Daraspa: Fulfilling a Dream

One of the most impressive artist debuts of 2013 was undoubtedly Daraspa’s ‘Art Of Illusion’ EP. It marked Sound Avenue‘s 28th overall release and showcased the Dutch producer’s fresh and inspiring sound perfectly. In addition to having his EP earn support from John Digweed, Hernan Cattaneo and Nick Warren Daraspa was also featured heavily on the premiere electronic music station frisky Radio. The Dutch producer was showcased as their ‘Artist of the Week’ in January and was promptly offered his own monthly show (Halcyon) which is now in full swing. Daraspa’s follow up to ‘Art Of Illusion’ entitled ‘Rendro’ is out this week on Sound Avenue, please check our Essential Purchases section for a review and please enjoy our full interview with him below.


1. Hi Patrick, thanks so much for joining us here. Let’s give the people some sort of background info on you so we’ll start with some basic stuff.  Where are you based and how long have you been DJing and producing?

Daraspa: Hi! Thanks for having me. I’m based in Amsterdam and djing for almost twenty years now. The producing is something I picked up for a little more than two years.

2. How did you first discover electronic music?  Where do your musical roots lie and when did you know you wanted to pursue electronic music seriously?

Daraspa: My musical roots came from my father who took me to record stores every week. Back home we would play the records he bought. I really liked Stevie Wonder and soulful stuff. I think I first heard electronic music when acid jazz came out and after that acid house. It got my attention ( i even had one of those big smilies on the back of my coat..haha). Some time after that I listened to a weekly program on the radio with new tracks and a live dj set. It was called “for those who like to groove” and was hosted by Robin Alders (Jaydee). I found out there was al lot of diversity going on in house music and that was about the time I fell in love with it. A couple of years later i bought myself two SL-1200 turntables and started to mix records myself. From that moment on I was found regularly in the recordstores in Amsterdam – especially Outland Records.

3. The Netherlands is a country well known for its vast amount of electronic music talent, how has some of your fellow countryman’s success affected your journey into electronic music over the years?

Daraspa: When I studied in Amsterdam I always went to the Roxy on thursday where Dimitri had his famous “High Tech Soul Movement” club nights. I think he was the first dutch DJ that really influenced my style. Actually one of his famous sayings is “don’t be a prisoner of your own style” and I still feel that way. Good music lies in all different genres as long as it touches the senses in a nice way I guess. Nowadays the producers from Holland that I like the most are Eelke Kleijn and Navar. I’m also a big fan of Matthew Dekay.

4. Do you get out to events much and if so who if anyone has blown you away recently?

Daraspa: No. Unfortunately I do not go out that much anymore. The last one I went to is Guy J here in Amsterdam. He played a solo set in Club NL end of february– one of his favourite places in Amsterdam. It was amazing. I respect him a lot for who he is and the beautiful tracks he is giving us.

5. What do you do outside of electronic music? what is a regular day like for Daraspa and what do you enjoy doing besides producing and DJing?

Daraspa: I am a controller in daily life. I`m married and we have two boys (4 and 6). Its fantastic  to see a human being growing older and having experiences. It`s very hectic with two young boys running around but they understand my passion for house music. I enjoy it a lot. Besides producing I really like to watch movies, spend time with my family and running (off course whilst listening to great house music).

 6. You’ve got a brand new track entitled ‘Rendro’ out this week on Sound Avenue, it’s a great follow-up to your ‘Art Of Illusion’ EP. Tell us a bit about this new track ‘Rendro’.

Daraspa: Thanks. Rendro was made about the same time as the tracks on my Art of illusion EP. For me its a very nostalgic track. There is a delayed synth hook in there that really touches me. It kind of takes me right back to the roots and reminds me of the atmosphere in the beginning/like being on one of those warehouse parties that were held here in Amsterdam. Very Spacy and electronic but still very warm. High tech soul if you like. Rendro is  remixed by two producers I admire very much. Andre Sobota`s take on it is very hypnotic and has a nice flavour of break beat. The version of Eyal Cohen is much more funky with a deep house and soulful feel to it. Both versions  touch me in a pleasant way. They did an excellent job. I am really happy with the whole pack. The tracks complement each other .

7. Going back to your Art Of Illusion EP for a moment, it was pretty much your first official release and Sound Avenue chose to release the EP without any remixes which shows how much they believed in the quality of the original compositions. The EP earned support from John Digweed, Hernan Cattaneo, Chris Fortier, Darin Epsilon, Navar and many other DJs both big and cutting edge. One of the tracks on the EP ‘Sashke’ was selected by Beatport as one of the weeks Must Hear Progressive House tracks which is a huge honour. How did all this success make you feel given that you were pretty much unknown at the time and were you ever worried that maybe the release wouldn’t be received as well as you’d hoped?

Daraspa: It was indeed a very intense period. About two years ago I decided to work less and follow my dream and start producing. The goal was to produce a track on a nice label that would get support from DJ`s that I like and admire. I never expected of fulfilling that dream so soon. But now that I have some knowledge on that territory I can’t let go anymore.! It`s far more complicated than I initially thought though. I learn new things every week. I have alot of respect for all the producers that mastered the craft of making good house music. Its a true art. I experienced the period of the release as being in a bubble. I couldn’t produce anymore. But I was very lucky to have my first release on Sound Avenue. Dominique – the owner of Sound Avenue- was a very big help and did an excellent job guiding me through it.

8. Your artist name is quite unique and come to think of it all your track titles are very unique as well. Is there a special meaning behind any of them?

Daraspa: Sashke is short for Sasha and Kenzo. The first names of my sons. The other strange tracknames are built up like that too. They are named after persons that I deeply love or respect – or both. The name Daraspa I made up a long time ago. It has to do with something that was extremely difficult for me to accomplish. To remind myself of this (the struggle and the victory so to say) I came up with this name so I could keep it with me at all times. So in short it yes it has a very special meaning J .

9. Your relationship with the Belgian imprint Sound Avenue has been a very fruitful one. They are one of premier outlets for contemporary progressive music and just being on their roster is a huge honour. How did you initially meet label boss Dominique Heyninck and how did the initial EP come to fruition?

Daraspa: I remember those moments very well. I saw a call for tracks for the future compilation on 3rd avenue so I send them one of my tracks (Kensa). Not long after that I got a really enthusiastic mail from Dominique asking me if I had more tracks. I send him Sashke and Carfre and he was even more enthusiastic. He decided that it was good enough to be a EP on Sound Avenue and off course I was completely blown away by that news. I already knew the label by that time because of excellent productions of Navar and Namatjira. Two excellent producers from Holland. Dominique is really passionate about the music and his artists.

10. You’ve done some amazing unofficial remixes, most notably of London Grammar and Apparat. We’ve yet to see an official remix from you though, have you been receiving any requests and are you working on any now?

Daraspa: I made one official remix for 3rd avenue (Matias Spatarro – Layering Bass example one) but it is not released yet. I got some requests but I didn’t feel I could add something to it. Right now I am working on a remix for Ozcur Ozkan. It will be released in June I think.

11. So you’ve been producing for about 2 years, how has your studio changed in that time?

Daraspa: Well.. I really am a beginner as I mentioned before. Only two years so I’ve been building it up since then.  I put a lot of time in optimizing and organizing my setup. I work mainly in Ableton and Logic. I have some hardware like an Access Virus and a Minimoog and a UAD Apollo. Its great to work with this equipment. I work on a Macbookpro and can take my work with me everywhere. I travel alot so most of my studio is with me the whole time.

12. You recently landed your own show on friskyRadio which is home to Nick Warren, Dave Seaman and a wide range of other top DJs. How did you end up getting such a prestigious slot on frisky and tell us a bit about your show. When can we hear it, what sort of music can your fans expect and do you or will you be featuring any guests in the future?

Daraspa: I was looking for a show on a radiostation to showcase all the great music that is currently released. I sent a demomix to frisky and it clicked right away. They asked me to do another one and after that they gave me the prestigious artist of the week slot in January. Then they offered me a permanent slot for a monthly show. I named it Halcyon. The premiere was in March and it will be broadcasted every second Monday of the month at 14:00 PM Europe Time. I feel blessed to have my own show and even more to have it on and Frisky. They are very professional and are home to DJ`s that I have been listening to for  a long time now. Its great to be a resident now there. As for the show I have a wide interest in music so tracks can come from deephouse, progressive, tech-house, techno and even Indie. I try to mix the best tracks from different genres in one hour. So, no musical boundaries, just the tracks that really got to me at the time.  But also a musical landmark, tracks that are timeless in my opinion. Off course I will be the host the first couple of broadcasts but I do have some names in mind that I like to invite in the future.

13. What does the rest of 2014 look like for you, any upcoming releases you can tell us about?

Daraspa: I’ve got lots of unreleased stuff lying around but I haven’t put a lot of energy into sending it to labels yet. As for signed releases I have one more release coming up on 3rd avenue. The track is named Childhood. It will be released with two remixes. I made one official remix of a track by Matias Spataro (Layering Example One – The Bass) for 3rd avenue. There is no release date set yet for that one. Right now I am working on a remix of Ozgur Ozcan that will be a released this summer on Massive Harmony Records from Buenos Aires.

 Ok now it’s time for some quick fire stuff which is generally reserved for our 12 Questions segment but for the sake of this interview lets have some fun and add it on here.

14. If you had to pick one track which solidified your love for electronic music early on what would it be?

Daraspa: That would be without a doubt Ce Ce Rogers – CeCe’s Groove (For the DJ Mix). Brilliant track from ’94.

15. What was your first and last DJ gig?

Daraspa: My first big DJ Gig was in Mexico City around ’96. My last one was in a very cool venue here in Amsterdam called ‘ de Toren’. It’s a very cool place that reminds me a lot about the Roxy. I played for BeatUnique. He is a very talented organiser here in Amsterdam with an unique concept where performers and artists from different arts (painters, dancers, musicians all sorts) join together for a mesmerizing night. I think its one of the best evenings in Amsterdam at the moment.

16. What was the first and last record you purchased?

Daraspa: First record /George morel – Morel’s groove !! [Strictly Rhythm – ‘92]. Last record / Guy J – Dizzy Moments [Lost and Found]

17. What would you say is the highlight of your career thus far?

Daraspa: I have lots of highlights. The parties I had in Mexico City. Playing in Israel at the millennium and recently the support I got for my debut album. I feel very blessed already with these experiences.

18. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?

Daraspa: I don`t watch television.

19. Who are some of the best undiscovered talents in your eyes?

Daraspa: Thats hard for me to tell. I`m sure there are alot of talented producers out there that nobody knows. Sometimes it feels very unfair to me that really talented people who make absolutely fantastic music have to work secondary jobs to cope. And yet I see all this garbish house on beatport that is made by people who have hundred of thousand followers on FB and can make a living out of it. But this is the reality now I guess. But thank god for passionate people who make music that really touches you.

20. Which producers consistently inspire you? Daraspa: I get inspiration from lots of producers. There is so many good music out there. But here are the people that come to my mind first: Guy Gerber, Mind Against, Dixon, Guy J., Rone, Apparat, Ame, Danny Howells.

21. What artist or track would you love to remix? and who would you love to be remixed by?

Daraspa: An official Apparat mix would be nice. As for remixers I would love to be remixed by Eelke Kleijn or Navar.

22. Record labels are a dime a dozen these days and the majority of people feel most of them are mediocre music factories. Which ones if any standout for you?

Daraspa: I really like Life and Death, Permanent Vacation, Sound Avenue, Sudbeat and microCastle.

23. What would you say is the best mix compilation of all time?

Daraspa: That’s really hard to say for me. It used to be back to mine by Dave Seaman and some of the Global Undergrounds by Nick Warren (especially Reykjavik). But the one that really got to me lately is the Fabric Album that Guy Gerber did a couple of years ago (Fabric 64) and the Balance CD from Guy J. These CD`s are like stories..musical journeys. There is so much emotion in it. I think most people would find there is not enough excitement on it but if you listen to it carefully you hear the story that is behind it, melancholic and melodic, ups-and-downs.  Its brilliant.

24. Current Favourites (you can list more than one per category if you like)

Food: Steak, Macaroni
Drink: Red Wine, Mexican beer
Drug: I don`t use any
Animal: Cats!
TV Show: Seinfeld and Breaking Bad
Movie: Fight Club and Incendies
Video Game: I don’t play any video games
Album: Massive Attack / Mezzanine / 100% window
Track / Song: Guy Gerber – A blade through my piano and… Sabia – Despite of
Producer / Band: Massive Attack / Sabia
Record Label: Life and Death
Nightclub: Trouw Amsterdam
DJ: Nick Warren

25. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?

Daraspa: I would choose my own track Sashke – It was a complete trip making it so i would love to relive that trip with my audience.

Release Promo would like to send a huge thanks to Patrick for taking the time to do this interview.

‘Rendro’ is out now on Sound Avenue, you can purchase the release: here

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Guy J – Dizzy Moments/Diaspora (Lost & Found)