Interview: Sasja Kooistra
Picture: Darryl Adelaar
De Sluwe Vos: Nostalgic For The Old Days’ Euforia
For The Amsterdam Dance Event, Red Bull Playrooms asked a selection of Dutch DJs which period in the international clubbing history they would have liked to be a witness of. Perhaps the opening days of the legendary Manchester club The Haçienda; or the moment Jeff Mills laid down the melody of ‘The Bells’ or maybe the closing night of Larry Levan’s sanctuary the Paradise Garage? Consecutively, the artists will also give their take on the state of clubbing culture anno 2040. After the kick-off by Prunk, he is now followed up for a second installation in this series by the uncompromising Robert Vosmeijer, aka De Sluwe Vos.
Vosmeijer can’t help but to be a little agitated. The DJ/producer feels that he was born too late when telling us of his most iconic moment in dance music. “I would have loved to experience the old RoXY and iT”, he says, the near mythological clubs that set the template for the future of clubbing in the Netherlands. “When I hear the stories of people who were around at that time, I get the sense that going out had a lot more to do with the experience of a club and the music than nowadays. When you entered those places, you really stepped into a different dimension, where you could immerse yourself to escape reality. For me, that is the essence of going out: to have a night where you can momentarily forget how shitty your week was”.
“I think it’s crucial that the artist playing should always be able to surprise his or her audience”
And that is exactly what contemporary club culture is missing. “It’s certainly still about having a good time, but I think we lost our way a bit: people are standing still on the dance floor”. He notices how the Dutch audiences have been spoiled by the professionalisation of the dance culture and all that it now entails. “You really have to give it your utmost effort to grab and keep people’s attention. It looks to me as if it’s not so much about the music anymore.”
That is why Vosmeijer is a man on a mission. His goal: to create night where only the musical will result in you escaping your everyday life for a few hours and lift your spirit, like the RoXY did in the early days. His means of achieving this: all-nighters, monster spinning sessions of nine hours straight where he builds from a soft classical music and ambient beginning to a spectacular, euphoric dance floor stampede. Sometimes though, patience of the audience can be heckling. “Younger people sometimes ask when the beat is gonna drop. I always reply that they should take a moment to let the build up sink in, in order to gradually grow into what I have in store for them. The fact that people can only let loose to a fat beat and loud music can be a bit difficult for me every now and then. It’s not all about dancing your ass off and stomping around. My idea is that this impatience wasn’t an issue back in the days, and that the general euphoria during a club night was of a much bigger scale.”
Vosmeijer does not only try to fulfil his mission in DJ-sets, but also with his smashing Kontra show, which has sprung from his eponymous album. It’s a visual 3D live spectacle where house, techno, drum ‘n’ bass, jack and rave come together with percussion from the Stick House ensemble and guest performances from Sticks, among others. His sincere sense of duty has been fulfilled, as things are moving rapidly in the career of the young artist. After his breakthrough in 2013 his star began to quickly rise with performances various European countries and appearances at respected festivals as Lowlands and Awakenings.
Getting lost in the music and escaping from reality should also be key in clubbing in 25 years, Vosmeijer tells us. “I would like to see if the club culture stays existent, but in a better shape than it is in now. I hope that in 2040, we’re actually concerned again about the quality of music, to actually sit down and listen to it.” He continues to explain that that change for the better will also coincide with a far greater implementation of visuals in the whole of clubbing experience. “I think that the 3D visual aspect with holograms, will be developed further and further along with the consolidation of 4D sound. Instead of just hearing, other senses will be put to use on the dance floor.” In a nutshell, ‘A night out’ will still be the most normal thing in the world in 25 years, he says, as surrounding yourself with others is a basic instinct that will never disappear. “I think going out will become a lot more personalised as well, more directed towards the specific wants and needs of every visitor. People just like to give input on what a night of clubbing should look like according to them. How exactly this is going to play out I cannot say, but perhaps the people on the dance floor can influence the visuals during a night.” Thinking along as an attendee is fine, but not an all topics, he warns: “I think it’s crucial that the artist playing should always be able to keep surprising his or her audience”
De Sluwe Vos is one of the artists who will contribute to the celebration of influential club culture during Red Bull Playrooms.