Ben Frost live at Viral Radio at Bimhaus
Ben Frost live at Viral Radio at Bimhaus


08 December 2014

Our artistic director Juha talks to our comms manager Nione about his passion for music and explains why audiences can expect to see more musicians, sound artists and DJs coming up in 2015.

Rustie live at a Viral Radio event in Amsterdam
Rustie live at a Viral Radio event in Amsterdam

You began your career as a DJ and organiser of music events. Can you tell us a bit about that?

I have been a DJ since the age of eight, when I started splicing tracks and recordings together, making cassette mixes and compilations with my older brother Timo. He introduced me to electronic music with The Future Sound of London and their album Accelerator. It became more serious when he bought two Technics SL1210s when I was 14. We went searching for new music together in Amsterdam, listening to Detroit techno, Chicago house and UK jungle mostly. My DJ career kicked off when I was 17/18, playing new electronic dance music.

Viral Radio started in 2007, as a monthly internet radio show on Dutch public broadcaster NPS. It moved to VPRO’s 3VOOR12 in 2009, before landing at Amsterdam’s community platform Red Light Radio in 2010, where it has been ever since. Starting as a radio show, Viral Radio quickly became a network of live events of new forms of music. In the past years I have worked with over a hundred artists, such as Holly Herndon, Ben Frost and Flying Lotus, across incredible venues and festivals, such as Exit Festival, Trouw and the Bimhuis.

Viral Radio is now a space in which artists can test new ideas, experiment with styles and formats, and find new audiences for their work. It tries to go beyond the limitations of clubs and concert halls, and carves out new spaces for live music experiences. A recent example of this is the Anonymous club night. Inspired by the hacktivists’ ethos, and brought about in a time of cultural cynicism and economic austerity across Europe, Anonymous makes a stand for innovation and adventure in nightlife, By ‘anonymising’ the line-up (artists are billed as Anonymous) it gives both the artists and the audience the opportunity to reconfigure their expectations and experiences of clubbing. In a way Viral Radio has become like an exhibition space for live music.

Viral Radio on Soundcloud

How have these experiences shaped your work as a curator?

They have shaped everything that I do as a curator. Besides making people dance, DJing is about being part of a community of music aficionados. Some are futurists on the hunt for the next post-x genre, others are curating archivists, collecting entire back catalogues or rare white-labels. What we have in common is a deep love of discovery, But the performance aspect is also important, and has influenced my practice equally. Performance involves interacting with an audience and a space, making sure people have a good time, whilst trying to express yourself and create something new and original and fun.

Arca – Thievery

Lighthouse’s 2015 programme will introduce a new strand of sound and music; what excites you about exploring these areas?

That almost everybody loves music. It is such a powerful art form to explore and present. The social quality of music has always been very important to me, and this is maybe one of the most exciting aspects of a sound and music programme – connecting people and making new friends. Artistically, I look forward to seeing where music is heading, and to finding out how Lighthouse can support experimentation, innovation and joy in this area.

What kind of events/artists are in your programming vision?

Workshops, masterclasses, audiovisual installations, live performances, and, hopefully, some form of club nights and festivals. We’re looking to work with more artists like Roly Porter, Holly Herndon, Haroon Mirza, Lyndsey Housden, TCF, Laurel Halo and Lee Gamble. These are people who are at the cutting edge in their fields.

Holly Herndon – Home

What place does music have in a gallery? Shouldn’t it be heard in concert halls and on the dancefloor?

Oh, you are absolutely right that music should be heard where it sounds best and we will not present our programme solely at Lighthouse. We will go where the programme demands we go. But audiences can look forward to workshops and masterclasses, and our new monthly night Progress Bar, which will be perfect here at Lighthouse.

Your career has taken you from clubland to classical music venues; are these environments so different?

They can be quite similar, in both their progressive and conservative aspects. But I think clubs can be more experimental. Besides having the facility to play music more loudly, which some electronic music needs in order to be experienced and appreciated, they are experimental in the sense that artists/DJs can test new performances and sets easily. But the same goes for Cafe OTO in London, and the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, two world-class venues for jazz, improvised and experimental music, where the audience expects to be surprised. It would be great if Lighthouse could combine some of the ethos of OTO-Bimhuis, and the kind of underground awareness and community vibe of Plastic People-Trouw-Berghain.

Mica Levi / Oliver Coates / Love (Under the Skin soundtrack) / Kammer Klang

What can music do that other art forms can’t?

It can make you dance and be happy. Oh, and make your brain tingle. There are certain mid-range frequencies in electronic music that make your mind feel like it is being electrocuted, and it is incredible. And let’s not forget the visceral force of sub-bass, overriding our senses entirely. Perhaps film and some forms of theatre come close to this immersive experience. I very much look forward to hearing Eleni Ikoniadou talk about this subject in tomorrow’s Monthly Talk (Thurs, Dec 4).

Which sound/music apps/sites do you use most frequently?

In the studio of my partner Darço Cezveciyan, we work mostly in Ableton Live, a software music sequencer, and we use all kinds of soft-synths from Native Instruments, in combination with an actual Korg or Nordlead synthesizer that we use as MIDI-controller. For DJing I work with Serato in clubs, but on the radio I bring in Soundcloud, Spotify and iTunes too.

Roly Porter – St John’s Sessions x Boiler Room Live Set

Which musicians/artists do you rate right now and why?

There are so many! But let me name these three in particular: Roly Porter, Mica Levi and Stephen Samuel Gordon. I am over the moon that Roly took part in The Sound of Story at Lighthouse on 5 December. He is a visionary composer of intense music, consisting of dark sub-bass, impending industrial rhythms and haunting string instruments. I really looked forward to his talk about his recent commission by the BFI to compose and perform a new score for Rene Laloux’s 1982 animation Gandahar. Mica Levi is the composer of the uncannily gripping soundtrack from the film Under the Skin, easily the best soundtrack this year. And Stephen Samuel Gordon for his radiating sonic fiction as the mythical and mesmerising Spaceape. Stephen was a much loved and admired vocalist who unfortunately died of cancer this October, aged 44. Together with his musical collaborator, the pioneering DJ and producer Kode9, he has been a source of awe and wonder throughout his career, and he will remain an inspiration for many forever.

The Bug – ‘At War With Time’ ft. The Spaceape

Where should people go to hear something they’ve never heard before?

Try the new Arca album Xen, Mica Levi’s Under The Skin soundtrack, Roly Porter’s Life Cycle of a Massive Star, Lee Gamble’s Koch, Nazoranai’s The Most Painful Time Happens Only Once Has It Arrived Already..? and of course the Viral Radio page on Soundcloud:



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