This year will be eleven years of tINI and The Gang, how important is it to you to create community in dance music?
I’m a people person; I love to be surrounded by friends and like-minded people, and I like to share ideas and music or recreate myself, get inspired. Having a little community always feel better out there because it’s still not the easiest business even though everything always seems like fun, and it’s nice if you have a little circle of friends or a family-style community around you that backs you up in times where not everything’s just fun.
How has that taken on a different dimension for you during the pandemic?
In the pandemic, everything’s been pretty intense. I’m still in active contact with the music community that I have, definitely less than usual—everyone is in hibernation mode a little bit, especially now in winter. But there has been a lot of exchange. We’re all going through the same pretty rough time, so it’s a time where ego gets stripped back a lot for many people, and this is something nice to see because in the end we’re all in this together. No one is an ideal state right now, and it helps a lot to speak to each other because a lot of people are having a hard time. For me, it was a big change in my lifestyle because I’ve been actively touring for fifteen years, around a hundred shows a year, and it’s all very different. It’s also super nice to see how the community works in such times as well, because before it was hanging out in the parties and playing music together, and now it’s being together and having dinner, or endless video calls and exchanging what everyone is going through.
The tINI and The Gang party is purposefully free. Do you have any thoughts on the marketisation of electronic music?
Everyone has a different idea of why and how to do things. When we started tINI and The Gang, it was really about having a good time somewhere outside, playing music and to make it possible for people to gather in a different kind of environment because there weren’t really beach parties or daytime parties that were so easily accessible in Ibiza. That was a big part of why it’s gotten so big because everything was so expensive in Ibiza. No matter where you went, the entrance fee was insane and then you have the drinks prices. We tried to keep it as easy and affordable for everyone. That gave me a lot of freedom in the programming. I didn’t have a pressure of having to reach certain numbers, so I could invite smaller DJs. I didn’t see it as like, ok this is where I’m going to squeeze the lemon and get as much money as possible out of it. For me, it was always more about giving, and I think that’s why so much came back. I know not everyone thinks like this, but I don’t really have an opinion on that, because I totally understand when people create a brand and their goal is to make the brand grow and make as much money as possible. If it’s a good concept and if it works out, it’s also fair if people make money.
There’s definitely a revival at the moment of free community-based parties that take away from the market element of it. I think now due to COVID, a lot of things are going to change. I mean, the big DJs most likely won’t be able to ask for ridiculous fees. The market is very shaky now and it’s going to be very interesting to see what’s going to grow out of this when everything starts again. I think it would make sense if there were more and more accessible events now everything’s had a little bit of a reset because the fees went insane, ticket prices went insane. What some of my colleagues charged were really insane prices, but then again you have people willing to pay that and they want it, and they have the time of their life so it’s worth it. Right now, I definitely think it needs a little readjustment in all the directions. It’s just gotten a little bit crazy with how much money was flying around on the scene.
You were part of the very successful touring brand Desolat. Why did you find it was the right time to step out and do your own thing?
I didn’t think it would be going that far in the past! It wasn’t really a stepping out of anything, it was more developing my own direction. Thanks to all the background I had and the platform I got back then, I was able to start my own little thing. I basically had a platform handed to me and took over from there, and started my own little journey. It wasn’t breaking with anything, it was all very peaceful and friendly, and different directions, different idea of my party concept, and I just gave it a try and this is where I am now!
Do you think it’s still viable to be a DJ and make a career out of it today?
Totally! It depends on why you want to do it. In terms of making a living of it, there’s also the question of how much you need in a month to live. You can play a lot of shows for less money and still make a pretty good life. I work as a TV and film editor. My approach to DJing was never financial – I had my other job for the longest time. On the weekends I played, and during the week I worked as an editor, so I was never depending on any of the fees for my DJ sets. I could take shows for less money and still be good to go at the end of the month. I totally think the idea of the DJ career should not be driven by making a financial career. That’s a nice side-effect that comes when you’re having fun and doing it well, I would say.
How do you think we can forge the connections that dancing together brings when we physically can’t dance together?
At the moment, there’s been so many streaming things. It was really starting a whole online community as well where people play online back-to-backs in livestreams. As there’s no physical possibility to be more than however many people in one room, this is unfortunately all we’ve got but luckily, we live in the time of the internet. We’re very lucky to have all this comfort in times like these and being able to connect online. People make more time for collaborations and productions.
Is there room for that to be integrated in a post-pandemic dance music world?
Definitely, because even if everything goes back to whatever normal means, there’s still a lot of people that might not be able to afford to travel to Ibiza or wherever. The accessibility with online streaming and bringing the events into someone else’s home is such a nice idea. It would be great if it would be a little bit more integrated.
There’s an increasingly online aspect to being a DJ just in terms of social media. How do you feel about that?
It feels to me that it’s very important right now, maybe a little bit too important, to have this online visibility. It feels like nowadays, the online presentation and marketing is becoming a greater part of a DJ career. I used to love it when everything was new, like MySpace. I was quite active and enjoyed it quite a lot, but the problem for me is the more I feel that I have to do it, the less fun it is. My posting frequency definitely slowed down knowing that I should do it and present keep an online persona alive. That’s sad, it should be just an addition. It should be: if you want to see more of my persona, it’s also online; not: because my persona online is so cool that’s why I get my gigs. It should always be based on the music and not on your followers, likes or online presentation. It feels like there’s a pressure to not only be good as a DJ but also an online entertainer. This is something that I don’t really like.
Your ‘part of the gang’ ethos is really striking. How far do you think it’s the responsibility of the DJ to instigate change in the industry?
It’s really important. I’ve been in this industry for so long, and for the longest time I was mostly the only woman on the lineup or not getting fair pay. Having this platform that I have and the possibility to change such things is super important and has to be done. Having the possibility gives you the responsibility, I would say.We are in a good movement, and slowly there’s more visibility for queer people and I see more and more women DJs. There’s not only an acceptance but also a demand for these kinds of artists as well, which is so great because there’s so many talented people out there, and everything was always male dominated. It feels like now it’s time to shine for everyone a little bit more.