Creativity often finds its heart in the comfort zone of spontaneity, a place where the mind can explore it’s true identity and build structure from the chaos of change. “I replaced the question, ‘what do I have to do today?’ for ‘what do I want to do today?’. And that created a whole new world,” says powerhouse music journalist and DJ Margie about how she draws her inspiration.
From her studies in graphic design to her entrepreneurial roots in Eindhoven, content maven Margie holds an impressive resume of creative ventures through her years in the industry. Her mix for Life and Death’s newly-minted Stay Tuned Series narrates her nostalgic musical journey, beginning with the foundation of her love of hip-hop at a young age to her first days at Rush Hour Records, to curating DIY art spaces in her hometown, discovering new forms of sound transmission, and the beginnings of her latest project, Loch Ness.
This, is Margie.
What inspired you to become a journalist?
Finishing my graphic design studies I was a bit disappointed by the possibilities in the field. I didn’t enjoy advertising, because I was seeking for a more honest approach to storytelling. At the time, RBMA had just started up and things like content marketing were still pretty much non existent, as the internet hadn’t yet fully taken over the way we communicate publicly. I was very inspired by BBC Radio 1 DJs and I think I wanted something similar for myself. During both studies I was already heavily involved in music. After graduating Journalism, I started out in national news, but moved on to work full-time in music when I felt I had to make a choice. Working at Rush Hour records, Amsterdam, Antal Heitlager gave me the opportunity to create Rush Hour’s fan zine, House Of Music. That was incredible. I mean, it’s not easy to digest or pick from thousands of incredible records in a shop. I created content, which helped increasing the visibility of the music we sold, in multiple genres. After that, I moved on to work at Wax Poetics, an online and print magazine that documents yesterday’s and today’s music trailblazers.
Growing up in Eindhoven, what are some cultural influences of the city that you’ve carried with you throughout your career?
Eindhoven is a technological city, where Pillips Electronics had a big hand in the city’s development in the second half of the 20th century. Philips pioneered in many things, in electronic music in the 50s, and developed the compact disc in collaboration with Sony in downtown Eindhoven. Miss Djax launched Djax Up Beats, which became an important label in the Dutch history of house, techno and hip hop. So Eindhoven played quite a role in the development of electronic music. Funny enough we had no real clubs during my formative years, which encouraged us to do everything ourselves. We had a tight knit hip hop movement in the mid-late nineties with promoters squatting buildings to throw parties. After a while they had their own sound system which made them fully independent. A little over a decade ago, creative space Stroomhuis came into play, which is an old powerhouse. Here I co-organised the DIY ‘Broke’ parties, where an extensive range of music was played throughout the building’s many small rooms. We invited Marcellus Pittman and Rick Wilhite from Detroit, next to local hip hop DJs, the Dekmantel crew, and of course, Rush Hour’s Antal. I guess Eindhoven also thought me to be entrepreneurial.
What does the future of Stroomhuis hold as we start to see a return to live events? Has it reopened yet?
Stroomhuis isn’t a music venue really, it’s more of a DIY creative space where the very social and inspired owner Andre Amaro works with people in many disciplines, ranging from music & arts to cooking, and gastronomy projects. I have no idea what the future holds for them! Probably something surprising haha.
Where have you been drawing your inspiration from over the past year?
Fortunately my friends & family are healthy! But it’s been very unsettling to see the world crumble. And my world too. Suddenly my daily routine wasn’t longer dictated by tasks. Once I kind of settled in the new, I realized I had way more time. I replaced the question ‘what do I have to do today?’ for ‘what do I want to do today?’. And that created a whole new window. During my Rush Hour years, I developed a focus on music and history. Today, I am catching up with a lot of stuff produced in the past decade. It’s super interesting to see contemporary ideas and movements constantly flowing. I asked myself what I would love to establish if the music industry didn’t have that much of a developed system. That immediately threw me back to my roots. I already started Loch Ness in 2019, which had a similar cosy DYI warehouse approach as back in Eindhoven, and I realized that it could also bring structure for today’s age. So let’s see where that goes.
Tell us about Loch Ness, how did this creative outlet come about? What does it symbolize for you?
I wanted to establish my own creative space, that merges elements of techno house and hip hop. Where I can invite a wide range of artists for collaborations. Amsterdam has so many deep music minds who are the sickest DJs, but never really take stage. For the first edition of Loch Ness we had the incredible Gilb’R from Paris playing together with our equally incredible friend Satoshi Yamamura. Their chemistry was just magical and surprising.
Also, Krackfree Soundsystem got me up my feet. That system made me experience the importance of sound quality for music transmission. For example, the kind of transmission that doesn’t happen when you play classic bass-heavy Dubstep on a crappy system, because it’s technically not capable of delivering that fat bass sound. This system SHOWERS you with sound. Designed and built by my friend Gijs Poelmans from Eindhoven, it simply hits really hard. The first edition of Loch Ness took place in the iSO warehouse here in Amsterdam in 2019, with my friends Kléo and Roel de Boer building Kléo’s neon artwork in 3D, using wood. It looked amazing.
You’ve dabbled in documentary film in the past, how did you get into film production and do you have anything you are currently working on?
That happened accidentally. An old friend of mine needed a scriptwriter and interviewer for a short promo video about Eindhoven’s hip hop scene. What was intended to become an atmospheric, like 10 minutes video, became ‘Straatsterren in Lichtstad’, a documentary consisting of 5 Youtube episodes and a 45 minutes feature film. At that time, we managed to pull this together not really having much of a clue about what we were doing. Next to that, I wrote and produced a promotional video for Ron Trent’s Prescription anthology box set on Rush Hour. That’s basically all experience I have with film.
Do you consider your DJ selections to be ever evolving? Where is it at currently?
I guess my DJ sets are a reflection of my experiences. It’s not super deliberate, that’s why my radio shows and mixes are quite different each time. I do like to find similarities in music with completely different backgrounds. The foundation of hip hop, house & techno lies in the US, but like in any modern music genre there’s always been exchange with other continents. It’s fun to keep learning about those things. Right now I am more focussed on newer music, I guess because a lot of these songs reflect the peculiar time we’re living in. For example, I really enjoy the cross-genre music we’re hearing now, coming from the Hause of Altr crew, or released on Shigeto’s Portage Garage Sound label. Or ambient by Space Africa from Manchester.
Your record collection is like an extension of yourself. What did you look for when crate digging?
I started buying records almost 20 years ago, after collecting CDs. Like many others, it started with 90s hip hop for me. I was younger than the cats who really lived hip hop in the nineties, for example I remember A tribe Called Quest announced a European tour after my mum finally allowed me to go to concerts. There was no internet, so if I remember it right, import hip hop magazine The Source announced that ATCQ split up just before coming to Europe. So we were like, ‘but the post office still plans ticket sales for the concert!’ But that didn’t come through! I remember we were really depressed, smoking joints and eating crisps in the park. Through sample-based hiphop I learned about original soul, jazz & funk. And Dilla & Madlib showed me European music like German krautrock or Euro disco, or psy-rock. Wax Poetics magazine has had a big hand in that process also. And then there was contemporary stuff coming from Northern England, released on Warp Records for example. I discovered loads by talking to people, at Fat Beats, Rush Hour and Red Light Records here in Amsterdam. But also through traveling for gigs, visiting shops and meeting people in other cities.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
That’s a hard question. Who knows where all this is going? I am happy to keep myself busy with interesting projects, and I’d take it from there. Working towards the possibilities to share great music with music lovers & minds across the planet!