The first mix of 2019 comes courtesy of Amsterdam’s Merel. We’ve liked what she’s been doing for a long time. A masterful melter of both genres and moods, she’s currently been dedicating time to the newly formed ANJA collective. Along with an interview by Alex Rigby, enjoy here Merel’s slow-burning excursions through downtempo rarities, delicate soundscapes and sludgier, darker electronics.
Hey Merel, what were your favorite bits of 2018?
There wasn’t just one moment that stood out but many. I was really happy that I got to play a lot at Garage Noord, as it’s one of the few venues in Amsterdam with line-ups that are always interesting. The other cool thing about 2018 was getting booked at bigger festivals like Strange Sounds From Beyond and Dekmantel, as well as the chance to play a bit more outside of the Netherlands. It’s amazing meeting people from other countries who love the same thing as you do and get to witness their approach to it.
How are things going with the ANJA collective (Merel, Identified Patient, Post-Ave and Job Sifre)?
ANJA is going pretty well. Last week we had a show in Lyon. For the running order we all pulled straws to play 30-min slots containing a b2b combo each. We thought it would be chaotic but in the end it actually worked out pretty well. I actually enjoy playing b2b a lot; you really have to improvise as you get surprised by the other person.
Can you elaborate a little more on what you mean by tension?
I think it’s good to make use of the element of surprise. I try to do it more and more but of course I’m still learning. To me, a good DJ is constantly fucking a little bit with the audience, but at the same time keeping a nice linearity to their set. Traxx is one DJ who is really good at this, for example.
Who or what do you find particularly inspiring right now?
I get inspired by a lot of things. It can be through innovations in science, philosophy or other art forms. Sometimes when I find out about something that interests me I can be in a state of hyperfocus. In the last few weeks, I got more into food and wine through my roommate and I’m absolutely hooked on reading and watching everything about cooking. It’s actually crazy how much good chefs experiment while they cook. I can see how that translates to music.
Do you have some kind of method when it comes to finding new tunes?
Nope, and there are a million ways to do it. Sometimes it’s blogs, the record store, Discogs or Bandcamp. I think ultimately it’s just important to spend a lot of time digging and if you know where you can find what you like, eventually you will be sorted.
Can you talk about some releases/artists/labels that have really resonated with you recently and stuff that you enjoy playing when you’re out and about?
There are so many labels doing really great stuff at the moment. To name a few: Offen, Melodies Souterraines, Bokeh Versions and PAN Records. This year I was also really amazed by a Chinese duo named Zaliva-D – there’s a track from them in my mix. Oh, I should also mention that they are going to release an album on Knekelhuis (another great label) really soon. Be on the lookout for that one!