Hammarica.com Daily DJ Interview: Mix Master DJ Irwan
He is known as one of Europe’s best eclectic deejays. Long before the term eclectic even existed, DJ Irwan was already spinning a unique mix of house, hiphop and R&B Music. As a result of the increasing attention for Urban, deejay Irwan’s style is now more popular than ever: his gigs vary from residencies at leading club nights such as Treetz, Sneakerz and Ex Porn Star to festivals such as Dance Valley, Mystery Land and the FFWD Dance Parade. Add to that the countless performances abroad, and deejay Irwan is a name to reckon with. Some examples are his visits to club Zouk in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This largest venue in town is one of Irwan’s regular spots abroad, where he is often billed with famous deejays such as Armin van Buuren and Paul van Dyk.
It seems like EDM and hip-hop/R&B merged just a few years ago. Yet, nothing is more far from the truth since you have been mixing up these sounds for over a decade. Did you expect it to blow up the way it did, especially in the US?
Never expected it, but was always hoping it, and now we’re in an era where this is really the case. The way I played my music when I started dj-ing 17 years ago was indeed a mix of hip-hop/r&b and house music, but, compared to the collaborations we see nowadays, in that time a verse of 2Pac on let’s say a Daft Punk track was pretty much unimaginable.
Do you experience a greater amount of bookings around the world due to the demand for the mix of house and hip-hop/R&B?
Not In particularly: I still notice that the dj’s listed in the ‘top 100’ are in much higher demand, and we all know that most of these guys don’t play out-of-the-box at all. I just have the luck that my open-format way of playing is still loved by almost every audience wherever I go, so even if you’re not a big fan of hip-hop you can still enjoy my sets since it’s not about one genre, it’s just a subtle mix of the music that everybody loves, and this is what gets me recurring bookings worldwide.
Which of your recent travels stands out the most to you? Tell us about it.
That would be Tokyo, Japan! Tokyo is really an interesting city, I just love the culture, it sometimes feels like they are way ahead of us. And shopping in Tokyo is like heaven to me, lots of exclusive stuff!
Music-wise it’s always a challenge for me to play there. Most of the Japanese (hip-hop) dj’s have way more skills then me, so I have to bring my A-game every time I go there, and this is what makes it really exciting for me.
How would you explain the success of the Dutch dance scene on a global scale as opposed to other countries?
Well, you know what they say about the success of Dutch djs/producers: The weather in Holland sucks big time so we stay inside more often, which results in great music productions.
No but seriously, I think the clubbing scene in Holland has got a lot to do with the success of Dutch dj’s globally: we are such a small country, but there are so many parties every weekend, so the crowd can be very critical. If one wants success you have to be outstanding, and so this results in a country filled with good djs, good producers and good music. Luckily for us this is recognized by people all around the globe.
You did a track together with Lil Wayne. How did that collab happen?
I did a concert with Akon and Fedde Le Grand in Dubai and at one of the afterparties my manager got in touch with Lil Wayne’s manager who happened to like my style of dj-ing. One thing lead to another and a couple of months later we released the track.
Are there any new production collaborations coming up?
I’m working very closely with Phatt now. He’s one of the best vocalists in Holland, and for a while now we’ve been teaming up in the clubs where he MC’s during my sets. This collaboration works so well, so it’s really time for us to get it in the studio and drop a club banger together.
Also, I recently finished a track with Dutch DJ/Producer Artistic Raw. At the moment we are still negotiating with some interesting labels, so keep an eye on that release.
Does your family like dance music?
They love all kinds of music in general. My mom has a big love for Motown music, especially Diana Ross. The rest of my family just listens to any kind of music, so whenever I have a new mixtape they are the ones to test it out first.
What defines the term DJ for you?
To me, a DJ is someone that knows how to read, educate and entertain his audience by playing the right tunes at the right moment and most importantly by doing this with the right skills. You often see the phrase “What is a DJ if he can’t scratch”, well… I second that!
Do you have a radio show or podcast?
Not at the moment, but I’m planning to start a new monthly podcast in 2013. In the meanwhile I’m dropping livesets on my soundcloud quite regularly.
This brings me back to my last Asia-tour. I started the tour in Tokyo, and usually this is a non-stop flight from Amsterdam, which takes about 11 hours. But due to my new preference of airline I had a stopover in Dubai. The journey took about 20 hours, and yeah I was exhausted, but as I already mentioned, for a party in Tokyo it’s always worth it.
What is your tried and tested pick up line in the club?
Well, to be honest I don’t have any; I’m a married man, and besides that, I’m way too shy to use pick up lines in a club. 😉
When you are not entertaining others, what do you do to entertain yourself?
It’s pretty rare, but when I really have a full day off I go to Lelystad Airport (a nearby regional airport) to fly. When I was a kid I always wanted to be a pilot, and I still have that same dream. Taking flying lessons occasionally is the closest I can get to that dream at this moment.
Besides flying I just love to chill at home and watch tv on the couch with my wifey, sounds pretty cliché, but those really are the moments I cherish the most.
Is there a final thing you would like to say to our readers?
Yeah, I just released a new mixtape. I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan, so it was really time for me to do a Michael Jackson tribute. The mix can be downloaded thru this link: http://bit.ly/BadMixtape