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Frisian Lourens Stegenga a.k.a. DJ Lorenzo and I became instant friends through meeting online in a Facebook group called Huppels. In April 2016 I interviewed him about his first gig which held a few challenges. "Just before the break, the needle popped off the record."
“My first performance must have been for my mother. Back then I was a fan of Elvis Presley, I did playback and performed for family and friends. At that time, I even participated in the preliminaries of the Mini Playback Show (Dutch TV-show) once. That was quite an experience.” (laughs)
Hooked on house
“Around the age of twelve I became hooked on house. The Netherlands had just been introduced to MTV on the tube and at one point I saw DJs spinning with those tape recorders. That’s how I got started with a Technics, a turntable without pitch and tape decks. I was constantly playing with it.”
“In those days we had a radio program called Drie Draait Door. Three records in the mix by a then unknown DJ such as Erick E. Later Robin Albers’ FTWLTG (For Those Who Like To Groove) had a DJ mix in the second hour. Every episode was a surprise, yet a delightful one. Anyway, so when I was twelve, I bought my first records and singles. After a few years of practice, I felt I got it pretty well. Besides, as I got older, I found myself more and more in contact with people who liked the same music.”
“I signed up for a DJ contest in Sneek. There was a record store where I regularly scored vinyl. Also located in Sneek was the then famous club Close Up. A lot of house parties were held here. Somewhere in 1992/1993 they also organized that contest which I subsequently won! I was actually allowed to call myself The Frisian Housemaster.” (laughs) “What a name! I was seventeen by then.”
“Because I had won the contest, one of the things I got to do was host an evening with DJ EVA. That was great fun, but even better was the offer I got to go to Ibiza to play. The organization behind the contest and the house parties in Sneek continued on the island. After a lot of wrangling with my parents, who were absolutely not happy about this, I finally opted for certainty. My choice of study imposed itself, it simply wasn’t the most convenient time for Ibiza. I had a lot of trouble coming to terms with that. Back then, you didn’t have Tiësto and consorts with their millions of euros. The dance industry was rather vague for my parents, and they wondered where their son would end up. In retrospect, I can understand that.”
Learning and working
“I ended up working in healthcare at 19. I did this through a learning and working process. I did that work for over twenty years, with 200% commitment and all my love. In those twenty years of work, I took three years off. After that, I worked at Deeptrax Records. During that period, I made up for everything I had missed musically. Especially in the field of classics. For that I am enormously grateful to my good friend Chris Roorda of Deeptrax.”
“One of my gigs in Sneek I remember very well. I was playing nicely, was completely in the mix and felt a good flow with the audience. By flow I mean that the people understand what you are playing, are happy about it and move even more than they did before. In short: they go crazy from what you give them musically.”
“Well, I had neatly mixed the record and wobbled along with the audience and aarggh, just before the record got a break, the needle popped off. That’s right, exactly from the track that was running at the time. I looked at the hall, the hall looked at me. I looked at my hand that was holding the needle, let go of the thing and it landed right where the record left off…. and everyone was hopping on and on. Of course, I had a red buoy from here to tomato city, but the audience didn’t seem to care about my mistake and even laughed about it. Me too, albeit with a phony laugh because I was really ashamed of course. This kind of thing only happens to you once.”
“In retrospect, my ‘mistake’ worked as a surprise. And that’s exactly what I try to do in my sets: surprise people. I like to add an unexpected element. A friend pointed this out to me and he was right.”
“Another gig from that time took place in Leeuwarden. The club was called 7A9, was tiny and hugely underground. I was scheduled early and at first there were hardly any guests. After the gig, a somewhat older man came up to me. I had seen him watching me for a while. He said: ‘Boy, you will go far, because you have a technique that not all DJs have’. My choice of records could be better, but I could mix damn well, he thought. I mastered the technique, the working with the buttons, the mid, low and high and also important: knowing when to mix a record. He had clearly been paying attention and said that I had really mastered that and that I would benefit a lot from that later.”
“I never forgot his words. They gave me confidence behind the decks. I actually couldn’t believe what he said, but I thought ‘Well, he’s an older man who obviously had a grasp of things. He wouldn’t just praise me randomly’. It was my biggest compliment ever. Unfortunately, I never found out who that man was. In fact, I’m still curious. After all, I’m still playing. At one point I heard people, mostly women, say: ‘Yes, Lourens always plays dance floor oriented, with a nice groove/bassline with drums and congas. Music that makes you move’. And that’s absolutely right. As a DJ you want people to like your music and dance to it. I hate requests. Come on, I play, you dance. Simple.”
Know your records!
“When I started learning and working at the age of nineteen, I put the active playing on the back burner. Then you get out of sight. I have always kept my studio. I also regularly bought new vinyl. At the end of the 90s, in my view house music got sick. There was too much crap on the market, so I gave up buying music. However, I have always kept spinning in my spare time. I can dream my records. I really think that’s a must for a DJ: know your records! And know what you’re playing! Nowadays I have my reservations about that with many DJs.”
“Around 2005 I picked up the thread again. I was missing something. The Internet became more and more popular and that’s how I ended up at a radio station where I was allowed to host the Friday evening. Playing classics for three hours was exactly my thing. I did this for six months or a little longer, because of course I didn’t have much new music. The show paid off and eventually led to a gig in the upstairs area of the Waakzaamheid in Koog aan de Zaan. The contact with the station started to water down and I then started my own web radio called GuardianFM. My then girlfriend came up with the name. The radio station was doing pretty well, until there was a hitch so unfortunately, I couldn’t continue the stream.”
“Trying to fit in later in the scene was nosy thing. I was too shy and had no balls.” (laughs) “Fortunately, I can laugh about it now. Meanwhile, I have gained lots of experience. Through the Facebook-group Huppels I got the chance to play at the first real Huppels-party (see picture below), where all members finally could meet each other live. DJ Celeste (see picture above) in particular caught my eye. She said something along the lines of: ‘Jeez, you brought some good records along! Huh, you got these?’ A huge fat compliment from someone who was half a celebrity to me because of her TV appearance on VARA’s House Gewoon Uit Je Dak.”
“These days I’m getting back into live-streaming but with visuals. As PartTimeJunkies we stream from my house every first and third Sunday of the month with guest DJs. Under the name PTJ, we used to organize small, cozy, and fun parties. I’ve been doing this for quite a while now and it’s actually getting more and more fun. Starting from nothing and then turning a project into something is cool. In terms of music, DJing and streaming, I feel like I’m still in the middle of it.”
“I keep getting to know more people who know more people. Letting go of the old and embracing the new! I’m looking forward to it!”
This interview with DJ Lorenzo is originally in April 2016 published on DJMag.nl.