As the king of the Dirty Dutch movement, Amsterdam-based producer/DJ Chuckie (born Clyde Sergio Narain) is known for his high-energy music and diverse sets. Depending on where you’ve seen Chuckie DJ, you may have heard an anthem-filled festival mix, an underground tech-house set, or a bit of a rapper’s delight. With roots in hip-hop, drum & bass, breakbeat, techno, and house, Chuckie is a well-versed DJ and producer whose skills have landed him residencies everywhere from Las Vegas to Ibiza. Chuckie and his crew took over London’s world-renowned O2 Academy at Brixton last December, taking the Dirty Dutch movement to new heights with their biggest event ever in the UK. His latest compilation album, Dirty Dutch Exodus, features music that samples the flavor of those Dirty Dutch parties all over the world, and he told us more about in this sit-down with the man himself.
First off, how was your weekend in London back in December? Dirty Dutch took over London’s most iconic venue, O2 Academy at Brixton, and you handpicked the lineup on the Saturday.
It was an incredible night. It always is when we come to London, but this one went off big time. The crowd was amazing all night long. They came in a party mood and that atmosphere transcended to the DJs themselves who were all in top form. It was a really special vibe and it was an honor to play for the people of Brixton in their world-renowned music venue. It was actually the biggest show that we have ever done in the UK. To see the support from British clubbers on that scale was really humbling and we all had a killer night. I’m sure we’ll be heading back soon to do something even bigger and even better than that!
You also have a brand-new compilation, Dirty Dutch Exodus, which summarizes your massive event at ADE 2012. The compilation includes your latest track, “Make Some Noise,” as well as your hit with Promise Land and Amanda Wilson, “Breaking Up.” What other tracks did you choose to include?
Yeah, I’m really excited to be putting out the compilation because it has given me a chance to summarize both the past year of Dirty Dutch while also looking ahead to the future. It also gives anyone who missed the big shows we did last year a chance to get a feel for the flavor of them. It’s also cool for people there to be able to relive it. On the compilation I’ve brought together people like Junxterjack, Knife Party, Joachim Garraud, Marco V, Pleasurekraft, Kevin Saunderson, and Kurd Maverick. It represents the eclectic style that you will hear at Dirty Dutch parties around the world.
You’ve taken the Dirty Dutch sound international, branding your residencies in Vegas and other venues. How did the Dirty Dutch movement start?
Dirty Dutch came about naturally, through my desire to set up a project that allowed me freedom to do what I want. Over the years it has grown from humble beginnings in Holland to the kind of large-scale events that we played in London last month. It has all happened organically… I never wanted to push something that I didn’t believe in. Dirty Dutch has felt right from the start and it has been hard work but an absolute pleasure to help it grow.
Tell us about your transition from hip-hop to house music.
I have always had an eclectic taste in music right from when I was a kid. I liked many different styles and fell for hip-hop as a teenager. I got into electronic music while living in Holland. I was into various forms of dance music in the ’90s—like breakbeat and drum & bass, for example—and then my style kind of evolved there, bringing me further toward the sounds of house and techno. I think it’s important for any DJ to be influenced by a wider pot of sounds. Without that, people will just end up sounding the same as each other and no one wants that!
How has the Dirty Dutch sound evolved over time?
The Dirty Dutch sound has been constantly evolving throughout. As I mentioned, I think that’s so important for any music project. We have always thought of the kind of mix of music that we bring to be like one giant house party.
How does your approach to producing a remix differ from creating an original track?
I love producing original material and remixing. Both throw up different challenges, different pleasures, and different procedures. With a remix, you try and hone in on the element of the track that really gets you inside and then you try and develop on that. With a full track, you have to develop a vibe as a whole and see that through to completion.
Your travel schedule is intense, and you often tweet about producing tracks on the plane or in a hotel room. What does your mobile studio setup look like?
It’s all about working when and where you can, for modern DJs who spend so much time traveling. As long as I have my laptop and my headphones, I can get some work done no matter where I am. Planes and hotel rooms are great opportunities to get busy for me, and I take full advantage of them.
What’s a typical day like when you’re on the road?
Finish playing, go back to the hotel, sleep for three hours, get to the airport, get on a plane, get from the next airport to the next hotel, prepare some music, have dinner, go to club, party, party, party, and do it all over again!
I remember hearing your set at EDC a few years ago when you said you were going to sample your voice saying, “Who is ready to jump?” Did you know how big that track was going to become? That phrase is almost your trademark now.
[Laughs] You never know with things like that. It’s just something I wanted to do and the reaction to it is always great, so I’m happy.
Your club sets are full of energy and you’re often on the mic. Do you think being a good MC has helped your career?
I don’t think it’s necessarily about being a decent MC, but being able to connect and interact with the crowd is super-important, I think. The DJ feeds off the crowd as much as the crowd feed off the DJ, so the connection between the two cannot be understated. Why only limit that interaction to the music I play? I want to talk to everybody too and inject a human touch into the electronic music that I play.
What advice would you give aspiring producers and DJs?
Believe in yourself, work hard, and do what you want to do.
You’ve produced some trap records recently. Do you see dance music and hip-hop continuing to blend together? Where do you see dance music heading in the future?
I think hip-hop and dance music will also be connected. Both genres have always been about taking elements and samples from other types of music and creating something new and unheard of with it. They will always be linked in that way.
What are some of your plans for 2013?
2013 is going to be a lot of work, but also a lot of fun for me. Get ready for plenty of large-scale events, tons of new music, hundreds of club nights, and maybe even a new project or two. I really can’t say too much right now, but I’m sure I’ll see you around soon.