Despite only being in his early twenties, Holland's Menno de Jong is one of the hardest working DJ's around at the moment. He's regularly seen DJ'ing around the world, he's had a string of successful productions, he owns his own record label, and he has a regular 'Intuition' radio show! We managed to pull Menno aside from his busy schedule to sit in TheTranceArena.com's interview hotseat to answer a few questions! Read on to find out how our interview went....
Carl: Despite being so young, you've already built a great reputation as a DJ, and have just reached number 62 in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJ's poll - what do you think has made you so successful in such a short space of time?
Menno de Jong: Well, I just really love doing what I do! Because of that I spend nearly all of my time doing it! Music remains a hobby for me, spending time in the studio, travelling to DJ and doing all the organizational and administrative stuff that evolves my career, Intuition Recordings, the radio show and events - I wouldn’t know what else to do really! Next to that I’ve spent most of my life playing musical instruments (piano and drums mostly) as well as listening to a diversity of music. I’ve been playing around with melodies on pianos and synthesizers for as long as I can remember, so through the years it has become my way of expressing myself. I’ve just taken that and worked incredibly hard to make it work. Which highlights, in my eyes, the most important part really: Hard work. Without it you’re nowhere in the dance music scene!
Carl: In the few years you've been DJ'ing, you've already had some great career highlights - what has been the highlight of your career so far?
Menno de Jong: I couldn’t just pinpoint that to one event, but some of the things that have meant the world to me in the past 7 years are: Releasing my first record (Guanxi), setting up Intuition Recordings and releasing my first mixalbum (Intuition Sessions Volume 1: South Africa).
Carl: What other ambitions do you have as a DJ in the near and long term future?
Menno de Jong: I’m currently doing the last bits to graduate from university (by June 2008 if all goes well), after which I want to spend more time working on the label, touring and working on my first artist album - something I have been wanting to do for a long time already!
Carl: You've also released some superb productions - which do you prefer out of DJ'ing and Producing? If you had to give one of them up tomorrow, which would you choose?
Menno de Jong: Both have always been equally important to me, so there is no way I could ever choose! What I love about what I’m doing right now is that I can travel around the world to play at the craziest parties for the coolest people in the weekend, and then return home to my cosy studio to make some music using the inspiration I picked up during the weekend!
Carl: There are a lot of DJ's breaking through that are producers too - Eddie Halliwell is the only DJ that has broken through in the last few years that isn't a producer. Do you think you need to be a producer these days to really make a name for yourself as a DJ?
Menno de Jong: Being a producer can definately speed things up for you, mostly because it is just a very nice way of establishing yourself as a true “artist”. Then again, Eddie proves that by being an ‘artistic’ when it comes to DJ'ing itself works too! I think in the end a DJ needs something that makes him or her stand out, a good track can work, but a good stage presence or even costume (check out Dr. Lektroluv for instance, very big in Holland and Belgium) can do the trick.
Carl: I saw you DJ'ing at the Gatecrasher Summer Sound System festival in the UK in May this year (2007), and throughout your set, you were always smiling and interacting with the crowd - and after your set, you hung around to hand out some vinyl records to the crowd. I really respect DJ's when they appreciate the crowd like that - most DJ's turn up for their set, and then leave straight away. You seem to really appreciate your crowds?
Menno de Jong: I do genuinely, because ultimately they have made it possible for me to play that gig as well as all the others! In the end I’m not just playing the music, but partying with them too. I spent many years on the other side of the decks partying myself, and still do so to enjoy the music and atmosphere whenever there is a good party and I don’t have a gig.
Carl: At the same festival, you played "Gouryella" by 'Gouryella' - a classic tune. Are there any other classics that you still love today and play from time to time?
Menno de Jong: I do have a couple of favourites indeed! Here’s a couple: Veracocha - Carte Blanche Ralphie B - Massive Andain - Beautiful Things (Photon Project Remix) Push - Strange World (2000 Remake) LSG - Netherworld (Original Vinyl Cut) Max Graham - Airtight And many, many, many more!
Carl: When "Gouryella" was produced, you would have been in your teens - what age were you when you started DJ'ing, and what made you want to start?
Menno de Jong: When I was 9 or 10 years old I was already the "go to" guy at all my classmates’ birthday parties haha! Then later on in high school when I was 13 or so I started doing the school parties, but the official ‘start’ for myself came when I was 15 and bought turntables, a mixer, headphones and my first few vinyls! Then when I was 17 I was playing at a school party in a local club in Eindhoven, where I live, and the manager asked me to become resident. I played weekly 5 hour sets there for nearly 2 years before I started playing internationally! Great memories!
Carl: Apart from DJ'ing and Producing, You've also got your Intuition radio show, and you manage Intuition Recordings too - you must be very busy! So what's next in the pipeline for you - are there any more productions on the way or DJ'ing tours?
Menno de Jong: Indeed, I use every bit of time I have to make things work out timewise. I have recently finished a track together with my good friend Mark Otten, and am currently working on some solo projects, such as a new Myth EP to follow up Sjamaan, Orbit and Sparkles.
Carl: Finally, are there any DJ's or Producers that you're particularly close too or really good friends with?
Menno de Jong: As mentioned in the previous question, Mark Otten, as well as many more actually: Paul Moelands, Kimito Lopez, Leon Bolier, Jonas Steur, Cliff Coenraad, Orkidea and most of the people I work closely with...
Remember, you can check out Menno de Jong's mixes on a regular basis in our Mix Vault section of the site!