ADE ’17: Panels, Parties, Potpourri – Our Week in Amsterdam (Part 1)

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Amsterdam, The Netherlands – According to organizers, Amsterdam Dance Event drew more than 7,200 electronic-music-industry reps to the 23rd annual conference/exhibition/festival. While dozens of seminars were held at various venues throughout Amsterdam, ADE’s evening program, which presented the major practitioners of every genre within the electronic spectrum, drew more than 395,000 fans to the city’s clubs, arenas and outdoor facilities.

As always, DJ Times was there, taking meetings, making greetings, sitting in on seminars, networking with colleagues new and old, and attending plenty of performances all over the city. It went like this:


Wednesday, Oct. 18: At the DeLaMar Theater, Scottish author Irvine Welsh sat down for a Q&A and detailed the impact that DJing and dance culture has had on his work, especially Trainspotting, the 1993 novel that became the iconic 1996 film. He also explained why he eventually had to give up DJing.

“DJ culture was everything in informing Trainspotting, really,” he said, adding that in Dead Men’s Trousers—his upcoming novel that reunites the Trainspotting crew—main character Renton becomes a successful DJ manager. “I really got into DJing, although I wasn’t very good at it—but playing records to a crowd was tremendous. And I remember, after I’d become known, I started doing DJ gigs at big places like Manumission in Ibiza and it was the best buzz ever – better than being published. I mean, in that place I could play Streisand and people would dance if it had a 4/4 beat to it.

“But eventually, I felt like I was just trading on my fame and I felt like I was taking jobs from more talented DJs that just didn’t have my kind of notoriety. So, I started to only play smaller venues. Ultimately, I had to make a choice between writing and DJing because, back then, the old way of DJing was so involved. The DJ culture was so deep – you’d go to record shops, get the latest white labels, hit the clubs and so forth – so the cycle of DJing and writing wouldn’t work for me. Something had to give, and that was it for DJing – but I think I made the right choice.” Indeed, you did, Mr. Welsh.

Author Irvine Welsh: On Trainspotting & DJ culture.

Later that night, New York City-based DJ/producer Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez got deep at Sugar Factory for the Groove Odyssey party, as he dropped a set of mega-jams like Fatboy Slim’s “Song for Shelter” that lit up the intimate Leidseplein venue. An evening of quality house from a Master at Work and old-school talents like Chicago’s Terry Hunter got the week off to a proper start.

Thursday, Oct. 19: At De Brakke Grond—home to ADE seminars and tech exhibitions—we sat in for a talk with Canadian DJ/producer Tiga and Belgium DJ/producers Soulwax (aka 2manydjs). Though much of the convo veered into mutual-admiration-society territory, the session did reveal what studio magic can happen when traditional musician/producers (Soulwax’s David and Stephen Dewaele) collaborate with a DJ-culture devotee (Tiga).

“To be honest, I never cared about how music was made, just that it sounded good coming out of the speakers,” said the chatty Tiga. “But when I started to work with [Soulwax] and began to implement real instruments and work beyond just the laptop, a whole new world opened for me. I’m not saying one way of working is definitely better than the other – everyone can make music however they want – but it was a transition that I really appreciated. It opened new doors. It’s the best of both worlds.”

When asked how the Brothers Dewaele prepared for their wildly eclectic DJ sets, Steph responded tartly: “We don’t ever prepare. We just show up with enough music, look at the crowd and go from there. Plus, we play so many different types of events – clubs, festivals, fashion shows, whatever – we just go from one to the next. We just have to trust our music and trust our instincts. For us, it’s probably better never to prepare.”

AIR Party: The Spinnin’ Deep event got messy.

Then, on Night 2 of ADE, we hit a pair of Rembrandtplein parties – one very different from the other. At AIR, during the Spinnin’ Deep party, the Dutch label presented a lineup of its in-house stars – EDX, Sam Feldt, Nora En Pure, etc.

At this, the EDMest of EDM parties, the event’s barely legal audience jammed into the unique, stadium-like venue, often soggily swaying to floor-crushers like EDX’s “Bloom” and global hits like Feldt’s remake of Robin S’ “Show Me Love.” Beer was spilt, shoes were stepped upon, personal space was invaded.

Meanwhile, in AIR’s basement room, Dutch jock Bolier kept up the heat with a mixture of trance tidbits, electro bombs and smidges of commercial house. Dancers skated on a wet dancefloor, while an overserved gal took a header into a group of bystanders, knocking them into a couch like bowling pins. Again, drinks got spilt, balance was lost, iPhones were knocked astray. Onto the next joint…

Late-Night Action: ADE venues drew nearly 400,000 fans.

At Claire nightclub, just a 500-foot jaunt down Amstelstraat from AIR, the space formerly inhabited by techno hotspot Studio 80 housed a wildly diverse slate of music. With LeFtO manning the decks, the evening took a genre-jumping roller-coaster ride as the Belgian jock dropped a shockingly seamless program that included Middle Eastern singalongs, percussive baile funk workouts, soulful vocal loops and blistering acid house tracks.

When he eased into more familiar territory LeFtO dialed up some smoky West-Coast hip hop (Cypress Hill’s “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That”), a bit of bouncy R&B (Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T.”), a classic party jam (Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock’s “It Takes Two”) and an evergreen dancefloor groover (Crystal Waters’ “Gypsy Woman”). As those packed into the sweaty dancefloor could attest, it was a masterful performance.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.