Local Rockstars: classy drinks with classical music DJ Von Rosenthal de la Vegaz

Local Rockstars: classy drinks with classical music DJ Von Rosenthal de la Vegaz

Nov 1, 2010 |  by  |  Music
About the author
Ridz, advertises, produces indie/electronic music, performs throughout the Netherlands but ultimately always ends up at an Amsterdam based ensemble... then he blogs about all these things.

Whether you went out last weekend to check out an uber geeky beat magician or a depressingly awesome indie rock band, we all know there’s always some serious musical talents rocking around the dam. You might not recognize them all yet, but don’t worry, you will soon. In this series of interviews we take remarkable artists out for their favourite drink at some random Amsterdam-based hangout.

To kick off this series, I got the privilege to have a few Vedettjes with Mr. Von Rosenthal de la Vegaz, Amsterdam’s one and only classical music DJ.

‘Nouvelle Classique’ FINAL mix for Universal Music © von rosenthal de la vegaz by von rosenthal de la vegaz

Mixing classical music

When I think of classical music I think of composers like Mozart, Bach or even a character like Andre Rieu. I never really associated the genre with a DJ; I guess I have a stereotypical view towards the genre. And this is exactly why Von Rosenthal de la Vegaz started doing what he does.

These last ten years I got really bored with the dance music scene, and now was the time to start doing something completely different: it was time to skip the beat.

Von Rosenthal de la Vegaz used to DJ at parties frequently, but the club scene got a bit predictable. He learned to appreciate classical music while studying at the Conservatory of The Hague. Before he knew it he managed to get booked for a gig with this musical approach at last year’s Motel Mozaique festival as a try out. And with succes: a new era of classical performances opened up for the man, called Nouvelle Classique.

A new scene of ‘intelligent’ music

“When you visit a classical concert, your seat number is pre-arranged, you don’t cough, you don’t make any noise, you listen to the concert, you applaud after it, and then you go home again. It’s an extremely traditional happening, there’s no edgy or renewing side to it, so I thought I’d change that by bringing the music into the clubs and festivals as Lowlands. They say the classical music scene complains there are no young people visiting concert theatres such as the Concert Gebouw. Well.. of course not. Tickets are too expensive, it’s always sold out because of the year memberships and they do not put a lot of effort into renewing things. I know a lot of people of your generation who do appreciate classical music, especially when it’s mixed with eclectic dance music. And house music is not the dominant club genre any more either, people love to broaden their horizons nowadays.”

So is there any sort of community being born within this new branch of classical music?
“Not in Amsterdam yet, or in the rest of the Netherlands for that matter. It’s mainly happening in Berlin at the Berghain and in New York at the Le Poisson Rouge. Electronically orientated orchestra’s are being booked over there frequently.”

So basically you’re a Dutch pioneer in the genre?
“I’d say yes, because I’m the first classical DJ that actually managed to put out an album with Universal Music.”

Creations & Accomplishments

Since the release of the new record, Von Rosenthal has been receiving an increasing amount of attention in the music industry. “I managed to get sponsorships with music engineering software producer Ableton and Suit Supply to start with. Yet my dearest accomplishment up to now would still have to be the performance at Lowlands this year. It’s top of the bill for every Dutch artist, to play in the bravo for five thousand people.” Last week Von Rosenthal also got to close off the Golden Gnome Awards during ADE and perform at JFK Style Magazine‘s party. In the near future he will be spinning at De Nachten in Antwerp and opening for the sold out Bloody Beetroots show in Amsterdam’s well-known Melkweg on November 19th.

So opening for Bloody Beetroots, that seems like a bit of a contradiction?
“They love it. Because of the contradiction. I basically asked Mojo to book me in front of the most hardcore techno or rock formation they could think of. So they did. I will make the heads of all those people empty so they can get into it until the main act kicks in, just as I did for Vive la Fête on several occasions. The ultimate gig of that chapter was the last one in Paradiso. Contemporary rock bands always have a very similar act performing before them, why never a totally different thing? Let’s avoid all the clichés of rockstardom.”

Role Models & Amsterdam

Next to his DJ career Von Rosenthal has a job as a PR spokesman and a daughter to take care of. “I’m not interested in being a full time musician. I do very commercial DJ sets in within the corporate scene, but I loved being able to perform at the Golden Gnome awards during ADE for a few beers for example. As far as role models, I could say Philip Glass is a role model. I like his controversial approach towards music. My collection of music is very broad though, filled with electronica, punk, jazz and classical music, I especially enjoy minimalistic music nowadays. For example, Wim Mertens, he’s a great composer. But when I take my bike out through Amsterdam I prefer to listen to the sounds of the streets, I hate earphones.”

And why did you choose to do this interview at the Golden Brown Cafe?
“I live in Oud Zuid, across the Vondelpark, this bar is owned by a friend of mine. I come here once or twice a week because I know a bunch of people here. Basically whenever I have time, it’s my favourite hangout. I’ll probably stay in Amsterdam until my daughter is twenty, then I’m prepared to move to Argentina to look for a warmer climate. Don’t forget that Amsterdam is a small town compared to other metropolitan cities around the world. Yet, it’s the only town that is cosmopolitan, open minded and internationally orientated in the Netherlands. Musicians hang around here because they can smoke grass, but there’s more to life than that obviously.”

The future

“I want to release Nouvelle Classique throughout all Europe. It’s never been done like this before, I think my approach is more credible, edgy and accessible for a broader crowd than the guys that have tried this before me.”

Are there any downsides to being a classical DJ?
“As a DJ, playing late can be tiring, but as a classical music DJ I don’t play very late, so no downsides.”
Any final words for aspiring musicians?
“Do what you really want to do, not what people expect you to do. Stop following other artists. Don’t be a follower, be a trendsetter.”
Finally, are there groupies involved in classical music?
“There are groupies within every genre if you’re good.”

Listen to Nouvelle Classique on Souncloud or buy it on iTunes for €9,99 – Photos by Rutger Houweling

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