In this week’s edition of Introducing we had a chat with DJ & producer Tjade. Influenced by the progressive and trance superstars of his home nation [Netherlands], Tjade embarked on a journey into electronic music which has lasted almost a decade. Since then Tjade has had a number of successes and has been booked to play events such as Club x Vice Isolation Rave, and Soenda Festival 2021 later this year. He has also had releases on reputable labels such as; Live at Robert Johnson, Mule Musiq, Bordello a Parigi, and Dar Disku.
Tjade style as a selector is usually made up of upbeat, euphoric, left field, Italo Discoesque tracks which you can hear on any of his multiple radio and podcast mixes which have been featured on the likes of Rinse France, and Bordello a Parigi. With a recent release on André Hommen’s label, These Eyes, Tjade has taken a darker tone within his music, encapsulating his frustration due to the effects of the recent pandemic.
We spoke to Tjade on his early influences, coping through the pandemic, and his new release on These Eyes.
Interview: Matthew Richardson
Image credit: Bodyl Captured
Growing up you idolised world renowned artists Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren and Don Diablo, how much influence have they had on your current sound?
I did! I loved everything Tiesto and Armin did around that time and I think they made me realise at a very young age that I wanted to be in electronic music too. I believe they still have a huge impact on my music, especially the fact that almost every track I make or play has some sort of a trance element in there. There is just something about those sharp and emotional high pads and melodies that appeal to me.
Don Diablo is the odd one out in this trio; my love for his music came a bit later, when I was going to high school. I wasn’t all that much into pop music, but really liked the way he combined electro and pop elements and made it into something I’ve never heard before. His first album “2faced” was so progressive at that time that I would still consider it an amazing release if it came out today. I think certain elements of his music are also still in mine.
Your new release “Balancing Act” is out now on Andre Hommen’s These Eyes imprint. Could you tell us about the production process and inspiration behind it?
Both tracks were made in the early days of the first lockdown. I was set to tour Europe for the first time after building my career for the past 10 years and was both sad and angry at the situation. On top of that there were some other personal things happening and I really felt the need to unload these feelings in music. The track “Balancing Act” was made with anger, sadness and also slowly coming to terms with the whole situation. It’s about living on that edge and sometimes tipping to one side and sometimes the other. I think you can clearly hear both sides in the track. “Means to an End” was made a little later, when it slowly started to sink in that this was to be our new reality for the months to come. The anger had left but the feeling of emptiness and depression were still there.
I never really made these with a dance floor in mind and didn’t expect anyone to understand or like the tracks enough to put them out. Andre fell in love with them though after the first listen and being able to release it with him has been an absolute dream. He’s been great to work with and the release really feels like a co-production between us. He involved me in every step of the process and was super respectful towards my preferences. I’m happy we could do this together.
Whilst attending Groningen university, you spent time with one of the city’s most respected party crew “KopjeK”, and later on with the guys at “OOST” club, how did your time with these influence and impact your career going forward?
So, KopjeK has been the most significant influence on my career. They welcomed me into their family when I had just moved to Groningen and was still in my first year. This must’ve been about 10 years ago. At first they let me help run the events, which I was super interested in. It was only a little after that I asked one of the residents to teach me how to play; I was always into showing people new tracks (I even made a website for that in high school called “Music-Trends”) and this seemed like the perfect way to keep doing that.
Over the course of the past 10 years KopjeK has given me the chance to mold and perfect my style and craft in the DJ booth. I had a spot where I could play regularly and could try out new stuff and make mistakes. It was also where I had the chance to open and close nights with big headliners and meet them, learn from them, ask them for feedback etc. Now that I am finally slowly building my own career, I think those 10 years were essential and prepared me to now go out in the world with great confidence in what I do.
OOST came a little later, I think about 5 years ago, at a time when Groningen nightlife was at it’s all time low. All of the sudden they created a safe space in the middle of the city centre that offered a stage and a dancefloor to those who preferred a more underground sound. They didn’t care that much about booking artists that would pull in the big crowds, they just wanted to push the music and artists that they loved and create a spot for young new talent in the city to develop themselves. They did an amazing job, but I guess the Corona-crisis took a toll on them and they are now closing down at the end of this summer. A big loss for the city.
You recently had a track signed to the esteemed Live at Robert Johnson label, how big of an achievement is this and can you give us some information about the release?
I mean this is a label I’ve dreamt about from the moment I started playing. I play so much of their music myself and I’ve looked up to the artists releasing there for so long. Now I am one of those artists myself, it’s absolutely crazy.
It started with Alain (Perdu) who came to me with some tracks that he felt he couldn’t finish alone. I immediately felt the potential in those stems and I started working on them. For some weird reason I heard the lead melody of the Dystopia Bells Mix in my head and got it out of my synth in the exact same way. This never happened to me before and I don’t know if that will really happen again. I added some other elements, like those trance pads, and changed some things in the drums and that was that. Alain later made another version of the lead when LARJ showed interest, to make it fit the label a bit better, so now we have two versions out ☺.
We actually made some more tracks together that the label wasn’t interested in, so it’s probably not the last work we will release together.
“If you truly believe in yourself and the fact that you have something unique to add to our industry: keep going.”
The Netherlands is a country renowned for its musical heritage, and has a strong scene overall. Can you share with us 3 of your favourite events, and what makes these stand out from the rest?
Oof this is so difficult! Our scene is absolutely amazing and the infrastructure is unparalleled. What I do miss though with our current government is the respect for electronic music and nightlife as an artform. Germany is way ahead of us in that aspect.
That being said, I think I prefer dark, hot and sweaty clubs over festivals. I really liked Trouw and De School, which are both closed sadly. Both perfected the use of the space, with amazing sound, great lighting and placement of the DJ booth. You could just lose yourself in those places and forget about everything that was happening in your life. Exactly what the dancefloor and the night is for in my opinion.
If I had to pick some event in The Netherlands that deserve some extra shine for the way they are being run I would choose Draaimolen, Wildeburg and Milkshake.
The pandemic has given artists plenty of time to deliberate and create new projects. Have you got any projects in the pipeline that you are able to share with us?
For the first 6 months of the pandemic this was very true. All of the inspiration was still there but all of the sudden I had so much time to make new music. I think I finished about 4 full EP’s and multiple remixes and edits. After that first period the tank was empty though. I found out that I really need dancefloors to be inspired.
I just released one of the EP’s on These Eyes, which is a release that is pretty personal and not really with any dancefloor in mind. It was a way to express my feelings around the lockdown and also some other personal issues. I’m very happy that the label head Andre Hommen also really liked them and that this music is now out there.
Other than that I can only announce that I will return to Bordello a Parigi at the end of the summer with a remix. The other works have mostly been given away to amazing labels, but I can’t really say which yet. Super keen to get those out there too though, so keep an eye on my socials for announcements in the future.
There are many challenges that emerging artists face, what’s the best advice you could give to other artists looking to make a break in this industry?
If you truly believe in yourself and the fact that you have something unique to add to our industry: keep going. It took me almost 10 years to get to the point where I could drop all the side-jobs and projects I was doing and be a full time artist. Yes, many others will get there way faster than you and yes this will be frustrating. Try not to focus too much on other artists and trust that your time will come if you keep working hard.
Finally if you could produce a track with any artist past or present who would it be and why?
I would really like to make something with Marlon Hoffstadt. I am very much a dancefloor oriented artist and am always looking for ways to get the crowds going. He is the perfect example of an artist who has mastered the art of making hands-in-the-air music without it sounding cheesy. I think we would be a great match.
You can purchase music from Tjade here.