Red Bull Playrooms 2015: Prunk

Interview: Sasja Kooistra
Picture: Richard Terborg

Welcome to Red Bull Playrooms, a salute to the rich history of the influential Dutch and international club culture. During this year’s extra special 20th anniversary of ADE, the past, present and future of club culture will collide at a secretive and exciting location somewhere in Amsterdam.

In the run up to 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. The first artist to kick things off is none other than Amsterdam house maestro: Prunk.

In this chapter of Red Bull Playrooms we address that notorious moment in every artist’s career: the will to break through and the circumstances that keep this from happening. Nilz Pronk, aka Prunk, takes us back to exactly such a moment in the life of Dennis Ferrer in early nineties New York:

“At that period in time, Dennis Ferrer was a simple student, jobless and trying to make it as a DJ. He was already producing but not at a level that he was in the limelight already. When he heard Kerri Chandler play Kenny Bobien’s ‘Why I Sing’, he stood with tears in his eyes and gave him all the energy needed to push things to the limit”.

Prunk explains that Kerri Chandler and Ferrer became friends. The two were in his studio when Ferrer was granted the opportunity to produce his first records at a professional level. After hearing the result of his sessions, Chandler had supposedly told Ferrer: “You’re going to be famous”. The rest is history, for he scored his first hits on the Ibadan imprint. It was the beginning of a relentlessly successful career.

How Prunk would have wanted to be there at that point in time:

“What exactly happened there in Chandler’s studio is a mystery to me. It’s a moment I would have loved to witness with my own eyes. It’s such a pivotal happening in the history of my favourite genre, deep house. And above all else, it’s the cold hard proof that one moment in the studio can change your life forever”

 

Yes, Prunk too has experienced this moment in his budding career. Although he now is one of the most eagerly booked artists in the Dutch festival scene, running his own record label and club nights with PIV (Prunk Invites), four or five years ago things weren’t going as smoothly as he had hoped for. At that time, the contemporary spin-off of the deep house genre was not as consolidated as it is now:

“A lot of people didn’t like this kind of music back then. Bookers told me that this music wasn’t working out, as it already had reached the end of its life span during the late nineties, when only the first and second generation Chicago/New York producers were making deep house, and things hadn’t exploded in the way it has in recent years. I thought I had taken a wrong turn in my musical direction. It was a hard time for me, as I didn’t get a lot of bookings – maybe a warm up set every now and then. So I went back to the studio to keep on making records.”

Prunk’s turning point arrived when he got a tip to listen to “Street”, a track by Jamie Woon. It inspired him to immediately remix the track. The only problem was that he was staying at his girlfriend’s place then. Eventually he picked up his computer and plugged in his girlfriend’s crappy bedroom speakers and started to lay the foundation for the remix anyway. Prunk’s remix of Street became an immediate hit and earned him notice by some big artists whom he had admired for a long time.

The remix was released at a time when the first shifts in the dominant genre were taking place. The timing could not have been better. Prunk’s bookings started to come in, and labels showing interest in the young producer’s studio capabilities.

Clubbing in 2040: an occasion for the elite?

So how does Prunk imagine the club scene in the year 2040? Will there be any live dancing, or will there be holograms on the dance floor, virtually transported from our living rooms? Technological developments will fundamentally change the world of clubbing internationally, he expects:

“At the moment we’re seeing different groups from various social strata coming together in clubs and festivals. But there will be a changing moment, which will take about ten more years, when unimaginable technological capabilities will cause a big gap between the rich and poor. Clubs, therefore, will transform into a place that is fixated more on the rich. I predict that in 2040 we will be standing on the dance floor with a Google Glass on a skyscraper’s sky bar, projecting personalised visuals on the wall for every individual visitor. The only thing that remains the same is the music: House will never die”.

Prunk is one of the artists that who will celebrate club culture during Red Bull Playrooms 2015. Want to join this happening? Then click here.