‘I was already running a business when I was eleven. My mother drove the truck to transport everything’

Festival Loveland celebrates its 25th anniversary this weekend in Sloterparken. Marnix Bal (1974) is the founder and CEO of Loveland Events. A keyword based interview about a DJ career at the age of 14, EDM and ideal festival weather.

Peter van Brummelen

Haarlem

“Born and raised. I come from a caring family with a hard-working father and a sweet mother. I had two sisters, one of whom died of melanoma cancer when she was 27. It had a big impact on me because besides being my sister, she was also my best friend.”

“I was already running a business when I was eleven. I had my own drive-in show and played on class nights. It slowly got bigger and I went to all the schools in town. I had my own turntables, amplifiers and light boxes. My mother drove the truck to carry all that. I didn’t even get to ride a moped yet, but I was already renting trucks.”

DJ Marnada

“In the beginning, Minimix was my DJ name. Because I was such a little bastard. It wasn’t until very late that I started to grow, but then it also happened quickly; at sixteen I was 1.60 meters tall, at nineteen 1.90. When I was about fourteen years old my name was DJ Marnada. Had a cafe owner fix it for me. Marnix became Marnada. Nada is the Spanish word for nothing, you understand.”

“As marnada I was already playing illegal raves. I had to stand on a box to get to the turntables. The name Marnada was not a success, people turned it into DJ Marinade. I was happy when I just appeared on flyers as DJ Marnix.”

“I did quite well as a DJ, but I chose to live as a festival organizer. As a DJ, I didn’t like to travel. It was car in, car out. Later the planes arrived. Terrible. Completely exhausted by the time difference, you had to stand behind the record player for an hour and a half with a smile. In the end, I just couldn’t take it anymore.”

RoXY

“Yes, of course I got there too, no matter how young I was, when I was fourteen. I played there too. I got into iT too. Can’t imagine now, but you were allowed to get in there when you were sixteen. I got along with much older types, developed quickly.”

“During the university education, which I completed without any problems, I was bullied enormously, even beaten. Those guys wanted to DJ too and were jealous. My parents? They thought: it’s over with that music and those parties. But my passion only grew stronger. They must have worried about me even later when I was already organizing festivals. I have often taken great financial risks. My parents are now in their eighties and both seriously ill, but they come to Loveland on Sundays.”

Queen’s Day 1995

“The beginning at Loveland. We had already wanted to celebrate the 25th anniversary in 2020, but then we got corona. I already lived at Kloveniersburgwal in 1995, and Nieuwmarktbuurt was still a bit of a village back then with only a butcher and a baker. With a couple of cafes in the square, I found a free festival in the square for Queen’s Day. The Internet was still in its infancy, as far as advertising was concerned, you had to make do with flyers.”

“On Queen’s Day, the large flow of people did not pass Nieuwmarkt at all at that time, but we attracted a large local audience. After I played Queen’s Night, we started building at 6:00 in the morning. At 12.00 the music was allowed to start. And we were allowed to continue until 11pm. In later editions it was 9 p.m., now unfortunately it must be quiet at 8 p.m.

Festival and get up

“That’s the name of the book I’m writing, it should be ready by October. We could also have done another coffee table book on 25 years with Loveland, but I chose a book where I want to show how hard we have had to fight for the last 25 years to organize parties. Fight for your right to party. In my book, I tell how we as a small organization dealt with nuisance, drugs, security, green politics, corona and so on.”

“When we started, you already had Dance Valley near Amsterdam, we were the first festival within the city limits. We are also truly an Amsterdam organization. Of course we also attract people from further afield, but the majority of our audience comes from greater Amsterdam. Cooperation with the municipality is generally good these days. Previously you had to deal with many different parties and districts, now things are much more centrally arranged. Mayor Van der Laan, who recognized the importance of events for the city, has committed to this.”

Sloterpark

“We went there seventeen years ago at the request of the then district chairman, who wanted people from the city center to Nieuw-West. Later we again ran into problems with the district, partly because houses were built on the festival site. But of course it is a beautiful location right by the water at Sloterplas. This year we also have our own Loveland Hotel. The Leonardo Hotel in nearby Rembrandtpark will only accept Loveland guests this weekend. Pool parties are organized and a barbecue on the roof terrace, we also have special hangover breakfast.”

test track

“Just before corona hit, I was in Thailand with my family. So I was already thinking: what about Loveland if this gets really serious? During the first lockdown, I went out with my family again, then to a house in Friesland. It got me thinking again. Together with Loveland colleague Wouter Muurlink, I developed a plan for fast test streets for festivals. They didn’t come exactly like that, but Loveland started building test streets for GGD. As a festival organizer, we had the know-how and the people to do it.”

“We built our first test street in Zuidoost. We liked it so much that we started doing it for GGDs all over the country. We were able to help the Netherlands, but we were also able to keep our team , we didn’t need help.”

EDM

“Electronic dance music, the name the Americans have come up with for it. Could mean anything of course, but basically it’s the sound that made Holland great, the music of guys like Martin Garrix and Fedde Le Grand. They used to play for us too. But that sound hasn’t evolved. It’s just more of the same: hands in the air, one every minute drop.

“Even before such music was called EDM, we gave it up at Loveland. We have always programmed broadly, but the pillars were house, real house and techno. Frankie Knuckles, one of the founders of house, has been with us. The techno pioneer Derrick May too.”

Beyonce

“I haven’t heard the new album yet, but I’ve read about it and know it has such an old-school house sound. In America it is popular again, I understand. On a. Holland skipped the vocal house a bit at the time. Garage was very big in England, here we went in a different direction because of gabbers. Dance has been around for so long that you can hear that the genre recycles itself every now and then. I see 18-year-olds dancing to music that they think is brand new, but I recognize the samples from Italodisco from a long time ago.”

Ecstasy

“I don’t believe in repression, I believe in good information. Yes, ecstasy is used at festivals, but I also see people dancing sober, or with just a beer. I also see elderly visitors who come with their children of about 18, Age 19. Our motto is: connecting people through music. We are the most diverse festival of all. Everything is mixed here: young and old, white and black, straight and gay. When it comes to dance festivals, it quickly becomes about drugs, but drugs are used everywhere in Amsterdam, including in cafes and at football matches.”

Ransdorp

“We now live half in the city centre, half in Ransdorp. I have children aged 3 and 7, so you start to look at the city differently. We live above a coffee shop on Kloveniersburgwal. The kids are nice and calm because of what comes up through the air installation, haha. But seriously, this is not a neighborhood where you let your kids play in the street with a key around their neck: “See you around noon, won’t you.” At the beginning of the week it is still going, but from Thursday Nieuwmarkt and the Red Light District will be taken over by the bottom of tourism. Ransdorp is still Amsterdam, but very quiet. If I miss the energy of the city, I can be at Nieuwmarkt in fifteen minutes.”

Weather

“One of the things that you, as a festival organizer, have no influence on. We have experienced that we had a very bad weather forecast at the start of the week. We started working with canopies and ponchos and such, and the weather was beautiful during the festival. Organizing a festival is like playing a slot machine. A temperature of around 22.23 degrees is ideal. We’re going way beyond that this year, but there are plenty of shady spots; the park is full of trees and there are canopies. Visitors can also use the Sloterparkbadet and paddle in Sloterplas. There are free water points and application teams walk around the grounds.”

To dance

“Yes, I’m a dancer, you know. They always say that DJs never dance, but I was always moving around behind the turntables. Nowadays, if I really want to dance, I go to a club abroad with my wife, in Berlin or something. When I go on the dance floor in Amsterdam, I’m immediately accosted: ‘Don’t say you… You know, I’m also a DJ, can’t I even..?’ I definitely can’t dance at Loveland. I don’t have an official job there, I’m mainly having drinks with artists and guests, but I’m on edge throughout the festival. That goes for the whole team, everyone is on high alert. There’s always a moment where we take a picture with as many of us as possible, but after a few minutes it immediately reappears.”

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