Local Rockstars: Arjuna Schiks, Amsterdam's favorite hippie

Local Rockstars: Arjuna Schiks, Amsterdam’s favorite hippie

Apr 17, 2013 |  by  |  Music
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Hi! My name is Faye and I will be your guide through Amsterdam for the day! Enjoys randomness chat, good banter and will help you find the best dealers in fun, food and adventure.

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.

With his blond curls, sincere charm and melodic tunes he brings a smile to the Dutch deeper house scene. Arjuna Schiks has been the man of the hour for a couple of years now and is still going strong. Now expanding his success abroad to Germany, Norway and Paris, this young lad has a bright future ahead. Overdose.am had a little sit-down with the artist himself and discussed the past, the present and next weekend. This weekend Arjuna will play at PRISMA next to Ryan Davis and Applescal at Studio 80 and at the Toffler with the lads of morgen.am. So if you need a dose of Schiks be sure to be there!

A few years back you worked as a dishwasher. Now you’re the melodic sweetheart of Amsterdam. Does the fast success of the last few years scare you?
I’m not necessarily scared, but I do have those moments that I stop what I’m doing and realize how much I have accomplished in the last three years. I have achieved most of the goals that I had set out for myself. Three years back my main goal was to be able to maintain myself by just making music. My next objective is to be successful abroad.

What kind of music did you listen to when you were in high school? Were you more of an alternative lad or did you prefer to hip-hop around the playground?
I’ve always liked all kinds of music, but the first few years of high school I was more of a hip hop kid. I listened to Tupac and subsequently disliked Biggie Smalls. When I was 16 I started to listen more to techno music. A friend of mine felt he had to teach me a thing or two about music, and started to expose me to progressive techno. The same friend gave me a computer program to make my own music with. So I owe a lot to him.

The last few years have been quite the rollercoaster ride for you. Can you name a few of your highs and lows?
Performing my own XL solo set in the Chicago Social Club was definitely one of the highs. Music is like storytelling and usually there’s only 90 minutes to cram that story in. In the CSC I had the whole night to build up, go hard and take it down in my own pace. It was quite the challenge to entertain the crowd with five hours of music, especially when it’s a live set. When I was finished I was knackered, but very relieved to see how much the audience enjoyed it. It was everything I hoped for. One of my lows cannot be mentioned in this interview hahaha. Well, let’s just say that too much vodka and playing a live set don’t combine well if you still have two gigs ahead of you that night.

What do you do to keep on improving yourself?
I believe that the more you experience the more you develop and learn. I don’t believe in watching instruction videos on YouTube. I’d rather talk to friends in the scene and fiddle around with equipment and programs myself. I believe that in the end this helps in defining your own sound.

One of your biggest hits is Mahesvari. Do you ever think “Fuck, I don’t feel like playing this…again.”
I can get annoyed when people start asking me to play that song, because I’m like “hey, I have a lot of other songs too.” Lately, I only play it when I have a longer set and feel that the audience has deserved it hahaha. But, Mashevari can also be my joker card if a night isn’t going the way I planned. So it works both ways.

How do you come up with these original names for your tracks?
Well, the song Hua Hun is the second name of my brother; he also sings in that song. Mahesvari is the name that an Indian guru gave my mother. My mother is quite spiritual and one day she was at my place cleaning up when she heard the song for the first time. She stopped what she was doing and said, “I like this song, this song will be your breakthrough.” Which is scary, because she was totally right. So I named the song after her.

You have a busy summer ahead of you. You’re visiting Paris with ‘Bakermat and Friends’ and on the 5th of July you’re playing at Solar in Norway. Is the audience different abroad? Do they react differently to your music?
Yes, very much so. Last week I was in Berlin at KaterHolzig, a place that has a real living room vibe to it. I really felt that I could play a different sound there, that the people were way more patient and open for something different. In Amsterdam I feel that people are more party-orientated and are less open for an experimental sound. The scene in Amsterdam doesn’t really allow it, they just want as many different DJs as possible to play on the same night. In Berlin it’s custom for DJs to play four-hour sets.

Next week you’re staying closer to home and playing in Amsterdam with Ryan Davis at PRISMA and in Rotterdam with Morgen.am at Toffler. What do you think of the Prisma and morgen.am initiatives?
I really enjoy the atmosphere and melodic sound of PRISMA and I’m honoured that I’ve been asked to play for them. Studio 80 is a very techno-orientated club and I find that it can have an impersonal feel at times. However, the PRISMA nights have one sound and it embraces that personal touch again. I really like some of Ryan Davis’ tracks, and Applescal is one of my favourites as well. It’s a diverse and strong line-up, I’m looking forward to it. The morgen.am initiative is also a lot of fun. They want to bring the sound of Amsterdam to different locations in the country and travel with a bus full of party people. It’s a risky enterprise, but also fun and original.

Just do it. Don’t wait. That’s what works for me.

Are you happy with the current music scene in Amsterdam? Or are there things you still miss?
I’m extremely happy with the current developments in Amsterdam. When I just started out there weren’t a lot of melodic deep house nights. I’ve noticed that the last few years the new generation has become more open-minded towards a new sound. They don’t necessarily need to pump away into the night, but they want to feel and listen to a story. Parties such as Next Monday’s Hangover, Pleinvrees and PRISMA could not exist three years ago, but these are initiatives that feed the demand for deeper house and storytelling.

Can you leave us with some inspiring words for aspiring music producers?
Try to collect different sounds that you like and just start working. That’s the best thing to do. Just do it. Don’t wait. That’s what works for me. And at a certain point you’ll hear something that you like and keep working from there. It’s also very important that you enjoy what you do. So be very passionate about making music and just do it. Those are the most important ingredients.

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