In depth with Amare. A versatile, wonderful & passionate artist.
It was only until last summer we discovered the great sounds of this great artist, Amare. Waking up a festival crowd in the early mornings, 10 am, with her warm and colourful sounds. Cirque Magique was awakened for yet another great day filled with fantastic music and joy! She was responsible for the start of the day.
We started following her social channels and found out she is an extremely passionate artist travelling the world, playing her fantastic music for a crowd enjoying her sound. So we felt the urge to ask her for a mix and do an interview with us.
So here it is, a fantastic Christmas present. Meet Amare …
Talking about being versatile! Amare is an example.
How are you these days?
I feel wonderful and exhausted at the same time since I had a super busy schedule during the last months. But in the upcoming weeks, I’ll have some time to catch up with sleep, administration, producing, friends and family. We didn’t plan too many gigs for the upcoming month, because I felt I really needed some time off from touring to focus on production.
For fans who don’t know Amare, could you tell us a bit about who you are and your musical background in a nutshell?
My love for music grew from a very young age because I have been dancing since I was 4 years old. My parents sent me to ballet school and dancing has always been my favourite thing to do. My parents also sent me to music school when I was a bit older where I learned to play flute and accordion. But it was through the dancing classes that I really learned to appreciate music, to feel the music and its therapeutic powers.
Music has the power to lift your mood and touch your soul. I learned this in dancing school rather than in music school, where the focus was more on music theory and practising the technical aspects of playing a classical piece on an instrument. There was not much room for improvisation or creativity.
So you can imagine, as a teenager, as soon as I got the first taste of parties and festivals, I was almost addicted to it. Dancing in dark sweaty rooms with loud music and a bass that you could feel, it was amazing! My parents were strict so we had a lot of arguments about my curfew and the frequency that I could go out. Luckily I had the chance to live on my own from the age of 17 when I started to study at the University of Leuven. From then on I attended several electronic music events every week. Because this was costly, I started working simultaneously, mainly to pay the festival and train tickets, and my travels, because that’s my other passion next to music.
Tell us the story of how you were introduced to house music. Was there a specific moment you realized that you wanted to be on the other side of the dance party –- as the DJ?
House music was common at the high school parties I attended when I was 15/16 years old. The first underground parties I attended were the illegal marl cave parties in the south of Limburg. We went there by bus in the evening and came back in the morning. I attended those during school holidays when I was in my last years of high school, but then they had to stop organizing them.
Studying in Leuven, there was, of course, the Silo with an amazing electronic music program. I still regret that the place had to close, for no good reason. As a student, on Sunday evening we would often drive to Lier to go to La Rocca, Saturday nights Illusion or Café d’Anvers, often driving to an afterhours club in the morning because we wanted more!
Attending festivals in other countries gave me an even broader view on the electronic music scene.
In the summertime, we attend festivals almost every weekend – taking a bus to Berlin to go to the Love parade, spending the full 3 days of the Pukkelpop festival in their boiler room, and much more.
When I was 20, I went to India to write a thesis about arranged marriages. There, I was introduced to Goa trance. That new sound definitely also had the power to keep me dancing for 24 hours straight. After India, I kept attending Goa parties in Europe on a regular base for a couple of years, especially attracted by the fact that they are always organized in nature or beautiful, unusual locations. After 4 years in Leuven I moved to Ghent, where Decadence club brought a lot of joy to our lives, and of course there were the famous 10 days of techno, I love techno, Groove City, … – we’ve done it all.
Besides attending events, my passion is travelling – my whole life I’ve been studying, travelling and working at the same time – so I’ve seen a lot. Attending festivals in other countries gave me an even broader view on the electronic music scene. I was influenced by Chicago and Detroit, Burning man events and the festival culture of the West Coast in the US.
My energy is endless. I’ve always been like this – no sleep, always busy. Why make choices if you can do it all? My friends call me a Duracell bunny.
My taste for electronic music has always been very open and broad. However, I was just attending events – but about 6 or 7 years ago, for the first time, I decided to be more actively involved. My first idea was that I wanted to organize events. But at some point, I was looking at the line-up of an electronic music festival, and it hit me that there were about 50 artist names, but not a single female. At that point, it hit me that I never thought about DJing, although I was so addicted to electronic music. That’s when I decided that I wanted to learn how to DJ. But I was doing a PhD at that time so I told myself I should first finalize that chapter before getting my hands on a new hobby. A few months after I defended my PhD, I bought my first gear, I practised at home, and I played at two birthday parties. A couple of months later, I had my first gig at Kiwiburn, which is three years ago now. After some encouragement of a friend to record some sets, I got my first gig in Brussels 2 months later. I started playing on a regular basis almost immediately. First once a month but that turned into once a week pretty quickly. It went faster than some people had expected, but on the other hand, it still feels slow sometimes. My energy is endless. I’ve always been like this – no sleep, always busy. Why make choices if you can do it all? My friends call me a Duracell bunny.
I prefer the warmer, more colourful sounds. Sexy music that inspires you to dance with your whole body and leaves space for imagination and improvisation.
By growing older, I also became pickier. I got into the deeper and more melodic sounds. I’m really looking for music with a soul. And I don’t always find that in the nowadays so popular dark techno. It’s often aggressive, masculine, too repetitive, industrial. I prefer the warmer, more colourful sounds. Sexy music that inspires you to dance with your whole body and leaves space for imagination and improvisation. Something I often miss in the realms of 135bpm banging techno.
You just came back from Central-America. How was your trip?
It was amazing! 10 gigs, 8 cities, 3 countries, in less than 4 weeks. I loved it – I had enough time to enjoy and hang out with friends but it still felt like a business trip. A good balance with good food, amazing weather, beaches and mountains, and fresh tropical fruits, … Living the dream!
You have been playing at festivals or in clubs? How was the vibe?
Clubs and events, mostly outdoor settings – and that’s what I love the most: playing outdoors. It also fits my music, it’s playful, deep and sexy. Feeling a breeze on the beach or in the jungle only adds extra sparkles to that.
Looking at your biography, you have been playing all over the world. Music connects people, but do you see differences in cultures on different continents?
Yes, for sure. There is a big difference in the festival and club culture if you compare Europe, America or Asia. The West Coast festival culture in the US is already very different from the Midwest or the East Coast.
Also within Europe, there are huge differences – you can’t compare the Dutch festivals with the festivals in North Germany such as Fusion for instance. Even on a legal level, laws are very different and have an influence on how things are organized. Due to stricter laws, in many non-European countries, the electronic music culture is a lot more underground – in Europe, although referred to as underground music, techno and house are pretty mainstream and you can find it everywhere. It’s very accessible.
In Costa Rica for instance, I played at some underground parties that had to be organized in secrecy to keep the police out. As a result, there is no direct marketing or Facebook event, for instance, tickets are sold through private messages and the word is spread by mouth. At those parties, you’ll feel that the people attending made a bigger effort to get there, and are all truly passionate about it! There are no ‘spectators’.
In California for instance, there is a very strict law on selling alcohol (it’s forbidden in between 2 am till 8 am), resulting in a scene of illegal after hours – and a lot more daytime events (of course the nice weather has to do with that as well). But surely the vibe is different at those illegal parties – everyone knows everyone, and the DJ’s and party organizers are all so passionate! They are truly taking risks to bring their art to the people. Also, this day-time party culture adds something extra to it. Those parties are a lot more colourful – the fact that it’s outdoors and daytime influences the music choice and fashion at those parties.
That’s exactly why I can’t stop moving around – I really need to travel, it’s so inspiring!
Do you still get nervous before a performance?
Name one track in your crate that gets the dance floor moving every time.
That’s a hard one. Because it keeps changing. With so many new tracks coming out every day, the shelf-life of a track is pretty short nowadays. But lately, I guess the tracks of Kevin De Vries are winning in that regard.
What makes you decide to play a particular record during one of your sets? Is there a criterion other than pure subjectivity, for selecting what to play at a gig?
Well yes, I study everything to help me decide, the vibe, the time, the crowd, the track I am playing – I guess that’s the most important part, I play long mixes so my first concern is to mix two tracks that match well together.
Thanks to developments in the realm of software, DJing, playing live and producing have moved closer together than ever before, allowing DJs to change a track down the tiniest detail. How do you make use of these possibilities in your sets and is there a benefit?
Oh yes, I love the new PIONEER CDJ’s NXS2 with 8 hot cues and the way you can prepare everything in Rekordbox with all the new features so that you can edit tracks on the spot. I use them all the time.
A strong set can truly be more than the sum of its parts. How, do you feel, is the music transformed in the hands of a DJ? In which way are you actively trying to create an experience that is more than just stringing together a few excellent records?
For me, a very important part of my performance is the energy and vibe that I create. Furthermore, I tell a story. That’s one of the reasons why I often find B2B sets less interesting. It’s missing the story.
For me, a very important part of my performance is the energy and vibe that I create. Furthermore, I tell a story.
Do you feel there was a “breakthrough” point after which suddenly things changed for the better and brought you to where you are now? If so, what was it and why do you think it happened?
Haha, maybe I’m still waiting for it. The moment when even colleagues and family who have no clue about electronic music realized that I am a DJ now, was when I got booked for Tomorrowland. That was something they’ve heard of or they had seen it in the news. Although they still don’t get why I would choose an artist life while I have such a good academic career. Not sure they’ll ever understand.
What’s the last thing you saw that made you smile?
I smile all the time, there are so many things that make me smile! Actually, I just smiled reading this question.
Anything special to announce that we might need to look forward to in 2019?
In 2018, my schedule was extremely busy. Trying to combine my job at the university, which is very demanding, with my touring schedule was already pretty challenging, so there was not much time left for producing. Producing takes so much time, and I really want to do it all by myself …
So, for 2019, I decided to grant myself one year of less academic life and more time in the studio. My resolutions for 2019: release some really nice tracks!
TGMS: Looking forward to that!! Cheers.
Thank you so much!