Radikal Roy: “There I stood with the booked headliner”

Radikal Roy and Marceline 2020
Just before corona broke out, we were together at Thuishaven. This week in the series MY FIRST GIG: Radikal Roy: "It was like a fairy tale."

This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)

Just before corona broke out, we were together at Thuishaven, where he was playing. This week in the series MY FIRST GIG: the Dutch Roy Reeb a.k.a. Radikal Roy: "It was like a fairy tale with extravagant people, smoke, and beautiful colors."

“At around age ten, I bought my first radio. One with a cassette deck so I could record radio shows like Ferry Maat’s Soul Show. Then I cut out the voice so I only had the music.”

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Record player in a suitcase

“My neighbor in Hillegom worked at CBS Haarlem, a record pressing plant owned by Sony. She dealt with all the music on promo vinyl for Europe. Through her work, she got a ton of 7″ singles. Because she always heard me playing music, she brought these for me. So I got all kinds of promos from Earth Wind & Fire and various eighties soul and disco. To play them, I got a record player in a suitcase from my uncle, with a flap you could open for the speaker.”

Musical drive

“And so I was always and forever busy with music. This was noticed in high school, and soon I was responsible for the music at the end-of-year party every year. So, in fact, my first gig was at a school party. Here I discovered that I enjoy playing new music and seeing people happy about it. My musical drive is always to make people smile.” (laughs)

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Strobe light and pumping music

“The first time I really came into contact with electronic music was around 1987. I ended up at an acid party at the youth center Remina in Hillegom. The main artist was Formosa and the emphasis was on Belgian acid beat. I had never experienced anything like it! All I saw was smoke and a strobe light, and I heard pumping music. The audience consisted mainly of fans of alternative music like Depeche Mode. I was hugely impressed by all of this.”

Round record stores

“My interest was piqued! Around the age of fifteen, I had saved enough from my newspaper round to buy two Technics SL1200 MK2’s myself. Every Thursday evening, I did a round of Outland Records, Dancetracks, Midtown Records, and Boudisque in Amsterdam. I also regularly went to Haarlem to Alexander Konings’ record store Trance Central, Ron Rhythm in The Hague, and Benny Rodriguez’s Basic Beat in Rotterdam. That way, I naturally met all kinds of people from the scene.”

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Felt like a movie

“That also happened when going out. I often went to the iT and sometimes to the slightly rougher RoXY. In the end, we still just called all the variants house, but my personal preference was for the mellow, think Marcello. I always experienced those nights at Club iT as magical. Sometimes it felt just like a movie with famous people like footballers and actors, extravagant dancers and drag queens… It was like a fairy tale. I have so many beautiful memories of Club iT.”

Boxes for the DJs

“In the nineties, I started working as a promoter/plugger at Rhythm Distribution, with record stores in both Amsterdam and Utrecht. I was the one who sent vinyl to the DJs. Joost van Bellen, Dimitri, Erick E, Marcello, Jean, and various others knew their way to the wholesaler well. At one point, we even set up different boxes for them because we knew what their diverse tastes were. Later on, I also worked at Mox Music, where Laidback Luke was also located at the time. There I set up the CD department.”

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Pirate radio station

“One day, together with two friends, Bas Jansen and Ron Mense, I was approached to host a radio program on the Zandvoort pirate station. It was called The Wild Pitch. Because I was working at Mox Music at the time, I always had the newest dance music with me. Bas happened to work for the distributor of Astral Music, so he also brought the latest tracks from his work. Because we already had a large network of DJs through our work, we regularly did a phone interview or a DJ mix with one of them.”

Next Generation

“I organized my first real gig with friends. That was in 1992 or 1993. Together with, among others, Tim Nieuwenhuizen, who now runs Midi Amsterdam, we decided to organize an afterparty after a Gaultier party at Studio Aalsmeer. That was practically around the corner from an old farmhouse/youth center with the appropriate name De Hoeve in Hoofddorp. We called our organization Next Generation and got to work. The other party would end at 4 o’clock, so we had flyers printed and had a few girls hand them out when the Gaultier crowd came out.”

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'We'll see'

“In the meantime, I went to pick up Stacey Pullen, who at the time lived in Amsterdam with Derrick May. I had a somewhat wait-and-see attitude about the turnout and thought ‘we’ll see’. However, when I arrived with Stacey in the parking lot, it was packed! Especially with Belgian cars, which made sense because the Gaultier concept was very popular in Belgium. Rows of people were standing at the door and we couldn’t get in. There were no mobile phones at the time, so we couldn’t just call inside that a back door needed to be opened. Meanwhile, it was 5 o’clock in the morning and we were knocking on the windows and screaming. There you are with your booked headliner.” (laughs) “Luckily, someone eventually heard us and we were let in through the emergency exit.”

Fairy tale

“Once inside, I felt a similar magic to what I knew from the iT. It was also like a fairy tale with extravagant people, smoke, and beautiful colors. Moreover, I was amazed: there were just 800 people in front of me. Tim had opened the event, then Stacey came, and I was the closer from 10 to 12 o’clock. Although it had been a long day, I was full of adrenaline. After all, we had only half expected that no one would come, so this was super exciting. I got so much energy from this that I was ready for my set.”

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Audience and atmosphere

“As usual, I had two crates of records with me. I had sorted the vinyl somewhat by build-up and on mellow or heavy. I never prepare anything further and look at the audience and the atmosphere on the spot. For me, the key question is always: ‘How can I take everyone further into the story?’. While waiting next to Stacey with positive tension, I wondered which track I would start with. Stacey was playing melodic techno at that moment, and I wanted to hook into that. In the end, my first track was Play With The Voice by Joe T. Vannelli. I saw people getting hypnotized and experiencing ecstasy, and I immediately got goosebumps. That’s what you do it for! For me, this was also a moment when I knew I wanted to continue with this.”

Right track at the right moment

“I can’t remember if I made any mistakes that night. Sure, later on I might have accidentally lifted the needle off the wrong record or something, but I think at that time, I was mainly focused on not pulling too many tricks. Mixing itself wasn’t that important to me anyway. It was all about playing the right track at the right moment, and that still holds true. Once I put the needle on the first record, I immediately got into my element, creating a flow and feeling the energy of the crowd inspiring me. It was effortless and euphoric.”

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Club Oxa

“After that, many doors opened, and I started spinning more often. For three years, I was a resident DJ at Club Oxa in Zurich, Switzerland, spinning weekly. Through work, I got in touch with Swiss DJ Antoine, who ran a record store called Global Records in Basel. He invited me to play at Oxa, the house club of Zurich at the time. The venue had two rooms, and I was immediately scheduled to play in the main room. The club was at least twice as big as the iT; the main room could fit 1500 people. The crowd, like me, loved mellow, vocals, and groove, simply good house music, and I could really do my thing there.”

Life around music

“At that time, my whole life revolved around music: I’d leave work on Friday, fly to Switzerland to play twice, and fly back on Sunday night or Monday morning to go back to work here. I also played at Club Pravda in Lucerne and some festivals in Switzerland, as well as in Belgium at La Rocca. Plus, I stood alongside my lifelong buddy DJ Raymundo (photo above) in Dubai.”

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Funny story

“Later on, I was a resident at De Kroon on Rembrandtplein in Amsterdam for more than ten years. I followed Raymundo when he became a resident at Club Escape. Ultimately, this is still a funny story. I used to listen to the radio show And The Beat Goes On on Sundays, with DJ Peter Duikersloot, among others. Later, Peter became my boss at Rhythm Import. I also listened to Ton “Poppy” Poppes on the radio, and he later became my boss at De Kroon.” (laughs)

“In a distant past, I released a record with Laidback Luke on the Groove Alert label as a producer. We did it under the name The Sound Travellers. In the long run, however, I focused more on DJing. I just love creating a good atmosphere as a DJ. On November 7th, I’m booked for The Promised Land Wintercircus at Thuishaven, but it’s still uncertain if it will happen. So, we’ll have to wait and see.”

This interview with Radikal Roy is originally published in August 2020 on This Is Our House.

Who is Radikal Roy?

Radikal Roy has a true passion for real house music. Radikal Roy started his dj career in the early 90’s. He’s the boss of his label Radikal Rhythm, and played his tunes all around the world, from Dubai to Switzerland.

Radikal Roy was a regular guest at the “Defected in the House” parties when they first landed in the Amsterdam Club scene.

With his resident spots like De Kroon, Mr.Porter and Bar Kitchen van Rijn, Radikal Roy has the skills to entertain the crowd with his groovy sounds.

More Radikal Roy?

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