Words by: Nour Khairi
Ready for the club post-COVID? Meet Jarreau Vandal.
Ellroy Uyleman, better known as Jarreau Vandal, is a 29-year-old producer, DJ and artist from Amsterdam. Growing up, he was surrounded by 90’s Hip-Hop, Soul and Funk influences as well as having the musical guidance of his grandfather. At 16, he began his production journey, eventually catching the eyes of the L.A. based label Soulection. Today, he’s a proud Amsterdammer, making global waves as one of Europe’s hottest DJs and musicians. I caught up with the Dutch star to discuss his work and the city’s ever-changing musical landscape.
“I love to make music. I love to listen to music and I love to party”, says Vandal. The artist is passionate not just about his craft but about the future of music. His latest album, titled Suburb Superhero: The Villain Within contains tracks produced, sung and written by him, as well as collabs with Kojey Radical, Col3trane, Tay Iwaar, Gaidaa and Kiah Victoria.
The DJ maintains the authenticity of dam’s club culture with his VANDALIZED Edits, where he adds his own flavour to popular songs across various genres. “In 2015 there was a song that every DJ was playing…and I thought I’m gonna make a Grime-type remix of this. This was around the time when Skepta was blowing up and grime was having a kind of revival.” He played his edit at the massive music festival Appelsap and sent the crowd wild. The edits caught fire and he began officially releasing them.
“I try to keep remixes in my brand. It’s a way of keeping that club culture in my work.”
As a beat-smith, he started off with Soul, Jazz and Gospel samples. “That’s typical for a Hip-Hop producer”, he explains. “I was obviously inspired by guys like Madlib and J Dilla… but I’m from Amsterdam. It’s a very diverse culture. We love Dancehall and Afrobeats. That’s the stuff you hear at parties…when I DJ, those are genres I include, and I take these elements with me when I make beats and music for the club.”
I asked the multi-faceted talent what he remembers about growing up in one of Europe’s most musically-diverse cities. “I noticed that crowds were more open-minded in terms of ‘weird stuff’. Nowadays, when you play something experimental in a club setting, people either stand still or walk off…because they’re not familiar with it. I feel that more DJ’s should take the responsibility to educate the crowd” he says, “but we don’t have to be snobs about it.”. Vandal wishes for more of those brave moments, where ideas about what is considered digestible don’t influence his sets. “Back then, there were so many parties that tried to push the boundaries…”, but it’s more nuanced than that; “in those days, the Hip-Hop scene and the music scene were not as intertwined…the sounds that rappers jump on now would’ve been considered left-field.” In many ways, Hip-Hop has become more brave and experimental, merging with other genres to create new sounds. As a whole, Vandal feels that DJ’s and producers can always push those boundaries further:
“Give the people something they already know, and also give them something educational.”
Vandal is optimistic about the next generation of producers and other artists in Amsterdam. He’s most excited about the diversity in the scene. “There’s a lot of young people making fresh music; RIMON, Jazz group SMANDEM, Joshua J, etc.…these people push me to be on my A-game.” Despite being in a competitive big city, he notices that the scene has become more supportive and that artists are more loving towards each other. “Back then, it felt like a bucket of crabs,” he says. “There’s a lot of ground to cover for artists now, and I think there’s enough room for everyone.”
Writer and Producer: Nour Khairi
Creative Director: Angel Ammar
Photographer: Jonathan Hoost
Video Director: Moyo Santosmartins
Videographer: Moses Dwumah
Video Editors: Moyo Santosmartins, Moses Dwumah
Stylist: Franky Reid
MUA: Esma Eldemir
Location: Studi-o, Amsterdam. Coordinated by Moyo Santosmartins