From founder member of Bedouin Forest Carnival, one of the major and prolific forces behind Excess – The Movement, to filling up a busy DJ career as one of Amsterdam’s finest performers, this nice guy from Bulgaria is all slated to bring underground dance music a fresh new record label from under Excess.
Priya Sen sat down to talk to Zett Feral on his humble beginnings to rising up the music ladder in more ways than one. They also chatted about his upcoming releases on international labels and the creation of different projects that Zett Feral dedicates his time to, so here goes…
Hi Zett, let’s start at the beginning, how you got into DJing as I know you have an event background, organising parties etc. Was this a logical step forward?
I started learning to DJ as a hobby during my first years of university at The Hague. We used to also organise small parties for our classmates in our apartment and I used to mix together a few tracks for them but at that time it wasn’t anything more than a fun thing. It got under my skin and became one of my favourite things to do at home but I started yearning for more.
Getting to DJ is my real passion. Having said that my real shot at organizing events came in 2012 when I met one of my early mentors and joined a team he put together to help organize a grand student party for the start of the school year called “Thurst” and after the first edition turned out to be a smashing success we started doing it on a monthly basis. This was also the event where I met Jayzo and we started working closely as well as taking bigger roles in the organisation of the event.
You were born in Bulgaria, what made you relocate to Amsterdam and enjoying being there?
I didn’t initially come here to do anything related to music. My move to the Netherlands was to get a university degree in business management, but after working sometime in the financial sector I decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. It was here that I discovered my true love for music and the passion for DJing became a bigger and bigger part of my life until I finally decided to devote myself full time to it.
Now I’m currently living in Amsterdam and loving it. The city has one of the best club cultures in the world with an astonishing community and events standards are on the highest level. The city itself is also very vibrant and full of life and there is always something new and exciting to learn or explore.
Tell us about Excess – The Movement. What were the thoughts and ideas behind this initiative?
After a point of being in Amsterdam, I wanted to take on a new challenge and create a brand new concept. There were many factors behind it but the main one was that we weren’t happy with the commercial music oriented student crowd and decided to create an event that focuses only on underground electronic music. After a small first edition in Scheveningen Beach, we took some time to work on a concept that supports the above-mentioned idea and so signed on our first date with Sugar Factory.
The goal was to make Excess into an actual movement for underground music lovers with a home base in Amsterdam, but events all over the world which will not only promote the music itself but also the culture that comes hand to hand with it – the culture of love, unity, tolerance and acceptance. So far we have had Excess editions in all major Dutch cities as well as several international editions in Bulgaria, India, and UK. We have plans to hit new horizons, in future.
What is your role specifically in the project; do you take on certain aspects of the business, as it were?
Being a small company in such a dynamic industry there is so always so much to be done for planning and putting together upcoming events. The strategic decisions are usually discussed and collaborated on thoroughly while we try to delegate day to day activities between ourselves. Working with Jayzo and the Excess team has been a great experience so far and we’ve managed to set up quite a good work rhythm and environment over the years so things usually go very smooth.
We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so that makes delegating the work rather easy and helps us focus on the tasks we do best. Personally, I still have a flare for business and try to use my education as much as possible especially in the financial planning and marketing. Of course, we are not always on the same page and have different opinions on some matters but we always manage to agree on a decision that would be most beneficial for the concept.
You guys recently concluded your stint with the Excess parties in Sugar Factory, where you headed in terms of venue. We know that your ADE Excess Afterhours 2016 alongside AFE, fixture is slated to take place at Air Amsterdam, are you going to stick there for further events?
Yes after two and a half years at Sugarfactory we had to say our goodbyes this August with an emotional closing edition. We had an immensely great experience during this time and it was a place where Excess the Movement really took shape into what it is today but it was time we move forward. We had an amazing opening edition in the legendary Club Air on 24th September organised together with AFE and BPM. The venue is really unique and has a true club atmosphere, with 4 areas for programming and, amazing sound and a great production.
We’re currently busy with the ADE After hours event which will be on Saturday the 22nd of October morning. It’s going to be a massive event with several international headliners including Guy Mantzur, Stephan Barnem, Me & Her, Chicola and of course AFE mastermind Ankytrixx. As for our future collaboration with the club, we’ve already signed for 3 new dates in 2017 and I’m really looking forward to them. Air Amsterdam is definitely one of the top clubs in the city and a place we can really take our event to the next level.
In all this, you also have quite a busy gig schedule, how do you juggle both roles, does it get kinda hectic?
It does get very hectic at times but, for me, that’s part of the beauty of the profession. Nowadays we have to juggle many different aspects from the DJing itself and music production, through the strategic plans and branding of the events, to the day-to-day business activities of the company, so it’s usually a heavy workload, but also when you have so diversified tasks to do you never really get bored of it.
I also get a lot of support from friends and family for which I’m really grateful. My brother, in particular, has been a key driving force behind a lot of my projects since day one. He’s been a core part of Excess and the other events and has been helping me with managing my DJ career all the while working full time in an industry he’s unrelated to.
Which gigs are you looking forward to other than ADE this year?
After the ADE madness is over I plan to do a small tour around the Balkans in November with the culmination being the Conjure event in Sofia. I’m also going to be travelling again to my hometown Bulgaria. I had my first gig there this summer and it was a surreal experience being able to go back home and play your music for your childhood friends. For December I’m looking forward to coming back to Amsterdam and work on the new Together edition with the token Christmas and New Year’s events as well.
Give us your thoughts on the concept – Together that you are part of. What’s going on under that banner?
Together started last year as a collaborative concept with Bulgarian label Renesanz and is a series of warehouse events in Amsterdam, with the first two editions taking place at Westerunie. It focuses on the core Amsterdam techno crowd with a full on production and big lineups. Our next scheduled event is going to be on 9th December in Club Panama.
Conjure is a techno event that I started in Amsterdam with another Bulgarian who I met through the party scene here. We had several editions in the Netherlands last year and now we have decided to take it international. Our next edition is on 19 November in Sofia, Bulgaria and will take place in the building of a former bank which we will turn into a unique rave dome for it. We’re striving to bring our experience and the unique vibe and atmosphere of Amsterdam’s underground raves to Sofia.
I hear from a birdie there are talks of Excess getting into the record label space, is it an already active imprint and if not, any news from the behind the scenes?
Well, we’ve been trying to keep it a secret so far, but yes we are working hard on our own musical imprint. The label hasn’t been established yet but we’ve been selecting artists and tracks for a while now and working on a strategic plan, so expect a big announcement in 2017. This is all I can tell you in the moment. We want to keep some of it a surprise.
If we rummage through your music bag, what are the tunes we are sure to find?
I like to keep my collection diverse and up to date. Current favorites are some unreleased tracks by Bulgarian duo Balthazar & JackRock as well as their “Save me” EP on Phobiq, which is a smashing hit. Another very common name in my library is the British musical prodigy – dubspeeka, with his recent remixes on Sincopat, his Drumcode works and his 2016 Album “Population 50201” which I highly recommend. Another favorite of mine is the latest Yellowheads remix on Matt Sassari’s track Pushin, both artists I immensely respect and you can always find something from them in my track list.
Any upcoming releases and or projects you’d like to tell us about? And thanks for talking to us at the mag.
This summer we put all of the Excess and Conjure strengths together to collaborate on a boutique festival located in the Bulgarian mountains called “Bedouin Forest Carnival”. It was a 72 hour non-stop music fest with more than 20 international headliners and over 40 artists. Located in the heart of the biggest mountain chain on 1000m altitude it has a very unique and unspoilt nature with the festival grounds spreading on 5000 sq2 m with a big outdoor stage, camping site and chill out area in between a mountain river with a small pond for swimming. The reactions to the first edition were more than superb and everybody involved loved the location and the vibe. We are already working on the 2017 edition for which we will bring an even bigger lineup and production Thank you for having me, it is a real pleasure.