Get Familiar: EYCEE
When it comes to pushing the UK sound in the Netherlands, no one has been more instrumental than EYCEE. From running club nights to being a successful DJ in his own right as now releasing his first V/A under his own label, EYCEE has been on a mission to leave his impact on the music scene. Standing at a sold-out UKG special of the PARDON club night at Parallel, you could not deny the success of these bass and percussion-driven sounds and we just knew it was time to get you familiar with EYCEE and his journey so far so you can better understand where he is going.
How did music first enter your life?
I had to call my mother up for this one. She mentioned that the first moment that she remembers when music first entered her life was when she was like 3/4, I was obsessed with 4 Non Blondes' - What’s Up (1993), which was a huge hit at that time.
The earliest memory I have was recording tapes on a stereo installation and when a song came on I liked I recorded it on this tape. I don’t remember what was on there but these were my first mixtapes and a noble start of my DJ career.
Also, my mother mentioned that I was obsessed with music since young and had a clear preference for the type of music I was drawn to at that time. Also, she mentioned I bought the Bomfunk MC’s Freestyler single before it was a hit. This also proves that I was already drawn to breaks at an early age and clearly explains what music I eventually ended up making/playing.
I also remember going to the Free Recordshop to listen to CDs. The first hip-hop single I bought was Wu-Tang's - Gravel Pit, after my father had approved I could buy it haha.
I’ve always been a hip-hop kid. Throughout my life, I’ve also been influenced by music from skateboard videos. This was a way for me to discover new genres and music before we had algorithms, the internet, and streaming services. I’ve also lived through all of the Kazaa/Limewire days where a song would sometimes take 3 days to download.
What were some of your earlier attempts at doing music before what you do now?
I used to play the guitar when I was young but didn’t have the discipline to practice at that age so dropped it quite quickly. Also, I started making sample-based hip-hop beats on my MPD around 2007/2008, heavily inspired by the likes of DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and J Dilla. I also rapped when I was younger; making tracks with like-minded homies around the Nijmegen area.
Who in the scene excites you the most right now?
I like the hard drum and clubbier more uptempo Amapiano-influenced stuff different artists have been making. Also, it’s good to see that there is this newer generation of UKG producers that are following in the footsteps of their peers.
Also, we have a wave of producers that are making interesting stuff in the Netherlands and I’m gassed to have some of them released on our label. Other than that I’ve been working with Styn for quite a while as well and he’s a super-talented producer, that can pretty much make any/everything.
Furthermore, you should come down to PARDON night; we’re bringing over the artists/sounds that excite us the most there for sure.
What do you get up to when you're not immersed in music?
To be honest I also get immersed in music when I’m having time off. It is that big of a part of my life. I’m also working a day job at Provoke (agency) where I work as a campaign/account manager. Other than that I try to hang with friends when possible, but this often also happens to revolve around musical activities ;)
Furthermore, I work out sometimes or go to the park to do some callisthenics. I’ve also been skateboarding for a big part of my life and every now/then still skate. I’m a big fan of cooking, as my parents owned a restaurant when I was young, and a fun fact: I was born in it. Not on the grill, but we used to live above the restaurant.
How have these activities shaped you within music?
For me, skateboarding has impacted the way I approach things creatively. But also taught me how to experiment with things and see them in a different light (I still see skate spots when I walk around the city).
It taught me to approach creativity freely and to find a way to channel my creativity whenever I feel inspired. Also, skateboarding has enabled me to be persistent and taught me to not stop trying until you make the trick (or track).
Furthermore cooking and making tracks can also be seen as having a similar process as you keep adding/adjusting until your dish is done. The different ingredients are the mix and the condiments the master. In that sense, my tracks might have become better since I started sharpening my cooking skills. I feel like if you master skills in a certain practice, sometimes you’re also able to apply these skills to different areas of your life.
How do you feel about the narrative that there is a UK revival happening right now?
For me personally, all of the sounds coming out of the UK have been a steady part of my life and the sound has inspired me since I was a little boy. Throughout time there were always times when different UK genres reached a bigger audience (UK Funky era, UK House around 2011/12, Grime’s success around 2015 or Drill atm). So for me, it feels like it has always been there and there are moments when some genres/sounds get visible to a bigger crowd. BOTA’s recent success is also an example of this.
How did you start Pardon?
I started PARDON in 2016 out of the necessity to create a platform for underrepresented artists and underground club music. Until this day we’re aiming to build musical bridges between people with the same open-minded approach towards club music.
I noticed there were not a lot of parties at that time I could play at myself and I knew a lot of sick artists that were doing their own thing at that time. There were no outlets where these artists could express themselves or that brought these artists together. With that in mind, I felt like I needed to create that outlet myself. Our parties are an extension of ourselves, the sound and artists we appreciate and support.
We started the party in 2016 in a concept store on the Red light District called ‘Very Much Business’. After this, we’ve organised a couple of different editions at clubs like Oosterbar, and Bitterzoet and we were responsible for the musical curation of various events and co-hostings at parties like Vogue in Club NYX. Also, we held a radio residency at the now-defunct Red Light Radio. At that time I was doing check-ins for Air Bnb. I saved up the tips that I was making and with that money I used to book artists and let them stay at my crib to make these bookings possible (zie: om het te laten lukken)
Also, we’ve organised different variations of the party under the name PROOF and POUND. Pound was held in a skatepark and aimed at creating more of a warehouse rave vibe. PROOF was the softer/more accessible version of PARDON held in Claire at Rembrandt square around 2018.
We’ve always strived to be ahead of the curve when it comes to programming and artists/sounds and overall add to the diversity of what the city has to offer.
We’ve booked numerous artists in early stages of their careers and we aim to keep doing this.
Some artists we booked before we started our adventure at Parallel: Ikonika (LDN), Mella Dee (UK), Carista, Girl Unit (LDN), Gafacci (Ghana), Sylvere (Paris), Syymstress (LDN), Evil Streets (LDN), Akito (JPN), Lyzza (NL/BR), Ahadadream (LDN), Rushmore (LDN), HighGraid (CPH), Nico Adomako (BER), Rachel Green/Zohar, Know VA, DRKNGHTS and more.
What are the parties like?
At the first editions of the parties, we’re always nice and intimate with friends and fam involved. After moving to Parallel the size of the party grew and we got the opportunity to fly over bigger names. We try to always think in terms of the musical line of the night when we book and make sure that people are playing at the right slot for what they love to play. The vibe of the last few parties was really pleasant, there was a lot of hype and we had a crowd coming through that came to dance.
I love seeing a lot of people from different cultures/layers of society coming together and seeing them get inspired or have the time of their lives. If we as an organisation can help to facilitate or catalyse this, we’re more than happy to do so. When people come up to us at the end of the night and show us their appreciation for pushing this sound in Amsterdam, this energizes me and keeps me going.
Parallel is home for PARDON right now - what drew you to the location?
After Covid we’ve felt like we needed some new energy and Parallel with its renewed sound system seemed like a great fit. I have to admit when Ghamte called me with this idea at first I was a bit sceptical, also because at that time we were still reaching the peak pandemic and we hadn’t thrown a party since 2018.
Another reason that drew me to the club is the approach of Parallel, I like the variety of their programming and understood that PARDON would be a great addition and fit to the club’s program. I appreciate the idea of working together with local promoters for the programming of a club. That way more community is involved and doing this matches one of the core values of PARDON (building bridges).
As Pardon grows, what can we expect from future editions?
Firstly we’re planning to keep on going on with what we’ve been doing by bringing the names we want to see perform in the Netherlands to Amsterdam. We will be doing regular radio shows on Radio Radio FM where we invite different producers and DJs.
Also extending our philosophy of bringing people together and building bridges; we’re planning on doing some smaller intimate nights at different venues, where we can involve more local talent. We always try to involve local talent in the line-ups and give back by functioning as a stepping stone for DJs.
Additionally, we’re looking to release more fire club cuts with the world, release a more serious line of merch and we might organise some nights outside of NL too!
What is the fence all about?
For raver safety. No in all seriousness it’s an aesthetical choice; we wanted to give off a bit more raw energy to the space by adding elements to give at that feel and make you lose the idea of where you are. The fence references having the feeling you’re at an outside rave or clash. The idea started when our designer Rasmus incorporated some fences in the first sketches of the party’s artwork. Additionally, club go-ers shaking the fence really adds up to the atmosphere and it’s a good indicator of how the DJ is playing and should maybe pull that up.
How did the record come to be?
I’m a firm believer in building and starting/creating outlets for others and yourself if you miss something in a certain space/location/scene and if you can gather the resources. This is exactly what I’ve been trying to do for the past few years. It’s now coming to fruition through the club night and I’m super happy we finally got PARDON to become a label.
The gears for this project were put in motion when I first heard NOIRE’s 'Nobody’. Discovering the track hadn’t yet been signed to a label, I found the perfect spark to realise my longstanding ambition of starting a label. I hope I can inspire more people to DIY, take matters into their own hands and add what they believe is missing. I believe this leads to a healthier + more diverse environment. This way we can all grow, prosper and eventually build bridges between these platforms/spaces.
Who features on this record?
The compilation exists out of artists that are affiliated with us. Each affiliate represents their own strength and shows the broad influences that feed the label musically. Throughout the Comp, we’re moving from UK funky through breaks, garage & house. The compilation is proof of our focus: releasing unfiltered club cuts with no limitation on genres or borders. The ties between the artists involved are showing that we’ve built a global network of artists over the years, each link in the album artwork represents the collective at large.
On Whut?! Vol. 1, London’s NOIRE is joined by Toulouse-based Kaval & Rotterdam’s garage connoisseur DJ Crisps. The Amsterdam contingent then brings the release full circle, with contributions from myself; newcomer Twiena, Solomas & Stef de Haan, a proponent of creating safe spaces for the city’s queer scene.
We do see the merch floating around - when can we get it?
We’ve spread some merch around friends/fam and have been selling some of this merch on the nights itself. We’re planning on doing more serious drops in 2023. So keep an eye out!
Is Amsterdam ready for UKG?
For sure! I think Amsterdam has been ready. The 1st of October was proof of it being alive here, this night tasted like more and we’re planning on supplying.
There’s a big community of people out of the UK in the Randstad. Also, I feel that a new generation of people is drawn to sound as there are a lot of producers that came up over the last years that are killing it right now.
Why do you personally gravitate to this sound, what projects did you work on before this?
I’ve been intrigued by UK music since early. It started with stuff that was more obvious on channels like TMF, MTV or the Box (Miss Dynamite or The Streets for example). Recently I was at Down the Rabbit Hole and I watched Gorillaz play by myself at that moment it hit me that I was already obsessed with UK music in the early 2000s.
I used to listen to the Sidewinder mixtapes by Slimzee and Dizzee when I was like 12/13. I’m from around Nijmegen and from 2008/2009 onwards my homie (Bas Veekens) started to organise dubstep/grime events (GiveItDub), which also added up to my love for UK music. I started playing out music around 2013/2014 and since then Grime, Garage and UK Bass have always been a part of my sets.
In 2018 I released my debut EP: Delicate Drippin’ on the London-based label Sans Absence. In 2019 I released another EP entitled Valuables. The UK-Funky track ‘Love & BS’ from this project directed by Bobbie Muller, RIP, was nominated for the Xite Music Video of The Year award and premiered through the Patta blog as well. During the pandemic, I’ve released a couple of singles entitled Achtig, Leidse Loop and 2Sexy.
Other projects or brands that I’ve worked on previously include: work for Alle$ Lifestyle, Red Bull Music NL and bookings/management for Styn.
Where can we find out more about your events?
If you would like to know more about our events you can follow PARDON on socials. Big up to the Patta gang and you if you read until this point. Peace and I hope to see you all on the next edition of PARDON on the 3rd of December!