2017 ZNL Amsterdam Zouk Festival

Another new festival took place in Holland this past weekend - the 2017 ZNL Amsterdam Zouk Festival at Brasa Studios.  This festival was focused on the ZNL crew and discussing/exploring the current music scene.  I spent a lot of time with Nyx and we talked a lot about the current DJs, scene, style of music, technical aspects, and new ideas for the future.

The music at the festival was great.  In my previous post, I discussed what the important things are that make festivals great, and one of the top items on the list was DJs.  DJs set the mood, tone, and energy of the night.  If they don't read the crowd and play what they want, the crowd dies a slow death.  

One thing that irritates me is the notion that Zouk DJs need to clearly define a starting/ending point in a song.  I think this is complete nonsense.  In salsa, sure.  In bachata, sure.  However, in Zouk, whether it's neo or lamba, the energy is different, it's constant.  How many times have you danced 3-8 songs with the same person while dancing zouk?  

What dancers need to understand is there are starting/ending points all the time.  It's not a never ending track, it's that the DJ mixes the beats/transitions so well that it's sometimes hard to tell when you're dancing to a new song.  However, if you pay close attention, you can tell when a new melody or beat comes in.

This past weekend was a really motivating weekend in terms of zouk music.  DJ Nyx, Kakah, Allan Z, Shing, have all been in the game a long time, some have been producing for years.  After awhile, producing/remixing becomes second hand.  DJs are able to create their own loops, beats, and sounds.  When they play a set, they don't play whats popular, or a hit track of their own.  Their job is to create an experience and take you through a journey.  The best sets are those that play music I've never heard before.  The DJ selects the loops, tracks, beats at will and creates a new sound that is crafted just for that one event/evening.   I think this is where certain Brazilian Zouk DJs are headed and I'm really happy.  Unfortunately, most promoters and dancers aren't ready and would not like the music if they heard it at the festival.

Nyx, Kakah, and others are clearly at this level.  There should be a time and place for their sets.  Their sets should be a minimum of 2-2.5 hours long.  For most congresses, there are many other DJs in the Brazilian Zouk scene that can craft good sets by good technical skills and track selection.  They don't need to produce, they just need to play to the crowd, play random songs, mix well, smile, and go with vibe/energy of the crowd.  DJ Jansen did a really good job of this at ZNL.  Example: Selena Gomez - Good For You, mixed to a faster Kizomba track, then mixed into a Flume track, then mixed into an Allan Z remix(given Allan Z has already played or won't be playing later that night).

It was good seeing the ZNL crew together.  I only wish they each had a two-hour set instead of one.  Enjoy the vids and see you at a future festival!