Dennis Ruyer: Music is the gasoline of my machine

Dennis Ruyer, from Amsterdam, brings electronic music to the masses with his awardwinning radio show ‘Dance Department’. With millions of listeners every month, Dennis his music selection is a favourite amongst many music lovers around the globe. This has been rewarded by his audience. ‘Dance Department was voted ‘Best podcast of the World’ at WMC2008 in Miami.

Not only his radiocareer, but also his music productions with musical partner PrinsJan are noticed. Building their high-end studio in the year 2006, things start to pay off finally.
Their sonic ideas are a burst of creativity, filled with passion and organic, analog sounds in a modern computer society. With production partner PrinsJan, Dennis released music on high class labels, such as 90watts records, Blackhole Recordings, Earth Audio and Little Mountain Recordings. With many more to come, Dennis will stir up many dance floors around the globe.

For the past several years, Dennis Ruyer played at leading clubs and events in Europe, including Sander Kleinenberg’s ‘This is..’ events, Dutch festivals ‘A day at the Park’, Welcome to the Future, Obsession Outdoor, Outdoor Stereo, and the leading festival in Romania ‘Liberty Parade’. Dennis’ calender for the summer is filling up nicely with club nights and festivals such as Indian Summer Festival and Dance Valley just to name a few.

We sit down with Dennis to discuss his career, the industry and music.

Dennis, thank you for taking the time for the interview. How have you been and what are you up to these days?
Doing great actually, the summer has kicked off, and it’s a busy season with nice live broadcasts with 538 Dance Department. I am hosting my own stage during Turn up the Beach festival, and after that weekend i’m of to Ibiza with the crew to bring the island vibe to the audience with our Ibiza specials. And on the side playing some tunes for Mike van Loon’s – Balearic Beats events there as well

I reckon you get a lot of promo material? Whats your listening / filtering process?
I have a ritual, and agenda appointment with myself. It starts on Mondays at 8:30. So hangover or no hangover, i’m going through promo’s on Mondays and Tuesdays. I select what i like , and that can be everything. From sound cloud links, to youtube links, digital promo’s, or stuff i get through mail and Facebook. Luckily i have a great sparring partner (Jan Prins). So we have a conference call on Monday. And he selects new tunes that he loves, and i have my selection. We put everything together on one big digital pile of .wav .m4a .mp3 etc etc , we drink coffee and discuss what we program for the next Saturdaynight show, the next podcast ( And that’s about it. The stuff that i really love goes into a desktop folder, and that’s what i use for a dj-mix or a live performance…
Actually it’s a process that goes on and on through the week. I think people who are real fishermen love to catch the prettiest fish from the sea on a daily basis. I love to catch new songs. Music is magic, isn’t it?

You host Dance departement on Radio 538. Is it hard to maintain underground music on a commercial network? Do you get in trouble if you play too much non-commercial music?
With Dance Department on Radio538 we try to be the nose in the wind that smells the new songs… Paying attention to the present moment. What is influential? What’s fresh? Throughout the years we maintained our ’tastemaker’ function. But we do not choose a specific corner in the music. We program the new Oliver Heldens, we program the new AME mix for Sailor & I, we program a odd Kylie Minogue bootleg. But we also play the new Pizeta which has a real summer feeling to it… Or the brand-new Sander Kleinenberg which is more future disco. For the flow i can enjoy a beat by Yellow Claw as well.
We try to create the perfect blend before a night out. Select what’s hot.. There is never a problem to play deeper stuff on the show. All credits to Radio538 for giving me so much freedom. It’s a very unique position on a commercial radio network. I am very aware of this, and i feel blessed in a way as well. To do what i love, and serve people tunes that they might not have discovered if we didn’t play them. Ofcourse there are a lot of channels offering content, but FM radio reaches a amazing amount of people across the country. And the internet, well, that’s the whole Universe right? Except alien lifeforms.. As far as i know ;)

What do you think about the whole EDM situation? Stay positive or go ‘Troxler’?
I see things differently. It’s a new generation expressing through the art form of music. And everybody has a different taste in things. The real talent will always survive. Because i believe that if you’re not heart passionate, and if you’re not in this game with heart & soul, one day people will notice. What’s real, and what’s fake. I Cannot deny that marketing has become more and more important, especially with a lot of EDM artists. But that also has to do with the increasing amount of money that people can make now electronic music is going mainstream in a big market like the US.
Ofcourse i followed the whole Troxler controversy, and not to be political correct, but i just respect al producers and dj’s out there. There is amazing talent. And amazing music to be discovered.

Apart from that you are a radio Dj (dance department but also a ‘regular’ radio show), you are a club jock as Well, under the same name (your own). Did you ever encounter problems playing somewhere where they expected top 40 hits?
Ehhh ;) Yes, it happened one time, in a very small village. The owner of this -club- overruled my mixer, and they started a Jason deRulo track in a hardhouse edit. I packed my bags and left the building as soon as possible , lucky for me, the emergency exit was right behind the booth.

A while back you sold your studio but you still produce. Why did you sell and what does your studio consists of now?
Yes, i sold a lot of goodies especially my Thermionic Culture Phoenix valve compressor was a difficult machine to sell. It’s almost like dating a girl you know. But Jan (my studiopartner in crime) and i didn’t felt the magic anymore to make music in a basement with no daylight. We we’re working on a downtempo track. We sampled a African singer from the 60’s and produced a downtempo track that we will release next spring under the monicker Raiatea. We wanted to make music in a more natural setting. So we changed plans, needed to create space, and now we are building a forest studio. In a very small place, better focus, light, trees, rabbits, you name it , it’s there. Except tigers.. :) So the basic reason was to simplify our setup. So we can work on more projects at the same time, instead of making photo’s of all the settings on the equipment etc. All we have left is our Motu HD192 , the power Macintosh, two big screens, a keyboard, a nice collection of microphones + pre-amps, and , very useful as well, good monitors :) We bounce al channels separate, and then we take the end result to our mastering engineer, and we do the mix down together. So we still have the analog sound and vibe to our tracks, only not inhouse.

Anything good coming up? Some tracks, maybe an ep or an album?
I have a few things that are about to grow into serious projects. Currently i am working on new material with Rene Amesz, who is a amazing talented and great guy to work with. So late summer we will have our first collab out there. With Jan i am working on this downtempo track which is a big love from me as well. I produce some downtempo shows (sound that i feature on my Soundcloud. The series is called Love Peace & Beats. there is a compilation concept in the making. I just love music that is slow and a bit melodramatic, or doesn’t fit into regular sets. The song i made with Jan has hangdrums in it. And a bit of a oldskool hiphop beat. I think it fits into the almost sunset at Cafe Mambo Ibiza for instance. It’s great fun to do different stuff.

I saw your tour calendar. Some cool gigs coming up for the summer. You were playing back 2 back with René Amesz at Indian summer festival. Was this a first time for you guys?
Rene and i didn’t really prepare that gig. But we know what we love from each other. I know his musical taste is funky and deep and always consistent. This first time was really fun to do, it flowed, like we did it for years in a row…

Holland has a lot of good dance producers, what is the one you look up to most? And who is the best dutch dj, according to you?
Such a difficult question, and if i’m about to do some namedropping that won’t be fair for the names that i forget… :) I am really proud of the Dutch artists. And so many great Dutch recordlabels as well. If i would name them, this page was full by now .. :) For me , in terms of dj’ing , i have big respect for the guy who was my mentor when it comes to playing records. Sander Kleinenberg is a great teacher for me personally. How to work a crowd, not giving away too much too early, playing the game that is almost lovemaking with the audience… I still believe in building a climax. There is no need to waste all your bangers in 30 minutes. That is no fun in bed with your love, and it ain’t fun on the dance floor either…

I’m sure you have some good insights in who is going to be really big in the future. What ‘Future Leaders’ can you think of?
This is difficult to predict. It’s almost like gambling with the outcome of Worldcup matches… Nowadays, the hype can be stronger than ever, but can a person maintain this toplevel for 10 years in a row? I don’t know, it’s a long road. In terms of tech house, i really like the direction where Nicole Moudaber is going. Building a steady fan base, and always great performances…

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Do you know what you want the most or do you like it all (radio dj, producer, club dj)?
In ten years… I will have my crib somewhere in the rainforest in South America. I feel a strong connection with nature. I will always be involved in something with music. One way or another. Music is the gasoline of my machine… In which form, time will tell :)

On your dance department show, you’ve had a lot of guest dj’s. Tell us a crazy story about one of your guests, with or without actual names.
Well, this is the moment that you can ruin your whole career, or even worse someone else’s career… ;) We’ve had some crazy festival live broadcasts. One day, our mixer on Ibiza caught fire in the basement underneath Mambo. Just before the show… The BBC crew from the UK could help us out :) Spanish drama. Arno and Walter from Booka Shade flew in from a gig in Berlin to Dutch Mysteryland festival. That was really amazing. They we’re so high on adrenaline, it was their first time in a helicopter, and they brought a great bottle of champagne. It was a bright sunny day, these are insane memories… :) Well , then you have the Drunk dj’s , lovemaking dj’s during the ADE live broadcast next to our studio by a certain dj/producer couple :) (you could hear that on air…) Or the usual stuff, like checking in at the local Amsterdam coffeeshop to get some supply for one of our guests :)

Thank you for your time Dennis! Any last words?
Music is life! Thanks guys!

Stimming, Piper Davis – Southern Sun
About / Ski – Who is Hanna?
Volkoder – People House
Khainz – Slice it
Victor Santana – 0034 (Eddie Fowlkes mix)
Noir, Hayze – Angel
Monika Kruse – Soulstice
Dark Science – Rust
Metodi Hristov – Too much Pills
Booka Shade – Love Drug ft Fritz Helder (Animal Trainer mix)