As if going to ‘Hot Creations - Presents Paradise’ wasn’t exciting enough, going with Jamie Jones, Carl Craig, Kerri Chandler, Maceo Plex, Subb-an, Miguel Campbell, Infinity Ink, Alexis Raphael and Danny Daze was an experience of a lifetime. With many more DJ’s in the mix, there are just some to name a few. The team here at La Vida Magazine were given the privilege to intervieww Heidi Van Den Amstel, aka DJ Heidi, before she went on to destroy room 2 at the mecca that is ‘The Warehouse Project’ (WHP).
Shooting off around the world with her terpsichorean Jackathon parties, doing BBC Radio 1′s Residency show most Friday nights and being in transit her entire life., we were expecting a woman to walk in to the back stage room at the WHP black eyed, haggard, with a short fuse ready to be ignited. My lord, we couldn’t have been more wrong. In walked one of the most charming, bubbly and happy women we’ve ever has the privilege to interview. Big blond wavy hair, beautiful tattoos rolling from her shoulders and down her arms and a big smile stretching from ear to ear, she totally lit up the room. One reasons we believed for this must have been because she was back on her home-turf of Manchester.
I don’t really consider Canada my home. I’m from there but it’s not my home. Manchester is my home. Manchester has given me so much love this year especially at Parklife Festival. I walked into an empty tent, put out a record and 3,500 people turned up. It was the most amazing thing. I was like, ‘Who’s going to want to come and see me in this tent, on my own?’ But they all came. I mean the tent had to be closed off because it was too full. I got so worked up that I was almost in tears from being so excited and feeling the love, not only of the city, but also of the people that really had my back. They’re devoted to me here in this city for some reason. I feel like I have a lot of fans in Manchester. Big love for the Northerners.”
She couldn’t have said it with more gusto and genuine passion if she tried. Even I felt a tear jerking from my eyes as she said it. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in it when someone spills their heart out to you like that. Or maybe it was because she back at the WHP?
The first one I did was at Store Street NYD 2 years ago. It was really intense. I played Leeds the night before and they tried to murder me. I literally was sent here in a body bag. I remember me and my friend were shuddering at the thought. Then I came in and was like what the hell, this is mental. I love this place!”
We asked her what she thought of the new venue for the WHP.
Room 2 is the dopest place I’ve played at in the UK. The sound, vibe, lights, energy. It’s got that old school Berlin, Tresor Vibe. That’s the real rave room. I mean there’s no messing about. It’s like you’re going there to get hammered and dance your ass off and sweat until you can’t sweat anywhere. That, for me, it’s what it’s all about. I don’t care about light shows and pyrotechnics, I just want to hear to hear the music really loud. I want to be so deaf when I leave that it feels like I’ve got tin cans on my ears.”
But I’ts not all fun and games for DJ Heidi. She has worked hard over the past decade to make her mark on the new house and techno music generation. It all started in her youth growing up in Windsor, Ontario, Canada just across the border from Detroit. Many would say that Detroit is one of the cities where house music really came into its own in the early 1980′s and you can clearly hear the influence it has had in her eclectic sets, filled with deep and acid house.
Heidi relocated to London in 2000 where she picked up her craft and deep expertise behind the counter at Koobla Records. Then in 2003, she was part of the team that opened up London’s foremost record shop, Phonica. She started out doing back rooms, playing hip hop and funk and it wasn’t until the record label ‘Get Physical’ took her under their wings that things really took off. Heidi was invited in 2008 to do her own BBC Radio 1′s in ‘New DJ’s We Trust’ show on a six month contract. She remains there to this day, now hosting her own ‘Radio 1′s Residency’ on Friday nights.
I’m very persistent. When I heard ‘In New DJ’s We Trust’ was finishing I made a conscious decision to move back to London because I knew I needed to be involved, I needed to be as in-their-face as possible and say ‘Look I’m here and I’m dedicated, I want to do something’”.
In 2009 she started the Jackathon events at various nightspots across the globe. Both platforms allow her to invite her peers and compadres such as Richie Hawtin, Soul Clap, Solomun, Maceo Plex, Nicolas Jaar and Derrick Carter to share stories and special musical moments with her. In 2011 a compilation album of the same name was released on her original home label, Get Physical, and a sublabel called Heidi presents Jackathon Jams was born from its success. The first EP featured an all-female cast including Maya Jane Coles, Miss Kitten and Tini.
Heidi spends her life immersed in music. She lives and breathes the touring lifestyle, whether its a 25,000 person crowd in Latin America, or festivals around globally or holding her own at Jackathon residency strongholds in Ibiza, London, Berlin’s Watergate and Manchester; she is a true idol to all female DJ’s in the field. We asked her what advice she would give to an up and coming girl DJ who’s starting out.
Well you have to have armour for skin and you have to be willing to give up a lot of yourself. You have to sacrifice personal time, personal life, freedom, relationships and children if you want to do it properly. Or, just become a lesbian because that’s the only way you can actually have a relationship. Being a female DJ and straight doesn’t really happen very much.”
Guys are afraid of the alpha female. You have to be able to almost be like a guy. I’ve always been like a tom-boy. I speak my mind a little bit too much. The grace falls by the wayside sometimes, but I didn’t get to where I am today by letting people walk all over me. I have an opinion and I speak it.”
With that attitude it is no surprise she is where she is today. Heidi makes it in to Resident Advisor’s top 100 DJ’s year after year as voted for by the people and is a favourite of 1,700 Resident Advisor users.
With the awareness and knowledge one must gain from travelling the world we asked what her favourite countries, cities and clubs were.
I love playing in Mexico. In fact anywhere in South America is amazing. They’ve got fire like other people don’t have. They’re not so uptight and they’re not afraid to talk. England whereas they’re a little bit warmer in South America. They’re softer in their approach as opposed to British people but they’re very similar in their love for the music. Favourite club has to be ‘The Warehouse Project’. Favourite city has to be Manchester. I just absolutely love this place man”.
DJ Heidi is one busy lady. She will be playing at ‘Krankbrother NYE’, WHP closing party and ‘Bristol In Motion’ on NYD. She’s also doing ‘Bugged Out Weekender’ and ‘Hideout Festival’ just to name a few events. From this, we wondered what she was most looking forward to doing.
I’m most looking forward to doing the WHP closing party. Hideout Festival hasn’t asked me to do a boat party this year.”
But i’m going to sneak on somebodies boat and kick somebody off the decks regardless. I’m also doing a Jackathon party at a lot of festivals this year. I’m doing Lovebox, Parklife and Global Gathering. Jackathon is taking over next year. They’re giving me full reign over whole tents.”
I’m going to sneak on somebodies boat and kick somebody off the decks regardless. I’m also doing a Jackathon party at a lot of festivals this year. I’m doing Lovebox, Parklife and Global Gathering. Jackathon is taking over next year. They’re giving me full reign over whole tents.”