It’s not about the top. It’s about the journey to the top

Let me tell you a little secret: Dancefair was born out of a very narcissistic brain-fart. Out of anger and frustration. Bet you didn’t see that coming, so let me tell you a little more.

Like you, for years I’ve been producing and making music. Sleepless nights in the studio with just one goal: getting a release with my favourite studio. Constantly working, constantly comparing myself to my favourite producers. Too much, in hindsight. Much too much. So much, it wasn’t good for me. Again in hindsight, it was a great time. But back then I spent most time behind my DAW feeling frustrated, because it was never good enough.

While I was working on my tracks I always thought they were the bomb, yet when they were finished I never felt like they were só good that I could take them to a studio and just think – Fuck your opinionI know that what I’ve got is awesome. And as time went by, I lost sight of why I had begun to make music in the first place. I forgot that I loved to make music. I became stressed. With every track, I thought: this has to be the one! But it never was. Thing is, that “perfect track”, it doesn’t exist. Even when people make a track that kills the floor, they’ll often feel like it could have been better – just a little bit – once they put it out there. Looking back, I wish I understood that back then. Perhaps things would have been different.

The crazy thing is, when I listen to my tracks now on my dusty, eight-year-old Soundcloud account, I think: that’s some badass shit. Why didn’t I do something with them again? And they’re still pretty up-to-date; ageless in a way. Nothing wrong with them!

I spent 13 years in the scene as a percussionist. In that capacity I’ve played all the great podia, from Sensation to Mysteryland, right next to the “big Boys.” I lived for music and in my top year I had 160 gigs, yet I kept on dreaming of releasing my own music. I remember going to ADE in 2009. I’d bought a delegate pass – couple hundred euros – and with my fresh tracks I travelled to Amsterdam.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I’m on my way to ADE and I’m thinking: I’m gonna pull this off, easily. I know the scene; what can go wrong? Turns out, a lot. Sure, I knew the artists with whom I’d played, the managers and the promoters,  but I didn’t know the label and publishing world. Man, did I get smacked on the nose. In the label and publishing world, I was a nobody. Norman the drums-guy, but producer? Norman Who? I stood there and lost my tongue.

I hadn’t made a single appointment, and the labels I was hoping to speak to were all busy. At least to me it felt like they were too busy for me. Make no mistake, part of the problem was with me. I was unprepared. But in part it was also the atmosphere; the feeling that if you weren’t part of their club, you didn’t matter. My normal bravado just melted away and without a single constructive conversation, I escaped.

And on the way home I realised: I’ve been making a living as a percussionist for years, and I’m not a shy guy. If I feel like this, how the hell will those thousands of other producers out there feel? Those guys who’re just starting out in the scene, who haven’t had over a hundred gigs and no name to speak of? And then I thought: Wait a second, thousands? What if there are more? Why is there no truly accessible event for those guys?

Looking back, that was quite a special moment. Together with my producing mates, I decided to create the event that we needed. An event where top artists, labels and publishers come together. Of course, you can meet these people at ADE too, but I wanted an event with a different goal, a different mind-set.

I wanted the industry to give back to new talents. I wanted the industry to help the people who weren’t professional musicians, deejays and producers. To answer theirquestions. If only to say: ‘thank you.’ Because who’re the people buying the tracks? Who were, and who are, the fans of the artists that have made it? Easy. You guys.

Six years ago I did an interview with Radio 538, and the presenter asked me:

“Do you really have the best interests of your visitors in mind? It’s not like you can promise thousands of people that they’re gonna make it, or that they’ll all be discovered at your event?”

I wasn’t prepared for the question, but I was ready for it and asked him: “What did you wanna be when you were young?”

“Footballer,” came the answer.

“And where did you hope that would bring you?”

“Ajax or Barcelona.” Of course.

“But didn’t you know, deep in your heart, that chances of achieving that were always slim? And did that stop you from playing football every day? Did it stop you from working on your technique? Did it stop you from dreaming of Camp Nou? ‘Cause that’s Dancefair. Dancefair isn’t just about the goal. It’s about the road to the goal. It’s about living and loving your passion. Having fun. Because that’s the most valuable.”

It’s not about the top. It’s about the journey TO the top. So guys, enjoy your trip. Enjoy it every day you live it. Don’t let anybody get you down!

Love,

Dancefair-Papi

P.S. Just to get prevent any misunderstandings: as a Dutch guy I’m bloody proud of ADE. Of Dancefair too, by the way.