Setting The Record Straight Behind The Hague: Dj Tlr Talks
The musical essence of The Hague has left a long lasting impression on electronic music. Over the years its sound has remained a dark underbelly of the techno and electro world, a plague that has captured the true grit of the genre, reinforcing the music’s roots in industry, lifestyle and politics. One leading figure in the present development of The Hague’s progressive, deconstructive sound is Crème Organization founder DJ TLR.
Founded in 2001 the label has been consistently releasing electronic music with an oddball twist. Many of the records pay homage and capture an energy similar to that featured on early Bunker, Disko B, Panzerkreuz and Acid Planet releases. DJ TLR has been responsible for releasing music by the likes of Legowelt, Orgue Electronique and Mr Clavio amongst others. However more recently he has welcomed the likes of Jorge Velez, IVVO, XOSAR, Willie Burns and a collection of others onto the label.
He reflects on his early introduction to music at parties and clubs in the city during the eighties and nineties.
“Back in the days the alternative scene was very small, it was different in those days, you had alternative music, which was everything that wasn’t on the radio pretty much. It was all lumped together so the places we used to go to were all the same. It wasn’t a metropolis, you had the punk kids, the hip hop kids, ebm, Belgian shit, gothic kids, whatever, they were all in the same place. There were pretty much only a few places to go then if you didn’t want to be in some commercial discotheque.”
This integration between musical communities is what led to Jeroen’s introduction from punk and hardcore music into the world of electronics and hip hop.
“The kind of places where I used to go and see hardcore bands in the eighties were the same places were the local graffiti kids used to hang out. It was connected because it had the same kind of energy as hardcore. It led to jungle, it had weird break beats and ragga and little things which I always liked. For me it was a gateway, it was crazy fast and hyper.”
Jeroen makes clear to explain that the mythology surrounding the music scene and the evolution of techno isn’t always portrayed in the way in which it should be.
“I’ve started seeing it more and more now that its been twenty or thirty years. You start to get these documentaries with talking heads from those days who are always mythologizing and saying how it was so special. No it wasn’t, you were with a bunch of people on drugs in a space listening to loud music until the drugs wore off and you went home. They describe it as this magic time but it wasn’t, they were just younger and more off their heads. There was interesting stuff going on but I think now it’s much better. The infrastructure is much better, the connection is much better, it’s much easier to do things now. It’s way more healthy than it was.”
He goes on to reflect on the outback, rough around the edges nature of the scene. Upon reflection at face value it may seem like it gave it character but at the time itself, wasn’t the subject of praise or acclaim.
“We ran a party at a big squat in Den Haag and some other places with mixed success. Usually nobody gave a shit about of any of it. Now people read and talk about it, but we had parties where there were like five people there and the bar people couldn’t wait for us to fuck off you know. It’s easy to forget all the shit, some of the tales that are funny anecdotes, when they happened, weren’t funny at all. Police raids, overdoses, people freaking out, the whole scene imploding, crazy people at parties: it all sounds colourful but it wasn’t fun.”
It’s incredibly refreshing to hear someone speak so openly about an often glamorised and endorsed scene, discussing the reality and facts which lie beneath the hype. It makes sense, this is the ethos of Crème Organization as label, it takes a no nonsense, honest approach to releasing music, big or small. The nooks and crannies lie hidden between the popularised culture of all music, arts and creative scenes, but it often takes a distinctive, polarising voice to cut through the crap.