Van Anh has been with us since the early years, she has played many of our party’s and has really become part of our Crave family. Not only does she rock the decks, with her multidisciplinary design studio ISOTOOP she has done impressive projects of varying nature.

You’ve been playing music for a while now, and you are always working on numerous other projects with your studio, ISOTOOP. But your sister is also active in the event scene, she organizes multiple events and is involved with Perron Rotterdam. Did you guys explore the electronic music scene together?

I’m the oldest, so I was the first to explore dance music, and I think that music and partying is mostly in my blood, although she is more professional with strong organizational skills. We became closer as we started to go out together and work in the same business. I connected with both my sisters on a much deeper level through dance. We are now best friends, whilst before we lived separate worlds. Actually, now that I think of it, all my friends (aside from the very few that I’m still in contact with from study) and lovers I’ve met on the dance floor. What does that say about our ongoing lockdown situation?

Van Anh and her sisters

Tell us about an unforgettable experience you guys had at an event you were together.

In June 2015, we took our youngest sister to Paris for her birthday, and we went to Weather festival organized by Concrete. It was one of the rare moments that just the three of us bonded. It was also that time when I had the honour to have a conversation with Jeff Mills that led me to playing with vinyl. I felt so curious to learn the art of djing, so I bought turntables shortly after, and was devoted to practice. I’m so grateful for that moment because it marks a shift in my practice, and a whole new world of Discogs opened to me and I enjoyed playing music more than ever before. I was (and still am) such a fangirl of Jeff Mills. While we were standing in the crowd, Jeff Mills waved at me and went hysterical because I could not believe he would recognize me.

Van Anh and Jeff Mills 

Besides DJ-ing you also started Studio ISOTOOP, can you tell us about the type of projects you do with ISOTOOP?

studio ISOTOOP is an experience design studio where we create experiences for many different objectives. For example, we designed a multisensory space at the Hortus Botanicus to take the visitor on a journey in an invisible world for the human eye to see; how plants communicate. We used light projections, sound design, and even aroma’s to connect with all the senses. We also designed two festival stages for Paradigm festival and Expedition festival. I want to use our abilities to design spaces for well-being. We recently created an interactive installation for children to play and learn, and I would love to develop this further to stimulate self-confidence and emotional development. All these projects got cancelled in the end, unfortunately. This year was one with extremes, both high and lows, and it has worn me out. I decided that I’m not taking part anymore in the organising function of events, and I’m shifting to a new direction where I can give new meaning to my creativity by consulting people to find balance in their lives. I’m studying at the Academy of Feng Shui, Chinese metaphysics related to energy, cosmology comparable to gravitation or other acknowledged universal mechanisms. With a master degree, I will be able to advise people on how to organise their lives and balance their energy with the environment and improve their relations with others to enhance prosperity. I cherish this path because it incorporates all aspects of our life, which means that I can combine all areas of art that I love with well-being. It is all about harmonising, which is also at the core of DJing.

Interactive light installation with studio ISOTOOP

You organised ‘Under the desert stars’. A festival close to Marrakech, the images I saw looked amazing, but I heard there was some stress involved in making it happen. How was your experience there?

It was an experience that changed my life for good. After that, I knew that everything was possible and I quit my job to be able to fully commit to everything my heart desires. I have big dreams and a clear vision; I wanted to create an experience where people would interact with the surrounding in a harmonious relationship and create the perfect environment to engage with music. The musical line-up is laid out alongside the shifting skyline from sunset until sunrise, each slot with a unique vibe. The desert is a space of emptiness where sound can travel boundless, and the sand dampens the vibrations inducing a crisp, clear sound. I’ve never heard sound that way anywhere before, just perfect! But of course, it came at a high price. We were in a country where we don’t speak the language, don’t know the culture, and the desert is extremely hot and without any facilities. 

We managed to make it happen, and our brains have a natural tendency to romanticize our memories, so the feelings of stress have faded away, and what is left feels like a fantasy that once became a reality.

So tell us about your secret weapon.

I don’t have one secret weapon, but I made a playlist based on the highlights of last year. 

2021 was a winding river of emotions; lockdown, clubs opened, closed, the festival season opened, closed, clubs opened again, closed. During this mental rollercoaster, I found comfort in music at home. I don’t think I’ve ever played so much music in my life before. I released 13 podcasts in one year on top of my monthly show at RRFM in various styles. I got booked and played at my preferred slots at my favourite places. The second Unmute protest with the Paradigm family was another momentous occasion that ended with an epic birthday party of Vincent Reinders at Radio Radio. And I was so close to playing a warm-up set for Jeff Mills… Every opportunity to dance felt special, so all the tracks I selected are linked to a euphoric feeling when I connected with others through a piece of music, whether it was during a gig or podcast. The final track, 4Dimensional Soundwaves from Marco Shuttle, is particular to me for many reasons; firstly, because the track is just simply phenomenal!

I love emo-tracks where my thoughts drift away and put a smile on my face. It brings me back to Rhythm Büro festival in Kyiv, where I danced with many of my dearest friends from different countries, and where I heard this track for the first time during Marco’s set. I played this track when the clubs reopened at Bret in September, and during the ten hours set with my friend Vand, two of my best memories from last year. Marco’s album ‘Cobalt Desert Oasis’ healed me during a difficult period. I took some time off in Spain. One night, I went out to the beach, listening to his album in solitude. Suddenly, I felt a wave of happiness flowing through my body, feeling thankful to be at a beautiful place and realized how my overwrought feelings were blocking me from receiving what was right in front of me, perfect as it is. My biggest lesson learned from last year; let go of expectations, accept, and go with the flow. I have been chasing the sun all my life, so instead of running away, I decided that I would move out of Amsterdam to live by the sea so that I could see the skyline every day. So, here I am, writing these words with the sounds of the wind and waves blowing in the background. Happy ending 🙂

Check out Van Anh’s full playlist here

Van Anh’s set-up in her new apartment