Coincidence magazine 4/2019: Amekmar

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Amekmar:

Enjoy Not Only The Ups But Also The Downs

AMEKMAR IS A YOUNG, DUTCH DJ WHO SPENT HER YOUTH IN ANTWERP, BUT MOVED BACK TO HER HOMETOWN AMSTERDAM A FEW YEARS AGO.  SHE CAUGHT OUR EAR WHEN SHE PLAYED IN THE COINCIDENCE RAVE CAVE IN 2018: WE WERE SO IMPRESSED WE SIMPLY HAD TO ASK HER BACK THIS YEAR. MEET THIS SUPER TALENTED WOMAN, WHO IS ON HER WAY TOWARDS BECOMING ONE OF THE FUTURE’S NAMES  TO BE RECKONED WITH. 

What brings a young, smart, educated woman, to want to choose for the uncertain life of a DJ?

Why not? You make it sound as if I should know better (laughs)!
Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I know that’s such a cliché, but it’s just the truth for me. I remember being maybe 3 or 4 years old and getting my first disc man from my parents; it was on non-stop! However, despite music having always played a huge role in my life, it wasn’t until I was 21 that I thought about doing more with it. I was very lucky to have a friend at the time who was in the music scene and who was willing to teach me the basics of playing. We used to go to a club in Antwerp during closing hours to practice and I just got more and more excited every time. I love spending time listening to music (not just techno), looking up artists, learning about the history of music, creating my own music, … I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

However, I never expected that I would get as far as I’ve gotten up until now. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not saying I’ve ‘made’ it (whatever that means) or that I’m some sort of big DJ. But with every next step I’m taking and with every milestone I (try to) achieve, I just get more and more excited, motivated, and passionate to keep going. I love that music is so universal, and that whatever country you’re in or whatever the culture is you’re living in, music makes you feel something. It’s so powerful. There is just nothing quite like it that gives me the same feeling.

You live in Amsterdam but have a strong connection to Belgium. Does that have an impact on your music?

Correct! I was born in The Netherlands but moved to Belgium when I was about 8 years old. I lived in Antwerp for 16 years before returning back to Holland, so I guess it’s safe to say that my first experiences in night life, as a party goer and DJ, were in Belgium. Most of my gigs take place in Belgium, so I do feel that in terms of bookings and support Belgium has a big influence. However, I don’t think Belgium has the sole impact on my taste in music – a lot of different things, places, people, etc. have an impact on how I feel and ultimately my own feelings, emotions, and my mood are what determine what I’ll listen to, play or try to create.

Male DJs complain that female DJs get all the attention these days, while many female DJs still feel that they are being undervalued. Are they both wrong – or both  right?

I find this a very difficult question to answer. And also just quite a difficult subject to form an opinion. I haven’t been “in” the music scene that long and am also relatively young, so I can’t tell you how it was for women, or anyone who was in a minority group, to go after what they wanted x years ago. Of course, I do my research and I try to look up as much as I can, listen to others about their experiences, etc. 

Based on what I know from that, I feel very lucky that a lot of people before me, again from whatever minority group, fought for what they wanted and still do – they created the path to equality and made sure their voices got heard. I’ve had quite a few experiences myself with sexism, nasty comments, not being taken seriously, … in the music scene and society as a whole, but I don’t think it’s fair to compare that with what others have experienced so many years ago.

As for equal attention, I do sometimes notice that people make comments about women getting a place in the industry and that they don’t think it’s fair or that they feel like ‘their’ place is being taken because of it. I think it’s sad that that’s being turned into a gender thing, whilst if another male would get more attention or get a bigger career it wouldn’t get turned into that. It’s important to remember that someone else might just get more attention because he/she is working his/her ass off… Gender is never a reason. Let’s all just focus on ourselves and make sure we’re all doing everything we can in order to get where we want to be – you really loose precious time when you worry about someone else.

You took a great leap forward this year with sets at Dour, Tomorrowland and even an  allnighter at Club Vaag. Very different venues and crowds, so how did you experience them?

Playing at different venues, during different time slots and for different crowds is definitely a challenge sometimes, but in a good way. I love how each set never feels the same and how that keeps me sharp. It’s super interesting to experience how all the different vibes and experiences, and sometimes struggles, play out during my set and during the rest of the event. I learn a lot from each set I play, good and bad, and like I said before, being busy with music just gives me such a great feeling. They’re all amazing experiences.

I know you are working hard on your own tracks. How’s that coming along?

It’s definitely a (sometimes hard) learning process, but one I thoroughly enjoy. I strongly believe that in order to feel motivated to accomplish your goals in life, whatever those may be, you need to REALLY want to put in the effort and enjoy not only the ups but also the downs. Especially in the beginning when it’s all still so new and ‘unknown’, the downs will hit you in the face hard but getting back up is such a great feeling. The feeling of being able to build a track quicker and quicker and being able to create that specific sound that’s been in your head for so long – it’s such a cool feeling. Or at least that’s how I feel.

I always say that if you don’t have will to work hard for what you want, if you don’t have the patience to go through the necessary steps, and if you’re (most importantly) not honest with yourself about the work you’re putting into it, you won’t get to where you want to be. It won’t work.

Obviously, we are from very different generations. Do you think you missed out on something from the early days?  And what do you think old farts like me are not grasping about today’s scene?

Haha! You’re only as old as you feel, and based on what I’ve seen from you, you might even be younger than me… 😉

I don’t think I would say that I missed out on something from the early days, but I definitely would have loved to experience it, nonetheless. I hear so many crazy stories about raves in the early 90’s and early 2000’s, so I’d be crazy if I said that didn’t interest me at all. After all, those were the years that shaped the music industry, and society, as I know it now. 

Those were the years which formed the bases of it all. I think a lot has changed since then, like the fact that people got a bit lazy – they want as much as possible for as little effort as possible – and the impact of social media. Especially the impact of social media on careers and relationships is something that I (and you?) find insane. Maybe that could be something that I missed out on from the early days. Not knowing an artist via social media, but because others are talking about him/her and then the magic of finally being able to listen to him/her play a set after all that anticipation

Who are your heroes – musically or otherwise?

I find this an extremely hard question to answer. I listen and look up to a lot of different people and artists, and for a bunch of different reasons. If I think about who I always seem to ‘return’ to, Paula Temple and Dax J are definitely in there. But I honestly look up to so many more artists for so many different reasons. It definitely also depends on how I’m feeling. I also love to listen to jazz music, like Quincy Jones and Ella Fitzgerald. Actually, thinking about your previous question I would have loved to experience a jazz bar in NYC in the early days!

Any scoops we can throw out there? 

There may or may not be a release coming by the end of the year…

I might or may not confirm that it might have to do with our 12 year compilation…

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