Mirella Kroes is a Dutch DJ, promoter and the host of the LET light radio in Amsterdam. Her brainchild Motiv is a club concept that has hosted artists like Abdulla Rashim, Evigt Mörker and Alan Backdrop, bookings that reflect similar styles and sounds of techno that Mirella exhibits in her sets. We had a brief chat with Kroes as we released our 123th episode for The Monument Podcast, only to discover that she is a passionate DJ who embraces her craft.
“You need to love, really LOVE the whole process of digging, listening, collecting, selecting”
So you started out collecting records prior to becoming a DJ; What kinds of records were you collecting at that time?
The time I started buying records, it was kind of like a mix of everything I heard at parties I was going to at the time. This was mostly old school trance, hardhouse (not to be mistaken with hardstyle). Within a few months later I started collecting vinyl. My brother introduced me to Jeff Mills’ music, and that has been a total game changer. Loop oriented techno was really happening those days (the turn of centuries) and from that moment on it was mostly techno, but the faster and harder loop oriented stuff.
Are you inspired by other genres than techno?
Oh yes. I think for anyone involved (also for those who are not actually in music), it’s really important to listen to a variety of genres. Research shows that listening to different genres leaves a lasting impact on the brain. New structures are being created and when you’re in a creative process for example, you will be able to tap into a wider variety of information fields, or potential structures. This is not only with music, but every type of art. It just rewires the brain. You still need to feel attracted to that genre of course, otherwise it doesn’t make any sense. But yes I am inspired by other genres, from classical music to ambient, more indie stuff, jazz oriented sounds and (mostly old school) hip hop and some more in between.
Taking the step from DJing to producing seems to be a natural progression, have you considered this?
Yes I certainly have, and have spent some hours in the studio I can say. I just don’t want to release anything just because I feel I have to release anything for the wrong reasons. Music should be free of any kind of pressure in my opinion. It needs to feel right, pure and authentic. I don’t see any point in it otherwise. So yeah, let’s see what the future will bring.
How would you define a good DJ?
For me, first of all, a good DJ is a passionate collector and selector of music. You need to love, really LOVE that whole process of digging, listening, collecting, selecting and so on. Then there is always this strong urge to share this music with others, because you want them to feel what you feel because it’s so good and it connects and it can be healing in a way. A good DJ is also someone who is authentic, plays what she or he feels, whatever that may be. No copying, the only thing that matters is do you really feel that record, or piece of music? Doesn’t matter what kind of emotion, can be anything.
Then it comes to experience and technique I think. How do you build a set? How do you do a proper warm up, or closing? Over the years I’ve had the privilege to play at a variety of clubs and festivals over the world. Every gig is different and teaches you things and the learning process never stops. There’s no shortcuts and it’s fun, even the most shitty gigs you should embrace because they always teach you something. Never hurry this process and allow yourself to make mistakes. A good DJ also has a wide-ranging collection of music which allows her or him to be able to tap into different kinds of energy, whatever is needed. Then, a good DJ is someone who is not afraid to take risks, and someone who can tune into the energy of a dance floor and lock people in. But the circumstances do not always allow you to get to that point, but you always try to make the best out of it. And last but not least, in my opinion, a good DJ will never compromise.
Tell us about your club concept Motiv
I came up with this concept a few years ago, when I was given a chance to organize something at a certain club. Due to several reasons, like internal re-organisations and stuff, it never made it to the club at the time. But it made me think, like hey what’s going on right now and what resonates with me? What’s there to add? Things became pretty clear to me quickly. At that time techno nights, especially at that club, had a strong masculine character. For me techno needs to be sexy, not cold or square. Don’t get me wrong, I like really fast and the harder techno, but there always needs to be a soul at least, a certain element that makes my body move or touches me emotionally or maybe even on a deeper level. I missed that a lot at most of the club nights around that time. Then about one and a half years ago, I was given the opportunity to start with the concept at the Cruquiusgilde in Amsterdam which turned out to be pretty successful. After the venue closed, there was one more in collaboration with my close friends from Konstrukt at last years’ ADE at the OT301. At the moment I’m looking for a new venue to continue.
Motiv is all about a small and intimate setting, very personal and welcomes open-minded people. I always look for those artists who have a strong outspoken sound, a sound that I personally like, and which can really take control over a dance floor. I don’t really care about releases, but I do listen carefully to live sets or DJ sets. I believe the concept allows artists to go a bit more deep, personal. For some of those out there this is not really relevant, because they have a really specific sound perfect for settings like this, but for some ‘bigger’ names who might play in larger venues most of the time, It’s so enjoyable to get to know them a bit better on a deeper level musically wise, just because the setting allows them to.
Any upcoming gigs/productions we should be on the lookout for?
The end of the month I will return to Stockholm, on invitation by some Swedish friends. I’m really looking forward to that one, last year I played in Stockholm for the first time at Under Bron and I just love the Swedes and the sound connected to that region. Then there is another gig in Hungary the week after and a very special birthday party somewhere in April. And in between I’ll pop up at some other places like Shelter, where I just recently have been given the opportunity to curate some of the club nights.