Lieke Trienekens about her musical background and inspirations

Amsterdam-based deejay Lieke Trienekens became a quite familiair face on Rhythmic Culture for the last couple of years and is considered as a true family member. We caught up to talk about her musical background, her inspirations and thoughts on life.

Interview & photography by Brendan Reterink
Editing by Casper Janssen

Where does your musical interest come from and how did it develop?

I really grew up with it. My parents were always listening to music and it actually really irritated me, which is probably because it wasn’t my type of music and I was still a child. They were listening to Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Golden Earring and similar music in the car, and really loud too. My brother and I were always like: “Can you turn down the volume a bit?”. But at some point, I started to appreciate music – but I was still rebelling against the music that my parents were listening to. I tried to find my own way into music, and even back then it was mostly electronic music and hip hop. On Wednesday afternoon, after school, I used to go to the market to buy cassette tapes – House party cassette tapes. And when I got back home, I listened to them. My friends didn’t get what I was listening to, so there was no one I could share this music with. I actually don’t know how I got into that actually, because there was no one I knew that was into this same kind of music. I think that was in the 4th grade, the time I started to buy these House music cassettes.

When I went to high school, I got familiar with Hardcore music – which really was a thing where I used to live. People became gabber and went to Hardcore parties on quite a young age – we weren’t allowed to go there. I realized I was deeper into this music than most of my friends, the music was more of a side note for most of them. I’m from Limburg where we shared a shack with a group of friends and there were some turntables there as well. A few friends knew how to play music and it was mostly Hardcore, but I always was interested in what they were doing. I always showed interest in what they were doing and what records they were playing. After school, I used to go to the Free Record Shop to listen to (mainly electronic and hip hop) singles and CD’s and I bought the stuff I liked most. I was always really happy with the stuff I brought home and listened to it a lot. When this Hardcore period passed, my friends started to visit Techno and Hardstyle parties. And Hard Dance parties too, that also was a thing at that time – Impulz Outdoor, that was my first festival. I was only 14 years old. I really was a big fan of Tom Harding, JP, Yoji Biomehanika, Dana, those kinds of names – I was standing in the front row all the time. I was mostly interested in the harder styles of music, while in my youth I was surrounded by Soul, Disco and Rock & Roll. And I really re-discovered this later, after leaving it for a few years. I think it was because I wanted to discover myself and my own music taste instead of my parents’ music taste.

And all of this made me realize that no matter what, I will always feel the need to keep on doing this.

Now, we know you mostly for playing House and other electronic music. Are there still sounds you used to listen to that you try to bring back into your music right now?

Yes, definitely. Especially when I’m at home selecting music, I’ll try to find some music from back in the days quite often – a lot from the Multigroove era, Bonzai, TSOB – harder music. In my radio shows, I try to play at least one nostalgic track – that’s something I like to do. But I’ll always try to mix it with new stuff I discover. It also really depends on my mood which side of electronic music I tend to go and play out. Sometimes I’m into a happy mood and I’ll play Italo or Disco, but sometimes I’m in a kind of darker mood and I’m more into Techno or Electro. So, it can really go either way…

Is that because we now have more room to experiment in between different sounds and genres?

We definitely have more room to cross genres, but I also notice people always try to ask you what sounds you’re playing – and that’s also how our minds are programmed. People want to know what you’re doing, which I understand, but it’s a really hard question to answer. I think you really have to prove yourself a bit harder if you play a lot of different music – because it could turn out as a flop too. Promoters want to be sure they book someone who can bring the right vibes and sound at the right place and time, and that’s super understandable. It’s easier to go for someone who has a really specific sound, so you know what to expect. The most important thing is to show that you can feel the vibe and the crowd at any time and any place.

Everyone searches for music in their own way – what’s your way to search for music?

I usually start off with one track I already know and suites my mood. From there on I keep going – and I don’t know how, but sometimes it seems 10 hours went by in a blink. But there are multiple ways I’m searching for music to be honest – a lot of times I get stuck into these recommendations given by the platform and then I keep on clicking until I’m ending up at labels or artists I never heard of. Most of the times I’ll be stuck into one genre within a digging session. What I find interesting is that sometimes, the day after I re-listen to the tracks I’ve searched up and I don’t feel them at all anymore – and that’s probably because you really been into that flow.

Are there some standout artists you’re really into at the moment?

It changes a lot, to be honest. My friends know me for mentioning a lot of favourite records on a night, haha. It really depends on genres and sounds, but I mostly like versatile artists, but also artists from my youth. I try to go in without any thoughts – back in the days I looked for music from certain labels and now I find it more interesting to find a cool record from a label I usually won’t play stuff from. I don’t care anymore from which label or artists I pick my music from. Most of the time it’s even more fun to pick something from a label nobody knows or you wouldn’t normally go for – stuff from bigger labels will be played out more frequently. I try to stay away from selecting music from certain artists or labels. But if I have to mention one name it would be Larry Heard.

How do you get inspired? Especially now, when we’re not able to go to clubs.

At the beginning of this situation, I completely secluded myself from music, because I noticed that when I’m doing music I got really confused – I didn’t know how things would develop. So, I felt the need to step out of music for a bit – and so I did. Just recently the feeling came back and there were some requests for streams and stuff. I’m happy I made that choice – I was able to focus on other things because I never had the chance to do that before. And I think I really gathered a lot of inspiration at that time, I did a lot of walks, a lot of thinking, talked to a lot with people about different topics – about music, but also about life. All the securities I had are gone now. And all of this made me realize that no matter what, I will always feel the need to keep on doing this. Since then I’m doing music again and I have a lot of inspiration – like I’m unstoppable in some way. It feels like I have to catch up with the weeks I’ve missed out. And like I mentioned before, it was quite a good thing to happen because I never took a lot of time to hang out with my friends – they were already used to the fact that I wasn’t with them most of the times because I was looking for music at home or had a gig or something. And during this period, I really took the time to meet up with friends one on one, and that eventually translated into a lot of new inspiration. If people would’ve asked me before all of this, what I wanted to change in my life, I would probably have answered nothing – it always felt that I was at the right place doing the right stuff. I would’ve signed up for a life like this – being able to work with music all the time, good shows. I never felt the need to change that, but now I feel if things would change organically, that would be cool. Especially the last months I’ve been growing organically, which felt right – it still feels like I’m doing my hobby and passion.

Are there still things you want to achieve as a musician?

Especially now, that’s something I think about sometimes. I wouldn’t have done that before, because I was happy with how things were going, and I really believe that things are going how they’re supposed to go – so I’m not someone that has real goals. I’ve always tried to sense things in the moment. But now, I think about it more because I ask myself more often what I want to do with this – and it’s important you think about stuff like that. If things will keep develop itself in an organic way, that’s something I really want to keep on doing. Also, I would love to play more abroad. I think I’ll get a lot of inspiration from going to different places with different crowds and venues. It’s also a new challenge – when you have a gig here in the Netherlands, you’ll mostly know what vibe or crowd to expect at a certain club. I think it would be fun to play at venues you’ve got no clue what to expect. And I think you’ll grow as an artist too.

We already talked about this a bit – the current situation has a lot of impact on the music scene and on you as an artist too. How do you think things will develop in the next few months?

It’s hard to say – it also depends on my mood. You talk with a lot of people about this. Some people are really positive or negative, and you copy that. On the other side, if things will start up again, most stuff will be held locally – that would be something positive for the local scene because it might be really hard or impossible to fly over international deejays. Sometimes I’m scared because I don’t have a clue if or when we can go back to those bigger events – they aren’t sure if festivals can take place in 2021 for example. I can’t imagine that. But I like the fact things are slowly starting up again, radio stations and small events are slowly coming back. So that’s something to look out for, even it wouldn’t be the same as we were used to in the beginning. And I love to play at small events, so for me, it wouldn’t be a problem to play at smaller events for a while. But it’s hard to say, and I try to keep my mind off it most of the times. In the beginning, I was really following all the news, to know what was going to happen. And now I try to focus on myself. And no matter what, I’m sure the music industry will manage to make something out of this.