Joost van Bellen: ‘Gotta love a woman like Queen Ashtray’

Joost van Bellen has been at the forefront of electronic music in Holland since the late eighties. Always going against the tides, he has nurtured a very own and distinctive crowd. He will play the Deluxe Area at Sensation Denmark with one of his eclectic and surprising sets.

Many people in Holland and abroad have heard of you. How would you describe yourself to the Danes that don’t know you yet?
‘World famous in Holland, one of the many icons of the electro scene, innovative, always trying to go against the stream, owner of a famous moustache. Basically: a multi-headed monster!’

You’ve done some important things for the Dutch scene. What have you done in the past and what projects are you involved with at the moment?
‘I became famous for introducing house music to Holland and to the European mainland, together with a small group of Amsterdam dj’s. For many years, I was artistic leader for the infamous Club RoXY. Then I was part of Speedfreax, a successful speedgarage/twostep concept. Then came Rauw, which was famous for breaking dj’s like Erol Alkan, Boysnoize and Goose to the Dutch crowd. Nowadays it’s still running. As is Valtifest, the yearly festival in Amsterdam that I program. Then, I also had a new project this year on Lowlands: the Titty Twister, a bar where we had only rock music and rough New York strippers. Together with my partner, I’m also involved with fashion shows for G-Star, Tommy Hilfiger and Victor & Rolf. And to make things even more complicated, I’m also writing a novel.’

What can you tell us about the novel?
‘The book is only at a quarter. I’ve been signed by the number one literary agent of the Benelux. That means the book will be there eventually. I’ve given myself a couple of weeks in 2012 to lock myself up on a Mediterranean island and continue writing. The book is set in the world I know: nightlife, music festivals, clubs, fashion shows, airports, hotels. According to my agent, this is real literature, and not just some coffee table stuff, so that makes the challenge all the more challenging!’

Do you have a special relationship with Denmark?
‘Mid eighties, a few Danish girlfriends of mine asked me over to Copenhagen. They were working at what now is called the banana bar. I also had a tight musical bond with Kjeld Tolstrup, who played at Rauw a couple of times. We used to constantly exchange music. Unfortunately, Kjeld died earlier this year. That was quite a blow.’

What kind of set are you planning for Parken?
‘I’m in the VIP-area, and I don’t know how VIP VIP is over there. I’ll see how edgy they are, without having them at a standstill. It’s gotta be a party of course! I can play pretty hard and cold at the moment, but I’m gonna try to keep it warm.’

Which artists inspire you at the moment?
‘Right now, I’m especially inspired by the Parisian scene. The Sound Pellegrino folks, the Marble label, Club Cheval, Brodinski and Gesaffelstein, a young Frenchmen who has translated the Kraftwerk feeling to today. I also love Boysnoize and Erol Alkan, and lately have been inspired by Azari & III. Oh, and speaking about France… let’s not forget Ed Banger, who are hitting hard right now with a roaring revanche!’

What other plans do you have besides writing a novel?
‘Next week I’m off to Los Angeles, to work as an A&R for Junkie XL’s new album. I’ll be commenting all his tracks and also will be making a track together with Tom [Holkenberg, aka Junkie XL]. When I think something’s too cheesy, I let him know. The guy is living like a hermit now, making film music on some mountain overviewing the Valley. He makes days of eighteen to nineteen hours, and has obviously lost touch a bit with what’s going on in the clubs. I’ve been helping him out with my feedback, and we’ve become good friends in the process.’

What’s your relationship with Sensation?
‘I played a couple of times at Sensation Amsterdam. I once even closed off in the main hall with Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, something that was quite surprising at the time. And I’ve frequently played at some of the VIP-area’s. Sensation has really become the Cirque du Soleil of dance music. It’s amazing, really. I love doing this gig, it gives m a chance to reconnect with the Denmark people again. Their such lovable people, especially their queen Margaret II. She’s a notorious chain-smoker, who has often broken the anti-smoking laws, giving her the nickname Queen Ashtray! Who doesn’t love a woman like that?’

Live Set
Joost van Bellen - Countdown To Sensation Denmark '11 by sensation_music
Published: 27th October 2011