“We try to learn from the people that started this culture, and then to pass that tradition through to the current and next generations; adding our own touch too of course. With the experience and love we have for this sound we strive to create an environment where artists can flourish and visitors can enjoy the experience to the fullest. A place where time stops and all that matters is THAT moment.”

 

Amsterdam’s never far from the chatter of the electronic music scene these days, the talk generally being pinned on exciting DJs like Junction 2 guests Hunee and Job Jobse. But it’s a city with serious dance music pedigree, a place that gave the world ADE, Rush Hour Records and an early house scene so popular that it pushed nearby Rotterdam into trying to go one better (read: harder) by inventing gabber.

 

Since the late ‘00s, Amsterdam’s VBX collective have been respectfully carrying this torch by throwing parties across the city. They’re a crew who understand the value of continuity and of situating their own brand of minimal house vibes as part of the Dutch capital’s rich history. Excitingly, they’re going to be joining us deep in The Woods on Saturday to show us just how the Dutch do it.

 

From the beginning, VBX’s creators were conscious of the need to situate their parties within the long spectrum of the city’s relationship with dance music. Denise from VBX says: “The scene we operate in has existed way longer than the amount of time we’ve been organising events. We try to learn from the people that started this culture, and then to pass that tradition through to the current and next generations; adding our own touch too of course. With the experience and love we have for this sound we strive to create an environment where artists can flourish and visitors can enjoy the experience to the fullest. A place where time stops and all that matters is THAT moment.”

 

 

Perhaps it’s unsurprising then that the concrete origins of the nascent party should have been built in the very foundations of the city itself. Denise remembers that, “Niels, the founder of VBX and Vrijbuiters, had been playing around with the idea of starting a party for years. Then, during an afterhours at the NDSM bunker in 2007, he and (one of our residents) Reiss met and started shaping the concept of what the party would look like. Vrijbuiters, the predecessor of VBX, was born not much later.” Although those early parties possessed the energy that’s remained VBX’s hallmark, it wasn’t until a little later that it found its musical feet. “The more brazen image of Vrijbuiters lent itself perfectly for throwing crazy parties but we felt it was a rather one-sided representation. With the VBX collective we’ve taken a broader approach where quality – both of musical programming as well as setting – reigns.”

 

“We’re big fans of both Nicolas Lutz and Sonja Moonear, so we’re excited to see how that combination will turn out. It’s an honour to be able to work with Craig Richards too. We have a lot of respect for him. His professionalism, music selection and ability to work a crowd definitely make him into the legend that he is today. Also, the curatorship that he executes is a big inspiration to us.”

 

For VBX, even musical programming and selection comes back to the issue of longevity, their closest associations being with artists who revel in epically-spiralling sounds and DJ sets that run and run. Among those who have played (and continue to play) for them are Villalobos, Zip, tINI and Sonja Moonear, names often touted as the kings and queens of deep, minimal electronic music. “For us, next to Zip and Ricardo, it’s RPR (Raresh, Pedro and Rhadoo) who have been very influential. The way those guys can combine forgotten house records with stripped down vibes in one fluent movement has been a big source of inspiration from the start.” But they’re also excited about newer artists like their own Reiss. “He was our first resident, one that we’ve been working with since Vrijbuiters. He’s currently travelling the globe, spreading his unique combination of sounds and vibe. We couldn’t be more proud!”

 

 

With this kind of focus, it makes sense that the VBX stage at Junction 2 should be loaded with DJs renowned for their ability to get deep. “We’re big fans of both Nicolas Lutz and Sonja Moonear, so we’re excited to see how that combination will turn out. It’s an honour to be able to work with Craig Richards too. We have a lot of respect for him. His professionalism, music selection and ability to work a crowd definitely make him into the legend that he is today. Also, the curatorship that he executes is a big inspiration to us.” Finally, in addition to the tried and true, Denise also highlights the newer end of VBX’s world. “Voigtmann is the latest adoption to our crew and has become a close friend of the organisation. It’s great to be able to work with him in his own city. Our main man Ferro is completing the bill. We’re excited!”

 

“It’s always a challenge to get all the factors just right when promoting a new location. The combination of excitement and the fact that no one has any expectations with the new space yet can lead to an interesting course of events. It can be raw and unpredictable but partying for the first time in a venue can be so magical!”

 

Junction 2 is just one of the stops on a summer musical odyssey for the party in 2019, with dates planned throughout the festival season. When asked about how they select the places they think VBX will be best received, Denise returns to the idea of the event in a continuum. “All of the international events we do are with crews, and at locations, that we feel connected to, and who’ve been on our radar for a while. With all of them we feel there’s potential for a longer-term relationship, which is something we much prefer over one-offs. We think that the full potential of a setting and sound combination can only truly be realised through repetition over time.” And if you want to find them outside of The Woods? “Besides London and Amsterdam, you can find us in Ghent, Barcelona, Odessa and Groningen!”

 

Before you book those tickets for Ukraine though, there’s the matter of a summer’s day in Boston Manor Park to enjoy first. Like many of the visitors who’ll come to see them, it’s a new environment for Denise and the VBX gang, so they’re anticipating the magic spark you get from a perfect first date. “It’s always a challenge to get all the factors just right when promoting a new location. The combination of excitement and the fact that no one has any expectations with the new space yet can lead to an interesting course of events. Take our gig in Thailand as an example. Were more nervous then usual beforehand, as we were clueless whether we would manage to close the gap between our cultures. On top of that, we had major a problem with accommodation, as the hotel we had planned to stay at hadn’t processed our bookings and we ended up renting a villa from yourkohsamuvillas.com at the very last minute. In the end evertyhing ended up just fine, but it goes to show just how raw and unpredictable partying for the first time in a venue can be!” Whatever happens, they want you to come and start a long-term relationship with them, not just a one-night affair.

 

VBX hosts The Woods at Junction 2 on Friday 7th June with Sonja Moonear B2B Nicolas Lutz, Craig Richards, Voigtmann and Ferro.

 

Words: Stephen Connolly