Interview: Rem Gow
So, shall we kick off by you telling me/us a little bit about yourself and what you do within the scene?
My name is Remco Beeskow and I live in Rotterdam. I have multiple music-related jobs. So, I am active as DJ (Rem Gow), collector, event manager, radio host and I had every two weeks a residency at Red Light Radio since 2011 (unfortunately they decided to stop with the radio station), every month two shows at Operator (Rem Gow and Mixed Bag) and a monthly show at Mutant Radio (Tbilisi, Georgia). When I don’t play live at parties or in clubs, from MONO in Rotterdam to Dekmantel Selectors in Tisno Croatia, you can hear me play at other leading radio stations around the world. In short, I love music and it has been a part of me since forever!
As of March 16, the lockdown was official and the container was closed. How did you react to this?
Obviously, it came as quite a shock since the ‘routine’ of my residencies and other shows are super important to me and I wouldn’t want to miss it. They fill a big part of my ‘radio-agenda’. Both my shows for Operator and Red Light Radio are always something I look forward to. Often, I start early to prepare for new episodes and live sets following a strict scheme. So, the new situation definitely had some impact at first.
Did you have a moment when you thought like ‘this will or has become the new normal’?
At first, I thought ‘is this a joke’? But obviously soon enough we all realized how serious this situation is and that it would possibly drag on for months. So, without the regular live shows, a lot of exciting things happening just disappeared or came to a holt. Of course, this was a huge loss and very disappointing but there is nothing you can do about it. Luckily things are slowly beginning to start again. I had on June 4 my first physical live-show at Operator Rem Gow #37, followed by Mixed Bag #34 with colleague DJ Jorn on June 20.
What did you miss the most when you were not able to play at the studio?
The spontaneous and random events, that influence the dynamic of a live-set in the studio. Also, the contact you have with the staff and the studio manager is something I miss. Especially, the international character of the interns and other volunteers. And like the chit chats with other DJ’s also disappeared all of a sudden along with the occasional visits at Pinkman Records and the drinks with other colleagues, DJ’s and friends after the shows. Altogether this is an atmosphere you miss and something that you cannot create alone with your record collection and DJ setup in your living room.
What is your approach regarding pre-recorded sets?
So, I recorded the sets on beforehand and send them with the right image and info. The online promotion actually continued as usual like ‘sharing and posting’ your shows so there nothing changed. The input and output were pretty constant. However, I did miss the dynamic you experience when you’re playing in the studio and at the same time, your music is live-streamed and recorded. But I didn’t feel the need to live-stream with video or audio from home since I was fine with just recording my shows and sets and let things continue like that. Also, the frequency of the monthly shows stayed more or less the same. But not surprisingly we had to puzzle a bit with the time and date of the shows.
Do you feel like the lockdown has triggered new developments when it comes to broadcasting, live-streams, podcasts etc.?
No, actually everything that happens now when it comes to radio and music, happened before as well. Like, online announcements and promotion on beforehand and posts and uploads of live-streams afterward. Also, sets were already often live-streamed from the studio via Facebook. So, in that sense, nothing really changed. The only difference is that now there was no ‘studio’ where you played live so you missed the ‘live’ reactions of the people during the set. But I didn’t do a live-stream from home because I recorded my sets and they were broadcasted ‘live’ later on via radio.
Does that feel like an alternative for the former workflow?
No, it feels more like ‘both, and’ because the dynamic of meeting new people, colleagues, DJ’s and studio managers is something I wouldn’t want to miss and a crucial part of the job and for the scene.
So, what exactly is it that you miss?
Like I said, I miss being ‘live’. By this I mean the coincidence, meeting random people, new contacts in real life, and not only on a digital platform or per telephone.
Did you get new inspiration from the lockdown?
In a way it did. I was pushed to make guest mixes, sets, and shows at home. But the workplace does feel different when you work from home.
Do you miss a ‘workplace’ where you can go to or are you fine with working from home as well?
Either place work for me but I feel like a professional workplace is, in the long run, a lot more exciting than working from home. And of course, I miss the people around me and the daily contacts you have when you go somewhere.
Can you compare playing from home with playing live at the container?
Well, it is very different. But when it comes to the techniques, equipment, and other stuff in the studio there are some similarities. However, the stuff I use in the studio is much better than my own equipment:) But, yeah the feeling of playing ‘live’, the contact, touch, and reactions during a live-set is something you cannot create at home.
Do you feel like there is a connection with the listeners when you’re playing in the container?
For sure! The connection is more direct. Like, I receive reactions and messages when I am playing. But what also helps of course are the announcements on social media so people know when you’re playing.
Can you compare this with live-streaming from home?
Actually I never did a live-stream from home because I focussed on my pre-recorded sets. So, I don’t think I can make that comparison.
Does the place where you play have an effect on the music you play/select?
I think that when I play in the studio I’m more focussed. It feels different from recording a set at home. And in the studio, you are able to make more changes and go in other directions while you’re playing. Like, maybe you want to play a different track following another track that you had in mind so you switch and create something new at that specific moment.
What does social contact mean for your music?
I feel like the feedback and feeling you receive from your audience in combination with the feeling you get from the music of others can bring you new insights. Not always, but often this is the case. So, I would say that social contact is super important for music.
How would you describe the role of Operator?
I believe that every city that takes itself seriously and respects itself deserves to have its own online radio station. Luckily, more and more cities have an online radio-station and especially now you see that everywhere people are making radio. I think that Operator plays an important role within the music scene of Rotterdam but also outside of Rotterdam. Just like what Red Light Radio did for Amsterdam. I think that a radio-station like Operator has a positive effect on talent-development, it is a place where both young, old, new and well-known talents can experiment and develop themselves. And of course the strong community that Operator has helped to create within the music scene. Like, there are a lot of national and international ‘take-overs’ and collaborations between radio-stations, festivals, clubs and other events. I mean there are so many opportunities for a radio-station with DJs and residents to create and add something to the scene. Not only online but also for example as stage host. And also the collaborations with label shops like Pinkman trigger new developments. So, yes Operator definitely stands at the core of the creative music climate in Rotterdam and elsewhere. I think about Operator as a place where all things come together from the scene. They, focus not only on music but go much further, they have an eye for the developments in the city and take this also into account when they create their cultural program and other podcasts.