An Insider’s Guide to Dekmantel’s Best Sets

Headed to Amsterdam for Dekmantel this weekend? Tune in for tips from founder Thomas Martojo about the most promising DJs and performances.

First off, I’d like point out that, having programmed all of the nearly 150 confirmed acts at Dekmantel, it’s been a bit of burden having to select just a few for this feature. With this year’s addition of the opening day and night programs, there’s even more to choose from. In a perfect world I’d be able to catch all of them, but obviously that’s impossible. So without further ado, here’s just one selection of shows I’m hugely looking forward to.

Thursday, July 30 @ Muziekgebouw: Opening Day Party with Manuel Göttsching, Autechre + Roy Ayers Lecture

Muziekgebouw is an astonishingly beautiful venue, and I’m absolutely psyched that the two acts at the top of our wishlist both agreed to perform in this special setting. Autechre’s music has been fundamental to my musical upbringing, and it took me a long, long time to time to persuade Manuel Göttsching to play the E2-E4 piece, which is such an influential record. We’ve just announced that we’ll start the night with an RBMA lecture with none other than Roy Ayers. This should be an amazing kick-off with a wide variety of music.

Friday, July 31 @ Amsterdamse Bos: San Proper, Stones Throw artists, Carlos Souffront & Mike Servito, Squarepusher and Joy Orbison

What better way to kick off the daytime festivities than with Dutch hero San Proper? He was the guest artist at our first-ever party eight years ago, and he’s been a close Dekmantel family member ever since. Later that day a trio of Stones Throw-affiliated artists—Madlib, J-Rocc and James Pants—will perform at the RBMA stage. I reckon one might not directly associate their music with what we usually feature, so I’m all the more interested to see how this will go down.

Between 6 and 9 p.m., Carlos Souffront and Mike Servito are scheduled to play the Selectors stage. They might not be the most famous American DJs, but they’ve been steadily making waves in the country’s underground scene for over a decade, and it looks like Europe is finally catching up. I’ve been checking out their mixes religiously, and by now I’ve stolen many records from them. Highly reccommended!

For the closing hour, I’m looking forward to Squarepusher’s unique live show, which should be special both from a musical and visual perspective. Right before that, I’ll definitely head to the Selectors stage to see our good friend Joy Orbison man the decks. We’ve kind of pressured him into playing the main stage in the previous two years, but this year he wanted to do something slightly different. Lets see what he’ll present to us.

Friday, July 31 @ Melkweg: Omar S & Surgeon

Dekmantel’s first official night is a big one! There’s no way one can argue with Surgeon. Like Suffront and Servito, he’s a DJ whose mixes I have listened to—or you could even say studied—religiously. He’s one of the very few techno DJs out there who has an all-across-the-board eclectic music selection. He plays fast and with a dark undertone, but he’ll surely drop a few curveballs. He’s a pioneer and absolute master in his field. During last year’s festival, the 3 Chairs were one of the big highlights. None of ’em are playing this year, but Omar S may just make up for that. He’s a sick producer, and he’s become quite the DJ too. If he drops the recently-released jam “I Wanna Know,” all will be just fine.

Saturday, July 31 @ Amsterdamse Bos: Antal, Hunee & Floating Points, Jeff Mills, Tom Trago & Cinnaman

On Saturday, Antal, Hunee & Floating Points are playing a five-hour set at the Selectors stage, and everyone’s talking about it. Jazz-funk? Turkish psyche? Boogie? African or Brazilian tunes? Dub and reggae? You name it, they’ll certainly have it, and most likely they’ll play it. Jeff Mills’ closing set last year was probably the most mind-blowing one I have ever seen him play, and I have seen him play quite a lot. It may have been the rollercoaster of emotions (it was the festival’s closing set, after all), or it may have been the ridiculously beautiful accompanying visuals by Arnout Hulskamp on the big LED-wall—but whatever it was, I just couldn’t believe what was happening. I simply had to ask him to play a closing slot again. I’m already gearing up for a few hours of space travel. Alternatively, go check out our boys Tom Trago and Cinnaman at the RBMA stage towards the end of the day. They have late slots, and they very much deserve them, for they’re two of the staple figures of Amsterdam’s vibrant scene.

Saturday, July 31 @ Melkweg: DJ Harvey, Gesloten Cirkel & Traxx

The man. The legend. DJ Harvey. Period. I once spent an evening with him over drinks at a bar on the upper floor of a hotel in Amsterdam, and it was just one crazy story after another. He has lived quite the life, has been DJing since God knows when and has reached a level of experience few ever will. In the meantime, temperatures will probably rise to uncomfortable levels in the Oude Zaal when Gesloten Cirkel and Traxx play. Gesloten Cirkel single-handedly made I-F decide to bring his label Murder Capital back to life after an eight-year hiatus, which should say a bit about the level of quality on display. I’m not even going to try describing or predicting what Traxx will play. Just go out there and surrender! You will not regret it.

Sunday, August 2 @ Amsterdamse Bos: Fatima Yamaha live, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Solar, Siriusmodeselektor

We’ve just re-released Fatima Yamaha’s “What’s A Girl To Do” on our label, and I think it’s pretty safe to say it’s currently having some sort of resurgence, as I’ve heard it played out by pretty much everyone this summer. Bas Bron is what you could call a bona fide studio wizard, and he has tons of new Yamaha material ready, so be sure to drop by the Boiler Room stage, as some of them will be debuted there. Motor City Drum Ensemble has three hours all to himself on Sunday at the beloved and fairly intimate Selectors stage. Directly after that, San Fransisco’s Solar will take over. He’s worth sticking around for, as he’s one damn fine selector—a prime example of what you may call a “DJ’s DJ.” The final closing slot of the final day is reserved for Siriusmo and the guys of Modeselektor. I’ve been blown away by them a dozen times, but it took me ages to persuade them to finally play for us. Guys, if you’re reading this, you’d better live up to our expectations! 😉

Sunday, August 2 @ Melkweg: DJ Fett Burger, Joey Anderson, Prosumer & Tama Sumo, Derrick May

I’m totally confident that the closing night will go down as a treat with DJ sets from Fett Burger, Joey Anderson, Prosumer and Tama Sumo. House and techno enthusiasts will have a hard time making choices there. I’m especially looking forward to Derrick May. We’ve only had him play once, quite a while back in 2009, as part of ADE. He’s been at it for so long but when he hits it right, he hits it right. I’m slightly worried that, after over 60 hours of music, no one will still have the stamina to see me DJ as part of Dekmantel Soundsystem for the very last set of the festival. I’m hoping for the best there!


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