We are so hyped to bring Tripeo back to Meat Free, it is well overdue! He originally played for us at our Mord Records event in 2016 and it’s still one of the most talked about parties of recent years – ever since, we’ve been proud to call Tripeo a friend, so this is going to be special!
Hard to believe that was 5 years ago (and also the 1st of October!!), and it would be an understatement to say a lot has happened since then – without dwelling too much on the pandemic, your voice was one of the loudest throughout. Can you talk us through the situation in NL and your role?
5 years yeah wow, you mentioned this to me and I didn’t even realise it was that long. Time really does fly after all. The pandemic really turned things upside down in many respects. It wasn’t the reckoning some of us hoped for, but it did expose a lot of things in our societies that desperately need improving in the near future. What’s been going on in Holland for example showed a severe lack of fantasy, gross incompetence and most shockingly a basic will or even interest to govern when things get hard (which is daily in a pandemic) because of fear of accountability as well as indifference towards a large part of the population. It laid bare the immense disconnect between our chosen leaders and the people they govern. Speaking from the sector that was always going to open last, we had it especially rough since Culture was at the bottom of priorities before going into the pandemic anyway.
MF 2016 flyer!
So what happened at the beginning of the summer was that our gov opened us up too quickly. No-one asked for that to happen the way they chose to do it. Everybody was happy to, and counting on reopening in phases as was the advice of experts. It turned out part of the strategy to open everything at once was mainly to incentivise young people to get the vaccine. Which is not bad on itself of course, but it gets pretty horrible when you lie to them and say they can go clubbing straight after getting the Johnson shot. Which is what they did. It takes 2-4 weeks before the vaccine starts working, so they willingly exposed a whole demography to the virus in order to up their numbers. If that wasn’t bad enough, the system put in place for testing crashed and got hacked. Basic implementations like enabling screenshots being taken from QR codes were not in place in the app and the 40-hour window for testing went against the 24 hour max advice from experts. Plus there were not enough people vaccinated in the population to have the kind of herd immunity you need to put people into dark sweaty basements again.
They still haven’t admitted any wrongdoing on these parts and instead put in the frame that it was them underestimating our (bad) behaviour that made things turn to shit. They still do that till this day. After what has been dubbed the ‘discopeak’ (talk about your framework oi?) they shut everything down after 2 weeks. Imagine what that does to the moral of a sector and industry that has been shut for nearly 1.5 years and had problems finding enough personal and material to re-open to begin with.
After they kept postponing and postponing and killing what was supposed to be the ‘second summer of love’, something collectively snapped this August after a press conference, and the ‘Unmute Us’ campaign was born. Protests emerged in 6 cities and the second demo 10 cities with over 150,000 people (!!) attending. I helped to coordinate the protests in my hometown (Nijmegen). It’s still not over as we speak. We’ve been mostly ignored and their policies are still hurting us very badly.
And yeah I was pretty vocal about it lol. I can only hope I wasn’t too annoying with all my online keyboard warrior rants haha.
It’s been an extremely difficult time for so many people, both economically but of course emotionally – how have you kept it going through it all?
Relatively speaking I think I’ve had it better then most during the pandemic. I didn’t catch the virus and had no struggle in terms of finances or health in general. So I consider myself very lucky in that respect and I know I had the opportunity to go through this from a privileged starting point.
At the same time it got progressively harder and harder mentally. I’d say it started to get more grim in my head by the end of last year when we went into the long winter lockdown and it escalated this summer when our government shut down any prospect of a ‘normal’ summer by completely screwing up their exit strategy. If you can call it that. The lack of perspective is depressing. Thank something there are some rays of hope, like coming to Manchester next week. Beyond excited for that! <3
Aside from #ForTheMusic, you’ve been a huge supporter of the #MeToo movement – do you think the industry as a whole is doing enough to support each other? What can we learn?
Yes this is a matter that is really close to my heart. For starters: I think it’s important to acknowledge that we are making progress (finally!) in that department. I see many people finding their voice and having the courage to speak out. Which is very encouraging and inspiring. It was always going to be an uphill battle, but the energy to do that seems to be growing. At the same time we still have a lot of work to do in that department. It feels like we are still in the early stages of coming clean with who we are as a scene and moving forward on these issues.
What can we learn? A lot has been written the past few years about the power structures keeping inequality in place. Awful behaviour still gets systematically rewarded instead of rejected. As long as these power structures are in place, nothing significant will really change and we will keep having these conversations.
I also think it’s important to acknowledge that there are many subtleties involved and try to avoid only thinking about #MeToo in extremes. Don’t get me wrong, excesses need to be dealt with accordingly. Maybe it’s not my place as a man to ask for a nuanced debate at this time.
Actions should have real consequences, something we are seriously lacking right now. Let me try and explain what I mean. For example: what would really help is if we teach our boys from a very young age how to behave on the ‘sexual market’, if you can call it that. I think there’s a really good chance that will help getting rid of a lot of nasty and unwanted behaviour by making certain sexual behaviour socially unacceptable for the new generations growing up. I’m naming boys specifically here, because I believe the key for solving this lies with men. It’s our behaviour that drives this. It’s us most frequently crossing lines and not reading the room. We need to be held accountable and, equally important, hold each other accountable. No more ‘boys will be boys’ please.
Furthermore: it’s imho not an ‘us vs them’ thing. Or ‘men vs women’ etc. I hope that at some point in the not too distant future most of us will realise we are on the same team here. That in general we want the same thing, because we all have so much to gain if we get rid of this unwanted behaviour. Call me a hippy, but I’m pretty damned convinced the world be a much more beautiful and happy place if get this under control.
You’re an artist that’s basically done it all, from DJing, producing, booking, management and running labels – all under two monikers no less (as well as campaigning!)- do you have a favourite aspect or does it all feed each other?
I was alway the all-rounder instead of a specialist. I wanted to know and learn all the different aspects of the music industry, which lead me in doing so many different things and they definitely were feeding each other and interacted with each other. Of course I developed preferences.
The two that stand out for me are DJing and producing. That’s where my creativity get’s challenged the most and I can lose myself completely in. When all stars are aligned at a good gig or inspired studio session, it’s pure magic. It can’t be compared to any other feeling from my point of view. I can stop doing bookings, running labels, but I could never stop digging for new music or making my own. Ever. I would get seriously depressed and I’m not too keen on that happening haha.
As it feels we can finally start to look towards the future, with dancefloors finally opening up again across the world – what’s next for you musically?
I’m a bit careful still and try not to look too far into the future in regards to touring especially. There are so many uncertainties and externalities still at play. Our sector proved especially vulnerable for this type of calamity. I try to enjoy the moments we have right now more intense as long as they last. A lot of bookings are being done very close to the date (logically of course) and I kind of like that. It makes you live in the moment more. It feels more like real living to me then it did before the pandemic hit us all.
I haven’t made much music during the pandemic because I was focussed on listening and discovering new music and reconnecting with my collection. But I have quite a few nice releases lined up for this and the next year including an electro record for Cultivated Electronics, a track on a VA + an EP next year for a new label from my Italian friends from Quon/MM Audio called Don’t Lose Your Smile. Which has a tragic but beautiful back story, which I would recommend anyone to find out. All proceeds from the record are going towards cancer research.
I’ve also signed 2 releases on a fresh German label, I’m not sure I’m at liberty to say more then that at this point. There are some collabs that need a home + a new Tripeo release on the eponymous label will be released next year as well.
Can you give us a little insight into your current record bag? Which artists are you digging at the minute?
The most difficult question of them all hahaha 😉
So many artists inspire me for so many different reasons…. I’ll narrow it down to artists’ who’s music I would play out, but know this list is far from complete and in no particular order:
Hemka, K-Hand, Claude Young, Bordon/Sebastian G., Laura van Hal, Stanislav Tolkachev, Russel E.L. Butler, Stephen Brown, Steve Rachmad, Benny Rodrigues/ROD, Whodat, Tim Baker, Blasha & Allatt, Tafkamp, DJ Minx, Terrence Dixon, Luke Slater, Border One, Jeff Mills, Bandulu, Anz, JakoJako, Hoover1, Sherelle, Overmono, Ratsnake/Gesloten Cirkel, LSDXOXO, Skee Mask, Drexciya.
When we first interviewed you, 5 years ago, you mentioned you were quite obsessive and methodical when it comes to preparing sets – is that still the case? Do you think you’ve changed as a DJ in any way? (apart from continuing to get better and better of course!)
That part has gotten progressively worse haha. What mostly kept me sane, is/was keeping busy with music. I listened to so much music, I reconnected with my own record collection in a very profound way, as well as keeping new input from the outside coming in. It was therapeutic when things turned quite dark in my head. In the end it resulted in having literally 1000’s of tracks ready to go on my USB’s. All of which have never been played by me in front of a crowd. I did DJ a lot at home and me and the misses pimped our DJ booth at home to professional levels.
Now that I’m gigging again, I’m already experiencing some frustration in not being able to play all the tracks I would want to play, simply because there are too many and too little time. Glad to experience these problems again, if you can call them that.
As such a highly respected veteran of the scene, what advice would you offer to anyone starting out in the music industry? Anything you wish you’d known when you were starting?
I don’t think there’s anything I would like to have known when I started. I used to think it would be nice to have been warned for certain pitfalls, but that outlook changed over the years. I think making mistakes and learning certain things the hard way are an important part in developing yourself and integral in finding your (artistic) voice. I would advise anyone who starts to allow yourself to make mistakes. We all make them. We tend to learn more from the things we did wrong than the things we did right. There’s a deeper learning curve to them, because it demands (self)reflection on one’s part in order to improve.
Another tip would be, and I know this is quite a very hard one in these social media rigged days: try to enjoy the ride and enjoy the view. As cliche as it sounds: the journey is more important than the destination imho.
What helped me was not to have extremely ambitious career goals and try and take things as they come. I can of course imagine that’s not for everyone. There are sooooo many distractions and things that can make you uncertain and doubt yourself in this industry, that keeping the outside world outside every now and then is a blessing.
For those that came last time, your return is highly anticipated – but for any newbies, what can they expect from you on 1st Oct?
I’m proper hyped for this show and in a raver’s mood. It will be the first time I play outside my own country since the pandemic started and I wouldn’t want the first one to be for anyone else but for you. Family and friends is the best place to start <3
I listened to the recording from 5 years ago again for reference. I reckon this time I’ll probably play a faster and more banging set. That’s what happens after being stuck inside listening to a lot of your records from the 90’s for too long haha. What will stay is the mental vibe and variation in sounds. Just can’t seem to shake that sound signature no matter what I do 😉