bureaucratic, but there is a large group willing to engage, which is why I moved here. The culture is also very different from the one in Amsterdam; especially after the fall of the wall, a lot of subcultures were attracted to Berlin. Up until today, people from all over the world feel this attraction, which is what keeps the subcultural character of Berlin alive and active. This cultural component is rather missing in Amsterdam, resulting in less people wanting to actively engage in subcultures and their events.

It seems like less people want to engage in Amsterdam’s cultural free zones, compared to Amsterdam in the 80s. Do you think it’s the people that changed, or the politics that changed?

Well, on the streets, you don’t see a lot of diversity in Amsterdam, which is due to political choices. If people see it less, they engage less. It has to be around you to arouse you. For instance, ADM is an eye opener for a lot of people; it is a whole different way of starting a society. Converting this visit into personal experience may evoke people to start engaging in cultural experiments themselves. At Lighthouse, some people got inspired and wanted to do it as well. Kondo is another example of an initiative that organized illegal events professionally. But as long as such initiatives are not experienced or seen by the public, it is difficult to change something in the urban landscape of Amsterdam.

I hope more initiatives will come. What kind of initiatives do you see for the future?

It’s not easy, but you have to be naive and just do it. However, there have to be conditions that make it possible to curate such initiatives in the first place. This is why I think the best way is to collaborate with authorities in creating such conditions when they are not there. For instance, In Bremen there was a protest for the access of open-airs. The pressure from the scene got them two spots designated by the government, but those we unattractive and not apt. At the same time, other spots were subject to a large amount of control and regulations, which is why they started to demonstrate. This resulted in a law, granting people the right to organize open-airs. One has to apply through a form 24 hours before the event and note phone number, personal information and location. If there is no negative reply or no reply at all, you are allowed to host the event. Last year was a test year and they even mitigated the law because of its success. Now, more people are excited to curate an event in Bremen. So, the community has to influence politics to allow for community building. But of course, first, you need the community in order to start this movement.

What advice would you give to the people of Amsterdam? Should we demonstrate?

If governments would grant subcultures the space to prosper and develop, there would be no need to go ‘overground’ and approach governmental institutions. Unfortunately, in Amsterdam there is conflict due to the lack of this type of space. So, the logic step is to collaborate with the municipality. After all, the urge to maintain subcultures is real, just like in Berlin. Collaborating with administrative politics could result in more space, which could engage people in projects. And yes, you should demonstrate: demonstrating reaches the authorities and the press. However, before demonstrating, you first have to decide your identity as a community: who are you and what do you want to achieve? Alternative culture problematizes this because it involves a lot of people with their own ideals and tactics. A good example is the occupation of Berlin’s theatre Volksbuhne, which took place last year. After the occupation, the movement did not succeed in agreeing on what they wanted to achieve and how they would repurpose the theatre, which eventually led to eviction.

In Sexyland, we organized and Enter The Void meeting in which we mentioned the Model Space Project – the project in which a map is created to locate conflict-avoiding public spaces for events. A member of the municipality was present and offered the idea in the local council. There is a big chance that the project will be deployed in Amsterdam as well! This would mean that we could experiment with the space offered by Amsterdam for organizing non-commercial events. All in all, future alternatives will need to speak the language of policy makers and have to be in dialogue with each other, in order to alter the conditions under which experimental events may arise.

Getting To Know: Jamie 3:26

Originating from Chicago, you can be assured Jamie 3:26 is going to deliver genuine house music sound everywhere he goes, whether he is gracing the decks or through his diverse productions and edits. With numerous releases on labels such as Sound Signature, Lumberjacks in Hell and Local Talk and his tireless presence behind the turntables, Jamie 3:26 lives through his music. Read on to find out what his first record was, what would he be doing if he wasn’t DJing and more.

  1. What is the scariest or weirdest thing that happened during the gig?
    I was doing a house party in Chicago and my friend’s wife had to kick someone out and during the scuffle, she was pushed. I had to kill the music while this was going on so I said loudly “Who tries to fight a pregnant woman in her own house?” She wasn’t pregnant…
  2. Movie/book about electronic music you would recommend?
    Book: Last Night A DJ Saved My Life by Bill Brewster

    Movie: Pump Up The Volume – History of House Music

  3. If you weren’t DJ what would you be?
    I worked full time in law as a paralegal assistant for 14 years. I would be back in the legal field and still doing music, as I did then.
  4. Which musical instrument would you love to play perfectly?
  5. What was the first vinyl you bought?
    Peter Brown – Do you wanna get funky with me?
  6. Could you pick one track to close the set forever?
    Donna McGhee – It Ain’t No Big Thing
  7. Which musician, dead or alive, would you love to have dinner with?
  8. One DJ to play b2b till end of your life?
    Ron Hardy
  9. Which movie character you identify yourself with?
    John Shaft from the movie Shaft.
  10. If you could play in any club in the world which one would it be (open or closed)?
    I’ve been blessed to play many places around the world that some dream of rocking and I don’t take that for granted. I would have to go back to my hometown first and mention Medusas, any Music Box location, The Power Plant and The Reactor.
    Jamie 3:26 will play in Berlin on January 12th at Lumberjacks in Hell label night taking place at Prince Charles.

“There Are Far Better Moments Ahead, Than Any We Leave Behind.”

                         C.S. Lewis was quite the story teller, and today, so am I .

The second week of October had just come upon us and the sudden change in  season also brought along with it, a series of sudden changes in my life. If I had only known to take the extremes in weather that week as a premonition of what I was about to endure emotionally, I would have just isolated myself and stayed indoors. It was one week to the day since I had ended my relationship and to say I was lost was an understatement. I was sitting at work in a haze, trying to realize if I had still made the right choice or if I had just made one of the biggest mistakes of my life that I would soon come to regret. Before i returned to my current position of engaging in the back and forth mental and emotional turmoil I had begun to adapt that past week, I decided to get away from my demons for at least the next 30 minutes. I laid down my phone, stepped away from the computer, made some espresso and went outside to get some fresh air. After I had just finished my third espresso the caffeine reared its glorious head, and I suddenly felt a Microscopic bit of life come back to me. I knew that the zombie like state of mental isolation I was putting myself in, was getting me absolutely nowhere and I tried to go about this logically instead of emotionally. I realized that most of the inner turmoil I was dwelling on so heavily, was because I had unknowingly retrained my synapses to only focus on the negative aspects of what was currently going on. If I could only retrain them for the time being, I could at least focus for an hour. Easier said than done. The mixture of the caffeine and despondency gave me a sudden rush, a temporary one at that, but I had a sudden need to take advantage of this “fuck it all” euphoria ,that I was suddenly experiencing, God only knew how long it would last. My friend Calliope messaged me, “GET YOUR TICKETS BITCH”, reminding me that I had yet to arrange my tickets for the annual shit show that we have come to know and love, called ADE. The overwhelming options of what to do, and who to see compiled with the anxiety and early on set depression I was experiencing from my breakup, I have to be honest, really turned me off completely from ADE this year. I am a firm believer that there really is too much of a good thing, and honestly this was it. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Tiesto playing inside Albert Heijn at Museumplein at that point it had become so oversaturated. To avoid ADE entirely, one would have had to have found themselves in a very Eleven-esque circumstance, deeply submerged into an isolation tank for at least the past 6 months. Even if that were remotely possible, im positive some British tourist would have figured out how to someway manage their way to the Upside down, find you, and somehow pull you with them even further into the darkness, aka to see Ritchie Hawtin at Niewumarkt. Now, back to those stubborn synapses. I decided to try and abandon my seat on the “woe is me” train, for at least the next hour or two, and actually force myself to be productive. As one normally does when pondering how to get the most out of one’s productivity, I picked up my phone and sought some inspiration in lieu of Instagram.  After five minutes of scrolling through bullshit, I remembered that this app Isn’t just a tool for shameless self promotion and self loathing, some people also use it to connect and as a form of direct communication. Lucky for me, Instagram allows you easy access to people that you would normally have to go through agents and managers to get to. Sometimes you never even get the opportunity to directly speak with an artist themselves, and Instagram goes straight to the source.  Finally the little ol’ wheels in my head began to turn the first thing that came to mind was to utilize this tiny window of time, to my advantage.   Before I had even a thought of looking at lineups, or cursing RA to see who would be where and when, I thought of making a list, more like two lists. A dream list and an attainable list. I’m known to be a bit of a dreamer and I like a challenge,  so this is both a blessing and a curse. My friends are constantly saying things like ” Nikki this is not a god damn MOVIE THIS IS LIFE” or “How does shit like this always happen to you can we not do this next time?” I tend to somehow get myself into some eh lets say random scenarios and to be honest I like it that way. Go hard, or go home.

                     After the week I was having I didn’t expect things to get much more emotionally draining,  but of course being the masochist that I am, I thought meh, what could it hurt to just start with the dream list,  you know, just send my musical Idols interview requests during the most busy time of the year for them, If they reject me, its literally water under the proverbial  bridge at this point.  The first three people that came to mind were Veronica Vasicka, Das Ding, and Tzusing.  Would they be here for ADE? If I  contacted them, would they even be interested in speaking with me? Me, this random ass chick with no real professional credentials and just one published article underneath her belt? AHHHH!  I had to put the negative thoughts that begun to take over aside and just keep on going. I was utterly determined to retrain these shitty synapses and I quickly began to search their schedules before my negative thoughts caught up with me again. Veronica wouldnt be in the country, but ahaaa it looked like Das Ding was to have an in store at Rush Hour Saturday and Tzusing would play at Reaktor Thursday and ZeeZout that Friday.  An instant smile formed upon my face, for 2 out of  3 aint bad. Tzusing was the artist I had been looking forward to seeing the most, and I had patiently waited for over a year for his EU tour to be announced. Never have I ever, and I mean ever the history of music,  had I been more in love with  every single one of a  musicians productions, yes John Lennon and Paul McCartney I am talking to you.  There is not one track of Tzusing’s that I am not ridiculously obsessed with, so the personal fan girl stakes here were kinda high. Das Ding is a favorite of mine from the Minimal Wave label, I’m a bit of a Vasicka fan girl and I love that she has some small part in how I found his music.  Danny aka Das Ding, is one of a kind, there is truly not an  in-genuine bone in his body, and he’s a proper DIY mastermind. Introduced to his productions by my friend Pablo, his music quickly appealed to me, and the man behind the music was even more interesting to me. The last time I had seen him perform had been about a year prior in De School, and it just so happened to be the night I had met the boyfriend that I had just broken up with. Memories of that night were now bitter sweet, once sublime  now left glimmering with a bit of agony. No matter how things ended,  how they began was beautiful, and that night was nothing but pure magic. There are only so far and few of those magic moments in life, and to me that was one of them, i believe they must be payed homage in some way.  I had a strong sense that I somehow owed this night, that magic, that music, my respects. A breakup can be like a death, and this one was so intense it most definitely felt like one. In some tiny way, meeting Danny  almost felt like it was a way to honor it. That night was the moment the course of my life changed,  and of course in one of those life changing magic moments, music would be the epicenter of it all.

                            Determined to hang on to the good memories, I felt like I had to finish what I had started, I just
wanted to see things come full circle in a way.  Nothing in life is one dimensional, at least for me, and even music is not just music. There is always a deeper meaning or moment involved otherwise its not music, its just fluff and meaningless noise. Without second guessing myself any longer, I sent both Danny and Tzu messages. I gave them a brief description of who I was,  what I wanted to interview them for,  put my phone on the table and walked away hoping for the best. About an hour had passed since I last glanced at my phone. I had thrown it in my bag and tried to keep myself occupied as best as possible. I might also have tried to pretend like I didn’t just message these two, Just incase they didn’t respond, You know maybe I could maybe try and convince myself that the previous action just never took place….Messages? What messages? That little lie i told myself didn’t last much longer, and I became increasingly aware of what I had just done and panic began to seep in. I had enough of my own paranoia, and decided to just shut up and check Instagram. To my surprise the number 2 appeared in the upper right hand corner, shining brightly. To my surprise they were completely open to meeting and talking and just like that and instant a wave of relief washed over me. The first real,  true smile I’d had in weeks came upon my face and I’d realized that all the stress and all the self doubt I had just put myself under, was completely my fault. I allowed my fears of inadequacy to take over and I allowed the doubt the space to grow, I just didn’t realize how rapidly it had until it ended. All of that doubt, ended up being for nothing, but then again is it ever for something? Do you ever truly win, even when your doubt is correct? The sad part is, It’s not like this was a new revelation, I’m aware that thinking this way is completely pointless and allowing my fears and doubts the space to live do nothing but hold me back and is a tremendous waste of time, so how did I allow myself to get here? As someone that considers herself to be rather brave, I sat there and assessed that last hour, hell that last year of my life, and realized just how much space I’d given fear to casually move into and take over my life. If I had consciously allowed it this much space subconsciously, in this small moment, how much more was I allowing it to rule my life in larger moments? That was something id have to return to at a later time because after that brief moment of clarity, instant panic set in.

                     So your Idols have said yes, Where do you go from here and how do you do this without completely embarrassing yourself? To begin to explain where my fears came from ill try to break it down. To me the technical elements of this whole music scene , are the most important and the most intimidating. To think of interviewing the two most technically talented producers currently in existence was overwhelming. Im not the most technical person, I never claim to be, and with out the technical element of this “Scene” there is no scene to begin with.  To me, there are four main cogs sticking out from this wheel.  Lets start with the social one. The social cog revolves around just that, the social aspects of it all. People that may have just first started coming out for only a party, somehow end up finding themselves enamored with this new wild world, the freedom of the people within it, and aesthetics surrounding it. They connect, they share, they love, they dance.  They make a home and a family within the scene, Without them the dance floor is just not the same.  Up next we have the musical cog. Those involved in this cog, live for music, not to play it personally ,but for the sheer love of it. They may not be DJ’s, but their vast musical collection’s both digital and vinyl can rival any crate digger behind the decks.  They appreciate not just the unique sounds and even more unique culture, but its history and how it came to be, they are the true “fan boys and girls” if you will. The last but certainly not least, and most integral part of the wheel,  is the technical cog.  These are ones that are in it for the technical aspects, the root of it all, the producers the DJ’s and the sound engineers. If this is western civilization, they are the Mayans, the Incas, and the Aztecs. They are the makers of the music and they want to know everything and everything behind it.  The divisions and subdivisions, where the sound came from, how it got there, how these machines work, and how to master them. They not only want to  play someone else’s music they want to make the music themselves. They want to reproduce and mimic these sounds and re-create them, in their own most personal way. These are the people that have always intimidated me the most.  I myself float between the social and music loving cogs, but I am also an artist, so when I find something i love i tend to be quite a purist with it.  I’ve always felt that these people, the real music makers, the reason why were all here,  their love of creating sound was far deeper than my love of just hearing, dancing and getting lost in it. I’ve always wanted to be respectful of that. I know some will say that you can love listening to music just as much as those that love creating it, but i disagree. I guess I’m a bit of an extremist in the way that I think because  I think if you truly love something, you want to make it happen yourself, and you will  stop at nothing until you do. For me the technical aspect of music, is a bit like chemistry, and I’ve always appreciated it, but never truly understood it, I admire it but I just cant seem to grasp the fine details of it. When thinking about getting involved with speaking with two of the most technical people I could think of, the thought of this still overwhelmed me. Are we really going to be able to relate to one another, what will we talk about because Im the kind of person that really doesn’t know an 808 from a 505 besides size ? How will I be able to explain I understand them without truly understanding them?   Look. Chill. You’re never going to ever truly understand another human being, so focus on what got you here in the first place? Thats it, music. So what if you don’t know the technical aspects of it,you know how it makes you feel, So just stick with what you know.  My Pap always told me “Just stick to your strong suits Nik and you’ll be fine”. So i took a deep breath, set up two meetings and reminded myself just stick to my strong suits and it will all be fine.

                              Before I knew it the week had passed and it was the Friday eve of ADE and to say I was exhausted would be an understatement. ADE technically started on Wednesday, but mine started that Sunday at the Native Response release party at Garage Noord. I purposefully filled my schedule each day with an event to get my mind off things, coupled with that and working two jobs, by the time that friday rolled around I hated ADE and myself, with a passion.  I didn’t care who was playing or where I just wanted to crawl in bed and die.  Earlier that week I had gotten a call from my mom back in America, that my cousin passed away,  he was in his mid thirties and we weren’t very close, but i think that was the hardest pill to swallow. Knowing you’ll never get a chance to be close with that person, knowing you had the opportunity to,  hell you had plenty, but you just never seemed to seize it. Even though I was not close with him, most of my family was, he was a very charismatic loving person, and the loss was completely devastating. I wanted to be with my family, not in Amsterdam, speaking to my mom about it all, my heart just broke even more.   I thought making my ADE schedule packed daily would surely free my mind, but it didn’t. To kick off that Friday night, my former colleges from His Dark Elements  Bertram, Calliope, and Pablo, helped open a new club Jazzabel , and after that we headed to Zeezout finally see Tzusing. It felt like it took years, and well we have literally waited years for this moment, but at last the time had finally arrived, the moment we had all been waiting for.

                              BAP BAP BAP BAPPP :: “WHAT IS THAT NOISE, IS THAT ..IS THAT A HI HAT!??” – My friend Bertram was enamored the second we walked in the room, his eyes were lit like saucers ” WHO IS MAKING THAT SOUND?” , We made our way through the crowd to the front of the DJ booth, and saw a familiar face. My friend Robbert, and his mate Boris, otherwise known as Working Titles, were playing live and absolutely killing it, instantly setting the mood for the rest of the evening. Its kind of funny how sometimes life can seem like such complete shit and then suddenly something small happens, like you suddenly find yourself lost in the music and in the energy of the people around you, and you’re reminded that it’s going to be OK. These little moments, among with many others, can breathe a fresh breath of life back into you, and if you’re lucky, they keep happening and then you somehow are able to learn to breathe again on your own and you don’t remember why you stopped breathing in the first place.. Sometimes, life happens when you least expect it , its just as cliche as it sounds.  I reminded myself to let go of my worries, my anxieties, fears and sadness,  and just dance. That was the first family night we had out as the four of us in a very long time,  and we had A LOT of dancing and a lot of talking to catch up on.  I confided in Callie that I had not been able to regain contact with Tzusing after our first initial conversation, and it began to appear that meeting him this time around probably wouldn’t happen . The build up to see him play became bittersweet as I was afraid  that seeing him play might be the last chance I’d get to see him for quite sometime since he’s primarily located between Taiwan and Taipei, he doesnt make it to The Netherlands often.  Unbeknownst to me, those worries would soon be as far gone as my brain was about to be.  Before we knew it Working Titles had finished and out came Tzusing, little did we know, the night had only just begun.

                 This performance, THIS PERFORMANCE , Where do I even begin? Its so difficult for me to truly explain its power, so much so, that I have to give you a bit of backstory-sorry-I know this is a long one.  I love to document everything, more than the average person, not just notes and journals, but photos, videos, notes, voice notes,  anything I can get my hands on, I tend to have a sentimentality to things most would find useless. This isn’t a new occurrence,  its been a hobby of mine since before the digital age when since I was a child.  After I lost the first few family members close to me,  I realized how important it was to have your life story documented even in little ways. So many stories of my family that I was fascinated with as a child, so many memories of those that I had loved that I wanted to learn more about. They didn’t record their memories, they never wrote down their stories,  and there was no one to tell them to me anymore after they had gone. There was no one to continue them or answer my questions their stories ended just as they did, vanishing quickly into just an individual memory of collective tales that were not mine. I didnt want that for my grandchildren, I wanted my stories, my life, to live on when I couldn’t.  The thought of leaving behind say just mere pages to a book and having them pieced together by maybe someone that didn’t know me as well as they thought,  to have an inauthentic version of myself laying around that would later be relayed to people, seriously scared the shit out of me even at the tender age of 7.  I think this is why my camera at times is like an extension of myself, especially at parties I love to document everything going around. So when I tell you that this performance made me forget about absolutely everything that I had just told you,  It’s almost impossible for me to relay the feeling behind that.  I was so in the moment, I didn’t get out my camera until the final five seconds of the set and even then was I only able to capture one awful snapshot and a terrifyingly blurred video and where I’m just screaming like a banshee in the background.  To say this was the best set I have heard/seen all year hell even the last two years, or seven years, would be a lie. It was like it was the only set I had ever heard, EVER,  it was the melodic equivalent to dropping acid for the first time. I felt completely reborn as if this were the first time I had ever heard Techno, as if this were the first time I had ever seen a DJ live, like this was the first party I had ever been to.  All the sets that came before, and all the sets that will come after, are nothing but a mere mark in time compared to this one. The music matched our energies beat for beat, all we wanted was more and he was nothing but prepared to give it to us. Honestly looking back I dont remember a single second that one of us left the dance floor. Usually one of the four of us needs to have a smoke, a breath of fresh air, a beer, a pee even, but not this time,  it was if none of that mattered. We had each other, we had Tzusing and that was all we needed.  With such wildly different personalities the four of us have, its rare that our energies match at the same time, but this was one of those moments. Theres also those few magical moments when you feel like you truly connect with the DJ, like their playing only for you, and this truly felt like one of those times, all of us felt it so I was sure he had to feel it.   We kept looking at one another, looking at him, matching our dance moves to every single beat, grinning wildly and shaking one another like,  “DUDE IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?! ARE WE FINALLY HERE? DID HE JUST SMILE AT US?! HOLY SHIT 1976!! THIS CAN’T GET ANY BETTER!!! OK DID HE SERIOUSLY JUST DROP EVANESCENCE ?! IS THAT AMY LEE?!  Yes it was, and it sure as hell Brought me to life. His mixing was sublime, his track selection superb and these even seem now like sophomoric laymens terms in comparison to actually being there.  At one moment, I realized I had caught his attention, I immediately awkwardly tried to communicate that I’d love for him to play “4 floors of whores” which led to a brief display of myself awkward trying to mime my request, pretending I was climbing up an invisible ladder and flashing the number four with my fingers .  At first he looked at me like any normal person would,  In utter confusion, was having a seizure? Time would soon tell.  I tried again, and smiled and laughed, he mimed back to me he was on limited time, and this was his last track. When he finished, he bowed his head gracefully exited the stage, and we gave a huge applause in return. We looked at one another with a mixture of awe and exasperation eyes wide open feeling lucky to have just witnessed that masterpiece.

                After that performance, I was awakend. If that week had taught me anything it was that I could no longer let my fears and anxieties take over and hold me back, my time was more precious than it was to me a week prior, you really dont know when you will have another moment. I thought to not seize this opportunity would be ridiculously foolish, So I gathered what little gumption I had left and made my way to the back of the stage. I saw Tzu and I awkwardly sauntered over to him, “Did you um get that terrible rendition of sign language I was trying to relay” he smiled and laughed, ” Hahahah yeah ‘4 floors of whores’ I got it, I just didn’t have enough time to play it I’m sorry!” I explained that I was the girl from Instagram and he apologized about not getting back in touch, it was extremely genuine which is sometimes rare in this scene, and he suggested we reschedule for the following day. I quickly agreed thinking I easily had enough time either before or after the interview I had scheduled with Das Ding. I complimented his productions noting their perfection and he shied away from that notion of being compared to perfection,  I nodded in agreement  ‘yeah I mean you may not personally be perfection, no human is, but your music man your music! Your productions they truly ARE perfect, please do not ever doubt that.’ He was beyond humble and bowed again, what was it about him again that made me so initially nervous, this guy seemed like the sweetest person I had met in a very long time. We wrapped up our chat and I made my way  back to my friends, even more awe, exclaiming what just happened.  They expressed their shared excitement and side note- if you dont have friends that are as equally happy and excited if not more for you, when you have a moment, then Im sorry to say you need new friends.  We continued our night jamming to Volvox and at one point I turned around and there, dancing next to us was none other than Tzusing.  Who would have thought this night could get better, and somehow it just did. I i quickly introduced him to Callie, Bertra asemblance m, and Pablo, and we all began to chat and dance the night away, it really felt like we had all known one another forever. Someone who was before an Idol, quickly became a friend and time at that point, seemed relative. I don’t know how long we were there could have been an hour or two or twelve but it really felt infinite. After some time had passed Tzu bid us a farewell and shortly after that the night came to a close. When we entered Undercurrent, it had been a normal fall evening, when we left Winter suddenly was upon us.  We all stood there in the freezing rain and Bertram caught the attention of  someone running up the ramp, I believe it went something like “hey jij met de jasje, take this photo” because of course we needed some proof of this magical evening. After that we all hugged and quickly departed ways. B and I ended up having an after party for two back at his place discussing the evening in detail over and over as he showed me his latest tracks. The music of course took center stage and he was still so engulfed by Working Titles, ‘THAT SOUND MAN THAT SOUND’, reminiscent of Jimmy Stewart in The Glen Miller Story, searching for that elusive sound. It was around 8:30 when we got back and I had plenty of time to get to sleep and prepare for my interview, I thought for sure I’d be out of his place in due time. Before I knew it, sleep had evaded us, the sun had rose and set, I had even gotten sick and yet here we were somehow still discussing music. ‘Ah Nik what time do you need to be at Rush Hour? Soon right?’- Holy shit, B was right, I looked at my phone and It was 16:30. 16:30 how the fuck was it 16:30! I knew I had to run home, shower and somehow get myself together in some sort of assemblance in order to pull this off and meet Das Ding not just in time, but alive.

                      I somehow managed to pull myself together to make it to Rush Hour , get this ladies and gents, on time. Yes, somehow sleep deprivation led me to be, albeit briefly, a person that had become aware of universal time. I wondered why I didn’t just start purposefully depriving myself of sleep more often, people would be much less annoyed with me if I adapted to their universal time schedule like the rest of the free world. I sat outside and rolled a joint cooling down, my heart was racing, but the panic from before was gone. I was no where near as prepared as I wanted to be and I had no one to blame but myself, strangely enough, instead of casting more self doubt this time, it almost calmed me. I have no one to blame but myself. I remembered that part of the reason I had to breakup with my boyfriend was that I felt I was losing myself, getting caught up in the We and forgetting the I ,  and I wanted to be in control of me again. Oddly enough , the fact that I had fucked up this preparation and I was solely to blame, was kind of oddly gratifying. I was in control of me again, for better or for worse.  The vibes from the night before had carried over and I was actually in this cerebral calm state. I’ve tried my fair share of things, but I’ve never taken a Xanax,  I imagine this is how it feels when taking one. Not a moment later Danny approached me fresh off the train, cursing NS like any good resident of the Netherlands and rolling a cigarette. He asked me if it were alright to do this interview on a walk and accompany him to retrieve his gear from OT301 from the night before. Of course it would be OK, it would be more than OK, this was Das Ding! As we walked to OT, and had an wildly interesting conversation that will be part of a completely different article, so unfortunately I cant go into detail now and you’ll have to check Bazar in the next few weeks for the full story on Das Ding! One part, and the best part, I can tell you was this. Danny is in fact one of the coolest dudes to ever exist. After meeting He and Tzu the night before, I was wondering why people said don’t meet your heroes? Whoever said that clearly looked up to the wrong people. Danny is …so many fascinating things, he is truly anti establishment and he’s not sugar coating anything for you, what you see is what you get and what you get is one of the most truly genuine people you will ever meet. He kind of reminded me of my Uncle Vic, you knew he was always telling you the truth but you weren’t quite sure if he enjoyed telling it to you, or even if he liked you for that matter, until the conversation was finished. My generation is quite full of anxiety and ego, willingness to please and nervousness. I felt his lack of giving a shit about society and it was utterly refreshing. He filled me with wild stories, carrying a piece of a former Amsterdam some tend to forget . He is a true artist in that he is someone that takes nothing, and turns it into something, not just something, but a masterpiece. He loves the process of his art, to see things from start to finish and find the inner-workings and the facets of what he loves. His mind amazes me and he really is a true Genius.  When we started initially walking towards OT, Danny asked how my ADE had been and who I had been able to see. I told him that the previous night, my friends and I had seen Tzusing and Sunday I had plans for De School,  then finally my ADE would come to completion. “Tzusing?!” He looked up from his cigarette with a half bemused smile on his face, the first I had seen, Really Tzusing, I stayed with him when i was in Shanghai, but ah he’s probably very busy now”. I took this as my opportunity to intervene and maybe get an even bigger smile on Danny’s face. I messaged Tzu, telling him I had ran into an old friend of his Danny Boston, and he instantly responded, “Help me say Hi!”  I told him when Danny would be playing at Rush Hour and that we could meet and talk after. Danny’s set, I was only able to catch the last twenty minutes of, because by that time, it had been a good 36 hours since I had slept and my body was beginning to fail me. As much as I love music, I needed to go home and love my bed even more. I waited for Tzusing to arrive but could barely keep my eyes open or stand up straight so I had to bid Danny and Rush Hour adeiu and bike home. By the time I reached my apartment I had a message from Tzusing and  thanking me for setting them up and asking if I was heading to Radion that evening, I had to unfortunately turn down what I’m sure would have been an incredible evening, but i somehow turned into an adult that moment and chose to rest, I just had to get to sleep. As I was getting myself ready for bed I checked Instagram, mind numbingly clicking the stories, and what pops up but this gem I’ll leave just down here for you.  I’ve gotten a lot of people together in my life, but this by far had to be the coolest occurrence to happen yet. I sipped my tea, snuggled with my cat, threw on Izabel’s label, Lullabies for Insomniacs, on  SoundCloud on my phone and I drifted off to sleep. 8786aefa-e6f8-42a9-9bed-d4e82b69f43004645253-ca18-4bd6-9fa3-6105711dea36e16c73b8-86ae-4a5d-8656-d969753f645c


ELS / An Evening with Sean Groen

By : Nikki Evans



Sean Groen on the left

(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–kidLY Foulidis, tempodoolooyEs!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 BattiCYB, 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

ELS / Session 2, for Sean Groen

ELS Sugar Factory Amsterdam

ELS Sugar Factory Amsterdam

ELS Sugar Factory Amsterdam

ELS / Session 2, for Sean Groen

ELS / Session 2, for Sean Groen

Pictures by Adinda Van Groeningen

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