Exclusive Interview With Pleinvrees
Summer isn’t over yet, so there are still those last few festivals to look forward to. Pleinvrees Heroes will be one of them. Having fortified another line-up that perfectly mixes artists who have been playing at Pleinvrees for years, like Oliver Koletzki, Alle Farben, Kölsch, Oliver Schories, and Amsterdam’s own Illesnoise, together with some special new upcoming stars like the mighty Vaal, Konstantin Sibold or the eclectic Young Marco.
Pleinvrees, having a nearly unbeaten record of sold-out events, is working vigorously towards the 6th of September when their very first festival will open doors to the ticket-holding thrill seekers that want to say goodbye to the summer in proper style. In the run-up to the event, I dropped by the Pleinvrees office for an in-depth talk with the two guys that co-founded and run the organization, David & Reinier.
When entering their office space that accommodates the three-headed Pleinvrees crew (plus some freelancers whom are also close friends of the founders) you get what you’d expect from a young company: minimalistic interior design, the odd computer desks and a cosy atmosphere.
But rather than starting at the very beginning of the Pleinvrees timeline, I first wanted to ask them in what way they think that Pleinvrees differentiates itself from other event organizations in town. David: “First and foremost our musical direction that we implement in our events, which is the melodic (deep) house sound. Next to that I think that we’re also pretty laid back. We stayed ourselves over the years, haven’t fallen into any identity crises and we surely don’t pretend to be something specific. Now at first that maybe makes us a more superficial player than some of the other organizers in Amsterdam, but at the same time we’re incredibly close with our public, have the best and most personal relationships with the artists we book, which makes both the public an the artists want to come back for more. And that closeness, that ‘family feeling’ if you could call it that, I think that is perhaps what really defines us in a nutshell”.
When asked how they keep that close relationship with their public, Reinier tells that are two ways to that. First of which, he says, is that they keep a very close watch on their social media channels. “We’re always out for feedback. When it’s good, it makes us happy, when it’s bad our day is completely ruined. When somebody has had a bad experience during one of our events, like somebody who had to queue for half an hour for the bathroom, we write them a personal message back and give them something in return, like letting them go to the next event for free or something like that. David continues: “Then there are the events itself where we always try to make a lot of rounds through the crowd, talk to people, ask them how they’re experiencing it. Then there’s also the backstage area that we don’t really keep a tight guard on. So most of the times it’s filled with a hundred people back there but that makes for all the more fun”.
Let’s rewind. How did this local success story start exactly? It began back in 2010, when a group of friends appointed David and Reinier, at that point in time only acquaintances of each other (Reinier was a chef, while David was keeping busy with creating seashell art), to organize a party for Queen’s day afternoon on some obscure little location somewhere in Amsterdam, well away from the mass-parties on the familiar squares such as Marie Heinikenplein and Amstelveld. That’s where our name is derived from actually, the fright of those over-crowded locations (Pleinvrees literally translates as ‘square-fright’. The Queen’s Day event would turn out to be a great success for a first timer. “Our slogan since then has been quite ironical: “We’re sure that there will be 23 people..”.”
After the second event in Club Roses David started introducing more and more the warm melodic ‘Haarlem House Sound’ as he calls it, booking artists like Joris Delacroix, Oliver Schories, Miss Melera and the likes, making them one of the key protagonists of this particular sound in the Netherlands. Then not long thereafter they were the first in Holland to invite a certain German youngster who was swiftly making a name for him with a rugged and playful sound that shook the international scene. David: “Booking David August was a defining moment for us, from then on we were on the map in Amsterdam I guess, people started to notice us as a party with a its own signature sound – although that was never intended, it just kind of worked out like that”. But not only David August made his premiere in Holland with Pleinvrees, so did Adriatique, Finnebassen and Robin Schulz.
So how do you plan a line-up if you didn’t intend to have a specific sound? R: “First and foremost we book those artists that we love to listen to ourselves and who we support a hundred percent. We would never book an artist out of commercial motivations”. But you have had multiple artists on the line-up that reside on the poppy side of deep house. D: “That’s true and some artists are now making records that are solely made to become hits, where you can hear that the marketing has exceeded the music. “When this tends to happen with an artist we tend not to book those again”.
On their musical tastes David and Reinier explain that they’re both quite on the same line. They like melodic, deeper sounds. This doesn’t mean that everything has to be cheerful, as they’re also fan of the darker sides of the musical spectrum like the sound of Life And Death.
On to another topic: their upcoming festival premiere. D: “We’re really excited about this one. It will take place at Sportpark Riekerhaven, which is a location that we’re very happen with. The place is well within the borders of the city so it’s closer by than the initial location that we had in mind”s. What’s the idea behind the ‘Deep’ stage that day? D: “This will be the stage where we introduce the crowd to the new direction that we’ll be heading in musically. Guys like Vaal, Nuno Dos Santos, Young Marco and Konstantin Sibold will be playing there, and since these kind of artists don’t fall into quite the same category as Robin Schulz or Alle Farben for instance, we thought it was a good idea to put them all under one roof”. The ‘Deep’ stage will be the first step in Pleinvrees’ new musical direction, which is partly moving away from the upbeat, melodic sound to also focus on a darker and more intense one.
Reinier jumps in to shed some light on the peculiar sideshows that they’ve got lined up that day. Visitors can brace themselves for a bit of ‘porno yoga’, freak shows, animal sounds coming from the woods and more. They couldn’t go into a lot of detail to leave some room for surprise during the event itself.
Next to an event organization, Pleinvrees also constitutes of a label called Pleinvrees Records. What was the motivation behind the label and how is it going at the moment? D: A record label was a long-running idea because we wanted to have a presence musically in other ways than just the line-ups at our events. Although the return on investment is never that interesting regarding a label, we wanted it to become an integral part of our business, to show the world our musical philosophy in a more direct manner and to create the ‘heroes’ of the future. In the last six months however we didn’t find enough time to be working on the label to be honest. It’s us plus another guy and that’s it. So when we’re all busy the label is put aside for a while.
R: But after Heroes we want to pick it up again. We’ve got our eyes on a few artists that we would like to release. One of whom is Illesnoise, who is currently producing as we speak – and the results are already pretty impressive, she has a lot of talent. And from that we gradually want to build towards her very own label under Pleinvrees and run by her.
Having talked extensively for over an hour you could notice that these guys, despite their ‘anything-goes’ motto, were actually pretty serious about their baby and its future. But for now let’s just count down the days until we can enjoy what’s coming during Pleinvrees Heroes.
Konstantin Sibold | Oliver Koletzki | Andhim | Gabriel Ananda | Vaal | Miss Melera | Niconé & Sascha Braemer | Illesnoise | Einmusik LIVE | Kölsch LIVE | Alle Farben | Klangkuenstler LIVE | Dan Caster | Robin Schulz LIVE | Joscha Berg | Isaac Stern | Oliver Schories | Nuno Dos Santos | Rampue | Lake People LIVE | Young Marco | Lake People LIVE | Pitto |