IN CONVERSATION WITH KI/KI
Interview by Dean Sanders @dean__sanders
KI/KI is a talented DJ and producer based in Amsterdam, known for her dynamic DJ sets and captivating productions that blend acid, techno, and electro sounds. With a passion for electronic music since her teenage years, KI/KI has been making a name for herself in the music scene through her unique style and electrifying performances. Her success has taken her to some of the most renowned venues and festivals across Europe, including Berghain and Awakenings. In addition to her DJ career, KI/KI also founded her own label and just released her first EP ‘Leave it to the vibe’
How did you first get into Djing and what inspired you to pursue a music career?
At 15, I started producing music and later moved to Amsterdam at 18. I never considered Djing in the village I grew up in. But in Amsterdam my ex-partner taught me how to DJ, and we played together for a year, even securing a residency at a club near Leidseplein. However, our different styles caused us to part ways. I started playing solo and within a few weeks, I was booked by PIP in The Hague. This led to an invitation to play at Spielraum, and my success took off suddenly.
With such an extensive list of performances, what is something you are still looking forward to?
I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to perform at some of the most iconic venues in the world. One performance that stands out in my mind was my second time playing at Berghain. The first time was also amazing, but the second time was absolutely unforgettable. The energy was so beautiful and unexpected, and it turned out to be one of my best club moments ever.
Regarding your question, closing a festival like Awakenings is something I couldn’t have even imagined when I was just starting music at the age of 15. But there are still so many things I’m looking forward to in my career.
What are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had recently while traveling and performing?
Each experience has been unique and memorable in its own way. Recently, I had the opportunity to tour Asia and Australia for the second time. It was epic to be able to go to Japan and perform there and having my partner there with me made it even more special.
Every country is so different, and even every city in the same country can be vastly different. It keeps things interesting and exciting, but it also means you must be able to improvise and adapt to each situation. Overall, it’s been an incredible journey, and I feel so grateful for the experiences I’ve had while traveling and performing.
Congratulations on the release of your first solo EP, ‘Leave it to the vibe’ which is out now! Can you tell us more about the creative process behind this project and what inspired you to release it at this moment?
The creative process behind this project was a bit unconventional. I had played the track quite a few times before, but it was just a demo version. I made a deal with myself that I would play my own production at my postponed AVA boiler room gig, but when COVID hit, I finished the basic track and played it, and it was a success. Afterward, I made some adjustments to the arrangement and mixing, I also worked on some reworks.
When it came to choosing a label to release the EP, I didn’t feel like any of the options I had considered were the right fit. So, I decided to release it on my own label, which I was starting at the time. The EP features the original track, a rework with new elements and a drum version. The inspiration behind the project is a high-energy, friendly vibe with big breaks and drops. The melody is new, and there are elements of acid in there as well.
I had initially planned to release the EP sooner, but there were some delays, so it took longer than expected. Nonetheless, I’m excited to finally release this project and share it with the world.
Can you tell us more about your own label and how it came to life?
My label was initially created to celebrate my passion for 90s music and to collaborate with producers to create new releases and remixes featuring contemporary artists. Our upcoming projects are exciting, and I am extremely proud. But the process can be quite challenging as some of our releases take more than two years to complete. Over time, the label has evolved and I have started releasing tracks from talented new artists who produce amazing music. Although the label did not end up being exactly what I envisioned, I am pleased with how it has evolved and the results we have achieved.
You made your first DJ debut at the Amsterdam club De School, what is your view on the music scene here in the Netherlands?
I have seen that the music scene in the Netherlands changed a lot. I have noticed that people are more selective in the events they attend, which can make it difficult for promoters. I do believe that there is room for a more queer-oriented club in Amsterdam that focuses on electronic music and inclusivity. It’s important to have spaces that cater to the queer community and prioritize their needs, but it can be challenging to find venues that are experienced in handling such events.
As a prominent figure in the dance music scene, what message do you hope to convey through your music? And how do you use your platform to advocate for change and inclusivity?
I strive to be mindful of the people I work with and the opportunities I provide. For instance, with my label, I make a conscious effort to give opportunities to underrepresented groups and promote diversity in the industry. I also ensure that my programming and collaborations include diverse artists and voices. Although there is always room for improvement, I believe that these efforts should become normalized.
You are known for your “5 HRS OF ACID” How did you come up with the concept?
The concept for “5 HRS OF ACID” originated from a set I played three years ago at Intercell, just before the lockdown. At the time, I didn’t play acid very often, so it was a challenge to play only acid for an entire set. However, I ended up enjoying it a lot. When COVID-19 hit, many DJs were playing for streams, and we decided to release the recorded set from Intercell. It was very well received! And I wanted to build on that success. Instead of just programming a night where everyone plays acid, I decided to challenge myself by playing a five-hour set of only acid. I had so much fun, and I was even surprised that people were still able to handle acid after five hours. If possible, I would love to play it again and even make it a regular event.
Is there any environment that you find inspiring, and do you have a specific place or location that you visit to make music?
While on tour, I find that my mind has more room to breathe and I’m able to pay closer attention to music, leading to spontaneous inspiration. I tend to create a lot of music while traveling, especially during those idle moments spent in airports and airplanes. Sometimes, I seek out quiet places like a forest, where I can unplug and let inspiration come to me organically.
One of my most memorable experiences of inspiration happened while on a cycling holiday at my grandparent’s house. I dreamt of hearing an incredible song at the Berghain club, and in my dream, I asked someone about the name of the song. However, upon waking up, I realized that the song didn’t exist. I quickly rushed to record it on my laptop, but then fell asleep again and forgot about it. The following day, I remembered what had happened and luckily found the recording. I immediately began working on it, and it turned out to be my first release. It’s strange, but I often find myself having creative outbursts when I’m away from home.
Your music has been described as “fast but dreamlike, futuristic but nostalgic, severe but euphoric”. Could you expand on what these elements mean to you and how they come together in your sound?
I’ve always been drawn to music from the 90s, and for a long time, that’s all I played. However, in recent years, there’s been a new wave of producers and artists who play a style that I like to call “trechno” – it’s dreamy, steady, and sounds new because of the mixing and production techniques used.
What I love about this style is that it combines elements from both the past and present, creating a sound that’s both nostalgic and futuristic at the same time. My music is hard and fast, but it’s always round and friendly, with an infectious happy vibe. Even the classic hardstyle elements I use still manage to convey a sense of positivity and euphoria. It’s a reflection of my personal taste in music, which is always evolving and changing as I discover new artists and styles.
Looking towards the future, what are your goals and aspirations as a DJ and producer?
Last year, I had the opportunity to perform on live show, and I am eager to continue building on that experience in the future. My ultimate goal is to create a proper live set and showcase it at large-scale events. I have found that creating tracks while on tour and playing them for my audience is a particularly fulfilling experience as it allows for a deeper connection between the music and the listeners. As a result, I tend to favor playing my own tracks during my sets, as they represent my artistic expression. My dream is to embark on a live tour at some point, but I know that this will require time and effort to create a truly exceptional experience for my fans. At present, I am focused on producing new tracks and am already 10 steps ahead in my creative process.