Classy tunes from the Red Light Radio cofounder.
Amsterdam's music scene would look and sound very different without Orpheu de Jong. In 2010, he and Hugo van Heijningen started their own radio station in Amsterdam after an inspiring visit to New York's East Village Radio. At the time, Amsterdam's council was buying up spaces in the city's red light district and renting them out to creative types. The pair sensed an opportunity, and in 2010 Red Light Radio was born. After the radio station came Red Light Records, creating a nerdy but friendly hub that's now an essential destination for local and out-of-town DJs and music heads. Flick through the new releases in Red Light Records and you'll likely see de Jong's graphic design skills on display—he's responsible for creating the record sleeves for local labels like Dekmantel, Off Minor and Second Circle.
Then there's de Jong's DJ life as Orpheu The Wizard. He's been DJing for more than a decade, but in the past couple of years promoters outside Amsterdam have started paying attention, booking him to play parties and festivals across the globe. In 2017 he started his own regular morning slot on Red Light Radio—"I have the keys anyway," was his reasoning—called Music For Listening To. RA.649 is a selection of tunes, recorded in Red Light Radio early one morning, that de Jong's feeling right now. As he puts it: "Some old, some new, some rare, some not."
What have you been up to recently?
It's been quite a busy year. I have been playing clubs and festivals every week all over Europe, but also in South America, Africa and in the last bit of 2018 I will tour Australia and play in Asia, so five out of six (or is it seven?) continents by the end of the year. With Red Light Radio we moved and re-opened the RLR AMS SHOP, our merch store and event space, in which we built a very nice listening room in the basement with a four points Klipsch soundsystem. We have done some really cool listening sessions in there, I'm very happy people are able to enjoy a nice soundsystem like this in Amsterdam.
When and where did you record the mix?
I recorded the mix a while ago in the Red Light Radio studio, in the morning before the first radio show started.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
There is not really a fixed idea behind the mix, but I really wanted to make a track selection that represent me at the moment. It has some jams in there that are unreleased, some that are recently released, some old, some new, some rare, some not.
And how do you juggle life as a touring DJ and the owner of a radio station?
I am really happy it happened and grateful that I get to play out as much as I do right now, but honestly it wasn't a plan or goal. I mean, I am DJing for about 13/14 years and I would still be doing it, even if in the past 2/3 years it wouldn't have taken off. I really do it because I love doing it. Running a radio station, having a family, designing the odd record sleeve here and there, playing internationally every weekend, it basically means no free time, but when you believe in something you go for it right? RLR has also built up a strong team over the years, so it's not only Hugo and myself anymore to keep the machine moving forward.
What have been your biggest challenges with Red Light Radio? Because it seems from the outside that it's been a smooth upwards trajectory these past few years.
I'm very happy it seems like a smooth trajectory, that means we are doing something right. But it has been hard work, we really have been putting in all our energy for the past eight years because we think it needs to exist. I'm very happy that creatively and musically it keeps evolving over the years, it's interesting to sometimes see people play the radio now that were 12/13 years old when we started, that is a very good sign I think. Business-wise it is a challenge to keep a station afloat as you can imagine, but creatively it is still rewarding and exciting after eight years.
What are you up to next?
I'm about to tour Australia for the first time and play in China for the first time, so that's exciting. Dates for 2019 are also coming in, so looking forward to what's coming up. I'm also working on a very exciting project that I can't say too much about just yet, but it involves a bar and high-end soundsystem (what would that be!?) at a crazy location just outside of Amsterdam. All in all, trust me that I will try to make sure that people hear some nice tunes, online, offline, worldwide and locally!
Orpheu The Wizard is playing at Strawberry Fields 2018 as well as RA's 24/7 party in Melbourne.