1-on-1: Conservative Hustlin’

Our 1-on-1 series is where Skandl talks with enthusiastic, vibrant creatives from the Dutch scene – this week we speak with Hugo Emmerzael, 1/4 of Utrecht based footwork and juke DJ and producer collective Conservative Hustlin’. They’ll be appearing B2B at September’s MERGE FEST ’18

There’s four of you involved in Conservative Hustlin’, can you tell us a little about yourselves and how you met?

Conservative Hustlin’ was founded by Gideon Broekhuizen and Valentijn Manshande as a means to get Utrecht more exposed to alternative forms of club music. The initial focus was mostly UK bass and breaks, although it’s always open for different club genres as well.

When me and Yerke Faber offered to play some Chicago juke and footwork at one of their parties in ACU, we sticked around long enough to become part of the CH Team.

We all have our different backgrounds in terms of work, favorite genres and expertise, but together we can make everything happen: parties, live streams with green screen visuals, radio shows and more.

What was the impetus behind starting CH?

We all live(d) in Utrecht and we were all kind of upset with the music that was on display there. We missed the genres we were obsessively collecting, studying and sharing. Gideon and Valentijn decided to take matters in their own hands to make evenings happen where they could play the music they were passionate about.

You’re based in Utrecht, how is the nightlife scene there and is there a large audience for the styles you’re playing?

Utrecht is a great city with a young, energetic and diverse population. There’s a lot of students too, so there’s an audience out there ready for wilder forms of club music. However, the programming in the city was falling behind.

There’s some great people working in EKKO, De Helling, Stranded.FM and especially at music festival Le Guess Who?, but our preferred forms of club music – UK bass, breaks, Baltimore beats, deconstructed club, batida, gqom, juke and footwork – wasn’t programmed on a regular basis.

The commercial clubs are more inclined to the increasingly stagnant techno scene, catering to a young crowd that’s into long nights fueled by xtc and speed. We’re trying to give a stage to local talent, new sounds and adventurous music. It took us some time to build trust with our audience that we could deliver this, but in the end we put up some beautiful shows, kickstarting some of the music careers of our good friends.

What is it about the juke and footwork rhythms which excite you?

The first time I heard juke and footwork must have been around 2011/2012. It’s combination of syncopated triplet rhythms and rough vocal chops was something I’d never heard before. It was so inspiring to hear how traditional forms of sampling could be put to such extremes, while still being extremely danceable and catchy. When the whole of CH got exposed to footwork it opened up our idea of what music could be, in terms of listening, producing and deejaying.

You’ve been putting on nights in both Utrecht and Amsterdam, what’s your approach when putting a line up together?

First of all, we’re looking for local talent, underexposed musicians that are truly dedicated to putting out something fresh and exciting. Secondly, we want a line-up that’s diverse in terms of styles, energy and textures. During our best parties we put put up a line up in which the booked artist are not only interested in their own set but also in the music of the other artists. They learn each others’ music and get to know each other and follow each others’ careers. This has been one of the most fulfilling things about working with other musicians on a line-up.

What can people expect from a show from you guys?

For us Conservative Hustlin’ means constantly challenging ourselves. We try to do this by figuring out new concepts of what you can do in a set in terms of narrative choices or combinations of sounds and textures. We try to surprise not only audiences but also ourselves with deep cuts, underexposed musicians and unexpected combinations. Although we never try to confuse our audience. We always have the people on the dance floor in mind when we’re exploring its furthest corners.

What tunes are you loving at the moment?

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