DJ Marcelle: The Nice Mess Messing Up Dance Music

Words by Kos van Erp

Noorderzon shouldn’t end when the sun goes down. That’s why, when night falls, we’re pulling the wonderful festival out of the Noorderplantsoen and into our intimate club. Five nights with five headliners who are making waves right now, each in their own unique way, to be accompanied by five articles that highlight these inspiring individuals.


In a culture where many parameters have been set in stone for decades, a radical mess is often needed to finally shake things up a bit. Enter DJ Marcelle. The eccentric Amsterdam music aficionado also known as Another Nice Mess simply doesn’t care for baby-step innovation, and breaks ties with rock-solid conventions like continuum in rhythm, pace and tonality on the regular, making place for deep, heartfelt continuities and explorations in atmosphere and energy. The result: a pretty mess that puts back the ‘fun’ into ‘functional’. 

Because if one thing, Marcelle’s DJ sets are effective. Highly effective. Primal rhythmic intensity, eerie soundscapes and a certain post-punk urgency are all fed into hypermodern dance music explorations, taking the legacy of trailblazers like Nurse With Wound, Muslimgauze and Mark Fell into the 21st century with a great sense of responsibility. Her regular deep dives into discographies of various of her idols for different radio stations barely scratch the surface on what is a 20.000 strong record collection, full of obscured jewels with the widest array of origins, stone-cold classics in dire need of new interpretation and, most of all, exciting new music. To her own estimate 95% of all music she plays is new stuff, placing a heavy focus on the current zeitgeist, both in musical and broader socio-political context. What comes out at the other end is an at times confronting interaction between past and present, accentuating differences in attitudes through meticulous sonic layering and collaging techniques. To get an insight into this curious mind, and as a lead-up to her After Noorderzon appearance, we asked Marcelle a handful of questions.


Hi Marcelle! Did you recover from the hectic times surrounding your album release yet?

‘’Which hectic times? I’ve been doing shows for years now, I’m used to it. I’m very happy with how the record turned out and the positive reviews. I“m aware that I am somewhat of a hype though as we speak, which means that critics are more likely going to be favorable. So I’m making sure I put it all in perspective.’’ 

During the past year your career seems to have gotten an extra boost. How do you put your decades of experience to use in this situation?

‘’As I said I always put my situation in perspective. What’s success anyways? I’ve been able to live off of what I do for years, regardless of what people think of me. I do my own thing, music is too important for me to be bothered by trends and other such artificial phenomena. That, for me, is success. On the practical side it means that for these past years I’ve been getting offers and requests from all over the world. Booking agencies have been offering me their services and such, but I keep taking a step back to look at it. Independence and freedom are the most important thing for me right now. That said I’m very happy with my Portugese booking agency Filho Unico. They understand me very well.’’

This resilience when it comes to trends, and always making sure you do your own thing, was that always a characteristic of yours, or did you have to work on that consciously?

‘’This has always been quite easy for me, to keep things close to myself. My roots are in the punk and postpunk era(1977 - 1982), and even more important than the music of these times are the authenticity, honesty, bravery and open attitude what came with it. Besides that it’s a personal drive of mine to always stay a step or two ahead of the public, to never stand still. To see music not so much as hedonism but more as politics.’’ 

You’re quite vocal when it comes to the ‘flow’ or ‘groove’ in your sets, and how you try to play with this when the moment is right. What are some important criteria by which you value tracks to fit within a similar musical space?

‘’This is not something I actively think about too much. I do think of the strong focus on beatmatching amongst most DJs as quite conservative. This often causes a performance to be more about technique and trics than it is about surprise, bravery and taking risks or about good music. Besides that I personally think that multiple styles of music sound better when radically intertwined or played after each other. During my performances I really create, and have it sorted out in my head how a set will develop later on, which sounds will go together and with the moment. I greatly value energy and urgence, as a lot of people don’t seem to realise how bored they are on a regulare night out dancing. I’m all for freedom, both on and off the stage.’’ 


Whether DJ Marcelle will change the status quo with her singular approach to DJing, whether she’ll inspire young DJs to think outside the sonic box or whether she’s just bringing some spontaneity to the dance floor: her work remains something to perceive with a completely blank mindset, something tailored to lose yourself in after a long day of Noorderzon. And be sure to have some fun while you’re at it, enjoy another nice mess. 

DJ Marcelle plays at After Noorderzon on Friday, August 16th at OOST. Support by Miss Jay. 

After Noorderzon w/ DJ Marcelle + Miss Jay


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