Edwin Oosterwal talks travel, labels and blue mondays

From Holland’s thriving electronic music scene, yet another promising artist steps into the limelight. Edwin started DJing in the East of Holland and soon mastered the craft of dance floor wizardry. DJing remained a passion in those days, only to become the main focus in later years. Edwin’s engineering endeavours brought him to all corners of the world, picking up different musical influences along the way. He became a close friend with Joris Voorn and started Rejected – production outfit, DJ-team and label. From the first release it was clear that Rejected had international appeal.

After more than fifteen years of paying his dues and biding his time, Edwin finds an old dream fulfilled. Not only is he heading two of Holland’s leading electronic music labels. He is also touring the world with his own contemporary take on the sound he has been representing since the early nineties – as Rejected and by himself.

Welcome Edwin, It’s a pleasure to get the opportunity to chat with you. I hope you’re well?

All good thanks!

It was in the East of Holland where you first started DJing whilst studying to be an engineer but when was your first real exposure to dance music?

Listening to the radio as a teenager in my bedroom. It was the Steve Mason Experience on BFBS radio that first introduced me to underground dance music in the late 80’s early 90’s. He was playing records like LFO-LFO and it blew my mind.

Later it was For Those Who Like To Groove on national Dutch radio presented by Robin “Jaydee” Albers. The first hour would feature the best new house and techno music and during the second hour, Robin would invite DJ’s like Dimitri, Michel De Hey and even Richie Hawtin to come and do a mix. I used to record all those mixes and listen to them over and over again. For those who like to groove was probably one of the most intimate dance programs. Unfortunately it lasted only for one year.

Was it around the time you were studying where your partnership began to form between you and Joris Voorn? How did you both initially meet?

In the mid 90’s Joris and I were living in Enschede, close to the German border. Joris was studying architecture and I was studying engineering. Local venue Atak was hosting a DJ contest for their weekly dance night Basic Grooves and both Joris and I came in first place. The winner of the contest would become a resident so that’s how our friendship and partnership began.

Every Thursday night we would play dance in the broadest sense, not only house and techno but also disco, drum & bass and even some trip-hop. It was a fun time and great being able to play such a diverse sound. Basic Groove is still around and is actually one of the longest running club nights in Holland.

Your global travels have seen you pick up different musical influences as your career progressed. How was living in both Sydney and New York aspiring to you and your knowledge you apply today?

Living abroad was great to get a perspective on things. You meet different people with different cultural backgrounds and it really opens your eyes about your own values and habits. Also both  Sydney and NYC deepened my musical knowledge and history. In NYC for example I learned a lot about disco. And living in the states I was able to visit places like Detroit and Chicago.

Was there a specific incident which made you decide to move away from Holland for a short while?

After graduating I strongly felt the need to move away from it all and do something completely different. Sydney is at the other side of the world so it seemed appropriate. Travelling is something I can really recommend. For me it’s one of the most fun things to do and it’s also one of the many benefits of being an international DJ.

Moving onto the birth of your label ‘Rejected’ which you co own Joris. Was it a case of you both being in a very similar place musically at the time?

During my travels Joris and I always stayed in close contact and Joris’ success was actually one of the reasons for me to move back to Holland after six years of being abroad. When I was still living in NYC Joris and I already started Rejected as a platform together with our designer Paul Swagerman. So starting the label was a logical progression. And at first it was mainly for releasing our own music.

As well as a label name ‘Rejected’ is also a production alias, most famously for ‘Let’s Go Juno’ which to me is still one of my fondest house/techno tunes. Is there any new ‘Rejected’ material in the pipeline?

Thanks! I am still very proud of all the releases we did as Rejected but for now Joris and I are focussing on our own careers. But who knows what the future will bring!

Another label you co own together is ‘Green’ which another personal favourite of mine Dosem ‘Beach Kisses’ was released. How would you describe the fundamental musical differences between the two labels?

Rejected is straight for the dance floor and GREEN is a bit broader and musical if you will.

Omid 16B has recently made a proposal calling out for ‘no more free promos’. As an artist and label owner are you in agreement with what he’s proposing? Do you think this is a move in the right direction in the way promos are distributed and ultimately artists getting a financial return?

Didn’t hear about this but promos is a way of getting your music out there and getting played which in return should help boost sales and your career. On the other hand I have noticed that more and more I try to find my own music instead of listening to all the promos I receive on a daily basis. It’s more fun and I don’t really care if a track is out or not. For me it’s all about the music.

Ian Pooley’s ‘Chord Memory’ originally released in 1996 on Force Inc. has just been re-released on Rejected with a 2014 re-rub and remix, also including an original re-mastered version.  How did this opportunity come about?

Chord Memory was a big inspiration for Joris and I back in the day so we thought it would be cool to re-release it on our own label. Joris approached Ian a few years ago and luckily he was up for it. It took a while for it to be released but I am happy it’s finally out!

The Dutch clubbing scene has always been thriving and has nurtured an outstanding amount of quality DJs and producers. What is it about the nation that keeps producing such an amazing amount of talent?

Must be something in the cheese :)

Who have been your own personal inspirations and why?

Derrick May was one of the reasons for me to become a DJ. He puts so much character and energy in his mixes. It’s amazing to see him live, especially when he’s on fire.

There are so many fantastic festivals happening across Holland each year. Which are some of your favourites and are there any you’d love the opportunity to play?

Awakenings for its production and Dekmantel for their great line ups. I have heard amazing things about Tomorrowland but unfortunately I have never been, so that one is definitely high on my wish list.

If it’s possible to pick, what is your one defining track which made you pursue a profession in dance music?

That’s very hard. I remember listening to New Order’s Blue Monday when I was kid and it left a deep impression. At the time I didn’t know why but I think it was the relentless four to the floor beat.

Was there any other profession you once wanted to pursue before you got into the industry?

Cooking has always been one of my biggest passions but for now it’s just music.

What are your current top 10 tracks working for you at the moment?

See tracklisting :)

There must have been a mixture of highs and lows throughout your career to date. What has been one of the biggest lessons you have learned and what advice would you give so others can overcome their setbacks to achieve their success in such a tough industry?

Never give up and work very hard! It sounds cliché but I believe these are the secrets to success. And a bit of luck definitely helps.

A lot has changed over the years with the likes of social media. What are your thoughts on the effect they have had on the dance music industry?

Social media can be a very powerful tool but I feel the focus is shifting. Nowadays it’s more important how somebody performs on social media than in a club. And that’s just wrong. In the end it should all be about the music.

Edwin, It’s been a pleasure chatting. Lastly are there any projects we can expect to see from for the rest of the year and into 2015?

We’ve got some amazing releases scheduled for GREEN and Rejected. One of the highlights is Joris Voorn’s next album, which will be released on GREEN in November. Next up on Rejected are the remixes of Anton Pieete’s Loner with remixes by Kabale Und Liebe and myself.

Tracklist.

1. Wavetest – Schmusiman
2. Nail – Together
3. Phil Weeks – Show You Love (4 U Dancers Mix)
4. Krankbrother – Thank You Baby
5. Gene Farris – I Surrender
6. Josh Wink – Are You There (ROD Remix)
7. Ian Pooley – Chord Memory (Reggy van Oers Remix) – Rejected
8. Floorplan – Never Grow Old (Re-Plant)
9. Spencer Parker – Change Yo Beat
10. Jovonn – Back To House (Ian Pooley’s New Dub)
11. Anton Pieete – Loner (Edwin Oosterwal Organ Mix) – Rejected
12. Phil Weeks – Juice
13. S3A – Intensity
14. Trusme – Shakea Body
15. Area – Freak Wave
16. Pitto – Shadows (Edwin Oosterwal Dub) – GREEN

 

 


About the author

Decoded Magazine Director and Operations Manager of Decoded Magazine Radio.

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