Local Rockstars: Bart Skils about his baby VOLTT

Local Rockstars: Bart Skils about his baby VOLTT

Feb 8, 2012 |  by  |  Event, Music
About the author
Caroline (25) is a writer, an expat enjoying life at its fullest in Amsterdam and a girl born to party. She makes her Friday night plans no later than Monday morning and enjoys drinking verse muntthee just as much as hot-people-watching in the city.

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 talk to remarkable artists about their music and their inspirations.

If you get something tattooed on your body, you are most likely committed to the cause. So that’s exactly what Bart Skils (37), the founder of VOLTT did. He perpetuated the festival’s logo on his arm. This Saturday, he is staging his traditional gig at Paradiso with Ricardo Villalobos. We met up with Bart to learn a bit more about the meaning of the name VOLTT, how the event became his baby and why Ricardo Villalobos refuses to be a mainstream celebrity.

When people think of Bart Skils, they think of VOLTT – how did these two come together?
“It all started in the underground club Mazzo in Amsterdam where I turned tables and organized techno events such as Static and VOLTT for the first time. At that time, people thought that electronic music was way too slow. The people I started spinning with there were all pretty underground and trying to find new styles. I was playing with Steven Rachmad and Ricardo Villalobos at that time.”

What does VOLTT mean?
“It refers to the measure unit ‘Volt’ and a high voltage in electricity. I like that metaphor for the power of electronic music. That’s why I also got it tattooed on my arm.”

Ricardo Villalobos has played an essential role for VOLTT ever since the beginning. How come?
“Ricardo was part of our small collective around club Mazzo when he wasn’t that famous yet. He used to play for 200DM (Deutsche Mark) there, which wasn’t a lot of money, around 100 Euro. We started this underground initiative and kind of grew into it together. He sends me a text message every year just a few days before the festival, saying that he’s looking forward to relive these times at VOLTT.”

Villalobos has often been famous for living the ‘high DJ life’ by showing up late for shows for instance. We asked Bart if he thinks this business is unhealthy per se: “Well, he’s just not someone who wants to be one of these celebrity and mainstream DJs. Ricardo hardly ever gives interviews and he doesn’t engage in any media hype. He wants to remain as underground as possible and I guess that kind of lifestyle comes with that. However, if you know him in person, you know he’s a very good guy.”

VOLTT is like a family gathering to me.

Do you prefer being a DJ or hosting parties?
“I think DJing actually. I work in my studio a lot and I’m a producer as well as an event organiser and DJ. I really enjoy reinventing my sets and I listen to all different types of music to get inspired.” He performs abroad a lot as well: “I’d say that half of my gigs are in the Netherlands, the other half abroad. I played in Berlin’s Berghain recently on New Year’s Eve, that was pretty crazy. I sometimes wish we had after-hours in Amsterdam like they have them in Berlin. People there even come into the club at 7am or on a Sunday afternoon. I like that.”

Do you support upcoming initiatives like Next Monday’s Hangover?
“Absolutely. I think projects like this are what keeps our genre growing and what helps reinventing the scene. I fully support these events and newcomer DJs in what they do.”

They say 2012 might be the end of the world. If that would be the case, where would you like to play your last gig?
“I’d say at VOLTT. Not to sound cheesy, but it’s where I see all my friends every year and where I get the chance to hang out with them. It’s basically like a family gathering of the VOLTT circle which I’ve started back in the days in the underground (smiles).”


When: February 11th
Where: Paradiso
Who: Ricardo Villalobos, Conforce, Daniel Stefanik and Bart Skils
Tickets: Facebook

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