Roger’s Musical Journey

Roger’s Musical Journey

HOW IT BEGAN

In the early 80’s I started to play around with my Philips stereo radio cassette recorder. Besides recording songs from radio stations, I used to record sounds as well, it fascinated me; commercials, radio jingles, even static noises and bleep effects from shifting through the frequencies. Top 40 charts from Dutch radio didn’t interest me much; I was more into Motown, funk and soulful disco.

After a while I bought a Grundig all-in one multi stereo set, a dual (double) cassette tape deck with a record player and…. cable-radio! Now the radio recordings were sounding crystal clear. With the dual cassette function I was able to delete parts where the recording got ruined, parts when the radio DJ was talking through the song or as a jingle came on. By rearranging different parts, or adding a new song right where I stopped the previous one, I did manage to make some cool tapes, well at least I thought so. It was a lot of work but I had fun doing it!

Through cable-radio I was able to receive several Dutch TV channels. I began taping theme songs from American TV-series like Magnum P.I., The A-Team, Knight Rider and Miami Vice. Later on, I started to record entire episodes from these series, picking out little fragments of each. I used scenes I liked, famous quotes and cool sound effects (fights, gunfire, explosions). I remember having a lot of fun making tapes with all these sounds.

My mother had a huge collection of vinyl records. Mostly ‘Rolling Stones’ stuff, but also a lot of disco which I liked. I started to play DJ in my own bedroom. I had coloured lights and everything in my room was set up like a real disco! It was fun, until (of course) I got the old bang on the door again and was summoned to turn it down.

I was obsessed with electric boogie and breakdance music. I remember my first introduction to Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rockit’ vividly. This was the first 7” single and 12”maxi I bought on vinyl.

I became a regular at the local record store, Pico Records, at the age of 11. Pico Records were specialised in imported urban music, stuff that never got played on Dutch radio stations. When they introduced me to this I was hooked right away. The owner of the store, Mike (a man of Indonesian origin), was touched by this little white kid with an interest in urban music. He and his colleagues were always kind to me. Sitting there with headphones on, listening to stacks of records and being in the loop of the latest tunes from overseas, that was my thing. Such great memories…

My record collection started to grow slowly. The records I couldn’t afford to buy, I borrowed from friends and family, recording them on TDK tapes. With my dual cassette tape deck I began making mixtapes. Kids from school started offering money for my tapes, or wanting to trade their copies for mine. With the money I earned I was finally able to buy those records I couldn’t before, so this was perfect. I even made tapes for parties, the local bar and a school dance.

I got my first real DJ gig at the age of 14 at ‘De Club’ in Amsterdam on Queens Day 1986. To see the live reaction of the crowd was a blast. They kept thanking me afterwards and told me they had a great time. Right then I decided to become a DJ.

I bought a new sound system, this time individual components: the revolutionary Pioneer stereo cassette tape deck CT-1070R. I was now able to tape my recordings with Dolby noise reduction (B&C).I bought better quality tapes for my recordings as well (for instance metal TDK tapes). I also had these big speakers, boosting 150Watts a peace, strangely enough a gift from my next door neighbour! Soon after, I got another gift, this time from my mother: a pair of headphones!

My DJ role-model at the time was Ben Liebrand, every Christmas he made these Grandmixes which were played on the radio. The Grandmixes were 1 hour mixes, containing the best and most popular songs of that year. Of course, like so many others, I would record it on tape, listening to it over and over again. It inspired me to someday make mixes like that myself.

Just when I thought I had everything I needed, another era started. The CD was invented! Of course everything I owned on record and tape, I now wanted to own on CD. The quality was astounding and everlasting. Record-store Pico changed into a CD-store. So many great imported music came out. It was really frustrating for me not having the money to buy all the CD’s I wanted.

Another run to make mixtapes began, from CD to tape this time. The borrowing and trading business was starting again. But when libraries started to rent out CD’s cheaply, everybody started to copy them themselves. This unfortunately also meant it got harder for me to sell as much tapes as I used to do before.

Around this time a friend, Martin, gave me my first DJ-mixer as a present. This made my mixtapes a lot more interesting. I did buy some other gear as well: a receiver called the (hang on…): ‘Sony digital delayed Dolby prologic surround audio/video control centre!’ (160 Watts) and also the Sony 5-CD player CDP-C345.

Pirate radio station ‘Counterpoint Hi-freak FM’ (located in Amsterdam) became my absolute favourite radio station. The music playing was in the New Jack Swing era. New Jack Swing is a mixture of hip hop, funk and R&B. At night Counterpoint played a 1 hour mix of smooth ballads, ‘slow crossers’ they were called. Songs from artists like Keith Sweat, Babyface and Freddie Jackson came on, great stuff. After a while I started to build my collection of slow crosser tapes as well. I found out they were perfect to enjoy as background music, especially while being in the company of a special girl.

The crazy 90’s were so much fun! While others were captivated with house sounds from the ‘Turn Up The Bass’ series and the happy house music from ‘2 Unlimited’ and ‘The Vengaboys,’ I was listening to New Jack Swing, R&B, Bubbling and Latin music. I didn’t care for house parties, rave festivals and popping XTC like there’s no tomorrow. I rather enjoyed myself at urban clubs like ‘Caribbean’ (Amsterdam) and ‘El Mejor’ (Wormerveer) where I met friends and also beautiful women to dance with (they were playing those ‘slow crossers’ here too!). I remember the great Surinam food here as well.

Everyone knows what happened when people were able to download music from the Internet. Napster and I were good friends. And when everybody started to ‘burn’ downloaded MP3’s onto blank CD’s. Again… guilty as charged. Illegal CD’s, like the ‘Clubtracks’ series started to emerge. Many of us knew someone who was selling them at a low price. For instance, I bought mine from a guy at the gym. The illegal CD business was huge, however, the quality couldn’t match the original CD. That was, until Philips invented the CD recorder, I actually bought one myself too, the CDR870. The downside was the high price (€17,50) of recordable blank CD’s and mistakes couldn’t be erased! It never became a commercial success.

So the music industry collapsed, CD stores went bankrupt and my beloved CD-store Pico Records had to throw in the towel as well. People never had this much access to music for free. Although it was illegal, people figured: ‘Why keep paying for something when you can download it for free, without repercussions from the law?’ I myself never stopped collecting original content; I’m one of those people who still love to own records on vinyl.

The rush I got out of surprising people with my unique and hard to find remixes became a thing of the past. Everyone now had access to it. It is then that I thought of making unique remixes myself. I started on a new journey…

I bought a Roland SP-808 Groove sampler, what a great device! I was even able to use it the same way I did my old dual cassette tape deck. One of the many other features of this device is the ability to change recorded sounds with synthesiser plug-ins and effects. Other things I bought: a Numark CDN-34S Dual CD Player, a Behringer Pro mixer DX1000, a Sennheiser E816S Microphone and Infinity Overture speakers, 150 Watts a piece again. I started to enjoy playing around with it like the old days. I was now DJing in clubs like ‘Coco’s Outback’ and ‘Three Sisters’ in Amsterdam (Rembrandtplein).

Latin house started to take over the world and I came happily along for the ride, I loved this style of music and playing it to the crowds. I started to go to festivals like ‘Sneakers’, ‘Nope Is Dope’ and various beach parties at Bloomingdale. I became a fan of DJ’s like Gregor Salto, Chuckie and Fedde Le Grand.

The quality of MP3 downloads was a disappointment. Tracks with a 128 or 192 bit rate just wouldn’t do. I needed at least 320kbps. But even then, the track could have been converted from a low quality source to begin with. So, I decided to restart adding to my original CD collection. And this sure was the time to do so! People were getting rid of their infamous CD’s in huge numbers and were giving them away for free or for just a few euro on platforms like Marktplaats (Dutch eBay). Later on, I finally owned a credit card and bought CD’s from all over the world, realising online shopping can be just as much fun as physically going to the record store! My go-to’s were Discogs, Amazon and E-Bay. Again I found myself discovering music I had never heard of before, mostly old CD’s but they were new to me anyway. What a great feeling to find those gems, the very hard to find and collector’s items, right at my doorstep! I still collect, just not as much but I don’t think I will ever stop.

Today one is able to download music ‘lossless’, meaning the audio data is preserved in the exact same way as the original source. Data like WAV, FLAQ or M4A.

I took a small break from DJing for a little while because of a regular job, family life and relocating to Delft where I still live. But I just had to return to my passion and start DJing again. First, a few times a month in Coco’s Outback again, later also at several bars in Delft, like Bierfabriek. People started to notice me again and it didn’t take long to get more gigs. To this time I am still a resident DJ at ‘Coco’s Outback,‘ loving it as much as the first day I started to DJ!

To save the best for last, besides DJ I am now also a full-time music producer! This new adventure started a couple of years ago. Playing around with my Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) ‘FL Studio’ and various VST’s (Virtual Studio Technology), I started to create music and got better at it as time went by. It became clear to me, that doing this would make me the happiest person I could be. I had to try to make it my profession!

I transformed my huge attic into a music studio and bought all kinds of new gear: the Audient iD14 audio interface, the Maschine MK3 which essentially is a major upgrade from my old Roland SP-808, but has all kinds of other great features as well. The AKAI Advance49 midi keyboard, I learned to play the piano on this thing! The Aston Spirit Microphone, with booth for the professional recording of singers and rappers. Also the Rode NT-USB Microphone and a set of studio speakers: the Focal Professional Alpha 65 that boosts 100/199 Watts a peace.

At the time of writing, I have produced over one hundred songs. I am now ready to take the next step and share my music with the world. There’s a lot’s of people I want to collaborate with; singers, rappers, musicians and co-producers. In fact, I’m already doing it.

I love my life and will keep following my heart. My passion for music will never die and I will continue to grow and explore opportunities to take me to the next level…

Thank you for believing in me, supporting me and following my music.

With Love,

Roger

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