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Chili con Carlos

Interview with Carlos Valdes

Chili con Carlos

27-09-2013 | 15.52

It isn’t an overstatement to call Carlos Valdes an established name in Amsterdam’s nightlife. Just a couple of keywords to freshen your memory: Studio Soulrock, Sandrien, Chile, Crackhouse ABC, Steffi and Les Enfants Terribles. So who is Carlos really?
 
Well, actually he is one of the nicest guys in the business. Always friendly, cheerful – I wish he had that cute flower behind his ear all the time – and speaking of him as a DJ, he’s a real floor destroyer, once given the opportunity. His friendliness and cheerfulness must have something to do with his Chilean background. Although Carlos was born in Amsterdam, his roots are undeniably Latin American, which only feeds our curiosity.
 
How many times have you been to Chile?
“A total of five times, but I did not go there until I was 18 years old. My parents actually met each other in Holland, after they both fled general Pinochet’s regime in the seventies. While raising me in Amsterdam they tried to teach me Spanish, but that didn’t work out. I was quite reluctant. But now that I’ve travelled through South-America a couple of times, there is a sort of incentive to learn the language. Guess I discovered the Chilean in me. The friendliness, the warm bond between family members and friends, the solidarity: it’s all becoming more and more familiar to me. And yes, the term ‘mañana… mañana’ does ring a bell, haha!”
 
And how about music?
“My grandfather on my mother’s side had a radio station. And my father recently built his own guitar. So you could say there’s link to music. But at the end of the day I developed my own sense of music. I was surprised to find that the dance scene in Chile is yet small, but sophisticated. In Santiago de Chile there’s a club called La Feria where really big names play for no more than two hundred people. Ricardo Villalobos (a fellow Chilean, BvL) plays there whenever he’s in town. I myself had a gig there in 2001, bringing two bags from Holland, filled with records. It went okay, but I preferred playing at Quinto Sol, a small cult club in Santiago. And I have good memories of Pucón, up in the mountains, where I literally played in a wooden cabin. In South America a gig rapidly turns into a party, but it can also turn into quite an adventure.”
 
Do tell us all about it!
“In 2009 I toured through Chile, Ecuador and Brazil. I didn’t know anyone in Ecuador then, but nevertheless I managed to get booked. Actually it was my best paid gig in South America ever. Two men, armed to the teeth, picked me up at my hotel. That was quite a scare already. They took me on a long ride through vast banana plantations, right into the mountains. Our final destination was on a mountain top and turned out to be the home of one of the richest people in the country. Only ten people were present, simply bizarre. Isis (van der Wel, BvL) once arranged a gig for me in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I played in the open air at two o’clock at night for nearly a thousand people. They didn’t need a warm-up set: everyone started dancing immediately. The same went for Sao Paolo: I started playing and within half an hour the party was on!”
 
Tell us about the two women in your life: Steffi and Sandrien.
“Steffi really helped me establish Studio Soulrock as a label. In the early years Soulrock was one of my solo projects (Carlos backwards is solrac = soulrock, BvL). Steffi ran her own label Klakson and was far more experienced when it came to mastering and distribution. It is because of her support that I developed insights of my own. When I’m in Berlin, I always try to catch up with her. I recently put Studio Soulrock on hold, as an agency that is. I am too busy playing records and organizing parties, and I want to continue focussing on that. Producing my own tracks will be ‘the next level’. The guys at Les Enfants Terribles (LET) started out with my management in January. A couple of months later I became their resident artist. Dennis from LET is doing all my bookings now, which is great. It gives me the opportunity to fully focus on both my music career and my dance parties.”
 
And how about Sandrien?
“We go long way back. She and I really got to know each other in 1999 during an edition of Chemistry. We were both playing at the Blitz on Reguliersdwarsstraat at that time. There was this chemistry between us, right from the start, but I wasn’t really serious about DJing. Sure, I collected music and played at parties every now and then, but that was it. Sandrien was in the national hockey team (under 21 years), BvL), so she focussed more on her sport back then. But we were still drawn to each other and playing music became a way of life for both of us. Throughout the years we went our own way style-wise: she digs techno, I play house in the broadest sense. It’s kind of yin and yang: there is this complementary energy between the two of us. When we play together she definetely throws in the ‘power’. But nowadays I can finally keep up with her, haha!”
 
And tonight there’s Discovery Festival X Les Enfants Terribles. 
“Yeah, I’m really excited about that one. I’ll open with a 2,5 hours set, filled with house music, pure and raw. That’s my thing.”

Text: Bonita van Lier