With Rush Hour’s San Proper hitting town this Saturday, Behind the Groove’s Rob Thorpe takes a look at some of the freshest, lesser-known, local talent from San’s home city of Amsterdam.
The Dutch capital boasts international acclaim and is visited by millions of people every year. Whether it be the cultural hotspots in the Museum Quarter or the seedier back streets of the Red Light District that draw you in, Amsterdam has been a timeless destination for anyone and everyone. But, despite the vast number of tourists, Amsterdam’s reputation is built on a firm basis of local creativity and open-mindedness. Look past the touristic faḉade and you will find a forward-thinking city far ahead of its time. With a flourishing music scene and a thriving local community of up and coming DJs, the city is pushing the boundaries by exposing some of the freshest, rarest and riskiest sounds out there.
Dekmantel co-founder Thomas Martojo said it himself: “These young adults are playing the weirdest kind of music imaginable.” I couldn’t agree more with this. After living in Amsterdam for a year and a half, I came back to England knowing less about music than when I had arrived. The Amsterdam scene has gone down a rabbit hole of sorts, with producers, diggers and dancers pushing the riskiest and most unique music around.
However, this left field approach is not a new thing in Amsterdam. It’s just something that the rest of the world is only now catching onto, amid the ever-growing popularity of Rush Hour Records, Dekmantel, ADE and the success of Amsterdam-based DJs such as Tom Trago, Young Marco and San Proper – all of whom represent the Dutch flag in clubs around the world.
With Amsterdam’s wide variety of record stores (Red Light Records, Zwart Goud, Rush Hour, Waxwell, Distortion) and a set of clubs that pride themselves on securing unconventional bookings and showcasing local talent (De School, Shelter, Radion and Claire) – it’s no surprise that the Amsterdam scene is thriving. With Red Light Radio, the local radio station located in a disused prostitute window, broadcasting this forward-thinking community to the world, the Amsterdam scene has become somewhat of an example for other cities striving to maintain their own cultural vibrancy.
Here are four selectors on the Amsterdam circuit that you need to be checking out in 2017…
Iranian born, Rotterdam raised and now Amsterdam based, Moody Mehran has earned a growing reputation over the last few years as one of freshest DJs playing around the city. Known best for championing a pure, groove-ridden, house sound, Mehran secured shows last year supporting the likes of Seth Troxler and Lil Louis in addition to earning a set at this year’s Dekmantel Selectors festival in Croatia. Continuing his residency on Red Light Radio and with sets already planned for Amsterdam’s newest venue, Claire (formerly Studio 80), 2017 will be a huge year for this young man.
For any Holland-based readers, you can catch him playing alongside Orpheu the Wizard and Matchbook at De Kerk on the 18th February.
Afrobot’s quest for finding some of the most eclectic and left-field sounds around has taken him to every musical corner on the globe. Ranging from post-punk to Indian raga to deep-house, there’s no stopping this digger in his quest to get dancefloors moving in the most unique ways possible. Often warming up his sets with something as avant-garde as a 10 minute psych-rock track, this DJ is certainly deserving of the accolade he has been receiving from across Europe.
Although based in Rotterdam, you can find him hanging out at venues across Holland every weekend, including Club Radion in Amsterdam, where he holds a residency. In addition to his DJ career, Afrobot continually produces for the Salamanca label, a notorious imprint with some quality edits of disco, italo and funk.
An infamous digger, Tako Reyenga is a selector with an ever-growing reputation on Europe’s DJ circuit. Spinning music that sparks his own, personal curiosity, Tako can often be found playing tracks that aren’t necessarily dancefloor-ready. This leads to a DJ style that invites listeners onto a personal trip through Tako’s record collection rather than a set that is built upon dancefloor functionality.
Being a collector first and a professional DJ second, Tako’s tune selection is as abstract and left-field as the vinyl he stocks in Red Light Records. One of Amsterdam’s most famous record spots, the store is co-owned by Tako himself and Abel Nagengast, a member of the team behind the highly acclaimed label, Music From Memory.
For any Amsterdam-based friends, you can catch him next playing records alongside Rush Hour stalwart, Hunee at De School on 24th February…
Masalo & Kamma
Purveyors of a diverse taste in dance music, Masalo & Kamma, (who will be supporting San Proper on February 11th), are residents and promoters of the Brighter Days parties in Amsterdam. Their sets are a breath of fresh air, as they bring with them honest fun to the dancefloor in a scene which can sometimes take itself a bit too seriously.
After a successful 2016 with Kamma playing at Dimensions festival and Masalo teaming up with Jamie 32:6 for a debut track on Local Talk, these two will undoubtedly shine through on the international stage this year. Whether DJing together or separately, you’ll be seeing more of Kamma and Masalo across Europe in 2017.
One thing everyone involved in the Amsterdam scene has in common is an attitude to play music without trepidation. The idea of seeing a DJ take on the risk of dropping an 80’s new wave B-side at peak time in a 500 capacity club may sound ridiculous. To me however, this is what it’s all about and exactly why I love the approach of DJs in Amsterdam – taking risks and pushing things forward. The city’s scene is unquestionably flourishing with DJs, producers, record stores, parties and clubs. Amsterdam is seriously undergoing a process of change and challenging the norm on how things should sound – UK, take note!
Be sure to head down to Boogaloo x Hustle presents: San Proper (Rush Hour); with support coming from Kamma, Masalo as well as the Hustle and Boogaloo Residents.
Saturday 11th February at 24 Kitchen Street…