I really lose track of time and it’s difficult to remember what year and month issues of XLR8R came out as some issues of the magazine only ever had a number to denote the chronology of release. I’m guessing that this issue came out in ’98 or ’99. Either way this is an interview with Stefan Robbers and Harold de Kinderen. The article headline is “Holland’s Stefan Robbers,” but Harold was there too and made some interesting comments. I think the interview was conducted in the Parc 55 hotel on Cyril Magnin street, just around the corner from me in the Tenderloin. I probably did this interview and then rushed to work at Amoeba. The halcyon days of the late ’90s.
Holland’s Stefan Robbers.
In the current wave of hysteria over European dance music, a lot of attention has been thrust upon the French and Swedish, but many forget that Holland has been a hotbed of techno and house production before either of the former two nations really came into the picture. One underground producer who has pushed the envelope for European techno is Eindhoven, Holland resident Stefan Robbers. He began making music in 1990, having been influenced buy the early sounds coming from Chicago and Detroit and by the British acid house tunes. Back then he was among about two or three other producers in Holland including Jochem Paap, aka Speedy J. Stefan has recorded as Florence and Terrace (to whom we are eternally grateful for the storming remix of Ron Trent’s “Altered States,” which inspired Slam to make “Postive Education), REC, Conman, and under his own name for Amsterdam’s 100% Pure imprint.
At the moment there is an excellent Eevolute compilation called “Agenda 23,” an Acid Junkies DJ mix, “The Acid Life,” an Acid Junkies album called EU, and a track by Stefan called “Sunset Boulevard,” which appears on the current Offshoot compilation. Stefan Robbers is a busy man, but he recently visited San Francisco with his Acid Junkies partner, Harold de Kinderen, and I had the chance to talk with them about their project and Stefan’s influential Eevolute label. “Lately I’ve been wondering whether I should continue with Eevolute or not.” he said, “it doesn’t have the unique position it used to have. I’ve been trying to expand the label over the last few years, but I’ve decided to leave it as it is and just release things on an irregular basis, just make music that we like. Not for money making purposes, but to make a statement about the way we want to make music.”
With Acid Junkies, Stefan and Harold take the 303 sound to another level by playing live. This experience allows them to look at dance music and how people react to it. They love playing to Scottish and Dutch crowds. “We have a picture from a gig we did in Scotland and everyone in the room seems to be smiling and enjoying themselves. Scottish people are quite direct (yes they are), if they don’t like your music they will tell you. In Holland you can do whatever you want with music. We have a good culture for that, there are lots of places that are government sponsored” (Shock horror! The government helping people enjoy themselves. Shouldn’t be allowed). Harold interjects, “There are sort of youth cultural centers where they have gigs, alternative movies, and in the weekends they have club nights. The people who go to these events are a bit more open minded than your usual club goers. They will go see a rock band and the following week there will be a jungle night and they’ll say, “Let’s go, it could be interesting.” They approach everything with that attitude. it’s sort of what we call a festival crowd.”
When asked about what music interests them at the moment, Harold and Stefan answered, “Things come and go these days, you have the French style like Dimitri. We like Julius Paap (whom they were surprised to hear wasn’t Dutch). We like his jazzy house stuff; there’s more soul in it, more complex patterns. Those elements are missing in a lot of other music. Many people get excited about all this regular drum pattern stuff, like the Adam Beyer stuff. We can’t understand the fascination with that.
Keep an eye out for further Acid Junkies and Eevolute releases for an interesting take on the techno side of things, especially the Agenda 23 album and EP and singles from artists like Ballet Mechanique, Max 404, David Caron, and Stefan himself. Chris Orr