ZaVen (NL): “Even then, networking was key”

ZaVen behind the booth in Atlantis Alkmaar
In 2016 ZaVen told me about his first gig. “When I saw how the crowd was dreaming away on my music, it tasted like more.”

This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)

Sven Dekker aka DJ/producer Zaven was born and raised in Alkmaar, The Netherlands. In 2016 he told me about his first gig. “When I saw how the crowd was dreaming away on my music, it tasted like more.”

“I’m born on September 4th 1973 in Alkmaar and grew up there as well. I stem from a blue-collar family and have two sisters. We didn’t have a lot of money for luxury. ‘If you want something, you work for it’, was my parent’s motto. At that time, I didn’t like this very much, because my friends had everything. Afterwards, however, I am very grateful to my parents!”

City Guards

“At home, at my parents’ house, the radio was constantly playing. Besides this, my father had a lot of vinyl in different genres, from Tol Hansen (Dutch singer, red.) to ABBA and several drum-bands. Together with his brother and a few others, my father founded de Showband Alkmaar, later known as the City Guards. I often accompanied him to military events where they played. Until this day, I get emotional when I see a band marching by, so you can say that this music is deeply rooted inside of me.”

Turn Up The Bass

“The father of a youth friend, whom is still my best friend, owned a dancing school in Alkmaar. In the eighties hip-hop music became quite popular and dancing was an essential part of this style. Wearing flared dungarees and a cap on my head I completely submerged in the genre. Also, prominently present in my collection were the Turn Up The Bass cassette tapes. This way I got in touch with house at an early stage.”

2005 Lotje getikt LImmen - ZaVen (NL): "Even then, networking was key"


“When I was about twenty I ended up in a squat in Alkmaar. One of the inhabitants had two turntables and a mixer. When I was allowed to try to play myself, I was immediately sold! This marks the beginning of my addiction to house, the playing and making mixes. The first turntables I bought, were JBL’s with a snare and a simple mixer. Technics were financially out of my league and soon I found out that mixing on JBL’s was a lot harder than on Technics-gear. Which is quite logical, because the latter were motorically driven and therefore much more accurate.”


“I think that my first house party was Urban Bass Experience in grand-café Het Gulden Vlies in Alkmaar. This was somewhere in the eighties. Champ-E-On, Bass D and Buzz Fuzz. They had a laser beam and I thought it was fabulous and innovative. That’s when I knew for sure: this is what I wanted to do as well!”

Matrix at the Park 2008 Nijmegen Vierdaagse - ZaVen (NL): "Even then, networking was key"


“My first gig was in the late eighties in another squad in Alkmaar. Its name was De Raad. On a regular basis underground parties were organized here. I was going to play in the chill-out area, which was an opened-up basement with a gigantic locker area. This is where I played my first ambient tracks combined with my own demo’s on cassette decks. I wasn’t nervous at all, I was first of all really looking forward to this gig. When I was the audience dreaming away on my music, it tasted like more.”


“By going to loads of parties, distributing my mixes and talking to organizers, more and more I got in touch with people who wanted me to play at their party. Even then, networking was key. And of course, you needed to be able to play. My mix technique wasn’t as refined then as it is now, but I compensated that by playing excellent music. It’s still my opinion that it’s better to have a great record-choice with a few small errors in the mix than the other way around. Sure, the aim is making no mistakes, but the possibility of making them adds more charm to live mixing than the nowadays popular sync mode.”


“In the nineties, when the PC’s entered their third era, the first audio mastering programs became available on a DOS operating system. One of these programs was Fast Tracker and later MAD Tracker. Even when Windows made its entrance and better audio programs were on the market, I still used these trackers to produce triphop. People were surprised by what I got out of them, but I was hesitant to release my own tracks because of the inferior sound quality.”

Zaven augustus 2018 1017x1024 - ZaVen (NL): "Even then, networking was key"


“As a consequence, I mainly focused on playing. This is how, in the late nineties, early 2000’s, I got asked for more serious, bigger gigs. Usually I played in the chill-out area, which is a genre I still love. I loved seeing my name among big names and until this day, I try to give 100% at every gig. Whether it’s for a big or small crowd. Meanwhile I continued to produce, but I kept the results for myself.”

Ambient Daan

“In 2005 I received a surprising email from Ambient Daan. He asked me if, in reference to a large event, I could send him a demo within the next two weeks. So, I put several mixes and a few of my own tracks on a CD. I had no idea what it was for and I was flabbergasted that Daan had reached out to me. Ambient Daan was a well-known DJ! In the end, I sent him the demo-CD, including some brief information about myself. After two months, I received an email saying that they wanted me to play at Dance Valley! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Needless to say, I did a little happy dance.” (laughs)

Dance Valley 2005 Spaarnwoude - ZaVen (NL): "Even then, networking was key"


“The day itself was unforgettable. We were accredited via de DJ/VIP entrance and consequently I was driven to the stage in a blinded van. No-one had ever heard of me. Yet, there I was, in between all these huge artists. During the following period I got bookings in Bulgaria, where I shared the stage with The Timewriter and Terry Lee Brown. Jr.. I was also booked for the Edit Festival in 2012 and the Liteside Festival in 2009, I played at the Westergas area in Amsterdam and performed at Matrix at the Park 2008, during the Nijmeegse Vierdaagse (a large annual 4-day walking event in the Netherlands, red.).”


“After 2014 my releases suddenly went very well. 2014 Is also the year in which I completely transferred tot modern audio software and expanded the necessary analog gear. By now, you can find my tracks on 38 EPs and I have released 23 albums on twelve different labels, mostly deephouse and some techhouse. In 2016 a few more will be added.”

“If someone would have predicted all of this years ago, I would have called them crazy. Obviously I am super proud now, especially if you consider that my goal was to once have one release. That worked out well! I also have a small scoop for you: right now, I’m working on creating my own record label.”

This article is originally on Thursday May 12th 2016 published on

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