Tales From The Echobox 013
New year, new Tales from the Echobox! Lock in for another run of conversations with Amsterdam-based Radio Station, Echobox's community of broadcasters. The station has evolved leaps and bounds over the past few months including a collaborative T-Shirt with Patta, an all-day-all-night event at Paris Fashion Week as well as winning the Amsterdam Prize for Art 2022. Echobox has been forging a path for community radio by showcasing the diverse characters and concepts that surround them. In this feature, we will be looking into a few of the broadcasts that you can tune into so get locked in and don’t touch that dial.
Nico, you’re the driving force behind the con:texto show, which pulls together the threads of contemporary LATAM music. Tell us about how it came about.
The idea for con:texto came about from a little thought experiment on whether reggaeton can be considered electronic dance music. I’ve always thought reggaeton has all the features of club-focused electronic music and serves the same purpose: it’s played in clubs for hours on end (at least back in Latin America) and the tracks have always been produced with the same DAWs and VSTs as electronic dance music.
Despite this, reggaeton in Europe has always been kept out of spaces that play electronic dance music for a myriad of reasons and instead confined to more commercially-focused clubs. So con:texto was born to showcase the latest tracks from Latin American producers, which rhythmically draw from reggaeton as well as other LATAM genres (cumbia, guaracha, you name it) but at the same time use an (even more) explicitly electronic sonic palette - a combination I think holds the key to destroying that imaginary wall in people’s mind between the two scenes.
What’s the meaning behind the name of the show - con:texto?
From the start I knew I wanted to give some context about the tracks I play on the show when it felt right: for example what part of LATAM the producer is from and what local rhythms they’re drawing on.
Contexto translates to ‘context’ in Spanish, and the colon creates a bit of wordplay as it separates the word into ‘con texto’ which literally translates into ‘with text’ - nodding to the fact that I give some background about the music I’m mixing.
Who or what is doing it for you musically at the moment, in Chile or beyond?
The Chilean urbano scene is putting out some great tracks - drawing on reggaeton and trap aesthetics, it’s put Chilean artists like Marcianeke, Julianno Sosa, and El Jordan 23 on the Latin American map and allowed local producers to work with the likes of Bad Bunny, Rauw Alejandro and Daddy Yankee.
Besides that, the rhythm of Argentinian RKT is really doing it for me currently. Taking the classic dembow drum sequence but delaying the impact of the kick and merging that with cumbia villera influences instantly draws you into the track. Taking it a step further artists like AGGROMANCE are already deconstructing the genre and adding ravey tones to it for dancefloor madness.
Finally I have to mention the faster BPM tracks coming out of Colombia through CRRDR and Aleroj, Entrañas and PVSSY’s demonic dancehall in Ecuador, and CDMX’s cumbiaton scene.
In 2022 you played a few meaningful gigs, such as at the (fellow Echobox show) Fine Grains Records 10th birthday, Dekmantel, ADE, and elsewhere. What then are your plans for 2023?
This year I’m focusing more on production and plan on releasing my first tracks. Next to that I want to keep pushing LATAM sounds beyond my show and in club settings - alongside two friends we’ve started MACHETE, a party for the latinx community committed to playing unfiltered latin american dance music. First edition is tonight in Garage Noord so if you’re reading this we’d love to see you there.
Rien & Piet, tell us about the concept behind Grand Gala Culinair and how it came to be.
To be honest it started out as an excuse for us to go out to dinner together more. We also think it is fun and interesting to tell stories about restaurants and their adventures. This is not only about the chefs, but also about the entrepreneurs and the choices you (have to) make.
What do you feel a radio show about food and restaurants adds to the broadcasting landscape?
We hope it is comforting and inspiring. We both like food and music a lot so for us it is a logical combination
Obviously, your respective expertises in the restaurant world are what allow you to successfully pull off your show. How did you both get started in the world of food?
Piet: I started working in kitchens to pay the rent while I was studying. I filled in for some cool positions through Benny (now a companion at BAK and Bambino) and bluffing my way through it. Eventually, this resulted in us opening BAK restaurant together with Benny and Alessandro more than 10 (!!!) years ago.
Rein: I started dishwashing when I was 14, then I worked as a waiter and chef in different places till Piet asked me to help at BAK, which ba(c)k then, was a pop up restaurant. Working at BAK was a big change to the restaurants I worked before. I found out there that you still can be a nice guy and listen to cool music while working as a chef.
What’s your ideal A) Comfort food experience and B) Fine dining experience
Piet: Comfort food wise: to be in a restaurant that you visited before and know is good, with my girlfriend and friends and with nice wines. For fine dining it is actually quite similar but maybe with a smaller party so you can focus a bit more on the food.
Rein: That’s a hard one. I live on Zeedijk so when im off I quite often eat at one of many restaurants the street provides. It's nice with a couple of friends, and have some beers, but I also like eating out by myself. China Si-Chuan I like, they have 3 venues in the neighbourhood and they're all nice. I love their Mongolian beef dish, and the dish called “Mixed Vegetables”: as unpretentious as it sounds, it's crazy spicy. I like Snackbar Bird for their Pad Thai, Hoi Tin for their Chinese/Portuguese custard pastry and I think we’re blessed to have Taka with his Ramen Joint inside Dun Yung Supermarket. Fine dining-wise, I don’t “dine” that often, but past years I had some really cool evenings at Zoldering, where they have a great sherry selection! I also enjoy Choux, BAK and Gebr. Hartering. Recently we celebrated the birthday of one of our partners at the Teppanyaki counter at the Okura Hotel which was really cool - great sakes as well.
Is it true that one of you has incorporated the famous roasted olive oil produced by Echobox founder Mo in your menu(s)? What does it get served with?
Rein: Ja, so Mo gave me one of these really cool looking jugs of olive oil his family is producing in Morocco. By then I had just returned from Marrakech from a 2 week cooking trip so the flavours of the country were still fresh in my memory. The olive oil that Mo’s family produces is very different compared to anything I’d known before, because they roast the olives before processing them. Using the oil as a nice replacement for a default olive oil did not make any sense as the flavour is quite different. So instead of looking for a dish to serve the oil with, we turned it the other way around and used Mo’s oil as a starting point. Ailish, our pastry chef, came up with a bright green pistachio ice cream to enhance the nutty/toasted tones in the oil. The ice cream was served in a bowl with some salt flakes and topped with a generous amount of olive oil.
What are some of the most interesting developments in the world of food or restaurants at the moment, either in Amsterdam or beyond?
Piet: It’s nice to see that young people tend to care way more about good food and drinks than before. I witnessed a discussion between two 20-year old co-workers here at Euro Pizza and they discussed which cheese to buy at KEF to eat on their day off and which wine to pair it with. When I was that age the only thing I was worrying about was which instant noodles to buy.
You also play some music on your shows, to bookend the conversation. Beyond having a functional quality in the progression of a radio show, what kind of a relationship do food and music have for you?
We really love music! In the past we also threw parties together. Music in restaurants is also very important to us, with most chefs listening to a lot of music because that's whats helps you through mise en place. It can also really influence a restaurant visit if the music is too boring, too loud, too little too weird (that's hard though) or not suitable for the atmosphere.
Any exciting plans, for Grand Gala Culinair or yourselves, for 2023?
Yes a lot! Hopefully we can do a show/broadcast live from a location. We have a really cool shortlist of guests, we're gonna make merch, hopefully do some collabs and Rien is gonna open a fine dining restaurant ánd a music bar/club. It's gonna be epic!
Alyssa, your show is called Beeswax, and has soundtracked many a fine beginning to the morning on Echobox Radio. Tell us about how the show came to be.
When I lived in London I started DJing under the name Ben Stings (the origin story is quite boring so I'll just keep it a mystery), then I moved to Amsterdam and decided to rebrand to Beeswax because bees sting and you can play music on wax! Genius.
About a couple of months after moving I had my own show on Red Light Radio where I was mainly mixing hip hop, jazz, rock and a bit of classical music. I grew up playing classical music and I realised how much I missed it, so the Beeswax show slowly developed into an all-classical affair. But I still play other genres when I'm DJing elsewhere.
What is your favourite bee fact?
I used to think only female bees could sting but I just found out that it's not true, which is a shame.
What has your relationship been with online radio over the years?
I've been doing online radio for a relatively short time compared to other people, but it has been life changing for many reasons. I like having that monthly appointment where I can go in the studio for an hour and put everything else on pause. It also keeps me motivated to keep searching for new music and composers, which is something I probably wouldn't do if it weren't for the radio.
On your show, you play things within the realms of classical and folk music, which arguably have historically been associated with different kinds of sociocultural background or context. What is it about these two genres or approaches that interests you and where do you see differences or overlap between them?
Maybe selfishly, I select the music from my shows purely for emotional reasons. I spent all of my tweens, teens and early twenties either practicing piano or at orchestra rehearsal, something I unfortunately don't do as much anymore - so I just play music that takes me back to that time. Sorry I wish I had a more intellectual response to this!
Where does beeswax rank up against other kinds of wax (e.g candle wax, earwax, nightmares on wax)?
Can't beat Nightmares on Wax so Beeswax would have to come a close second. I had an impacted ear last year so I would rank earwax all the way to the bottom of the abyss together with e-bikes.
One of your shows focused on Sicilian composers. What is it about this location / culture that drew you to it?
I often decide the theme of my shows based on events or things I experience around that time. In October I went to Sicily with my mum and her friends. I grew up in Milan but Sicily feels like it's part of a totally different country - the colours, the lifestyle, the history. It is also the home of my 2nd favourite composer (Bellini) so I couldn't help but be inspired.
When you’re not playing blissful morning music, what other styles or scenes are you drawn to at the moment, in Amsterdam and beyond?
I'm in the last year of my Master's so I haven't been able to explore the scene as much unfortunately. That being said, I live close to the DNO (Dutch National Opera) and I like to go once a month to get my opera and ballet fix. They offer special discounts if you are a student or under-35 so I hope people reading this will be tempted to join! Or hit me up and we'll go together. I also just found out S Club 7 are reuniting so I will probably go to the UK to see them with my cousins.
OK but seriously the last cool event I went to was Dusty Cabinets at De Sering with Ossia which was great! They have some more events lined up this year so it's definitely worth checking out.
Who of the following would you invite to your dinner party and why?: Barry B Benson (Bee Movie)/ Hatidze Muratova (Honeyland)/ Bumblebee Man (The Simpsons)?
Without a doubt the Bumblee Man! I feel like he's probably an S Club fan.
Tune in to Echobox - broadcasting from below sea level every week, Thursday until Sunday.