Good things come to those who wait it's been said! And thus it is with the CGNY feature on Speedy J aka Jochem Paap. It's also been a minute since Speedy played a set in NYC and with him and the other names on the line up for Verboten's party on May 24th in the city, we are prepping for what is expected to be a superb night of techno! We caught up with Speedy via skype ahead of the gig!
CGNY: I want to say that you’re probably my favorite dj in the world! I so enjoy your long sets as anyone who follows me on Facebook/Twitter knows! So I’m very happy to finally be able to chat to you! You’ve been playing for a good time now right? How did you get started?
SJ: Thank you! Yes I started off in the late 80s/early 90s. As I had been interested in drawing and graphic art, I approached music from a visual perspective as well. At some point in the late 80’s I got dragged in by this whole turntablism, early hip hop stuff. So I got myself 2 turntables and started doing that as well and got involved in all these turntablism competitions in Holland. And that’s where the Speedy J name comes from. I was involved in a band as well with rappers in a hip hop act for a while. We did some small gigs and stuff but I was never really into the culture but I was really into the music. At some point I found that doing the stuff with just turntables was kind of limiting. So I started buying drum machines and tape decks. I kind of started sliding towards production from there. Then in the late 80s when these Detroit and Chicago records started coming out I was like ‘This is what I want to do". I was completely blown away by it because it was so different from anything that was going on at the time. I was immediately grabbed by the sound. I started to focus on that and giving my own little twist to it and started releasing records so that’s how it happened.
CGNY: And how long as your label Electric Deluxe been up and running?
SJ: We’re celebrating our 6 year anniversary this month with a big show in Rotterdam my home town. (April 26)
CGNY: Right that’s with Ben Klock?
SJ: Yes that’s the one.
CGNY: It’s almost a natural progression for many producers to start their own label but not everyone does it so what was your thinking behind starting Electric Deluxe? Where did you get the name from?
SJ: Well I did release in 2008 called Electric Deluxe. The name is originally derived from a flanger effect pedal from Electro Harmonix which is called the Deluxe Electric Mistress Deluxe . It’s just a random name but I just thought it had a nice ring to it!
CGNY: It does!
SJ: The reason I started the label and the events is, well I started with the events. I was playing for so many different promoters in so many different contexts and sometimes I found the promoter or the club didn’t quite get the art of programming or putting line ups together. Some promoters do get it but others don’t. Sometimes people invite names or djs that will look good on the flyer and that will sell tickets but they never really think about the music connects or how the night will flow if they put these people together. If you put a little more thought behind it and a little bit more effort, it’s possible to create something which does all the artists more justice and with that of course the audience and the experience of the whole night. So we started putting together events in our resident club in Amsterdam called Milky Way. We built it from there. We started to do other clubs in Holland and exporting it to other countries and now we are basically worldwide, hosting stages at Festivals or doing pre-parties. Doing all kinds of stuff!
"Sometimes people invite names or djs that will look good on the flyer and that will sell tickets but they never really think about the music connects or how the night will flow if they put these people together."
CGNY: Well we’re very excited for the Electric Deluxe nights in New York and Detroit. So many comments and likes on FB when I posted the flyer! The lineup is incredible of international as well as local talent and Verboten fave, Brad Miller. One of the best lineups this year so far. How did it all come together – scheduling that many djs in a night could be tricky I imagine?
SJ: It does take some planning. But we always start off with a big list of favorites, a list of people who would fit our concept for the night, the vibe of what we do. Sometimes the reason we invite someone is because we know they are around. We have Oscar Mulero on the bill. It was easy because we knew he was doing Detroit the day after. So he was going to be in the States anyway. He recently did a podcast episode for us. Same goes for Subjected. He was already on the bill for our Detroit event. And Brendon of course lives in New York. It all comes together pretty easily then – we have a lot of contacts and a lot of people on the list so sometimes it takes a lot of effort to put together and other times all the pieces of the puzzle fall together easily.
CGNY: In Detroit you will be performing with Lucy as Zeitgeber. First time together as Zeitgeber in the States?
SJ: Yes this is the first time as Zeitgeber.
CGNY: How much do you love playing at Movement in Detroit? It’s surely one of the best festivals for techno
SJ: Yes I think it’s the only festival in the States where people make the effort to travel across the country. Everything that you can see maybe once a year in some of the cities in the States is all gathering at one place in one weekend in Detroit and of course if this is your music, this is your place to be. I love playing there.
CGNY: Just talking about your Electric Deluxe podcast which I tune into regularly. It’s a bit different. You give the djs free reign to do very different material than maybe they’d normally play in a club. I was listening to Derek Plaslaiko's set recently and I was thinking how much interesting music he was playing in this podcast. How did the style of the ED podcast come together?
SJ: There are already a lot of techno podcasts around which do a really great job of what they are. I know from my own perspective as an artist, you have this kind of profile and fixed fan base to work with. Everybody who is into techno, we all go to clubs we all do our routine but when we get home we are all interested in a much broader range of music that you are known for or that would work in a club you know? And obviously podcasts are something you listen to at home or in the office or your car or something and it’s a really good opportunity to show this other side. What we tell the artists is to create a portrait of what the artist is really inspired by or has been a great influence on their career or something they never get a chance to play when they are doing sets in clubs; just music that they really love and tells something about them as an artist. And everybody responds differently you know? Some are hesitant to go all the way, to go all out and do something different and others they see it as a huge opportunity and chance to show this other side of themselves. I’m always really interested in seeing of seeing the context of where artists may be coming from what their backgrounds are, what they got influenced by. Sometimes it even clarifies the picture that you have a bout a certain artist. At the same time it creates a listening experience which is not really tied to a certain moment in time or to what they are doing in this period in their career – it is timeless. You can also go back and listen to older episodes because it’s not connected to a certain release. It basically emphasizes the ritual of listening for the audience. There is an element of surprise and discovery in it. I always like that approach when I listen to music. I don’t always want to start listening to something and know exactly what I can expect. Sometimes it’s nice to put something on and just let it happen, see what you like about it. I think it works for both the audience and the artist when we do the podcast this way.
CGNY: There is a great sense of "urgency" that you build into your longer sets; as if something could happen at any minute! As a dj how do you build the momentum and keep a set interesting over that prolonged period. Keeping energy and interest for yourself and the audience..Is there a formula that you have? Or do you just go with some tracks that you know you want to play – how does it work? Is there a different approach on a longer set as opposed to a 2 hour set?
"When I’m having a good time, the audience will as well!"
SJ: I would say the longer the set will be, the less of a plan there is. If you do a short set, a two hour set say at a festival or something then you really within the time span of those two hours, deliver something that the audience takes home, that people kind of expect from you. It’s more of a performance. A long set is more like a trip; you can just do whatever the hell you like. Usually if you do a long set there’s no one playing before you or after so you basically own the room for the entire night which means that you go anywhere you like. So for me playing a longer set is sometimes a relief you know? I can just go in there and play all the stuff that I want, that I may have on my list to play and that I wanted to play elsewhere and never got the chance to because it didn't really fit in that stricter time frame. So for me it’s like carte blanche and I can take more time – take segues and make turns in the set musically and go directions that I never really get the chance to. It’s almost like playing for myself! And when I like to play something and am excited, that always shines through and rubs off on the audience. When I’m having a good time, the audience will as well!
CGNY: Is there any track from your own label or any other artist that you’re listening to that you’re digging right now?
SJ: Well I never really like to look back that much, I’m always about the next thing coming up. Right now we are planning an album for Giorgio Gigli as well as an album for AnD and I’m really excited about those two projects.
CGNY: Wonderful. What do you do when you have some spare time? Any crazy hobby that our readers wouldn’t know about – a secret stamp collector perhaps?!
SJ: Ha! No stamp collecting! I like to take my dog to the beach or the forest, take long walks if I have the time. And I like to cook. Nothing shocking!
Speedy J plays Verboten May 24th. Details here!