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Interview with DJ Devereaux 85

The Amsterdam based DJ Devereaux 85 is a pioneer in the Dutch synthwave scene. Coming Saturday, April 20, he is organizing the latest edition of ¨1984 Night at the Arcade¨ with a great line-up. Time for an interview to talk about the past, present and future.

You can also read the interview in Dutch.

DJ Devereaux 85

DJ Devereaux 85, you are one of the driving forces within the Dutch synthwave scene. What did you like about this style of music and did you decide to do more with it?
Big synthesizer basslines, reverbs, toms, retro drum machines and the 80's vibe! That is what attracted me to this music style. I am a child of the 80's. Everything from that period is nostalgia for me. From music programs, television series, films to games and electronic gadgets. As a kid of 8 or 9 years old, I recorded the intro themes of series such as The A-team, Magnum, Knight Rider and Airwolf. Those were my tunes! I did the recording with a portable cassette recorder. I kept the box by the speaker of the television, turned up the volume and when the series started everyone in the living room had to be quiet. That didn't always work out so it sometimes happened that I had to wait a week for the next episode to try again. Those were fun times and I can still remember a lot.

In 2010 I already hosted some small parties in Amsterdam Club 8 called Popclub. At those parties I played many modern disco and synthpop songs from the Kitsuné label and The Valerie Collective from France. Artists such as College, Maethelvin, Anoraak, The Outrunners and Futurecop !, to name a few, were already producing in that period electronic music with 80's and 90's influences. These influences were mainly enhanced by the beautiful album artwork and the logos of the artists. The artwork was completely in line with the music.

I think at that time the first steps had been taken to do something with music including an 80's sound. I don't think the music of The Valerie Collective is a synthwave. They are very unique in their style, to my humble opinion. Their music in combination with the artwork was a source of inspiration for me. You can see it back in the artwork of our ¨1984 Night at the Arcade¨ posters, logos and t-shirt designs. Not the same, but there is a connection.

The Valerie Collective

I started doing more with synthwave back in 2015 when I, among other things, discovered the music of Mitch Murder, MPM Soundtracks, Timecop1983 and Robert Parker. At that time I was completely into collecting 80's music on vinyl and I had plans to start a synthwave vinyl label. That became Urban Road Records. Coincidentally, I also discovered that Timecop1983 came from the Netherlands. I then sent him an email and pitched the idea of ​​the label and the question whether he was interested in releasing his new album ¨Reflections¨ on vinyl. Jordy (Timecop1983) responded enthusiastically. The album would be our first release on the label.

In 2016 you organized the first ¨1984 Night at the Arcade¨ event during the Amsterdam Dance Event. Can you tell something about organizing this event and how it was received?
Jordy indicated that he would do his first performance at PIP in The Hague on Microwaves (a party of Don Voyage / Cultuurschok). We met there for the first time. In view of the release of the album "Reflections" I came up with the idea of ​​organizing a one-off label launch party in Amsterdam during ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event). I used a retro 80's theme for that evening. That became ¨1984 Night at the Arcade¨ (later also shortened as Night Arcade).

Finding a suitable location during the Amsterdam Dance Event was difficult. Many parties were organized in that week. I approached several locations in Amsterdam for our evening, but unfortunately without success. Clubs were reluctant. The reason was usually that they didn't know the music. Or because they focused on a different target group and music genre, which I can understand

I owe a lot of gratidude to Bastiaan van der Salm. He ran at that time the Winston Kingdom venue in the Warmoesstraat. This venue had a capacity of 150 people. He was enthusiastic about the idea and was willing to offer us a space. Friday or Saturday evenings were not available, but Thursday evening was. So that was a challenge.

At that time there was no synthwave scene or a platform in the Netherlands for this music. So I had to come up with everything to reach my target group. That was mainly online 'digging'. Search for potential like-minded music lovers of the synthwave genre and then invite them personally.

Bastiaan finally managed the ADE organization to send a message for our party on their social media channels. That has given us considerable publicity. All pre-sale tickets were sold out two weeks before the event.

I think the evening went well. Despite it all, it was new and nobody really knew what to expect. The audience was very relaxed. With our 150 visitors there was a nice and intimate atmosphere. The artists we had booked were also very relaxed. Big up to the people who had come on Thursday night and had to get up early the next morning for their work or study.

1984 Night at the Arcade - October 20th 2016

Was it difficult to book artists like Timecop1983 and Sunglasses Kid for the event?
Booking Timecop1983 was not difficult. When I spoke with him him to organize something in Amsterdam during ADE he was enthusiastic. After all, he had just finished his first performance and it tasted like more. The fact that we organized our evening during ADE was also special. It was the opportunity for Timecop1983 and the other artists to present them to a wider audience for the first time in Amsterdam.

Booking Sunglasses Kid was more difficult. In the first instance it was my idea to book Timecop1983, Sunglasses Kid and one or two artists from The Valerie Collective. I was under the assumption that College was no longer actively involved with music. I then started contacting Maethelvin. He had, at that time, made a track with Robert Parker. Maethelvin also felt like to join. It has been a while ago, but I thought that at a certain moment Maethelvin asked if he could take his buddy College with him. It could also have been the other way around and I asked him. That is how College ended up in the line-up. That was cool!

Back to Sunglasses kid. When I emailed him he referred me to his agent. He told me that he had never done a performance as Sunglasses Kid. So I had to come up with something to persuade him to come to Amsterdam for a performance. I came up with the ADE story. I indicated that ADE was a multi-day event for people who worked in the dance music industry. His agent pitched this idea to him. But unfortunately the reply took long. Apparently he did not know the festival and was not impressed with my story. Our party was held in October, but I had to pass on the line-up to the ADE organization before the deadline in July. There was no answer back and that is why I let it go and started looking for a replacement.

Don't ask me why, but then I came up with the idea of ​​Dance with the dead from America as a replacement for Sunglasses Kid. It also looked like we had booked them. Coincidentally, they did a short tour through Europe in the summer of 2016 and gave a performance in Antwerp. I then drove that way with my cousin to attend their performance. I soon found out that their audience and music was very metal and it could have been a clash with the other artists I had booked for the evening.

A few days after the performance of Dance with the dead in Antwerp I received an e-mail in which they indicated that due to the many touring for one of them there was no room in the passport for new stamps or that the passport had expired. Which meant that they could not come to the Netherlands on time. So...Dance with the dead was cancelled. I don't know if that was the real reason or if they themselves thought it would be a clash with the other artists. But it felt like luck to me in an accident.

I started to approach Sunglasses Kid again. I had a long conversation with him on the phone and persuaded him to come to Amsterdam. To this day, Sunglasses Kid still thinks he was a replacement for Dance with the dead. While it was actually the other way around.

Unfortunately, we had to disappoint the people who were looking forward to the Dance with the dead performance. In retrospect, the original line-up proved to be a good choice.

From that moment you started to organize more ¨1984 Night at the Arcade¨ events. The next edition is this Saturday, April 20, in the Melkweg in Amsterdam. What preparations are involved in organizing such an event and how do you keep it fresh?
The preparations mainly consist of early communication with all parties involved.

On an event like ours live bands alternated during the night with DJs and live acts. So it requires coordination and good preparation. That is why we like to work with people who know what they are doing and are good at their job. I have most communication with Wanne, the production manager of the Melkweg. Together with him I discuss everything needed to make the evening go smoothly. Of course, something can always go wrong. But that's the charm of live clubnight events.

We keep the innovation going by staying up-to-date with what's going on in the music world. And to pick out the pearls in the field of synthwave.

In addition to organizing your own evenings, you also travel the world and play at other synthwave events. How do you like this and what do you do with the experiences you gain?
I liked it! I always find it special to have a different country to visit and see the people there enjoying the music that I play. Especially my trip to China, which was made possible by David William Kay aka Junks aka DJ Ectoplasm, was incredibly cool. Together with him and Don Voyage we had a good time there. I especially cherish the new friendships that have arisen during the trip. In addition, I look back on many great experiences and moments.

Timecop1983 is one of the most from the Netherlands well-known synthwave artists at home and abroad. Which other Dutch artists / DJs do you think we should keep an eye on in the coming period?
A Dutch producer to keep an eye on is NVDR from Utrecht. He performed at Night at the Arcade Manchester and rocked the place like no other with his cross-over dark synth / French touch sound.

You should also keep an eye on the Dutch synthpop band Sheila and the Kit . They will be on stage with us for the first time on Saturday 20 April. It is amzing to see their energy on stage!

You can also look forward to DJ sets at our upcoming editions from ¨Night Arcade Soundsystem¨.

In your biography I read that there are plans to start your Night Arcade Records label in 2020. Can you already give us some details on that?
Both digital and vinyl music will be released on this label from artists who performed at Night Arcade. The tracks will mainly be 'DJ friendly' and aimed at clubs. Expect tracks with thick synthesizer leads, bass lines and retro drum machines.

How do you think the Dutch synthwave scene will develop further this year?
I see this very positive. These days synthwave is a broad concept and there is something for everyone to enjoy this year.

Artists of the more robust work such as Carpenter Brut, Pertubator, Dance with the dead and GosT, to name a few, regularly give concerts in the country. Whether you can call that synthwave is another discussion.

Timecop1983 will be hosting synthwave evenings in Eindhoven starting this autumn. I am very curious on their plans.

We continue with our own ¨1984 Night at the Arcade¨ club nights in the Melkweg. We are also open to editions in other cities of the country. The Tivoli in Utrecht has already indicated interest in the past to organize an edition of ¨1984 Night at the Arcade¨, so who knows.

Finally, do you have some final words in this interview to the Dutch synthwave community?
Now is the time. Enjoy the synthwave artists in person who come to the Netherlands to perform and I look forward to seeing you again at our "Night at the Arcade" parties.

1984 Night at the Arcade - April 20th 2019

I want to thank DJ Devereaux 85 very much for this interview and wish you every success with all your businesses.

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