Marcel Woods - Love for music

I was pleasantly surprised finding an email of Nicole – Marcel Woods’ PR manager – requesting us to have an interview with him. Can you imagine having someone of his calibre asking us to have an interview with him? I don’t have to point out that things are going very well for ‘Woody’. His brand new tracks ‘Fauna’ and ‘Advanced’ were played by Tiësto during his 11-track set for the Dutch TMF awards, so you can imagine he’s thrilled. More so reason to get into the car and drive all the way to Eindhoven (South of Holland) and have a talk with this DJ/ Producer.

We would meet Marcel at his studio, right above Club Liquid formerly known as Club Hollywood, where he used to be a resident DJ. Climbing the stairs to his studio we were welcomed by some very distinctive Hardstyle sounds. We knew that Woods’ interest in music has always been very broad, but I would have never expected such a warm welcome from him. It turned out that DJ Walt of Showtek was working on his latest, pumping creation.

The ice was soon broken after a quick tour of the premises, a cup of coffee and tea, and some small talk. Time to get busy with the official part of our visit.

A rather lengthy beginning
I have always been into music. As far as I can remember I have spent most of my allowances on records and equipment. So I guess, actual spinning in clubs came more or less as a logical next step. My first gig/residency – if one would call it a gig – was in a small place at ‘Stratums Eind’ here in Eindhoven. It was one of those places where music was second, or even third, on their priority list. You could also tell by the way that they’d tucked away the DJ Booth in some corner of the bar. Nobody really paid attention to what I was doing. Therefore, when Club Hollywood started organising House Parties, I joined in immediately. Hollywood was pretty serious about their plans and my love for music made them realise I was their best man.�

Woods continued his story while Rick took some pictures.

“Somewhere in 1991, I moved into the apartment above the club which turned out to be more than convenient looking at my activities as club manager and DJ. Also, ’91 was the year I turned full pro. Back then we – as a club – were still looking for a specific sound and whilst searching we started to grow a preference for the trancy sounds of Belgium and Germany over the more Clubby sounds of the iT_ and the likes. We really wanted to distinguish ourselves from other Dutch clubs and soon enough that was recognised and appreciated by an extremely varied and international crowd. I can safely say that back in ‘93-’94, _we brought Trance – in all her forms – to the Netherlands, wicked times!�

“My first gig for a very large crowd came much later. I had played predominantly at Club Hollywood until I was asked to spin at Shockers 2002, at the Amsterdam RAI. Warming up a big party like that is more difficult than one would expect. Especially standing there in front of an empty hall as big as a football pitch. However, it didn’t affect my nerves. Actually, I’ve never been nervous for anything. I knew which track I wanted to use to open things up, from there on I totally rely on my gut feeling and my interaction with the crowd. That’s what I’ve always done.�

“After Shockers, things started to move rapidly. In the last two years I’ve been flying from one country or continent to the next, I spin at big festivals like DanceValley and Sensation and I work my butt off to maintain that momentum.�

The low-hanging sun was still heating up the room we were sitting in, so Marcel opened a window and poured us another drink.

My Sound
I believe that every DJ tries out and listens to a whole lot of different styles before he finds that particular sound he’s searching for. I too went through that phase. Way back in the beginning I just mixed tracks without even being bothered by styles or what not. Yet, I realised soon enough my preference for both Techno and Trance. I tried to find a fine balance between the two styles and created what I’d best describe – for many years already – as Techtrance. Main reason for me going this particular way is that I don’t want to be put in some sort of box, really. I don’t see myself as a Techno DJ nor as a Trance DJ. I like to be open minded because it doesn’t compromises my career. This way I can be more flexible and be more accessible for different stages, clubs, festivals, and crowds. Should I have to choose between Trance and Techno I believe I would go for Techno. Especially the early sounds of Jeff Mills where really inspiring for me back then!�

Meanwhile, DJ Walt was still at it, teaching us how to fine tune a new track. Rick poured us all another drink.

“I can see the healthy competition in some layers of the DJ hierarchy. However, I must say I can’t be arsed by it. Of course I do understand that finding a place to play can be quite tedious and stressful. Even though things go smoothly now, I still have to work hard to get my calendar filled. To make this DJ-ing thing work, I have always tried to distinct myself from others by filling up my sets with lots of my own stuff, my own bootlegs, my own CD-R’s, and by all means, trying to stay clear of too many main stream hits. I’d much rather play a set with an 8 out of 10 average score, than a set with a few perfect 10 well known hits to get that recognition from the crowd. Playing it safe is so not my style! Mostly I compete with myself. DJ-ing is an odd and freaky business. It’s all about filling that calendar for the next four months. Beyond that, it’s all a blur. Meanwhile, I keep myself very busy producing music.�

The Netherlands vs other countries
“Oh yes, we are absolutely spoiled here in the Netherlands. Each subculture has its own DJ’s, its own parties and its own sound. However lately, I see more subcultures intertwine. For instance, look at how Trance and Harddance are growing closer. Look at most Trance parties of today, almost none of ‘m with that pure Trance sound of the early ‘90s, unless you’d find yourself at one of Armin’s boat parties. Another example would be Tiësto’s last sets, much harder than we’re used to hearing from him. Of course he wouldn’t do that all the time but it shows he playing with it as well.�
As proof, later on, Woods had us listen to his tracks Tiësto played.
You know abroad, the public isn’t as spoiled as over here. Lack of reference material prohibits them to be all too critical resulting that I – as a DJ – can be a bit more creative and try out new things. Even though I spend a lot more time now on trains, planes and automobiles, I am still very eager to gain a whole lot more international experiences. Abroad I will try out things I would normally never do in Dutch clubs. I call it Musical Madness [check out my web site for more details], because spinning in four countries on two continents in four days can only be classified as utter madness. Yet, I don’t focus just on my international ambitions. You see, I’m never satisfied with my work, I always find room for improvements therefore I still focus a lot on the momentum I’ve got here in Holland. Should I have to pick a foreign market, I might as well go for the biggest one out there, the US. At the same time the US is perhaps also the toughest one to enter because playing at big festivals or clubs in either New York or Miami doesn’t guarantee automatic recognition. You don’t even have that here in Holland.�

As I’d said earlier, it takes a lot of work to maintain that positive momentum. But it will pay off eventually; ‘the sky is still the limit!’ But I also see that I am far from reaching my goals. The festival season has started again and together with my agency I check on a regular base for confirmations from that typical big gig or others. DanceValley just confirmed but it’s not for Main Stage. So we keep staying eager… ha ha However, I still have to realise that I’m very lucky here.

Open Minded
If it were up to me and if it was possible to change a few things by just pressing a button I would start by changing the general attitude in ‘Holland Dance land’. It’s such a shame that the majority always tends to think in boxes. They can give you a hard time if they can’t place you, especially at parties. Let’s get real here, there’s a reason why we call it ‘a party’, yeah? It’s a place to have a good time. Nowadays spotting the DJ’s playing that “to old� tune or making mistakes seems to be the in-thing to do. What sick kind of attitude is that, I wonder. Abroad, people say we’re so lucky living in Holland, with al our superstar DJ’s, our notorious raves and festivals, yet, lot of people here just bitch and diss those things. Why can’t we just kick back and relax? It could be that we’ve got it too good here, too many parties, too many DJ’s, too many options perhaps. Mark my words, the current economic depression will separate those fit enough to survive. One has to work hard or even harder to maintain that conquered position.�

Walt had just left the studio leaving us in pure silence. Good thing that Woody was in a talkative mood.

“At this point I can’t tell you much about my plans for the festival season, mainly due to the fact that the majority of festivals still haven’t confirmed. However, I can tell you that so far, I’ve got eleven confirmed festivals. It will be an absolute hot summer for me. Downside of it all is that this success doesn’t leave much room for quality time with the home situation. Not that I have ever been a person who likes to spend much time ‘holidaying’. Since everything have taken such a lift off, it became even harder to finding some time off for holidays for me and my girlfriend. Perhaps I should think about combining work with pleasure, who knows.
You see, life is all about setting priorities; will I take the girlfriend to a sunny, white beach or shall I rock the stages at a big event or cool club, or should I play at a certain stage abroad, or should I play harder styles or stick with my own thing. Each choice will have immediate consequences on my future career. One thing’s for sure, this summer I will stick with my own thing. I really have to keep my fans eager for more by staying unpredictable.�

Latest tracks
You can say it’s quite an understatement when I say that I’m happy with the fact that ‘Fauna’ , ‘Cherry Blossom’ and ‘Advanced’ are being picked up so well by both crowd and DJ’s. Especially now that Tiësto has played them as well. You know, the best thing about it all is that the mix that is being played in the clubs is actually my B choice. Unfortunately i only found out moments after the company sent out the CD’s that the wrong version was mastered.�
To emphasise what he meant, he had us listen to both versions. Man, some difference!
“Yes, I’m very pleased with what they do. It also makes me very curious about what my own A choice could do in the scene. In my opinion, these are even more pumping and fuller, and more pleasant to the ear. Currently all tracks have got a spot in all my sets, they’re sort of the hits of the set. But it’s not good to dwell too much in the past – it’s time to look ahead again and come up with a decent, innovative successor. Not an easy task, I might add.�

Compilation vs own album
“A question frequently asked lately. To be honest, that’s not flying high on my priority list. Of course it’s something I always would like to do but the timing must be perfect. There are some demands and terms on my side for such a new project. For instance, the music should be more mature if you know what I mean.
With regard to an album, I think I would really like to go deep with that. But like the compilation CD, timing is of the essence and I’m not sure that my fans are waiting for something like that, just yet. Another factor we’d have to keep in mind is the record company. They really have to see value in it all otherwise the whole thing’s off. Perhaps I should consider creating an alias?�

Organising parties
“It’s becoming a bit of a hype – DJ’s organising their own parties. I’ll explain why this phenomenon doesn’t keep me awake at nights. In my opinion, these DJ’s are being faced by at least one of the following three factors: 1, they’re so successful abroad resulting in diminishing time in Holland, giving them the feeling that they really ought to do something to strengthen the relationship with their Dutch fans. Or 2, it is too difficult to get a gig, leaving them with no choice but to organise their own party, or 3, monkey see monkey do. I don’t face any of these factors. It’s not even an ambition to play solo somewhere. However, I may be persuaded to fill a whole night at my old club here in Eindhoven.�

All I’m after is to continue to grow and bringing my DJ sets and producing music to a next level. Continuously I set and reset my personal goals. Last year I did both DanceValley and Sensation and I can’t wait for my next appearances there. But I’m still looking for other goals like aiming at main stages or playing at ‘Global Gathering’ / ‘God’s Kitchen’. I’m hungry for more but enjoy what I’ve got right now.

I’m in it for the Love of the music not the love for the spot light!

Marcel Woods