When we released our line-up in 2020 one of the special performances we were most looking forward to was the b2b between DJ Stingray 313 and Afra. For obvious reasons this has been postponed for two years. This summer it is finally time for these two class acts to share the stage. We had a chat with Afra about her musical upbringing, playing the best clubs in the world, and not recognising DJ Stingray.
You’ve gotten acquainted with music from an early age as your father was a violinist at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Classical music in the Concertgebouw is quite a stretch from the Spielraum party’s where you are a resident. Do you think that even though the setting is very different, you and your father are similar artists?
What a nice question! My dad and I were very much alike, even though he passed away when I was sixteen I feel that I got my love for music from him.
When he was seventeen he started playing at the Concertgebouw Orkest, with the orchestra he was able to play a lot of tours. But after a few years he started being fed up with playing the same pieces all the time. Even though he was fascinated with classical music, he also started exploring electronic sounds. He had an amazing studio filled with analog machines, he even had an Arp 2600! I think, as artists we are both very versatile, we also love the same melancholy in music. Electronic music is just as capable as classical music in terms of hitting this emotional level. What will make my set at The Crave more special this year is that the 4th of June is the day of his passing, so I will be thinking about him a little bit extra that day.
Your first b2b with DJ Stingray 313 happened at Spielraum, and this June we are blessed that you guys with link up again at our own festival in Zuiderpark. How did that first b2b come to be and will you prepare any differently this time than you did before?
Yeah it’s such an honour to be playing with this legend again. We met after we both played at PIP, he started talking to me when I was walking back to the train after my set. I didn’t recognize him because he was obviously not wearing his ski-mask. It was a funny moment when I realized after a few minutes I was talking to Stingray! He told me he would like to play b2b with me someday. I could barely believe it, but it ended up happening.
When I was in Berlin for a gig we hung out at his studio and played some records together. We had a little competition going to see who could mix the records the fastest haha. It was a lot of fun and also a great preparation for what we were going to do at Spielraum together.
When it comes to The Crave, we still have to figure out what we’re gonna do, but knowing that our styles fit so seamlessly together, I’m not very worried. Mostly excited!
Last year you played your first set at the legendary Berghain. Did your set go as plannend? And how was the energy you got back from the crowd? Was it really different to other venues?
Wow! Playing in Berghain was very special ofcourse. I don’t think I’ve ever prepared my records as much as for that set. I started three weeks in advance and I was really determined to stay close to my own sound. The musical variety in my sets can be the strenght but also my downfall. I wanted to showcase things that you wouldn’t neccesarily expect in that venue, it’s such a missed chance if you’re just standing there playing pumping techno for four hours.
The record I was most unsure about, ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl by The Chemical Brothers, mostly because it was a bit of a hit, ended up working the best. The room was really feeling it. But I have to be honest, as a DJ at Berghain you’re a bit hidden in the booth, so some things just pass you by. Anyway, I told myself to not mix too fast, look out into the crowd and to enjoy myself. That worked so I’m happy with how my set turned out.
Right before the pandemic hit you played Bassani in Georgia, this club has been becoming more and more famous and has even been called the next Berghain. Having played both clubs, do you see similarities and differences between the vibe in those places?
For me Bassiani is a deserved number two behind Berghain. It’s a very special place where you can lose yourself. The soundsystem is amazing and the people just keep on dancing. There’s this vibe in there, you just know people just go for it from the moment they enter. Georgia isn’t a place where you can have the freedom to be who you want to be. But this club provides this safe space. That is also what the atmosphere is like in Berghain, it’s what makes these places so special.
I played an almost eight hour set, and this group of three men just danced right in front of the booth the entire time! That’s the type of thing I DJ for.
So, tell us about your secret weapon.
I started collecting vinyl when I was 16, that was the time of the Electroclash. I listened to a lot of sets by Miss Kittin, Vitalic and The Hacker. That’s how I discovered music I liked. This record makes me think of that time and that’s what makes it special. There are these beautiful emo strings which completely captivate you. When I play this record, I almost always bring it to my gigs, you notice people just close their eyes and dance. It just lifts everyone up.
I just think it’s a really great record and it means a lot to me as a DJ.
Check out Afra’s full playlist on our YouTube channel.