The off-grid parties are a collaboration of 3 brands; Raftaf, the newly established Amsterdam-based vinyl record label, Rotate, the Berlin-based booking agency and record label and Off Party, a newsfeed, radio and event promotion platform that operates in numerous European cities such as Barcelona, Ibiza and Berlin.
All 3 events will be held at an exclusive venue on Warmoesstraat, located a brief a walk away from Dam Square, very much in the heart of Amsterdam. Hard Life Magazine caught up with Micha of Raftaf, as well as Denise from Rotate and Stéphane from OFF Party to talk about the real intentions behind the collaboration, their sound-system expertise and plans for future.
Hard Life • The vinyl market on the 20th October will be the first introduction of a long OFF journey, what is the plan?
Micha • We invited two of my favorite record stores from out of town: Ruiskamer from Haarlem and Triphouse from Rotterdam. Besides serving wax and coffee, the place operates as the nerve center of their labels Karton and Ruis. Ruiskamer‘s collection is of course an extension of the minimal approach that you find their labels but definitely not limited to it.
Triphouse has been prominent in the Rotterdam nightlife for years and are ever expanding as a collective.
On Thursday they will bring a tightly curated selection of deep Techno / House / Electro / Funk/ Soul / Disco & Italo. Then of course the involved labels will bring along a selection of their releases alongside some other goodies.
How did Raftaf come about?
Micha • About two years back I got involved in the Cruquiusgilde Warehouse as an intern and kept working there ‘till it got shut down in July. It was around the same time that I joined the Undefined label for their events and subsequently the record label and learned how to operate one by trial and error.
Thomas (Raftaf co-founder) and I aim to be a broader platform that is not reduced to a single (sub)genre musically. Also it’s important to us to play an active role in the local scene. We have the occasional record fair, there are open deck events we organize for local DJ’s and are working on a new series of scaled down events where we put the focus on local artists who don’t have the platform yet that we think they deserve.”
How did the relationship between Rotate, OFF Party and Raftaf form? Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam this is an impressive connection.
Micha • Basically we met through mutual friends and interests. Denise was still searching for an ADE location and from there things grew quite organically.
Everybody involved has a very hands on mentality and is passionate about their craft. This made the division of the workload very natural and put everybody in their power
Rotate + OFF Party collaborated to host 1 event at ADE last year, is this year a big step up with the inclusion of Raftaf and an addition of 2 extra events?
Denise: Our idea last year was to organize OFF the grid events during ADE, like a mini festival during Amsterdam dance event at off locations. This was too short to arrange and we collaborated with Deep Tech Amsterdam at VLLA. This year everything came together and with Raftaf we are now organizing what our initial idea was an OFF ADE program with a more intimate approach, less expensive, more for the passion and to connect labels and artists together on a central location with a vinyl market, exhibition and live streams.
What has been the role of each of you in organizing the 3 events you are throwing this year? How did OFF Party contribute?
Denise • We all have our own expertise and this we combined to set up OFF ADE. For example the line up ideas we curated together, it was a very nice timing that St. Joseph his release on Raftaf and Cleymoore & Andrea Cichecki’s release on Rotate are both coming out around that time. We wanted to combine Dutch talents with skilled international artists which we all respect and like their music
Micha • We all have our personal projects, each with their own “specialization” so to say. Denise has a fantastic artist roster, Stéphane has his online platform and expertise and we have our local platform and of course a great soundsytem. All of these projects operate in the same scene which makes it that our networks have a lot of overlap. Overall it’s a joint venture, we figured out what we wanted and connected the dots, really.
OFF Party initially started with the OFF Sonar of Barcelona, it was quite logical to transpose this concept to other places like Amsterdam and its ADE . Stephane, OFF party founder.
More focused on technology, OFF Party is in charge of the live audio streams, the website, 360° reports and artistically contributes to the line up by adding Leiris, a friend from very long time and great artist who is already, musically speaking, member of the same “family” like the other artists involved.
Could you give us a few words about the venue? What’s the set-up, sound-system and vibe going to be like?
Denise • We found the venue by luck and it is very cosy and central. Opening times were till 4 and that would be too early for us, then we asked from how late they could be open and they told us from 7. So we thought it would be a good follow up on other ADE events which will be closing around that time.
Micha • People sometimes jokingly call the sound system Vintage-One. Thomas has collected a lot of equipment over the years. He has a flair for a good deal and really knows his stuff. You can expect an intimate and warm vibe, great music and quality sound.
Are you looking to releasing similar minimal-tech artists as Undefined records on the new Raftaf imprint?
Micha • We have some exciting stuff lined up for the future. In essence, most of it has a minimalistic approach to it but this approach is to be found in a wide variety of styles.
The preview tracks by St. Joseph, Raftaf’s first release, are all sounding sick, could you tell us a bit more? How did you get St. Joseph on board, when is the release date etc…
Micha • Thanks, we are more than pleased with it as well. We were keeping a close eye on his work for quite some time and thought it would be a perfect start to this project. Actually, it was Michael Melchner who connected us eventually so, thanks Michi for the hook up!
Have you been keeping an eye on the climate of London’s nightlife; especially with Amsterdam night mayor Mirik Milan appearing at the panel addressing the closure of Fabric nightlife?
Micha • I have actually. The whole situation is tragic in a lot of ways. They’re using Fabric, a place that is so defining for and embedded in nightlife and its underground culture, as a scapegoat for a much greater issue.
Closing Fabric or other venues will contribute nothing to solving drug issues, an open discussion and honest information will.
I’m sure that venues and promoters can be of great value in educating on drug use. They have the ability to actually impact young people in a way that I don’t see any politician capable of.
Is it the start of a long relationship together with Rotate and Off Party?
Denise • Would be great if we can build out this concept together for OFF ADE next year with more off locations and more labels and artists connected to this. I believe it has the potential to be a very nice OFF festival alongside ADE.
Micha • The collaboration has been a pleasure so far and the possibilities to expand are endless. But first OFF ADE 2016 is up and we are ready.
Check the OFF ADE Events here:
• Thursday 20th October: OFF ADE – Day 1 w/For The Record Vinyl Market and Label Network
• Friday 21st October: OFF ADE – Day 2 w/Levi Verspeek, Just Pet, Herra & Raftaf DJ’s
• Saturday 22nd October: OFF ADE – Day 3 w/Andrea Cichecki, Cleymoore, St Joseph, Leiris
Want to listen to radio OFF party? it’s here!