Party like a panda

Party like a panda

15-06-2012 | 11.20

Have you encountered Steffen Bennemann lately, then you might have caught him talking about the Boys and Horses festival in Eastern Germany, where 30.000 people party for free at an abandoned rocket base. Well, that story is now dismantled as panda poop. But with over 25% Dutch visitors, the skyrocketed popularity of Nachtdigital is a true story.
When describing your music, expressions like ‘emotions are at the core of Steffen’s music’ and ‘his sets are an inward journey, moving body and soul alike’ are used. You’re coming off like a bit of a softie. Are you?
‘Well... I guess I’m not really wild. Job Jobse always refers to me as a panda. I think that is a pretty good description. Gemma from Border Community says that I have a zen-like aura. I make people feel comfortable because I’m not hectic when I interact with people. But that’s not how I see myself. I am a pretty hectic person in my mind and in my feelings.’

Do you see partying as a healing experience?
‘Definitely. I think it’s ok to party just for the purpose of having fun, that’s what a lot of us do every weekend. But I like to have more. I believe in music as this force that can put you into trance, even without drugs, and that does something with your mind or your heart that makes you want to change something in your life. Sometimes it works for the audience but not for me, because when you play often you know how to get the people to the point where you want them. Sometimes it clicks with me and not with the audience, then afterwards I think ‘wow, that was one of my best sets’ and then people say I played super lame. Only few times both sides have this connected feeling and it all melts together.’

What about the Amsterdam party scene?
‘I first went to Trouw the Easter weekend of 2010, to the Viral Radio night with Dorian Concept, together with 40 people from the Nachtdigital crew. Then I was invited to come play in November, with Dan Snaith (Caribou). My second night playing in Amsterdam was the first Nachtdigital night with Manamana. But the last time I came... that was the first time when audience and artist were really *claps hands and whistles*. It was the Nachtdigital loves Dial night. And there it felt *claps hands and whistles again*. It connected all together.’
Nachtdigital is based on friendship, right?
‘It all started 15 years ago with a group of 20, 30 friends. Some of them are still part of the team. I actually wasn’t part of that founding group; I joined in the fourth year. Nachtdigital has evolved. The staff as well, it first grew to 40, 50, but when Nachtdigital became a true festival 6 or 7 years ago, we needed even more people. I came to Nachtdigital as a press guy, and I am still the spokesperson. Many people think I’m the founder because I’m always the guy who is quoted in the newspapers. I am the only DJ from those early years who still is a DJ and who still plays every year. I became the face of Nachtdigital, but I’m basically just part of the group. When I started as the press guy, it was my work to be at the office because we didn’t have Internet in Olganitz. I usually came to Olganitz at Thursday evening. Then the whole crew had set up the entire festival already. After a few years that didn’t feel right, I didn’t really feel part of the festival and some of the crew also didn’t see me as such. I was the guy that was not getting his hands dirty. That’s when I started to come to Olganitz the week before, just like most people. I wanted to take part in the whole family thing as well.’

How did you come up with the Andy Warhol theme for Nachtdigital 15?
‘Our graphic designer comes up with the theme, based on ideas we propose to him. Our concepts are usually very open, you don’t find it in every single detail. It’s an idea you can attach to, but you don’t have to. He came up with 15 minutes of fame. We now live in the time that Andy Warhol was talking about.’

By the way, what are you wearing on your wrist?
‘I used to tell people there is a festival in the East of Germany, called Boys and Horses. It’s at an old rocket base, many stages, totally alternative but really big, and yet nobody knows about it. And people always go like: oh wow, really cool, how can I find it? But it’s a joke. This wristband is actually Nachtdigital merchandise. But you should go to Boys and Horses. Amazing festival!’

By: Tessa Velthuis