Sjoerd Wynia and his business partner Niels de Geus operate one of Amsterdam's finest venues 'Air'. With the Amsterdam Dance Event just around the corner we spoke to Sjoerd to find out a bit more about the club and the team behind it.
If you're lucky enough to be heading to Amsterdam their venue is a must-see!
Thanks for taking part in our Amsterdam special! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your association within the thriving Amsterdam nightlife scene?
I have been lucky to have been part of the electronic music scene since the early 90’s and glad too still be a part of it. Music keeps you young I suppose ;-). I started out professionally at the Amsterdam Melkweg venue in the marketing department, came to work for Dance Valley, started my own production company The Good Guyz with business partner Niels de Geus and ended up being a club owner and festival director, with buddy Niels and Sander Groet.
In a couple of weeks the world’s dance industry descends on Amsterdam for ADE. What does this long weekend of activity and attention mean to you guys working tirelessly in the city throughout the year? There’s obviously loads of upside, but is it something that makes an impact on your own schedule for the year?
For AIR, it is the opportunity to show us to the rest of the world. We are very lucky to have this yearly opportunity. But yes, there is a downside as well. Every year more and more non-club venues join the party and the competition is really cut throat. It is getting harder and harder to secure your programme. I’m not saying we have WMC situations yet here, but it is getting harder every year.
This year you will be representing loads of super cool sounds across the long weekend at AIR with some massive headliners performing. Does the fact this is during ADE week make it easier to put together a massive line-up or do you face the same challenges to secure talent that you have all year round?
Actually it is even harder, because all the venues are going for massive headliner line ups as well.
For those that don’t know, tell us about the venue and its history and style? What other venues do you recommend we check out while we’re in town for ADE week?
We started the club three years ago. The legendary iT club used to be on the same spot as we are now, so expectations we’re really high and the pressure was enormous.
We are the only purpose built club in town, which is really great. We could really start with a blank canvas when designing the club and it gave us loads of opportunities to use our life long experience in dance music and events and also the opportunity to experiment with a lot of new technologies.
We are one of the biggest clubs in town (cap 1300) but we designed the club in such a way that we can scale it down easily so it is always ‘gezellig’ as we Dutch say in the club. People always should feel comfortable in a club, also on a not-sold-out Thursday, for example.
We have a very broad musical programme, that ranges from the new Bristol sound (Thursdays), techy and housey underground stuff (Fridays), more commercial house tunes (Saturdays) to more urban and eclectic nights (Sundays). So we cover the whole spectrum. For us it is important that our programme reflects what is happening worldwide in the electronice music scene NOW.
Other clubs to check out:
- Paradiso, it’s the mother of venues in Amsterdam. EVERYBODY has played here, from the Stones to Richie Hawtin
- Trouw, cause its such a nice underground, no thrills, no nonsense club that never compromises.
Amsterdam is a magical place packed with culture, history, nightlife and welcoming people. Apart from dancing the night away, can you tell us 3 things you would recommend to us to explore that would give us a local experience away from the obvious?
Go visit the just re-opened famous Stedelijk Museum for contemporary art. We had to do without it for 8 years!
A bit obvious, but fun: Rent a bike and try to stay alive, while we Amsterdammers try to run you over, cursing you to hell ;-) Wander through the old Jordaan neighbourhood, with its funky shops, nice restaurants and beautiful streets and canals.
Eat a raw herring at one of the stalls around town. If you want the best, go to one of the stalls in the Utrechtsestraat, they’re run by two brothers who have the finest herring you’ll taste.
Has Amsterdam and the party scene changed much since you first got involved? What were your early memories of hitting the clubs and how has this changed?
Yes, very much of course. My first parties were in old warehouses, the music was new, and everybody felt united & excited on the dance floor. Nowadays the music scene is much more fragmented with specialty nights in specialty clubs. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I think it’s a logical development, but I sometimes miss the excitement and unity of the early days.
Holland has an incredibly professional infrastructure surrounding the dance music business and over the last 10 years has exported events and artists worldwide to become the most influential country in the global scene. What do you think are the factors behind such a small place having such a massive impact? Is it anything to do with the heritage of the mega-raves that have dominated the local scene for the last 20 years or the fact that dance music has been Holland’s music export like rap is for USA or rock n roll is for the UK?
Although the outside world sometimes might think differently, we Dutch are very very orderly but a bit rebellious as well. We just like to have our shit together. I think this mix has created a great infrastructure of great parties and events over the years in which artists could grow and develop themselves. So yes the well organised mega raves were very important for this.
Every year for the last decade has seen Holland create artists who have gone on to dominate their scene across all styles of electronic music. From your position inside the country, what names should we look out for over the next 12 months?
I leave that to Tom, our programmer ;-)
With such a flourishing local industry, do you guys in Amsterdam look to anywhere else in the world for inspiration and has there been anywhere of particular interest that has created ideas over recent years?
Because we are such a small country that has always depended on trade with other countries, we have learned to incorporate and work with other cultures, because we always heavily depended on them. I guess that one of the factors of the Dutch success lies in the fact that we have always looked at other influences for inspiration and incorporate that into the things we do.
Finally, who has been your inspiration in the Dutch scene and why?
I don’t have a specific person in mind. I get very inspired by young people that discover music and enjoy it, every time. For us it’s very important to keeping looking ahead and staying in touch with them is crucial.