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Yanic Cilon, also known as DJ/producer ENNiK, is always about laughter and good times. Whether he's spinning solo or with Ricardo Carota, the fun is undeniable. Also on his own, he gets everyone on their feet! ENNiK's DNA is infused with musicality. In 2023, I spoke to ENNiK about his first gig. "Just my own setup with my MacBook Pro."
“I’ve always been surrounded by music. My mother embraced various music genres, and my father loved psychedelic rock from bands like The Doors and Pink Floyd. My mother brought in all kinds of music, often experimental, Tibetan, or Native American.”
“I came into contact with many different instruments myself. I’m grateful to my parents because, as a youngster, they enrolled me in a multi-instrument course at the Vrije Academie in Delft. This meant getting acquainted with six different instruments in two years: drums, guitar, bass guitar, piano, oboe, and violin.”
“My preference quickly shifted to the oboe. In the first lesson, it turned out I had a knack for it, and when you’re good at something, you naturally enjoy doing it. I played the oboe until my high school years, including in a school-sponsored orchestra. With this orchestra, we even made CDs. Moreover, we went on tour throughout the Netherlands, as well as in Greece, Belgium, and France. It was truly amazing.”
From Oboe to Bass Guitar
“But well, at some point, I started puberty. Then the oboe suddenly became a lot less cool.” (laughs) “So, the oboe turned into a bass guitar. Since I had a musical education, I could read and write sheet music. Then I started making songs for the bass guitar. I enjoyed doing that a lot. I was a big fan of the harder rock from bands like System of a Down and dressed accordingly. I had long black hair and those devil horns. That’s how I enjoyed banging on that bass guitar.” (laughs)
“At the age of 19 and 20, I was in various bands. I tried to add some classical elements to the heavy music I wrote here and there. That naturally fit. I was familiar with going out, but it was mainly festivals and concerts.”
“At some point, I went to university to study audiovisual design at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. During my student years, I was introduced to the club circuit. My interest in electronic music was sparked. In 2009 and 2010, dubstep was a huge craze. Think of names like Emmokai or Flux Pavilion. I also thought the genre was fantastic. You could easily fit a heavy guitar into it. Totally my thing!”
“Along with a few fellow students, we wanted to start organizing our parties. Some of them were registered with a student association that regularly had open stages. How convenient! Through this association, we could organize our club nights without venue costs. These nights were a raving success. Sometimes people were queuing up at the door. Our concept was so successful that we quickly organized more club nights in Delft and its surroundings. These also went super! Not surprising that the Paard van Troje in The Hague heard about us. After that, we were allowed to organize parties there too.”
Four on the Floor
“During that time, my own musical taste shifted more from dubstep to electro, think Wolfgang Gartner. That electro was a bit more four on the floor, like most dance music. By then, I had seen the most fantastic DJs come by and had an idea of what task a good DJ has. After all, they must be able to steer the set precisely at the right moment so that the crowd on the dance floor gets a certain energy. I found that incredibly skillful and cool. That dynamic fascinates me to this day.”
“It started itching more and more by itself. I wanted to do this too! But where do you start? I was a poor student and didn’t have money for second-hand Pioneers, which still cost a thousand euros. New ones cost eight thousand euros! A friend then pointed out to me that you could find online digital software that worked the same as if you were playing on two turntables. This was, of course, Virtual DJ. Not long after that, another friend got a Vestax VC 100 midi controller for me. Once I had that, I really got into it. I took my complete gear in my backpack to every house party. Or when I went to the park. I put my laptop, controller, speakers, and a power bank in my backpack and spun always and everywhere.”
First Spinning Spot
“So, we come to my first official gig. I was 21 at the time. Because I had been organizing parties for years, I had built an enormous network in the club scene. Okay, almost everyone around me was into dubstep or drum & bass, but when you’re at a lot of parties and chat with some people, things happen quickly. So, I could easily get a spinning spot.”
Chills Ran Down My Spine
“Of course, I prepared myself well. It started with the posters and flyers. I shared both of them incredibly often on social media to mobilize everyone to come to my first performance. It was fantastic to see yourself on a flyer at last, and when I walked through the step and saw all those posters with my artist name, chills ran down my spine. That artist name is, by the way, a story in itself. My friends used to call me ‘Dyennic’ for fun, which is Yanic in an American way. The step from Dyennic to DJ Ennik wasn’t that big. And well, what do I care about that name? It’s all about the music!”
“I also prepared for that gig in a different way. I still do that, by the way. I always determine the story I want to tell. When I know where I want to go, I can bring more passion into my set. No, I don’t plan the sequence of tracks, but I know what I have with me. If you notice that some records aren’t working with the audience, you need to be able to adjust. In the end, the pleasure of the crowd is paramount!”
Plug In and Ready!
“At that moment, De Korenbeurs only had turntables with CD input. No USB. Because I didn’t fancy burning all my music to CDs, I, as you might guess, just brought my own setup with my MacBook Pro. Just plug everything in, and ready!”
Hundreds of Flying Hours
“Before the start of my set, I was incredibly nervous, with the classic signs of trembling hands and shaking knees. Various thoughts raced through my head. ‘Oh no, I hope the audience doesn’t walk away.’ And: ‘Oh no, I hope I can play somewhere else after this.’ Fortunately, with my setup, I had already accumulated hundreds of flying hours, so I wasn’t lacking in experience. Besides, I had received tips beforehand from people like Alex Witschge. One of those tips was that during a transition, you could turn down both basses to create a damping moment. Or if you notice that the audience recognizes and likes a particular intro, spin that intro back and use it again.”
“These tips really contributed to my confidence that first time. Still, I was super nervous at the beginning of the set. I still have that sometimes: nerves before I have to play. Not at every gig, but when I stood with Ricardo Carota at Defqon-1 last year, I found it mega-exciting again. Ultimately, I now know that those nerves fall away when I’ve started the first track and made the first transition. Then all the nervousness is gone, and it just flows. That’s how it went at De Korenbeurs too. The downside is that an hour of spinning passes in the blink of an eye.”
“I had to play in the main hall. My predecessor, Navcore, had already pumped up the audience. Because I had that large network, I had invited everyone I knew in the music industry and mobilized all my friends. In the room that could fit three hundred people, almost a hundred people were already dancing. I couldn’t see how crowded the balcony was. Sixty percent of those people in the room came through me. Yes, indeed, even my then-girlfriend, who was naturally extremely proud.”
Compliments and Critique
“Did I get compliments afterwards? Well, both compliments and critiques. I received general compliments on the technical part. Moreover, my friends were pleasantly surprised by my skills. However, the organization criticized my style. They felt I had played too much dubstep and would have preferred it a bit rawer. I disagreed and expressed that. True, they never asked me back after that.” (laughs) “They were, however, pleased with the large turnout, and later we worked together organizationally.”
Cheating a Bit
“The set went well. On average, I threw in a high tempo of 135/140 bpm. I did cheat a bit. In Virtual DJ, there’s an auto-sync. Because I was afraid of going out of sync, I turned that thing on that night. Of course, I don’t need it now. I can beatmatch even when my brain is still half asleep.” (laughs)
“That night, I learned that I can take it a bit easier. Less is more. Sometimes, an energetic set is fun, but you also need to give the audience a breather occasionally. This is especially true in techno. Otherwise, it’s a steam train that keeps going. At certain moments, it’s good to add a softer, more melodic note. Then that strong kick afterward feels even better. As an artist, I’ve learned how important it is to determine the right moment for each track.”
One-Dimensional and Flat
“Today, I play more tech house and deep house. I enjoy playing hard, but sometimes I find that harder style a bit one-dimensional and flat. Techno with something melodic and emotional, plus a kick, that’s something I can work with. No, not melodic techno, I don’t find that sexy. I find that genre too neat, too clean.”
“For the future, there’s a lot on the agenda. I want to pick up producing again, but I still need to give myself that kick in the butt.” (laughs) “In addition, there are already several gigs on the schedule. I will definitely be at Defqon-1 again this year. Also, there’s the usual craziness on King’s Day at Oranje Boven!”
This interview with ENNiK was originally published in March 2023 on This Is Our House.
Who is ENNiK?
DJ ENNiK is based in the historic city of Delft. ENNiK is quite well known for his energetic performances and his dark and raw beats. Versatile as ENNiK is however, he is also able to deliver this package in a groovy setting.