Dekmantel Festival is back. The brand has gone from strength to strength over the years, releasing records from the some of the biggest talents in the industry on their celebrated in-house label, as well as putting on some of the most well-organised festivals showcasing the cutting edge in electronic music.
After years of hosting indoor events across several Dutch venues, the festival was established in the lush scenery of the Amsterdam Bos in 2013. The festival’s instant success has spawned two satellite locations: in 2016 they launched Selectors in Tisno, Croatia, and last year saw the first edition of Dekmantel São Paulo. The Amsterdam edition continues to be the beating heart of the operation, and this year the organisers are proving once again why it’s one of the best events in the festival calendar.
Dekmantel continually delivers with a booking policy that honours dance music’s roots, as well as celebrating the foremost talent in the contemporary scene. It’s constantly evolving, and this year’s lineup reflects this flexible attitude. In previous editions you could expect to see a plethora of house and disco ticket sellers such as Motor City Drum Ensemble, Hunee, and Antal. As the more experimental strands of electronic music begin to gain the recognition they deserve, such artists are prominent on this year’s lineup.
To accommodate this shift in the programming, there will be the addition of a second, smaller UFO stage to house the darker, more left-field bookings. There’s a whole host of variety on offer this year, so we’ve picked out five acts that are on the top of our list.
1. Tangerine Dream
As well as curating some of the best party-starters for the field, every year Dekmantel put together a programme of opening concerts in venues dotting the river IJ. These showcases tend to celebrate some of the most formative names in electronic music; last year saw Steve Reich pair up with contemporary Dutch outfit Slagwerk Den Haag. It is only fitting that this year the festival will be opened by legendary krautrock band Tangerine Dream.
Formed in 1967 by the now deceased Edgar Froese, the band have had immeasurable influence upon the development of electronic music, having released over one hundred albums. In the 50 years since their formation they have established a spacey, progressive sound and established the framework that many Hollywood soundtrack composers would follow. Their performance will set the standard of excellence for the rest of the weekend to follow.
2. Helena Hauff
From holding down a residency at Hamburg’s beloved dive, The Golden Pudel, to managing a packed touring schedule and headlining global festivals, Helena Hauff’s rise has been astronomical. Over the last few years she’s been instrumental to the increase in popularity of previously overlooked genres such as electro, EBM and new beat. All of this is down to a ‘no fucks given’ attitude and a mighty work ethic.
Her high-octane, often vinyl-only sets are an education in her extensive knowledge of the grittier ends of the techno/electro spectrum. She’s been a regular feature at various Dekmantel events over the past three years, so the fact that she’ll be closing the Main Stage on Sunday seems like a well-deserved graduation. We can’t wait to see what she’s got in store.
3. Jah Shaka
Whilst the Dekmantel team’s roots are firmly in house, techno, and disco, their programming of the festival reflects the wide variety on offer from the dance music spectrum. Representing the legacy of sound-system culture will be roots-reggage pioneer Jah Shaka. He requires little introduction; active since the 1970s, his work with Iration Steppas, Public Image Ltd and Max Romeo has been central to the popularisation of Caribbean music on the global scene.
Shaka will be kicking off proceedings on the Greenhouse stage on Sunday afternoon. Surrounded by lush palm trees, Shaka’s blissful dub sounds will be the perfect alternative to the heavier music on the other stages.
As well as giving a stage to some of the more established artists, the festival offers a platform to some of the most exciting up and comers in the industry. Spanish-born Silvia Jiménez Álvarez has been making waves since releasing her debut LP Weightless on Swedish label iDEAL Recordings last September. Comprised of atmospheric soundscapes and more danceable tracks, this release reflected her broad influences and daring approach to avant-garde sound design.
As a DJ, JASSS has been hailed as one of the most fearless in the Berlin scene, despite having only began mixing in the last few years. Holding down residencies at the Mannequin Records events at OHM and Berghain’s Säule, she’s proven her ability to be years beyond her experience. Whilst her musical anchors are techno, EBM, and electro, she’s just as likely to throw in some dark jazz or 80s synth-pop. We can’t wait to see what musical oddities she’s got in store.
5. Courtesy b2b Special Request
It’s always exciting when a promoter has the balls to pair up two artists that you might not expect. Paul Woolford’s Special Request project showcases the original rave sounds of jungle and hardcore, whilst Najaaraq Vestbirk aka Courtesy, has been spearheading the rapid techno sound of the Copenhagen scene through her Ectotherm and Apeiron Crew affiliations.
These two artists might not seem like the most obvious pairing, but in practice, Woolford’s productions exude the same manic energy of Courtesy’s mixes, whilst Vestbirk’s selections are reflective of her bass-heavy jungle influences. Closing the Boiler Room stage on Sunday, this b2b promises to be an exciting marriage of the old and nu schools.
Dekmantel Festival lands in Amsterdam from August 1st – 5th.
Tickets and more info here.