ADE 2019, oh what a week!
Incase you may not already be familiar, Amsterdam Dance Event is an annual Music Industry Conference + Club Festival taking place over 5 days and nights in you guessed it, Amsterdam. This year over 40K travelers from 164 countries made their way to the Dutch capital of electronic music, "coffee shops" and good times. It suffices to say ADE is the prominent global electronic music gathering of the year. This year being my third ADE, I was pleasantly surprised to see how things have changed for the better since I last attended in 2015. Read on for the deets about the beats.
Throughout the conference portion of ADE, it was incredibly refreshing to witness firsthand the progression of mental health awareness, sustainability and other important issues being made behind the scenes of the electronic music industry. I was ecstatic to find so many panels as well as keynotes on mindfulness and wellness in the industry.
A few of my favorites panels included:
Healthy Mind, Healthy Party?
During this discussion on the mental health of artists and industry members alike, DJ Carly Wilford led a thought provoking discussion on topics that would help those in the industry stay healthy physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
Notable discussion points:
- Artist feel constant pressure from promoters to be the life of the party by drinking and doing drugs with them, but the overall consensus was artists are much more successful when they’re not distracted and focused on their art instead. Easier said than done, of course but completely possible with the right mindset.
- Being a worldwide touring DJ is a dream for many aspiring artists, but there’s a dark side as it can be quite lonely and depressing. Hence another reason many artists turn to alcohol and drugs to cope.
- For a touring DJ, having at least one thing with you that makes you feel like home makes a huge difference. For Carly, it’s the soothing aroma of lavender essential oil on her pillow before bed that helps her fall asleep wherever she is. I second this as a digital nomad, the small things that help me feel at home wherever I am make all the difference.
The Power of Creative Frequency and Routine
A much needed discussion to hear for all artists and really anyone that is creative, I was surprised this panel wasn’t completely full. A daily morning routine has made a huge impact on my overall well being and productivity, therefore I was excited to hear what this was all about.
Notable discussion points:
- DJ Ceri Owens opened up about her daily yoga and meditation practice that becomes more difficult when traveling and how she practices non-sexual tantra daily to stay present in the moment.
- A dedicated personal routine helps support a professional routine. Makes complete sense when you think about it, right?
- Dirtybird label manager Deron Delgado mentioned how much using Apple notes helps his busy lifestyle but also writing out to do lists and crossing out tasks can be very therapeutic. Also, Trello app is a great tool to stay organized for artists and anyone alike. I use Trello daily myself so I definitely agree with this one!
Learn From My Mistakes with Wouter Tavecchio
I hadn’t planned to sit in on this panel but the rain made me stay put, so I found myself listening to the incredible story of Q-dance founder Wouter Tavecchio, who sold his company to SFX a few years ago for a hefty amount, but quickly became unhappy and found happiness in his spiritual practice and giving back. He meditates and practices mindfulness daily and even co-founded a spiritual retreat center in Italy.
Notable discussion points:
- If money is your driver for being in dance music, expect a short lived career. Amen to that!
- The WHY behind everything you do is so important, it’s what will make or break you in music.
- Wouter is a great example of the amazing opportunities that can happen when you choose to live with purpose and intention. The music industry could definitely benefit from more members living with intention like Wouter.
In each of these panels mindfulness, yoga, meditation, daily routines and other spiritual/wellness practices were discussed and encouraged. As someone who practices yoga, mediation and wellness rituals daily, I was relieved to experience first hand how consciousness is spreading to the music industry. Which is in perfect timing as mental health awareness has become such a hot topic within the industry.
Throughout the ADE green panels and keynotes, environmental impact and festival sustainability was the focus. So much so that ADE green closed out Friday with the announcement of the Green Deal. The Green Deal is a new environmental pact of 19 festivals joining forces to strive for circularity by 2025, meaning they will create a circular sustaining ecosystem within their festivals, which in effect limits waste and carbon emissions. Other panel topics included a discussion on DJ culture and air miles, the carbon footprint of food at festivals and Groove Armada’s Andy Cato delivering a discussion on sustainable farming.
ADE also hosted a Zen Space, which housed multiple mindfulness offerings open to anyone interested. After a long day of Fridays conference rounds, I found myself in one of the most amazing crystal bowl sound healing sessions I’ve ever experienced with Cosmic Pineapple founder Kim Booth which was also part of the conference agenda. How unique is that? It was exactly what I didn’t know I needed as I was now relaxed, refreshed and ready for Friday night to begin.
While we seem to have a love/hate relationship with the subject of drug harm reduction in the USA, everyone wants more of it but no one wants to actually publicly talk about it, ADE embraces it with open arms and hearts. Harm reduction awareness posters from the team at Unity NL were visibly posted at every event with info on how to take drugs safely, taking care of yourself and others while under the influence and safety warnings. With thousands of people out at events each night of ADE, this is such a crucial step to keep attendees safe, healthy and happy. A win win for everyone. Props to you ADE, more of this in the USA please!
Now let’s talk the festival portion of ADE, which was more mind blowing than I remember. Over one THOUSAND events took place throughout the five days with over 2.5K artists playing across the city. I’m still wrapping my head around these numbers!
Without question the most memorable event of ADE for me was Joseph Capriatti b2b Carl Cox at Gashouder (my favorite venue ever) for the finale of Awakenings @ ADE Saturday night. Sweaty warehouse rave vibes abound with proper techno & house until 8 am. Does it get any better than this? Not in my book. Ok maybe only if you included a fireworks show INSIDE the club, which actually happened! So no, no it doesn’t get any better. I could still hear Carl speaking his signature slogan “Oh Yes, Oh Yes!” into the microphone as I gleefully walked the 15 minutes back home through beautiful Westerpark afterwards.
Now onto the real shocker, I attended my first trance show in 6 years! I had no intention of getting a trance fix this ADE but ended up on a boat at midnight cruising the Amsterdam harbor for Solarstone’s pure trance event. Interestingly enough, Solarstone was the last trance artist I saw live in LA. Coincidence? I think not. While I’m no longer the die hard trance fan I was as a young raver back in the day, I thoroughly enjoyed singing along to some classics I still remember and observing the antics of the audience which was all too familiar.
Other memorable events of the week included ADE hangover, a free festival on the last day of ADE with a Burning Man-esque vibe, the launch of a new floating club Ponto, various artists playing at the central station of all places, the wizard Damian Lazarus playing an open to close set at De Marktkantine on the last night/morning, free events and pop ups at bars/record stores and art galleries all over the city. No matter where you are in Amsterdam, you’re never far from hearing great music during ADE.
As I reflect on it all, I realize this ADE was unexpectedly personally healing for me. I connected to myself in the mindfulness offerings and reconnected to parts of myself that had been missing in electronic music, I experienced changes in the industry that I’ve been hoping for and am now more inspired than ever to contribute my own knowledge and experience for the betterment and future of electronic music.
It became crystal(pun intended) clear to me this year that the electronic music industry and scene is alive and well, and on a trajectory to be better than ever! From the jam packed conference days to nights out that turned into mornings, I’m back to feeling like a human being again. Until next year, thank you ADE.