He might be best known for putting his “hands up for Detroit” but Dutch producer Fedde Le Grand also holds a torch aloft for Amsterdam, the city at the forefront of Holland’s burgeoning dance music scene.
“A lot of great music comes out of Amsterdam,” agrees 35-year-old Fedde, who recently released his mammoth ‘Feel the Love’ tune and is about to drop a vocal version of ‘Don’t Give Up’.
“But if you look more closely you’ll find a lot of the big names in the Dutch dance music scene are from or based in the South of Holland.”
Fedde’s own studio is in Breda, in the South of Holland, where he also lives. But, he says, he spends a lot of time in the canal-lined city that will, this month, play host once again to the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE). “I’m really looking forward to my own event for ADE this year,” says the Utrecht-born house DJ, whose Fedde Le Grand Rock Amsterdam is happening on the 17th October.
“It’s going be in this super cool and stunning location called Het Sieraad and I’m just finalising the line-up now.”
Lately, if you’ve seen and heard Fedde play out, you’ll have witnessed him drop tunes such as Mayan Melcher’s ‘Say My Name’, Kaj Melsen’s ‘Funkey’ and Mayne & Genovese’s ‘Funk That’. He recently signed Dutch producer Melsen’s ‘Funkey’ for his own Flamingo Records label.
“I’m really excited about Kai’s music,” says Fedde. “But there’s a lot of amazing talent out there at the moment, not just Dutch artists.”
When he’s not signing tunes for his label, remixing Michael Jackson tunes, doing his radio show, collaborating with artists such as Nicky Romero and travelling the world DJing, Fedde loves hanging out in Amsterdam.
“I love the fact that it’s big and small at the same time,” he says.
“It’s super international and you can usually find your way better in English than in our own language, but at the same time it’s got the cutest little streets that can almost make you forget that you’re in such a big city.”
And what’s the sound of ADE going to be all about this year?
“House music,” says Fedde. “And that’s why I’m looking forward to ADE this year. I think it’s going to be interesting in that respect. ADE is just a great way to meet and share inspiration. Everyone is there and not shy to talk business. That really helps in learning and growing as a young artist.”
And while he’s in the city for ADE, read below for the places you might catch Fedde hanging out…
THE RECORD SHOP
Westerstraat 244 1015 MT
There’s no point visiting a city if you don’t buy some new tunes to take home. And, says Fedde, whatever music you’re into, if you love vinyl you’ll find something you’ll like at Distortion Records.
“I still buy some vinyl and this is a great place to get it,” says Fedde. Nestled in a pretty part of the old city, in a neighbourhood called the Joordan, Distortion sells mainly vinyl but some CDs too. You can buy anything from 1970s punk, through to jazz, funk, d&b, garage and contemporary house and techno, according to Fedde. “I love hanging out in here and just sorting through the records, when I have time,” he says. “It’s a cool place and the Joordan neighbourhood in general has a great vibe.”
Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 26, 1017 Binnenstad
+31 –(0)20-6236985/ www.clubup.nl
If you’re tired of the big-name line-ups at ADE and want to get a taste of the lesser-known, underground DJs from the city, you could do worse that joining the queue (it’s apparently always long) at Club Up. You don’t get many big name DJs playing here, and that’s one of the reasons, says Fedde, he likes hanging out there. Just a short stumble from the lairy hordes hanging in nearby Leidseplein, this small, hidden-away club offers a bijoux, intimate space set across two floors in a narrow building.
Club Up events happen on the top floor and, on certain nights, the bottom floor hosts the exclusive De Kring events. Try and get there when both floors are open, says Fedde. “There’s a great crowd here and I love the rooms — room one plays deep house and the other one plays hip-hop and R&B,” he says.
By the time you’ve done your best to catch a glimpse of the 2,000 or so artists performing in 100 clubs in the city, you’ll probably be looking for a way to kick back and relax. And while it might be one of the most exciting cities in the world if you like dancing all night to house, techno, trance, d&b or whatever else you’re into, Amsterdam is, says Fedde, also one of the coolest urban spots in the world to visit if you fancy chilling out. “The Vondelpark in Amsterdam can be a really peaceful place to walk around,” says Fedde. “But I also just love walking along the canals and just looking up and around. The buildings are so pretty and the water is calming. It’s just an amazing way to relax.”
GETTING AROUND THE CITY
When it comes to travelling around the city, Fedde swears that two wheels are better than four. “By bike is definitely the way to travel around Amsterdam,” he adds. “Traffic can be crazy in Amsterdam and it is a nice way to discover the city, you can be at the other side of Amsterdam by bike in 20 minutes.” If you’re there for the weekend, says Fedde, hiring a bike from one of the many rental companies in the city is a good way to do it. Bike rental companies are dotted all over the city and Centraal Station, Leidseplein and Dam Square have major rental hubs. Prices start from 7€ for a full day. Try StarBikes Rental Amsterdam for a good range, including two-seat bikes and tandems. (www.starbikesrental.com)
Korte Leidsedwarstraat 93, 1017 PX
+ 31 (0)6-24249742/ www.njoycocktails.com
When you’ve been quaffing Dutch beer for three days non-stop you may need to find something with a bit more flavour and finesse to sip on. “My drink at this bar is a caipirinha,” says Fedde. “They do a great one at Njoy but you can get lots of amazing drinks here.” At Njoy, the menu suggests you choose a drink to “reflect your taste and style”. Cocktails come under a list of personality-styled menus called the ‘alchemist’, the ‘trendsetter’, the ‘dreamer’, the ‘virgin’, the ‘connoisseur’ and the ‘sparkling star’. Pick which menu you think fits you best and you can choose from the stylish drinks list from 5pm to 3am on weekdays and 4am on weekends. “You can’t look scruffy if you want to get in here though,” warns Fedde. The ‘chic/no sportswear’ dress code applies on every night of the week so you can’t wear trainers and you certainly won’t find a two-for-one on the slippery nipples offer.
THE CLOTHES SHOPS
So you’ve arrived in Amsterdam for ADE and discovered that all you actually packed is one pair of pants, your Bestival 2009 t-shirt, a Mexican wrestling mask and your flatmate’s fleece. What-oh-what are you going to wear when you go to hear Jamie Jones DJ at Paradise?
“The 9 straatjes (nine streets) are a great place to find your designer clothes,” says Fedde.
A hot spot for the sartorially-savvy tourist, this collection of nine streets includes Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Singel that’s set in the heart of Amsterdam’s canal district. As well as finding lots of designer boutiques here, there’s also lots of art galleries, jewellery shops, bars, cafes and restaurants to hang out in. For retro clobber, try I Love Vintage (www.ilovevintage.nl) and denim fans should check out Denham the Jean Maker (Prinsengracht 493 – 495) for men’s and women’s jeans made by designer Jason Denham. So, pop along there and get your outfit sorted.
Hotel Okura, Ferdinand Bolstraat 333, 1072 LH
+31 (0)206787111/ www.okura.nl
Fed up of satisfying the munchies with those strange sausage-meat ‘bloedworst’ vending machine snacks? Want to try something a bit more, well, classy than a pre-club Dutch kebab? Well, according to Fedde, Yamazato is the place to go if you fancy a culinary treat.
“It’s in Hotel Okura. Everything on the menu here is amazing,” he says.
This traditional, Michelin-starred, Japanese restaurant offers over 50 dishes created by Chef Masanori Tomikawa. Fedde recommends going for the Japanese breakfast — held between 7.30 and 9.30am every morning. But, he says, if you’re not staying at the hotel you have to book for this. Otherwise, try it for lunch or dinner.
“I love eating here because the food is light but filling too. And the restaurant décor is so beautiful.”
THE CULTURAL SPOT
Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX
+31 (0) 20 6747 000/ www.rijksmuseum.nl
“If you want to soak up information about all the history of Holland underneath one roof, then this is the place to do it,” says Fedde.
This museum was recently renovated and re-opened in April 2013, and is jam-packed with works of art from the old masters as well as contemporary artists. If you’re going to go, avoid the middle of the day, he says, when the museum’s at its busiest. And, according to Fedde, early morning or just before the museum closes at night are the best times to visit.
“If you go to Amsterdam, you have to go here, at some point,” he says.
As well as the resident art and changing exhibitions, the 19th Century building itself is worth a visit as a stunning piece of architecture. Exploring it properly, says Fedde, takes at least three hours. Best way to take in a pre-club bit of culture? Definitely, says Fedde.
THE HAIR SALON
Ferdinand Bolstraat 145-hs, 1072 LH
+31 (0) 20 470 8123/ www.bubblekid.nl
Want to get your ‘do sorted before you head out? Then, says Fedde, you could do worse than popping into Bubblekid.
“It’s not just a great place to get your hair cut,” says the house producer, “it’s also got a great vibe and super nice people.”
Whenever he’s in the city and feels the need to get his locks chopped, Fedde says he always pops in to Bubblekid.
And while you’re having your barnet sorted, you can browse the Things I Like, Things I Love clothing range — a selection of which is also for sale in the shop.
THE LATE NIGHT CHILL-OUT SPOT
Oosterdoksstraat 4, 1011 DK
+31 (0)20 530 0800/ www.doubletree3.hilton.com
So, you’ve left the club, ears ringing with the last tune Maceo Plex played at Het Concertgebouw (where he DJed on the line-up with Sasha) all punctuated by the 4/4 heartbeat in your head. But you’re not quite ready to go back to your hotel yet. What do you do?
“I love hanging out at the SkyLounge at the Doubletree hotel,” says Fedde. Conveniently close to Centraal Station, the DoubleTree (by the Hilton Hotel group) is the perfect city hotel. And the SkyLounge — a bar on the 11th floor which offers panoramic, majestic views of the entire city, in all its glitter-to-gutter glory — is one of the best spots on the globe to watch the world go by, as night turns to day. You can get food here too. And while you’re drinking and eating, you can mull over what a great time you’ve had in one of the most exciting, beautiful cities in the world.