Dekmantel has become a household name within the festival circuit, thanks to a line-up that skips fillers and customary headliner hierarchy and instead works hard to ply dance music lovers with a mix of fan favorites and need-to-know emerging artists. The friends and family atmosphere of the Amsterdam weekender has been preserved—despite its growing reputation—since the inaugural festival in 2013, thanks to years of hard work and an unshakable passion for music. Childhood friends Thomas Martojo and Casper Tielrooij started out by hosting parties (inviting Detroit talents like Moodymann and Robert Hood on a regular basis) and are now celebrating 10 years as promoter and record label. They also find the time to DJ, too, under the moniker Dekmantel Soundsystem.
This year’s edition takes place 2-6 August 2017 in the lush forest of Amsterdamse Bos—it’s telling that festival tickets sold out long ago (as well as for their more intimate sister weekender, Dekmantel Selectors, which takes place in Tisno, Croatia). You can try to scour resellers like TicketSwap, or wait for their Night Program to be announced, which takes place after the daytime festivities and requires a separate ticket. Dekmantel’s São Paulo edition will return for its second year, too (more on that below). Until then, follow along their 10 Years EP anniversary series, as the label releases 10 EPs over the course of this year, featuring a mix of longtime friends, newcomers and influential producers close to their hearts like Lena Willikens, Fatima Yamaha, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Ricardo Villalobos, Joy Orbison, Gigi Masin and The Egyptian Lover. We asked Tielrooij a few questions on creating what Pitchfork called “the festival that might ruin other festivals,” and to reflect on just how far they’ve come.
How much has changed since the festival’s first iteration?
The spirit of the festival remained the same for all these years but a couple of things changed since the first festival, which—of course—shouldn’t come as a surprise. We expanded in the amount of days and acts, as we now also have our program on Wednesday and Thursday (which takes place at EYE Film Institute, Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ [concert hall], Bimhuis and Tolhuistuin) and includes many concerts by artists that have been inspiring us over the time being.
How do you keep the event distinct and special in an environment where new international music festivals seem to be launching every season (thought not all flail as epically as Fyre Fest). What makes people keep coming back?
I think our mission is simply sharing the music we love, via our events and via our label; we just do what we love and we hope that other people feel the same way about it. If they do: good—if not, that’s OK as well. I think we’ve grown by staying close to our own hearts and vision—we only do that thing we love the most. It keeps it true and that might be the most important key point. We try to keep everything a bit small-scale so that the atmosphere feels right.
Dekmantel ventured into Brazil for the first time this year—what was the reasoning behind this expansion?
All through 2016, we’ve done a lot of label showcases across the world, and we’ve got to meet a lot of like-minded and inspiring people. We weren’t necessarily looking to start a second Dekmantel Festival abroad, but after having spent lots of time with the Gop Tun crew, who not only produced a killer party but also showed us around their beautiful city, I guess we just fell for it completely. São Paulo is, in many ways, completely the opposite of Amsterdam, which is also why we thought that in this city we could do a festival which is genuinely different from what we do in Amsterdam. We had a great first edition in São Paulo and are planning new moves now, obviously.
Can you hint at any surprises at the festival to make it an epic celebration of Dekmantel crew’s 10th birthday? We’ve been very much enjoying the EP releases so far.
The compilation is a big milestone for us—we’re absolutely stoked about everything that’s yet to come this year! On the festival we of course welcome a lot of artists that meant a lot for us in the last 10 years. Our three main stage closers for example, Robert Hood (who is doing his new LP), Ben UFO, Antal + Hunee are longtime guests to our events.
Images courtesy of Dekmantel