DJ Chuckie: Bringing Dirty Dutch to the masses
Tucked away between a restaurant and a small local cafe, I get my first experience of Dirty Dutch, a phenomenom that is sweeping the world – one continent at a time.
From the outside, Cue Bar looks like your average watering hole but step inside and at the end of a small counter is a flip video camera, pointing at a makeshift DJ box with two Pioneer CDJs and a four channel mixer – nothing you wouldn’t expect to see at your average music-playing pub.
The club is deserted, except for us and a bartender who is pouring Holland’s famous Heineken beer into half pint glasses. Underneath three litre bottles of Dutch Premium Vodka, are polaroid pictures of the bar’s regulars, stuck to the wooden structure of the back wall with bluets. It’s two o’clock in the afternoon and as the music plays out these DJs aren’t after a full dance floor but are instead playing for those people at home, the ones logged onto Mixmag’s DJ Lab. The ‘Dirty Dutch’ takeover is in full swing in preparation for tonight’s big event at the Ziggo Dome as part of Amsterdam Dance Event.
“First of all, let me give you some background,” Chuckie, real name Clyde Sergio Narain, tells me as he sits down, taking off his sunglasses. “I started Dirty Dutch because I wanted to do events where I had control over music, lineup, visuals, everything. I was looking at my core fan base and what they would listen to and I took that mixture of whatever they were listening to, and brought it into this club life I called Dirty Dutch. From there, I saw the success in it because a lot of people could identify with the sound. It was a mixture of hip-hop and everything that was relevant and within reach.”
As I nod my head, trying to write everything he just said down he touches my notepad and says, “In simple terms it’s house music with a bit of Dutch to it” – got it!
Chuckie, who grew up in Suriname, has seen his infectious Dirty Dutch sound evolve from a club event to a tour and is now an annual concert in Holland, attracting 30,000 people from across the world. Tonight, he will become the first electro DJ to play at the Ziggo Dome, a new 20,000 capacity Venue that has been reserved for the likes of Madonna, Nicky Minaj and Radiohead since it was opened a few months ago.
“It’s an absolute honour,” Chuckie tells me after he’s finished taking a Q&A session in the centre of the city. “It’s crazy to think out of everyone I’m the first electro DJ to play at the Ziggo Dome, especially hosting a Dirty Dutch night. It’s a great opportunity to showcase Dutch music to the masses in my home town.”
Teaming up with the likes of Porter Robinson, Knife Party and Just Blaze to host the main stage, Chuckie’s unique sound controls the music induced fans for the full nine-hour marathon. As he drops his latest single, Make Some Noise, sound, lighting and television technicians go into overdrive, frantically pressing buttons setting off lasers, lights and flame throwers to create not just a ‘gig’ but an awe inspiring ’show’.
After playing back-to-back with nearly all the DJs, Chuckie takes a quick break to catch his breath and take on some much needed water. “It’s always hard to give an answer to whether I like DJing more than producing,” he says as he wipes his forehead with a hand towel. “I like doing them both just as much. I love producing tracks but I also like playing those tracks out when I DJ to a big crowd, just like tonight – the two go hand in hand”
The ‘Exodus’ event, is one of only two to take place at the new venue over the course of the annual week-long festival, that attracts thousands of electronic dance music enthusiasts to the city. Swarming with some of the biggest names in the industry, as well as fancy after parties, playing at such an important event like this isn’t without it’s pressures Chuckie explains.
“It’s always really hard to play in Holland,” the Dutch DJ tells me as he reaches for a carton of blackcurrant juice. “They know so much about the music scene, especially the music I’m playing and producing, so I find I always have to up my game when I come here.”
The sold-out event is the icing on the cake for a career that saw the passionate DJ host an ‘In New DJs We Trust’ show on BBC Radio 1 and was acknowledged by the President of Aruba.
“When I played in Aruba and the President praised me, it wasn’t all about the music but instead that he acknowledged we are influencing the children of today,” Chuckie says humbly, turning round to see the stage manager signal that he’s got five minutes before he’s due back on stage. “The youth of today are very aware of what is happening and they look up to people like me to help them through. The awareness created from that gig, in terms of for charities, was great and it just highlighted that we all have the power to change things.”
As the sun comes up, the night draws to an end with one last scream down the microphone, ‘Amsterdam make some noise for DJ Chuckie’. It’s 7:00am and despite being up for 27 hours, the adrenaline of the night courses through me to a point where I’m unable to sleep.
“I’m going to switch it slightly next year,” Chuckie says as we share a car back to the Okura Hotel. “This year was 80% touring and 20% in the studio, so this year I’m going to do the opposite, working on projects for myself and for others.”
But it’s not all about his personal gains. “I’m also in talks with the President of Aruba,” he continues, reaching for the Porsche Cayenne’s door handle. “I’m looking at building studios in the country as I believe if they have something that they can throw themselves into they can make a better life for themselves – the first step is for us to help where we can”.
‘Make Some Noise’ is released on 22nd October and Chuckie will be hosting another Dirty Dutch night in the UK on the 8th December at Brixton AcademyTagged in: ADE, Amsterdam, Amsterdam Dance Event, Chuckie, Clyde Sergio Narain, Dirty Dutch, DJs, hip hop, house music, Porter Robinson, Ziggo Dome
Recent Posts on Arts
- Crowds at Lahore Lit Fest ignore bomb risks and raise hopes for Pakistan’s future
- Rolo Tomassi Interview: “It's comforting to know that we've not been treated as a novelty”
- Goblin's Claudio Simonetti on Profondo Rosso reaching the big 4-0
- Friday Book Design Blog: The Ecliptic, by Benjamin Wood
- Ask the Author: Vivian French
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter