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Amsterdam Dance Event 2023 in review: the global electronic music marathon proves it remains unparalleled

Amsterdam Dance Event returned earlier this month, with the world’s biggest electronic music conference delivering its usual, unrelenting whirlwind of parties, panels and so much more. Here’s a handful of highlights from DJ Mag’s week at ADE 2023

DJ Mag in the ADE Lab

DJ Mag’s involvement with the ADE Lab — the conference’s four-day tech-focused programme that takes place in and around the Flemish Cultural Center de Brakke Grond and Nes grounds in the heart of Amsterdam — was expanded this year to hosting four different sessions across the week.

Our content starts bright and early on Wednesday with a 60-minute session titled What is the Future of Voice-Led Production Tools? Hosted by DJ Mag deputy editor Ben Hindle, and taking place in the open-format The Connector area at the Het Groene Paleis space — a new addition at the ADE Lab for 2023 — which is otherwise full of testing stations for various top music tech brands. The session features George Wright, founder of market-leading voice-to-MIDI software developer, Vochlea, and Declan McGlynn from Voice-Swap, which allows users to replace their vocals with official AI versions of professional singers, but ensures the artists maintain creative control and are financially compensated. It’s a revealing chat about the democratising power of voice-controlled software, and the legal and moral minefield of AI. Ending on a high, the guest panellists demo their software, including a potentially game-changing forthcoming Voice-Swap feature which changes the language of an existing vocal without changing the voice.

Immediately afterwards, DJ Mag’s ADE content continues with an onstage version of our DJ Mag Originals series How I Play Live with Animistic Beliefs. Taking place in the Boom Box space, and hosted by DJ Mag tech editor Mick Wilson, the second edition of the series at ADE — after last year’s workshop with San Holo — explores the live setup of the Rotterdam-based duo. The pair are known for creating hybrid global club music in their live show, and produce a sound heavily influenced by their South-East-Asian heritage. The duo, formed of Linh Luu and Marvin Lalihatu, give a detailed breakdown of their gear, which includes a compact modular setup and iPad software control, and highlight the importance of improvisation in their live show, before demonstrating sections of their stage performance live.

On Thursday, DJ Mag hosts a panel titled When Will We Dance? (How to deal with the dominant effect of telephones on the dance floor). Taking place in the The Dark Room at De Brakke Grond, the panel is moderated by DJ Mag social media editor, Amy Fielding, who describes herself as “chronically online” in her introduction to the session. Psychologist and cognitive behavioural therapist, Debbie Been offers incredible insight into how smartphone addiction translates into obsessively capturing everything, while Amsterdam-based DJ/promoter Nedda Sou affirms the importance of party-goers losing themselves in the moment — and how that can only be achieved without phones. Charro-Nathan Tanamal, marketing manager at Amsterdam club, Shelter, discusses how venues going phone-free can impact exposure, but also poses the idea that minimal footage coming from inside a club can encourage more people to attend parties to explore the mystery for themselves. The final verdict? The dancefloor should be phone-free, always.

Rounding off the content on Thursday is a production workshop with Voices From The Lake — the Italian duo of Donato Dozzy and Neel — that also takes place in The Dark Room and is hosted by DJ Mag’s digital editor, Rob McCallum. Now in its second year, the workshop explores the studio techniques of the revered ambient techno duo, following the 10th anniversary of their influential self-titled album. The duo give a detailed breakdown of their approach to producing the record — one that is widely regarded as redefining the album format for techno. The quiet intensity of 'Voices From The Lake' is crafted from meticulously layered recordings of real-world sound — dripping water, chirping birds, rustling leaves, a distant breeze — and in the 45-minute session, Dozzy and Neel talk about its conception, creation and impact, before breaking down some of their production processes.

That would have been a wrap, however, on Friday afternoon, DJ Mag editor Carl Loben is asked to step in at the last minute to host a panel titled How To Create Positivity Out Of Frustration, a celebration of five years of inclusive queer clubbing brand HE.SHE.THEY. On the panel, co-founders Steven Braines and Sophia Kearney explain how and why they wanted to launch HE.SHE.THEY., the successes they’ve had with both the events and the label, and how they added the third member of their team, Ashraf Ejjbair, to “complete the triangle”. They also speak about how they got to work with Stateside DJ agent Bailey Greenwood from the WME agency — one of the biggest in the world — and Fernando Montes, also from WME, who are both on the panel, too. It’s a lively, well-received panel full of positivity about how to grow equality and fairness globally.

A selection of images from DJ Mag panels at ADE 2023
Tricks And Tracks

If there’s a name and a face that's been everywhere this year, it’s Brazilian DJ and producer Mochakk, and the 2023 edition of Amsterdam Dance Event is no exception. Ahead of gigs with The Martinez Brothers for their Cuttin’ Headz party, and his own sold-out Mochakk’s Calling party at Loveland, on Wednesday night he debuts a new, intimate event concept at Amsterdam’s Skatecafe: Tricks And Tracks. Bringing together skateboarding, music, and fashion, alongside Alpha Industries and SoundCloud, the event is also a showcase of Mochakk’s label mates from Dogghauz Records: Cesar Nardini, Duarte, Jay Mariani and Pricila Diaz.

From doors at 7PM, it’s a couple of warm-up tracks before the DJs dive into the sound that Dogghauz is best known for: trippy, chunky tech-house, with plenty of R&B and hip-hop samples, and Latin-infused wonky beats. The vibe is relatively subdued to begin — it is the first night of ADE, after all — but by time the skaters are dropping in to a soundtrack from the Dogghauz crew, their energy has seeped into the crowd, and for the next five hours, there’s not one dip in the vibe. It’s a great debut from Mochakk, as well as an opportunity for fans and their friends to see him in an intimate setting among his peers.


Marathon parties have become a central part of the ADE festival programme, and Sloterdijk club LoFi returns in force this year with a series of non-stop day-and-night parties. Highlights include Cooking with Palms Trax, which sees the Berlin-based DJ invite Call Super, Francesco Del Garda, OK Williams, Mad Miran and more. Elsewhere, Saturday combines a Rush Hour party in the day with an FRRC showcase at night — the latter including a B2B from Ricardo Villalobos and Raresh. PAX-ROMANA and RATHERLOST come together for an 18-hour ADE party on the Sunday featuring DJ Nobu, DVS1 and Dasha Rush. “ADE is a unique time for us,” explains LoFi's technical producer, Kevin Govaerts, shortly after the weekend. “And we do adapt to meet the demands of such dynamic events.”

The club has been a mainstay of Amsterdam's vital electronic music scene since opening in 2019, but since last year has undertaken what Govaerts describes as "a focused effort on enhancing the sound and production at the venue". The changes are delicate, but further elevate a meticulously designed space with updates to the sound system and acoustics, and advancements in lighting technology — the latter a collaboration with Lumus Instruments. The club has also opened a second room, called Colorfloor. "[This] underscores the positive reception and demand for our services,” adds Govaerts, “validating the efforts of our dedicated team.”

Live photos from Cooking with Palms Trax and Tricks & Tracks
FURTHER x Homeless Homies

Another year, another ADE, and another stellar fundraising event from Detroit’s DJ Bone and his partner Ahnne Araza. Bringing his FURTHER party back home to Amsterdam’s epic RADION in tandem with their Homeless Homies charity, the event boasts one of the most exciting line-ups of the whole week. The event is running alongside a charity auction — which features contributions such as a home-cooked dinner from Nastia, a selection of hand-picked records from Paula Temple, guestlist for life from The Blessed Madonna, and private DJ lessons from DJ Bone himself. The feeling of giving is alive at the event. It isn’t quantifiable, but there’s something in the air at RADION that radiates hope and unity, capturing the essence of the Homeless Homies vision.

The line-up is stacked across the venue’s multiple rooms. Exhale affiliate AIROD, DJ Bus Replacement Service, Deetron, Dam Swindle, KiNK — who serves up a stand-out set mid-afternoon — Will Clarke, The Real Escobar, and Thisa are among the names delivering sets at the day-to-night party, and there’s also a surprise appearance from FJAAK, who step in to cover a sadly ill Floorplan. By the time DJ Bone’s closing set rolls around, and he steps up to thank everybody on the mic, the crowd have been thoroughly spoiled — and it’s all been for a good cause.

Maricas IsBurning

On Thursday of ADE, Thuishaven, an apocalyptic rave arena on the Western fringes of the city, is at its darkest and most electrifying, its sprawling, industrial site teeming with hardy revellers for MARICAS and IsBurning’s latest day-to-night party. For added ambience, rain howls and swirls against the metal shell of the venue’s chief warehouse space, de Loods, where the evening’s entertainment is heating up.

We arrive in time for a soulful set from Berlin-based powerhouse Lakuti, who kicks off the late-night session with a cascade of her trademark percussive house and techno brews. In IsBurning’s world, there’s no such thing as a headliner, and as the evening progresses we’re treated to a consistently eclectic and artful bill of DJs. “Just as everyone is equal on the dancefloor, the same goes for the people in the DJ booth,” IsBurning resident TITIA tells us after her B2B with São Paulo’s Amanda Mussi. “We usually do not announce our line-up, which means people don’t come for one specific artist and are more open to exploration and connecting with others.”

The duo’s inaugural link-up follows a rollicking big-room techno set from Juliana Huxtable and JASSS, which leaves the warehouse floor swarming with bodies. Hammering home the evening’s sentiment of connection and exploration, both DJs venture out of their comfort zone into ravey electro and minimal techno territory, cementing the collaborative club night as one for the ages.

Photos from inside the club at Thuishaven and RADION
Magma Nights: ECHT!

The Brussels underground comes to Amsterdam as collective/agency/label Magma deliver an evening of house-led DJ sets and performances from two of their live acts. First up is Bleu Mustang, who delivers glitchy soundscapes and oddball electro to match the flickering visuals operated by his onstage VJ. It’s an intriguing show that becomes increasingly absorbing as it progresses, and the room begins to fill up in tandem. By the time headliners ECHT! take the stage the place is packed, and the sea is faces is met with a wall of noise as the band launch into their set.

They describe their music as “electro organic”, which in practice translates to gargantuan bass drones and epic drums with a healthy dose of psychedelia, nodding to trap, dubstep, G-funk and the LA beats scene. Their 2023 album ‘Sink-Along’ was a worthy successor to 2021’s ‘INWANE’, and unsurprisingly hits like a tonne of bricks live. Our only complaint is that we enjoy every track so much that we’re a tiny bit sad when each finishes — until the next one strikes up a few seconds later, that is.

Photos from KiNK’S Lab: Rush Hour x Roland
KiNK’S Lab: Rush Hour x Roland

KiNK is one of electronic music’s finest — able to turn his hand to house, techno or whatever else takes his fancy, and renowned for having one of the best live sets in the business. On Friday afternoon, he teams up with two other scene stalwarts, Amsterdam’s Rush Hour record shop and iconic music tech manufacturer Roland, for an intimate session in the former’s basement. After a quick Q&A — made even shorter by the fact poor KiNK has all but lost his voice due to illness — it’s on to the main event, in which the Bulgarian artist runs through the basics of his live setup, including his trusty TR-8 drum machine, the newer TR-8S and a few other choice pieces, and demos Roland’s new GAIA 2 synthesiser.

The latter is a gorgeous bit of kit, and although having only tested it for a couple of weeks prior, KiNK develops complex and deliciously weird pads and melodies with it in seconds — testament also to its user-friendly design. Having briefly mentioned at the start that he sometimes makes drum & bass, the crowd challenge KiNK to come up with some on the spot; with no breaks to rely on, he spends 10 minutes meticulously building a punchy drum pattern that sits somewhere between minimal d&b, halftime and ghettotech, and plays a short but impressive live performance around the makeshift track. Attendees are then invited to join KiNK in an improvised live back-to-back, the icing on the cake of an enthralling and rare opportunity to get up close and personal with a master of his craft.

Our House at ADE
Our House

On Friday night we trek out to the relatively new Hembrugterrein arts area, which seems like miles away in a cab but is in fact just on the perimeter of the city. Over the past 20 years the former industrial area has been developed into a succession of museums, restaurants and cafés, artist studios and design shops, and regularly hosts concerts and festivals now.

All summer, Brit sensation James Hype and Italian counterparts Meduza have been co-hosting Our House in the Club Room at the world’s No.1 club, Hï Ibiza (while the world’s No.1 DJ David Guetta is in the Theatre for his Future Rave night). Tonight, they’ve brought Our House to ADE.

As we enter, a sticker is placed over the camera on our phones, a policy being implemented at Our House events moving forward. The idea germinated when James played a gig in Berlin in the summer, where nobody was allowed on their phones. “Everybody’s in the moment, everybody’s there for the music, everybody’s having a good time,” he says when we meet backstage. “This is for the good of the dancefloor, the good of the music, and for the crowd to have the best fucking time ever.”

Kindred spirits Meduza from Italy were game, and so this ADE show has become their first No Phones show. It’s not a brand new initiative, of course — and is common practice at many clubs and events throughout the week — but out on the floor at this big event it really does seem to make a difference. James is rapturously received when he takes over from his fiancée Tita Lau, and when he drops jaunty recent vocal house single ‘Drums’ it veritably goes off. By the time he teases in searing big-room house hit ‘Ferrari’, he's creating bona fide 'moments' — undoubtedly helped by the fact that the front of the crowd is genuinely present, rather than experiencing it through a wobbly smartphone video.

The three Meduza members line up behind James as he nears the end of his set. The two non-DJs, who do most of the production, are clad in black, while Mattia Vitale, the DJ, drops a succession of Meduza bangers. (The Italian trio ironically enough have a track called ‘Phone’). For the last part of the night the headliners play B2B, and although their styles are quite different, where they meet in the middle exemplifies the appeal and diversity of Our House. They’re going to continue rolling these out around the world over the coming weeks and months.

“We’d say 90% of people adhered to the policy, which made for an incredible atmosphere in the venue,” says James afterwards, “waaaay better than usual, with everyone filming. We are committed to making this work, so people can feel how the energy and vibe is completely different at such events. We’re not the only ones who have been doing this, of course, but it’s important to us as artists that we push on with this narrative for Our House shows.”

Young Marco at Safe Grill
Safe Grill

Saturday night is all about Safe Grill, Young Marco’s annual ADE-time gathering at Skatecafe, the general premise of which seems to be to encourage everyone to trip balls and lose themselves in the dance. Needless to say, after our first visit last year we’ve become dedicated acolytes. The main man has become one of the Netherlands’ essential selectors — unsurprisingly he’s a regular at Dekmantel — and his move towards trance has created something quite special, a link between the sound that first put the Dutch scene on the map globally and its modern crate-digging underground.

Young Marco is masterful behind the decks; tracks seem to roll on ad infinitum, with the soaring vocals, uplifting vocal and epic synth lines of ‘90s classics ‘Mystery Land’ by Y Traxx and Solarstone’s ‘Seven Cities (Atlantis Mix)’ making for particularly euphoric moments, while the Dutchman’s own 2023 smash ‘What You Say?’, which sample’s Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide And Seek’, has pride of place in the set. Lose ourselves we most certainly do, and we’re already looking forward to next year.

Photo credit: ShotbyWozniak, Clemens Wildschut, Harry Ross, IsBurningHR, Gaetan De La Rüe Du Can