Natarcia (NL): “Part of Fierce Ruling Diva’s dance act”

Natarcia and Marceline Thuishaven July 2017
In 2017 Dutch blackhouse-pioneer Natarcia Ommen told Marceline the story of her DJ-debut. “I was eighteen or nineteen when I started playing in clubs.”

This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)

Natarcia and Marceline immediately clicked. Which is not that strange, when you’re sitting around the table with such a talented and enthusiastic woman with a warm and soulful way of playing. In 2017 Dutch blackhouse-pioneer Natarcia Ommen told Marceline the story of her DJ-debut. “I was eighteen or nineteen when I started playing in clubs.”

Natarcia zwart wit  - Natarcia (NL): “Part of Fierce Ruling Diva’s dance act”

“I’m not the type of person that enormously looks up to DJs. I admired Prince and Michael Jackson. I was their fan. I consider DJs to be my homies. We don’t see each other often, but when we do, it’s always great. Often you hear that upcoming DJs can learn a lot from us, the daddies and mommies of house, technical and drive-wise. I think it also works the other way around. It’s a two-way street.”

DOK

“My first real gigs were in the ‘t Okshoofd in Amsterdam, later known as the Women’s House and after that the new DOK. That’s where I learned how to play. I was eighteen or nineteen when I started playing in clubs. I had gathered some experience at school parties where I tried to mix. Did it work? Nope. At one point I asked a good friend, DJ Tyson to teach me how to mix. He totally tried, but I sooner learned how to scratch than to mix. Still, scratching never became my thing. I didn’t think it suited my style of playing.”

Easy

“Of course, I was totally bummed out that only one lesson wasn’t enough for me to get a grip on mixing. As if! (laughs). So, I asked Tyson if I he was prepared to leave his SL’s and mixer with me for two weeks. That way I could teach myself. Naturally it wasn’t that easy, but I came a long way.”

No way near pitch-perfect

“In the end, I learned how to play in clubs simply by doing it. I’m still utterly grateful that I had the opportunity. In the beginning, my mixes were nowhere pitch-perfect but I made up for it with it by my choice of music. The crowd liked it. I still have some TDK cassette-tapes that contain mixes that I was oh so proud of back then. When I listen to them now, I think: ‘Cute, but ooh mi gado!’” (laughs)

Tough

“In those days, people often said to me: ‘You look so tough and focused’. I usually answered: ‘Tough? You’d be surprised!’ Because, many times I was extremely nervous, especially the first half hour. It still happens to me every once in a while. Nothing wrong with that though, is my opinion. Imagine that I would approach every gig with the attitude: ‘With my 28 years of experience I’ll simply get this done’. If I will ever feel that way, it’s time to make a career-change. Healthy anxiety actually adds to the drive.”

Natarcia 2017 photo by samantha noten - Natarcia (NL): “Part of Fierce Ruling Diva’s dance act”

Flirty

“Mijn allereerste gig was dus in 1989 in ‘t Okshoofd aan de Amsterdamse grachtengordel. Het was echt een underground club met real night people, kunstenaars, muzikanten, criminelen. Kortom: een gezellige boel. Het publiek was complimenteus, vriendelijk en flirterig. In die tijd stonden nog niet zoveel dames achter de knoppen. Ondertussen keek ik mijn ogen uit, want ik ging zelf toentertijd nog niet uit.”

Fierce Ruling Diva

“I arrived at the gig with my best friends from school and two regular suitcases filled with 12’’’s that included my parent’s records. I was super nervous. Fortunately, I was situated in a dark corner. The music I played varied from Prince, Sheila E, The Family to soul, swingbeat, US-garage and a few popular hits. In those days, I also was part of Fierce Ruling’s Diva dance act. Fierce Ruling Diva was the alias for Jeroen Flamman’s and Jeff Porter’s (Abraxas) live-act. As a result of that, during my first gig, I also dug into the harder stuff. I loved the tracks that these guys made and played at Subtopia, Hellraiser, Thunderdome and Multigroove. I still adore tracks like FTD’s You Gotta Believe and Frequency/Orlando Voorn’s Kiss The Sky.”

Harder side of house

“My first gig was a success and so thought the crowd. Did I make any mistakes? Of course, but I think I was more concerned about it than the public was. I’ve always stuck to my love for the harder side of house and the underground scene. In Amsterdam I played soulful and clubby, but in Rotterdam I could connect with my darker side.”

SL1200 era

“I used to bring all vinyls that I loved and was able to carry to my gigs. That’s how I still operate. For every gig, I’m equipped with  two full USB-organizers, with lots of new but also old tracks and certainly not only house music. If you ask me about present Top 40 music, I don’t have a clue. I used to though. These days I don’t watch TV anymore and I rarely listen to the radio. I believe that I am one of the last DJs that converted to CDs and later USBs. I never foresaw the ending of the SL1200 era. But oh well, the times change. I have noticed that vinyl is making a comeback and hope that this trend continues.”

Three full vinyl-crates

“Whenever I have the opportunity, I bring my vinyl to a gig. I utterly enjoy to be able to estimate the old-fashioned way how much time I have to mix in my next track. Neither do I mind a scratch or a tick. I don’t like prepared folders with all tracks categorized in an alphabetic playlist. My favorite way of playing included having three full vinyl-crates in the booth with me. Not that I ever got around to playing every track, but everything I might possibly need was present and I could, completely spontaneously, tell my story. Nowadays, when I perform at festivals or bigger gigs, I usually play a classics or blackhouse set.”

Smileys

“Going to all record stores was part of the game in those days. Whenever I stumbled on a track that was the shit, I immediately purchased one for Miss Monica and one for DJ Promiss. They returned the favor. We scribbled smileys or other sweet messages on the covers.”

For and by women

“That first gig in ‘t Okshoofd preceded my first residency in the Women’s House, also situated in Amsterdam. The event where I played was an event for and by women. For me the most beautiful part was that everyone who participated in making this monthly event happening, was completely equal. Together we tackled the job of building-up and breaking-down, including lugging the speakers. Collectively we decorated the venue and made sure the atmosphere was cozy and comfortable. I think everyone actually got the exact same amount of money.”

Sports theme

“Those were the days. Every month the party had a different theme. I very well remember the sports theme, when women appeared in tennis, soccer and basketbal outfits, and in ballet-attire, etcetera. All was decided collectively and the DJ had no more status than the toilet or entrance lady, the female light technician or the bartender. Through my life, this has been a major influence: having a great party, is a collective effort! Because of this experience I still prefer playing long sets at the same location. This way all of us together give the venue a soul. Besides that, being the DJ you absolutely know what tracks your colleagues behind the bar totally enjoy.” (laughs)

Natarcia ten tijde van haar first gig - Natarcia (NL): “Part of Fierce Ruling Diva’s dance act”

Sinners in Heaven

“For some time, I also played at the new DOK. After a while, the club was baptized Sinners in Heaven. This turned out to be my best learning experience thinkable. Every week I played six or seven days from 10 PM till 6 AM. We had lots of steady guests. Some of them especially came for the last hour of soul/slow jams.”

Groovemaster Johnson

“A while later, I met Groovemaster Johnson in club RoXY. He gave me the opportunity to play in Club Havana in Amsterdam. I liked extended mixes, preferably with vocals. He encouraged me to create long mixes with tracks that people were familiar with. ‘Otherwise nobody has a clue of what you’re doing’, was his argument and he was totally right.”

Nervous wreck

“I learned a lot by listening to other DJs, e.g. Gino, Dano, Buzz Fuzz & Cockie, Orlando Voorn, Marcello, DJ Jean and Joost van Bellen. I was the Friday-evening resident in De Richter. Sometimes, when Dimitri wasn’t available on Wednesdays, they asked me to fill in. I was a nervous wreck on those nights, but they always turned out to be beautiful. I was very impressed by Doc Martin from Los Angeles, because he played with four or six turntables and varied from hiphop to firm house and everything in between. Something I had never heard in The Netherlands.”

Once a dancer

“Every day is still a learning process. I used to play with a Dateq or second-hand Rodex mixers that lacked effects. During the last edition of Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) I heard and saw Jeff Afrozilla at one of Black Stereo Record’s Afrohouse events. Wow, what a treat for my ears, eyes and feet – once a dancer, hehe. He’s the type of DJ that completely understands his gear. He doesn’t just turn knobs, he abstains from making it complicated, he simply exactly knows how to balance all possible effects! After this performance, I was inspired to deepen my knowledge of my own mixer and CDJs.”

Shyness

“One of the things I totally had to get used to, was to move from the dark and safe DJ booth to a stage that could easily facilitate a complete band. At a certain point, I became one of the resident-DJs of a big Rotterdam-based club, Las Palmas. The manager immediately picked up on my insecurity. In no time he helped me to get over it. ‘Well Tas’, he said, ‘let’s make a deal. During the first half hour of your gig you either look at the crowd and give them an occasional smile or wave your hand, or you don’t. In the latter case, I will ask the light technician to put you in the spotlight’. Needless to say that my shyness evaporated on the spot. I’m still grateful for that.”

Love for animals

“Besides playing, I also worked as an educational officer for youngsters. Also, I worked with animals at DOA, an animal shelter in Amsterdam. Before that, I only knew the night life. By changing my perspective, I discovered that in essence the world is the same everywhere. Playing and my love for animals are equally important to me. My motto is: ’Just be the best person you can be and make sure you surround yourself with loving likeminded spirits’.”

Natarcia knows how to play July 21st 2018 - Natarcia (NL): “Part of Fierce Ruling Diva’s dance act”

Blackhouse

“I see blackhouse as a mix in between afrohouse, which in itself is an extremely broad genre, and latin, US-garage, soulful, gospel, deep funky and disco house. It’s a feeling. For a long time, I struggled when I was asked to explain my style. In 2007 I took on the name Natarcia and started hosting blackhouse parties. When I think of blackhouse, I visualize house dancers from the gay scene.”

“I’m still very involved. March will be a fun month. Aside from my regular gigs at the Harbor Club Amsterdam and the Jaz in the City Hotel, I will also be performing at Thuishaven at festival The Promised Land Wintercircus.”

Photo credit Natarcia 2017: Samantha Noten

This interview was originally published on March 2nd 2017 on DJMag.nl

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