When two of the most recognized event producers in the world unite, the outcome’s bound to be legendary. As such, Time Warp and Awakenings have officially joined forces to present their highly anticipated collaborative festival, Connect, which boasts Jamie Jones, Richie Hawtin, Solomun, Nina Kraviz, and many, many more of the best of techno.
The synthesis of the two brands who’ve set the golden standard in techno’s live event sphere will be taking place October 13 at Messe in Düsseldorf, Germany, and although Connect is set to be just a one-day festival, it’s still bringing together an incredibly eclectic mix of international acts from around the world.
Awakenings Festival has announced its glorious 2018 lineup, which will descend upon the grounds of Spaarnwoude on June 30 and July 1.
Over 100 artists will perform over the two days with some of techno’s heaviest acts fronting the bill. Artists like Carl Cox, Adam Beyer, Nina Kraviz, Sven Väth, and more, are some of the prime stalwarts on the bill. Awakenings will also see an equal dosage of techno’s ever-rising stalwarts like Job Jobse, Amelie Lens, Charlotte de Witte, and Dax J making their Awakening debuts.
As expected, Awakenings Festival will be going above and beyond in their groundbreaking production. Attendees can expect top-of-the-line stage design, particularly in the open air areas of the festival.
Adam Beyer‘s Drumcode label will take a major stride come August of 2018. The highly celebrated Swedish techno label founded by Beyer 21-years prior in Stockholm has greatly matured since its early establishment — it’s the highest selling imprint within the techno genre. The label’s Drumcode Radio show extension regularly registers millions of listeners each week, a testament to Drumcode’s musical presence.
A concrete manifestation of that presence will be the inaugural Drumcode Festival, slated to touchdown in Amsterdam on August 18, 2018. Beyer will present the first edition of the Drumcode Festival in conjunction with Awakenings, where Drumcode stages have been a regular staple. Beyer boasts an extended history with Awakenings, playing more Awakenings events than any other artist, charting five Awakenings events in 2017 alone. Cumulatively, Beyer has appeared at more than 75 of the Dutch event company’s productions.
Drumcode will bring its inaugural festival to NDSM in Amsterdam North, a former shipyard located on the banks of the River IJ.
Fans of the imprint interested in attending the introductory Drumcode Festival can register here for more information.
Adam Beyer sinks into his chair as he pours himself a cup of afternoon tea. It’s 4:30pm, and he’s sitting at a small, wooden table in a room just off to the side of the Waldorf Astoria’s opulent Peacock Alley. Today marks the second day of Amsterdam Dance Event, and less than six hours stand between him and his annual Drumcode showcase at the city’s treasured live music venue, Gashouder.
Despite his unwavering stare, he appears slightly weary — yet it’s hard to blame him. As a jet-setting musician, techno ambassador, radio show host, father, husband and label head, it’s easy to discern the life that Adam has carved out for himself: one that’s relentlessly active and, at times, trying. As he spends the remainder of 2016 celebrating 20 prosperous years of his venerated label, Drumcode, the revelation that he has accomplished more in two decades than most have in an entire lifetime dawns on him. “Right now I’m in a place where I want to be – where I strive to be,” he tells me with absolute pride.
Though Adam doesn’t expand upon what this ‘place’ entails, a wild guess might point to his superior positioning within the techno realm and the coveted ability to help sculpt the modern-day electronic music landscape. If anything’s clear, it’s that Beyer isn’t in it for hedonistic purposes, but rather for the cultivation of a living, breathing culture.
For the last six years – beginning with Drumcode’s 15th anniversary – Adam has regularly brought his world-class imprint to Gashouder to give electronic music fans a taste of proper techno. In 2016, the label and radio show have never been bigger or received more attention, with more than 12 million fans from over 53 countries tuning in each week to hear the latest Drumcode Radio Live. And that’s an achievement worth celebrating.
DA: Music played a significant role in your life, At what point did you know you wanted to take your career to the next level?
When I decided to make music, I already decided on the path of becoming a DJ. I started playing drums, but I was so young so that later translated into DJ’ing where I realized that was my thing. And I was only 11 when I started DJ’ing so my first record I had out was when I was 17. I started producing at 16. So yeah, I knew. I already had an idea of a career. I never imagined that the electronic scene would take off as it did because 1993 was different. It was all very new and exciting but there wasn’t much money or business in it. It was just, you know, you’re a kid, you identify with music and you just wanna do it regardless of, you know. I didn’t have any business aspirations back then. It was just my passion.
DA: When would you say music truly took off for you?
When it really started to take off was in ‘96 when I started my label, Drumcode. I did maybe 20 other records before that, under other names, you know – pseudonyms and experimenting. I don’t think I knew exactly who I was as an artist. It took me a while to find exactly what I wanted to do. But once I knew I started a label, I knew it was going to be techno, I had a blueprint for what was me. And as soon as I started a label and had a couple releases out, I mean I was already playing a lot around Scandinavia and Sweden but that’s when it really started to take off. That was sort of my business card for record stores and buyers.
DA: Most would consider you to be an ambassador for techno. In which countries do you see it coming up?
By now, I think it’s already pretty much existing everywhere. Maybe, I mean, it’s been good to see it develop in the US over the last few years. I came to the US for the first time in 1997 and it was good back then as well; there was a scene. But because of the EDM explosion and all that, I think techno came along a little bit on the tail of the whole explosion and a lot of people quite fast maybe started to dig deeper into electronic music. For the last three or five years I’ve been coming to the US and it’s been completely packed, shows have been amazing. It’s good to see the US really happening.
South America has always been very strong but I think even more territories are opening up. It’s just an expansion. A global expansion on all levels. I don’t think there are any territories – not that I go to anyway – where I feel that it’s new. I usually go to Japan and have been for many years but I don’t go so much to the other parts of Asia. I’ve been to a few places in China, Taiwan, Singapore…but it’s always been not difficult, but I never really felt like they completely get it. Hopefully it’s happening. I wouldn’t be able to say since I haven’t been for a couple years to be completely honest.
DA: Techno used to be much faster – around 140 BPMs or more – and now it’s slowed down significantly. Can you speak to the trajectory of techno?
When I started, in the early ’90s, the BPMs were about the same as they are now. Most of the records I bought back then were 126 or 128. Or, it was like, people were experimenting with Gabber and all these different kind of things, but that came slightly later. People want to test the waters and get more and more extreme. But it got to the point where it was all super fast and hard and relentless and I just felt like there was no where to go really after that.
And also, some of the parties I was playing back then, I can feel like aggressive elements. Like some places in Europe, you can feel that was not really the type of crowd I wanted to play for, you know? I’m more of a kind of – I love the house, the everybody under one roof –black, white, gay, straight. The more mix, the better. So as soon as I could see those elements, that’s when I decided myself, personally, to take a different route and go back to my origins and where I started.
I think that tempo, since the pulse of a human being is about 65 or 70, it’s kind of double beat and so that 128, 130, 126, really strikes a chord in humans on a more subconscious level and primate level. So I think that’s the BPM that you can dance for longer.
DA: What other trends do you see in techno, and where do you see it going in the next 10 years?
I think the interesting thing now is that it used to be trance, like you say. It used to be one thing, and then the next thing took over. Minimal trance took over ten years ago, then tech house came, that became really big. And all these subgenres that used to be small back in the day all had their peaks at different points but now, I kind of feel this, since it’s gotten so big and diverse, I see a lot of different trends going parallel.
So I don’t think there’s going to be one, specific trend. I think there’s more room for a lot of different subgenres and styles to coexist if you like. And I think that’s a good thing. That’s the way it has to go. It just keeps growing and people are getting more and more educated and more and more they find their own sound that they love and their own DJs. In terms of production, it keeps getting better. It’s hard to predict what will come and what will happen. For me anyway.
I always love looking at the future and I think that’s one of the secrets with Drumcode. Although, there’s a theme to the label from start until now. We never really get sentimental, we don’t look back too much. We always try to find new things and move on. Take influences on what’s going on.
DA: What do you think it will take to bring techno to the next level of international visibility?
I don’t know if it’s meant to go to that international visibility. For me, I’m not really concerned about that. Once it does, if it does, there’s always going to be techno that doesn’t, because that’s what techno is. There’s always underground and super underground, which is just not meant to be mainstream. It’s too, maybe quirky or nerdy. Call it what you want. But it’s really quite self-indulgent. Not so much me these days.
I consider myself being one foot in both worlds, which I love. I love to be diverse and I don’t like to pigeonhole myself anymore or put myself in one bracket. I’ve done all that for years, and I feel like I’ve expanded and I’m trying to have a positive view on the thing whole thing all the time. And not judge and not be too elitist about music. But there is a techno element. I don’t think it will ever surface in that way. I mean, you see some records getting bigger now than they ever would years ago that would probably be related to techno. It’s always been in a good place.
That’s why I love techno. A lot of other genres are kind of limiting because of their own sound. If you look at dubstep, it came, it had a hype, and then it almost disappeared because it has to sound in a different way or people take it and rip it apart and make something completely commercial out of it. And then the people who created it feel like they are being ripped off and they start doing off. That’s not really possible with techno, I don’t think. It’s such an open pallet and can be so many different things.
DA: As Drumcode hits its 20th anniversary, can you give us a broader look at your A&R strategy?
It’s quite a long process these days because it’s gotten so big and there are quit a lot of people who want to become a part of it because we’re doing the parties, we’re doing this, we’re doing that. It’s a combination and it usually happens in different ways with each person. I think quite often it starts with me playing music from that particular artist when they’ve been releasing somewhere else. They see that I’ve been playing their music and they come to me, say, “I see you’ve been supporting my music, do you want to do something for Drumcode?” or something like that. Usually I take a year or so to get to know them and speak to them, listen to stuff. If they don’t have a really good track record already, like new guys. Though I’ve got a couple new guys already. Quite new guys.
I think chemistry is important as well. I don’t just sign things for the sake of it. I need to speak to those people for a long time, and I think its’ important that people are of a similar mindset. And we usually are, that’s what the beauty of music is. You meet people who are similar to yourself, listening to the same thing in a way. They all inspire me a lot and I’m super grateful for having them. And I think that’s why people stay and continue their work. We do so much because we treat our artists really well. We have fair agreements, we don’t tie people up. It’s very much like a family affair.
DA: Tonight’s show in collaboration with Awakenings is also quite special, as it’s part of a five-day series at Gashouder. In what ways does this specific venue bring Drumcode to life, and how has the experienced evolved throughout the years?
I think the Awakenings Gashouder thing that we do – it’s been four years. Before that, we did smaller venues as well. It’s been the most important venue and party both for us and me personally because I’ve kind of been a resident there for 18 years. I brought my first Awakenings party there in ‘98. I’ve been playing several shows every year since, I’ve done all the festivals, I’m the only one who’s done all the festivals.
Rocco the owner is now one of my best friends. It’s meant a tremendous thing. It symbolizes people who are doing one of the best techno parties in the world and our music fits perfectly in that environment. It’s been an ongoing evolution on working together and becoming stronger. We’ve shared all these amazing parties and moments. I think the brand Awakenings now, being so big, brings me and the brand altogether.
I would say it’s one of the best techno parties in the world. You have Berghain, Gashouder, Fabric, there’s a couple of places, and this is one of them. This is one of the biggest venues that has been around for so long.
Featuring 550 speakers, more than 2,200 artists in 140 venues and 1000 events across just five days, Amsterdam Dance Event has earned its stripes as the globe’s leading electronic music conference and festival. In 21 years, ADE has shaped a dance music mecca in a quaint little city that unites electronic music fans and industry folk from all corners of the world (to tune of 375,000 attendees). It’s no wonder that ADE Conference recently celebrated its 10th consecutive year of selling out, as each year, legions of fans and DJ hopefuls yearn for the chance to participate in the largest and most impressive dance music gathering in the world.
Translating our adventure into words is no easy task as the immeasurable amount of ‘hellos,’ ‘goodbyes,’ ‘nice to meet you’s’ and venue hopping across six days and five nights is impossible to document. But if there’s one takeaway from ADE, it’s this: each individuals’ experience is different, and there is no one right or wrong way to live out your story. This is ours.
Wednesday – Day 1
Arrival in Amsterdam: Shortly after landing at Schiphol, I Uber over to Volkshotel – a quirky, boutique hotel situated in east Amsterdam that was once the headquarters of local newspaper Die Volkskrant. Welcoming yellow and black ADE flags dangle before the hotel, indicating to newcomers that the spot is deemed “official” ADE territory for the next five days. The lobby is overflowing with visitors conversing with one another and gathering their bearings as they prepare to tackle their first day on the ground. Phones charged and business cards in hand, it’s time to head out.
The Dylan and Felix Meritis, aka the ‘main hubs’: I use a combination of the Metro and Tram to get to the Felix Meritis – one of the primary ADE meeting hubs. Hundreds of industry leaders are crowded around The Dylan Hotel and the Felix – both of which reside on the Keizersgracht – to have a quick streetside chat, collect their badges and begin their first of an endless list of meetings. The line to pick up badges is unending, but no matter – the excitement is palpable, people are meeting each other for the first or tenth time, and for the first time in a year, no one is thinking about anything but ADE. Nicole Moudaber is spotted casually walking up and down the Keizersgracht while countenances brighten upon opening ADE backpacks, produced by lifestyle and sports brand Sinner. Packed inside the bag are myriad gifts and mementos, like the ADE Black Book 2016, Sena ear plugs, a ‘Celebrate Safe‘ booklet, an Ultra Music umbrella and, thoughtfully, a can of Red Bull. Some were even lucky enough to receive a pair of limited edition ADE x Urbanears DJ headphones.
*To learn more about Unity’s harm reduction initiatives, go here.
Photo by Willeke Machiels
A quick pregame session at Bar Huf: While not an official ADE venue, Bar Huf still offers first-timers an authentic Amsterdam experience. Located on a quiet street in the heart of the city, the bar contains a healthy mix of locals and tourists, while passersby migrate to neighboring restaurants and bars. At a table outside, I’m sandwiched between Andy Sherman and Dorothy Sherman, the sibling duo best known as Shermanology, as we discuss our musical interests, the city’s must-sees (like the Redlight District) and upcoming projects. Several Jager shots later, the night is still young.
Nervous Records & Risky Business pres. Kenny Dope, Benny Soto and more at the W Amsterdam: At around 12:30am, Amsterdam is an icebox. The 11 minute walk to the W Amsterdam feels longer than ever, though views of a 55 m (180-ft) ferris wheel illuminating Dam Square make the trek far more bearable. NYC-based promoter Benny Soto and Mike Nervous, President of Nervous Records, are behind the booth at the W Lounge, setting the party’s tone with a variety of tech house tracks.
Photo courtesy of Tom Doms
Thursday – Day 2
Celebrating the grand opening of Shelter: Overlooking Amsterdam’s bustling streets and waterfronts, A’DAM Toren was transformed into a multi-functional office tower that is now home to ID&T, Sony Music, MassiveMusic and more. Industry leaders convene at Amsterdam Tower’s The Loft in celebration of Shelter’s opening Thursday evening, which is located underground on the IJ riverbank. Boasting floor to ceiling windows and breathtaking views of the city, The Loft appeals to guests seeking a palatial experience, while downstairs, Jackmaster, Moodymann and more transform Shelter – a dark, rectangular space – into a slow-burning dance haven solely revolving around the music and its people.
Awakenings continues its 20-year celebration with five nights of techno: From Len Faki’s Figure Nacht to Adam Beyer’s Drumcode, iconic techno brand Awakenings celebrated its 20th anniversary (which occurred in April) in a big way during this year’s iteration of ADE. Five nights of hard-hitting acts effortlessly sold out the series, which again took place at Amsterdam’s famed Gashouder – a brooding, industrial venue with a capacity of 3,500.
I’m dropped off at the edge of Westerpark and instructed to simply “follow the signs.” Mildly confused, I keep an ear to the ground and, from several hundred feet away, begin to hear thumping basslines in the distance. The music creates an imaginary trail for unsuspecting fans as they snake through the park until reaching the dome’s majestic entrance. Inside, Dense & Pika are making the floors tremble while an array of triangular LEDs assembled into a trapezoid glow a bright blue above the stage. Meanwhile, red lasers burnish the expansive room as the masses patiently await Nicole Moudaber’s arrival.
Afterlife comes to ADE: A concept hailing from Space Ibiza, Afterlife is both a label and a creative club experience tailored to the senses. By far one of the top showcases at this year’s ADE, Afterlife recruited the cream of the crop of electronic music: Dixon, Âme, Mind Against, Rødhåd and Berlin-based wunderkinds Tale of Us, to name a few. Offering cutting-edge production and raw, formidable techno, Mediahaven’s three-room setting served as the perfect fit for a brand as striking as Afterlife.
Following in the footsteps of past Afterlife events, three upside-down male figures composed of wire hang from Mediahaven’s ceiling, making the party experience feel all the more genuine. While most are packed into the main room like sardines, some are found resting in the bar area munching on late-night cheeseburgers or sitting on the alcohol-soaked floor with their friends. I don’t blame them; it’s 5am and I’m also losing steam.
Friday – Day 3
Absolut returns to ADE with Beamlab Bar: In conjunction with ADE Beamlab, which is dedicated to visual technologies and high-end stage design, Absolut returned to ADE to present the Absolut Beamlab Bar at Singel 460. International visual artists including Daniel Popper, Rik Dikhoff and Rik Dikhoff speak about and showcase their work while visitors sip on cocktails courtesy of Absolut.
Maceo Plex presents the Rijksmuseum’s first-ever electronic music event: As is often the case, I’m running late. By the time I arrive at the Rijksmuseum, the bicycle passage is swarming with hundreds of lucky fans who registered and were randomly selected to attend the historic show. Maceo Plex stands tall beneath the passage’s raised arches, separated from the crowd by a barricade extending from one side of the venue to the other, as he delivers a four-hour set adjacent to the prized Dutch national museum.
On our way to Paradise: For the last three years, Hot Creations label head Jamie Jones has brought his Ibiza-based party concept, Paradise, to the frigid city of Amsterdam. As our Uber pulls into NDSM Scheepsbouwloods’ lot, hundreds of green lasers pierce through the windows of the prison-like warehouse for all on the street to marvel at. The music is booming, expectations are set, and inside Deetron is playing Area 1 while wAFF lures a considerable crowd into Area 2. NDSM is only beginning to swell as admirers wait for Jamie to take the decks well into the following morning.
Enter.Experiences: No ADE would be complete without ENTER. Taking place at Mediahaven, ENTER. presents Experiences affords electronic music fans the raw, dark and unadulterated side of the underground that they crave most when they least expect it. Yes, it’s an inimitable experience that only a man with the genius and artistry of Richie Hawtin could achieve. It’s here that people are invited to let loose and open themselves to the music. Moving is nearly impossible and it’s hard to breathe as droplets of sweat slip down patrons’ foreheads, but we keep dancing to the best of our ability.
Saturday — Day 4
All Day I Dream hosts inaugural party at De Hallen: For All Day I Dream veterans, the launch of All Day I Dream of Amsterdam served as one of the main ADE highlights. Sublime music from Lost Desert, Gorje Hewek & Izhevski and Lee Burridge himself permeated De Hallen – a “Centre for media, cultural, fashion, food and crafts.” Transforming the venue into a never-before-seen landscape for melodic house and techno, De Hallen is exclusive to ADID throughout the duration of ADE – making the occasion all the more intriguing. Despite taking place indoors, a wave of euphoria shimmers over fans. Magic is in the air.
Dockyard Festival returns for its third year: Tucked away deep in the industrial area of Amsterdam and overlooking the Johan van Hasselt Kanaal, NDSM Dockyard is just a short drive (or boat ride) away from the hustle and bustle of the main city. It’s about 50° outside and people (myself included) are shivering as they make their way to the third iteration of Dockyard Festival: a down-and-dirty affair that capitalizes on gritty, hard-hitting techno. Featuring the likes of Art Department, Carlo Lio and a B2B set between Dubfire and Nicole Moudaber, Dockyard is housed within five white, looming tents – each of which create individual festival experiences tailored to nearly all techno fans’ palates. Relive Dubfire and Nicole Moudaber’s set here.
#CraneSessions proves that partying is does not have to be confined to clubs or warehouses: “Are you going to the crane party?”, people begin to whisper at the crack of dawn Saturday morning. That’s right: a party inside of a crane. Crane Hotel Faralda, situated just outside of Dockyard Festival, often plays host to Amsterdam’s covert afterparties while simultaneously acting as a hotel with full amenities. It’s 8pm on Saturday, and Daley Padley, or Hot Since 82, enters The Crane’s main room where he is about to take the decks for his Knee Deep in Sound Showcase. “Does anyone have an earplug?” he asks. In spite of my deepest efforts to protect my hearing, I’m quick to pull an earplug from my left ear and hand it over. Though sounds are more intense on one side of my head than the other, I crack a smile as I get lost in the music among my 99 fellow crane-goers. Little does everyone know that Seth Troxler will make an after-party appearance right here following the conclusion of Circoloco.
Iconic underground brand Circoloco brings a hint of Ibiza to Amsterdam: It’s clearwhere fans’ loyalty lies, and that special place would be Ibiza. Also born out of Spain, party concept Circoloco found itself surrounded by a knowledgable sold-out crowd. Art Department, David Squillace vs Matthias Tanzmann and Seth Troxler vs The Martinez Brothers magnetized a large chunk of partygoers to Mediahaven’s cavernous warehouse drifting on the city’s edge. Countless lasers and strobes are rampantly shifting about the room, and as I shut my eyes for a split-second, I swear can almost hear the color red.
Sunday – Day 5
Elrow’s afterhours party hits capacity within two hours of opening: Afte hours aren’t a thing of the past quite yet. Fusing entertainment with amusement, Elrow steps up as the first to rise and one of the last to set on the final day of ADE. More or less, the Spanish party concept acts as the festival and conference’s guiding light – one that underscores fun, color, larger-than-life production, inflatable rafts, confetti, tubes and balloons. Truly a spectacle and a stark shift from most underground parties – which often lean dark, grungy and minimal – it might not be too great of a shock that Elrow hit capacity in less than two hours of opening its doors at 9am. The sea of revelers around me can barely contain themselves as they anticipate the beat drop, and when it does, thousands of pieces of confetti slowly sprinkle to the ground like exquisite snowflakes.
De School: Amsterdam’s De School boasts quite a story. The technical school-turned-nightclub, concert venue, restaurant and cafe acts as one of the city’s big players as the multi-function venue operates on a 24/7 schedule. “What brings you here tonight?”, a hostess asks point-blank. I’m caught off guard by her question, but silently think of the three men ahead of me were asked to leave – either due in part to reverse sexism or their lack of knowledge pertaining to tonight’s event.
“Dixon, Âme and Job Jobse,” I reply.
The trio are among the better-known acts of Sunday’s roster, though we’re warmly welcomed into the school’s former bicycle storage area by Amsterdam local Carlos Valdes‘ tech house influence. Reminiscent of a dungeon, the nightclub is dark, the aroma of nicotine pervades the room, and broken shards of glass crunch beneath my shoes. On the upper floor, tired bodies are lounging in De School’s three additional rooms and enchanting outdoor courtyard.
By the time Amsterdam Dance Event’s fifth and final day comes around, Amsterdam is unquestionably quiet. The streetside chatter, perpetual tapping of smart phone glass, and tides of black outfits have vanished, leaving Keizersgracht in a bittersweet, yet calming silence. Two exhausted men from production sit on a curb outside of the Felix after having stripped the building of its “ADE Wifi” that served as the literal lifeline for hundreds of thousands just 17 hours ago.
ADE’s signature black and yellow flags are being pulled from their posts while its pop-up Info & Ticket Center slowly disappears from Rembrandtplein, marking the farewell of its 21st temporary empire that is built a bit bigger and brighter each year.
In 21 years, Amsterdam Dance Event has gained the acceptance of its local government, inhabitants and fans across the globe, and there’s no telling what it might achieve in the next 21 as electronic music continues to mature.
Every October, Amsterdam Dance Event attracts droves of DJs, industry leaders, and clubbing aficionados to the Dutch dance music capital for five days of meetings, interviews, and deftly-curated club sets. 2016 marked the 21st annual ADE, and per usual, Europe’s premier electronic music conference hosted a plethora of exceptional sets from DJs across a variety of genres.
In the wake of this year’s ADE, there are innumerable set recordings from the marathon event that warrant dedicated listening. We’ve compiled ten particularly exceptional sets from some of techno and house’s most remarkable talents. The sets below draw primarily from festivals such as DGTL, Dockyard, and Awakenings. These festivals (and a number of other gatherings from the week) played host to a number of outstanding sets which are not included in this list. For those who wish to familiarize themselves further with the performance canon of ADE’s 21st anniversary, we recommend listening to these sets as a starting point, and exploring further afterward.