This article is Part One of a two-part preview of Dekmantel Festival taking place in August this year in Amsterdam. Local DJ, producer and artist D_Know will be there to cover the event via MyCityByNight! Enjoy and make sure to follow D_Know and MyCityByNight for all updates, announcements and content!
Opening Statement from D_Know
My love for music developed from a young age. I was born into family who understands quality music. My father was one of the bosses at Gallo/Warner Brothers in Cape Town before the digital revolution. As such, my house has always been packed with great LPs and a massive CD collection gathered from promos that he used to receive when he was a rep. Needless to say, many of my hours as a child were focused on immersing myself in a huge variety of music. Although my interests have morphed over the years, my close connection to quality music of all types has never subsided.
Currently, my primary interests are in (but of course not limited to) house and techno. As a producer and DJ myself, I am constantly keeping up to date with trends in an ever-changing scene with an undeniably rich history. The nature of the contemporary music industry is as diverse and interesting as ever, despite the rise of many generic and disposable subcultures. With this in mind, I feel it is my duty as someone who is passionate about arts and culture to make sure that people are being made aware of the more unique happenings in the global music scene. Furthermore, as a South African, I would like to expose our local audiences to the amazing progressions in music that are happening worldwide. All too often the predominant South African audience gets a very skewed representation of international dance music. National radio stations are notoriously bland and uni-directional, whilst the club scene lacks a true ‘underground’ and a firm cultural following. Though there have been some notable changes and moves in the right direction, the progress is slow – and in order to inspire further change I feel it is a necessity for our local audience to get a sense of what is happening in the international ‘underground’.
The legacy of Dekmantel
A stalwart organization within this abovementioned ‘underground’ is undoubtedly Dekmantel, a Dutch collective who has been at the forefront of contemporary house and techno since the early 2000s. Formed by Thomas Martojo and Casper Tielrooij as both a label and club/festival promotion, the ethos of Dekmantel is clear and honest. As stated on the 2016 festival website, they are ‘diverse and focused on the best current, experimental and timeless underground electronic music out there’. With their first release being Dutch duo Juju & Jordash’s self-titled album back in 2009, the label’s artist roster has grown into a strong, tight-knit collection of quality producers, most of whom form part of the awe-inspiringly extensive line-up of this year’s festival. Consisting of a series of events, from Opening Concerts and lectures to the main Day and Night shows, Dekmantel has become something of a mecca for all those interested in the best of forward-thinking dance music, not too dissimilar to an event like South Africa’s own CTEMF [Cape Town Electronic Music Festival]. In addition to the carefully selected line-up, Dekmantel also goes out of its way to showcase some of Amsterdam’s most iconic venues and spaces taking into consideration the land’s unique history.
The 4th of August
Dekmantel’s Opening Concerts are set to take place the day before the ‘main’ 3-day festival in some of Amsterdam’s most important cultural centers surrounding the IJ-River. Venues include the famous Muziekgebouw as well as new additions to the festival itinerary such as Bimhuis, EYE Film Museum and Tolhuistuin, all of which will be made accessible through free ferry rides. The beauty of these opening concerts is that it allows audiences to experience rare artist appearances and side-projects, all of which showcase a different side of electronic music to the more dance-orientated Day and Night shows. In addition, the inclusion of lectures and film screening provides a didactic element to the proceedings, allowing for interesting discussion and conversation between attendees and organizers alike. Often these aspects are overlooked when it comes to larger scale festivals, yet Dekmantel makes a point of stressing their importance as they aim to transcend the notion a typical 3-day ‘rave’.
5th – 7th August
The core space of the festival is however The Amsterdamse Bos, a venue Dekmantel likes to call ‘home’. Thirty minutes outside of the main city and devoid of any man-made and industrial structures, ‘The Bos’ provides an abundant natural space for the audience to both party and relax in. It is in this space that the attendees are able to integrate with one another in an unpretentious setting with a top-class local and international line-up providing an all-day soundtrack.
“The crowd is really nice, and the line-up is awesome actually, I really like the fact that they mixed up some really good Dutch (local) artists with great international names” – Anonymous Festival Goer, FACT Magazine Dekmantel 2013 coverage
This years’ line-up is one of the best I’ve seen so far. With a diversity that is un-paralleled, the festival also pays tribute to some legends of the game. Special performances this year include a rare, nostalgic collaboration between legendary Dub artists/producers Lee “Scratch” Perry and Adrian Sherwood (On-U Sound) who
began working together in the mid-80s, as well as an extensive Detroit contingent including the likes of Jeff Mills, Robert Hood, Moodymann, Daniel Bell (DBX), DJ Stingray and DJ Bone.
And if that’s not enough, after each day program, there will be night after-parties on all three days held at the legendary Melkweg with equally impressive line-ups!
The Impact of Dekmantel
“…I want to save a culture that I see is dying… I will play ‘til Im going to die myself… Im going to play with records” – Francesco De Nittis aka Mr. Ties, Dekmantel Selectors Video via YouTube
The notion of ‘preservation’ is one that seems to occupy a large part of Dekmantel’s party-philosophy. Whether it be through the structure of the festival, the location or the artist bookings, it is clear that there is an attempt to preserve a history and quality-standard within the scene. To some this may not seem important, but being in the shadows of a variety of recent issues (particularly in the EDM scene) it is clear that this kind of ethos in the electronic music community is becoming evermore essential to its survival. Let’s take for example the recent financial issues of SFX Entertainment, an EDM tycoon owning the likes of Tomorrowland, Electric Zoo and Stereosonic who filed for ‘chapter 11 bankruptcy’ in February 2016. It is clear that there has always been economic interest in dance music (particularly in recent decades), yet there are still a handful of promoters who take serious pride in their own establishments and that choose to prioritize the fundamentals (i.e. location, line-up, crowd-type) over excessive financial growth – and it is these festivals that deserve our utmost attention. Ultimately, large corporations don’t understand the critical nuances of running an authentic festival and therefore often end up tarnishing a well-established promotion’s name, thus making the support of independently run events such as Dekmantel particularly important within our contemporary cultures. These are the festivals that showcase the legends, educate us and make us smile. They allow us to meet genuine people and most importantly… make us DANCE LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING!
Follow D_Know’s journey
Twitter: http://twitter.com/dknowofficial (@dknowofficial)