Nostalgia & Drama: Awanto 3 In Conversation
Tales from Amsterdam and whimsical notions from Awanto 3.
Awanto3 returns to Rush Hour with ‘Party’, the EP born in a village located in Belgium while he was house sitting. Initially, his mother was asked to take care of some chickens, a goat, dog and donkey but he decided to take care of them to help his mum out.
The week turned into nightmare because they thought the house was possessed. This setting affected Awanto 3’s thoughts and after he took care of the animals, he had a strange energy to escape to his MPC.
When he got back to Amsterdam, he started to work out some of the sketches from the ghost house together with Stefan and Jos in Studio K at Sloterdijk. ‘Party’ is the result.
Hello Steven. Where are you today and what are you up to?
At the moment I am answering your questions by squeezing out my troubled brains in a library in the city of Alkmaar, which is near my village at the coast of North Holland. Later this day I have to prepare a selection of music for another party that will take place on a boat tomorrow. And if everything goes well, we might stay alive and kicking because no asteroid will hit our earth today.
Such a creative soul. To what do you attribute this driving creative spirit?
I guess it is my childhood and a lot of situations combined with extreme fun and fear that left a deep impact on my soul. I forget a lot but every day I wake up I am filled with new ideas and inspiration. I would just like to blame this on the day itself.
If you had to differentiate the parts of your creative work life, how would categorize them? Or is it irritating for someone to ask you to put them into boxes?
I wish I could part them and analyse them in a lab. It would probably make me a healthier person.
Is it critical for you to be surrounded by creative beings or do you sometime like to be with people who are simply just down or a laugh?
I prefer to be surrounded by animals to find peace. A lot of humans may enter my planet, either simple or complicated. Both is all good for me. But I think that when I am alone, I can relax the most. Don’t get me wrong, I think humans are the most fascinating creatures ever and it is a blessing to be part of this muppet-show and find loads of fun, lessons, friendship, and love in it. In everything you produce, be it art, multi-media projects or music, there is a humour, a nonsense if you will.
Do you prefer to reject logic and reason for more freeform and experimental thinking and why?
It is a natural reaction to what I experience every day. People take themselves so seriously, including myself. I need to bring that into perspective and so I kind of behave like this. Uhm … ahum..
Do you feel that a strong aesthetic further amplifies sound?
YES I FEEL THAT!
What was the catalyst for your metamorphosis to Awanto 3?
The countdown to start a track, a song, a game, a war, a movie or just a few minutes of silence…
What is an Awanto?
That is a wish. I want to…
The substantial chunk of your releases have been with Rush Hour. Why do you love the label so much?
We go way back and I am a nostalgic and dramatic person. I have met a lot of beautiful and amazing people in the years. We have collaborated and we have grown up together in between the scene of music and events in Amsterdam. Rush Hour is blessed with a very loyal crew, and they are passionate music lovers. Music is the beating heart of Rush Hour and that is what connects us all finally.
Your debut album in 2014 was named after a car. Did you ever actually have an Opel Mantra and what are your thoughts on this vehicle?
I don’t have a driver’s license; I wish I had one! I’m working on it. But the Opel Manta is a nice size and is very handy because when it works like it should, it can bring me from A to B and back.
Can you talk a little about your time with the New Cool Collective?
The New Cool Collective had a big impact on my early years of DJ-ing in Amsterdam. As a kid I already had a special attraction to jazz and Latin. When I started to DJ for more serious crowds (aged 17) my record bag was filled with different styles of music but mainly with so called Acid, Jazz, Disco, Hip-Hop and Latin. At that time the great inspirations for me were DJ’sGraham B from London, Groove Merchant from Belgium and Koert Notario from Heerhugowaard. The styles they promoted in their sets drove me mad and give birth to new ways of organizing events, producing and playing music. Graham B started to collect the best musicians of Amsterdam and created the big band New Cool Collective.
I was witnessing this from a distance as a fan and rookie in the big bad city so did not know the deeper story behind that until one day I was playing hardcore New York salsa and Fela Kuti / afro tunes in a trance club called Trance-Buddha based in the heart of the Red Light District. Frank van Dok, one of the members and percussionist of New Cool Collective came up to me and was positively surprised that I was playing these tunes in a very different kind of club environment. He immediately invited me to play at their resident nights in Club Meander where the big band was playing live every month on a Monday called BIG MONDAYS. From there I started to become friends with the whole NCC family and lots of collaborations followed. Until these days mainly with Stefan Schmid (keys) and Jos de Haas (percussion) both belong to the core of NCC and a very important part of my musical development during my career in producing music. Without them my music would probably have sounded like an almost empty bottle of butter lemonade. Maybe my next album will find that direction as it is also a challenge to only keep making music with an MPC 2000XL.
"People take themselves so seriously, including myself. I need to bring that into perspective and so I kind of behave like this."
Are you still active in Rednose Distrikt with Aardvark? How did he save your life?
Yes, and I always will be. Mike Aardvarck saved my life in many ways and on many days. In a nutshell: he is my best friend and true soulmate. If you are connected with somebody like this, you will be able to save each other’s life. The important thing is that the connection works in both directions. I would like to tell you how he saved my life few times but it is not the right medium for that now. For that I must make time to write a book.
What can you share about your most recent performance art project?
It has something to do with football and working on your play-technique by using your ears. I am starting a laboratorium for football. I am looking for funding as we speak. Developing the software needed for this project costs money and focus. In combination with the other projects, I am working on, this will find its way step by step.
Is it true you once glued a load of coins to the pavement and took snaps of the people trying to snag the coins?
That is very true and I am ready for another session this coming summer 🙂
We are thrilled to see your Party EP up on Rush Hour. But ……if you knew the house was haunted why did you stay?
I had no choice. The animals needed food every day and I promised my mother to do this until she came back at the end of the week. The bad spirit forced me to find peace and inspiration in my music that was hidden in my laptop and my MPC. I probably would have slept near the chickens and the goat outside if I was not blessed with having my music working tools with me.
It would be easy to ask you more about the music, but I am concerned about the snarling dog at the end of the first track. What is his problem?
The dog sounds like something is irritating ‘her.’ It could be you; it could be me. To find the right answer we must start another completely new conversation.
What should we look out for in 2023 from all of your art studios?
This year I am mainly focussing on the ‘football’ project, setting up an internet streaming radio station in Alkmaar where I also can develop my music projects, and a library installation in an old tower in the woods near my house. A few festivals like Lentekabinet and Down The Rabbithole also will be written in the to do list this year. And working on other new music during these projects.
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