Get On Down with David Vunk

Monday April 20th, interviewed by Melisa Cenik, answered by David Vunk

David Vunk is no stranger to both Studio 80 and Get On Down. He has played at the club multiple times and was one of the constantly returning artists at Lupe’s other queer-minded parties, always bringing his incredible italo-disco collection with him. The Moustache Records’ head honcho is known for his energetic and danceable sets and loves to show his West Coast bad boy way of playing records. On kingsnight we’ve invited the Rotterdam-based Vunk to join us at Get On Down. A good reason to have a chat about his status as an Italo-god, his label, ABBA and his opinion about Amsterdam.

You started DJing in the early nineties. Did music always have an influence on you?
David Vunk: Absolutely, I’ve always been a steady collector. I got my first records when I was six or seven years old — one of Michael Jackson and one of Doe Maar. My dad Paul Vink is a musician and shared the stage with artists like Tina Turner and Percy Slege — he even won the European Songfestival and hit the top 10 with his songs several times. Including one that was number one in the charts for fourteen weeks in a row. I already had a big amount of vinyl before I started spinning. It isn’t something that has been pushed within my youth, but I definitely loved, and still love, to keep myself busy with music.

Why did you started DJing?
At one point in my life I owned such a big collection and one of my friends got turntables at home. We just started practising at his place and I caught myself really liking it. I asked my dad to buy me two Technics turntables. He did buy me those, but in return I didn’t get any pocket money for like a year and my dad wanted me to stop using drugs. Obviously, I totally failed at that part.

I’ve heard that you’ve got an impressive italo-disco collection at home and people usually call you the italo-king. What’s it about the genre that you like?
Years ago I didn’t even like italo at all. In 1995/1996 I always went to NightTown (one of Rotterdam’s most remarkable clubs back in the days, red.), where I knew a girl named Harriete. Her boyfriend was the promoter of the parties in Rotterdam. I brought my tapes with me once and gave them to her. She gave it to Perry, her boyfriend, and he was very impressed by it. After that we decided to team up: Perry, another friend Michel and I started the Strictly Techno parties.

After a few year or so I stopped being a resident there because, I was playing way too harsh and loved other music more. I started discovering the underground scene and partied a lot. In this period I also organized parties myself and booked I-F for one of my club nights. I had heard him play before, but during this night he played ‘Feel The Drive’ from Doctors Cat. I didn’t know what was going on, I had never heard such a sound like this but I immediately fell in love with it. After that moment I just started collecting and playing italo-disco records. The result of it was a lot of confusion because of my techno background. Besides that, italo-disco was a niche so I didn’t get paid well at all. There were times that I got beers in return for playing my music. It all changed when the radio station Intergalactic FM aired. The sets got good listens and even got me my first gig across the borders, which was in Dublin. In the meantime I’m almost making radio for about ten years now already.

It’s obvious that you’ve got a big love for vinyl, do you also play records-only instead of the digital formats?
I’d rather have everything on vinyl, but I don’t only play with vinyl. It’s simply impossible because of all the tracks or edits people send me. Besides that, a lot of tracks are only available on digital formats. But sure thing is that I do bring two record bags full of vinyl to every gig I’m playing at.

Why do you prefer to have everything on vinyl?
[Laughs] You really have to come over to my place to see how amazing it looks to have everything on vinyl. It’s fun to have physical records. Well, to have the good ones though. Every year I spit through my collection and sell a bunch of them, so I can keep the best ones and buy new records. I’ve been through a lot of phases within music in my life, but I see myself being interested in a lot of different genres nowadays. Italo is my passion and speciality, but lately it’s becoming a mix-up of a lot of styles. If people book me, they book David — not a specific genre.

How would you describe this ‘David style’ then?
It’s danceable, sexy, mature and energetic.

In fact, you’re describing a feeling now, not a style or genre
Exactly, that’s totally right. On the other hand it’s hard to not be known for a specific style or genre, but it gives you so much more freedom to do and play whatever you want or like. The most important thing is that you keep the people dancing. Nobody gives me a strange look if I play a techno record. I personally like it too when an artist keeps it danceable while blending different styles together.

Moustache Records is your own label. Can you tell us a little more about that?
In 2007 I went on vacation with an old Mercedes 508 camper to find rare records in Europe. When I arrived in France, I stopped on a parking area to smoke my last blunt. Before I went on this trip, I downloaded a lot of music, a lot of sets and tracks. Suddenly there was a track being played in my car and I didn’t know who or what it was. When I came back home I tried to figure out from whom it was. It turned out to be a boy named Mauno Kalevi. He only had the track on the digital formats, but I really wanted it on vinyl. I wanted it so badly, that I asked Mark Du Mosch to hand in two more tracks and started my own label.

Of course, I had to make up a name too. I had a lot of Italo records of men with moustaches on the covers. ‘Why the hell these moustaches?’, I constantly asked myself. I kind of developed a moustache fetish at that time, so it was more then logical to me to name the label Moustache Records.

Do you, in contrast to yourself, represent a specific sound with the label?
We’ve now got Moustache Records, but there’s also a side project named the Moustache Techno Series. These series are specifically techno-related. Moustache itself doesn’t represent a specific sound but it definitely has to be quality music. Italo, Detroit, house — good music, is good music. We’re ghetto with an edgy side but on the other hand we’re kind of happy too because of the italo influences.

You also produce, right?
I’ve released twelve records since 1999 and there are already three records scheduled in the near future. I will also hit the studio with Tom Trago really soon if everything works out right — we’re both very busy men. Also I’m working on stuff with my good friends Legowelt, Danny Daze and Alden Tyrell. The Amsterdam based Dexter once told me: ‘It’s going to take you ten years before you will release your first record’. It didn’t take ten years, but yes, it took really long. Back in the days there was no Ableton or fast working computers. Everyone worked with MPC’s and hardware, through which everything took much longer than it does now. At the moment I’m busy moving all my stuff into my new studio in Rotterdam. The studio is in a basement, which exists out of four studios. I will have my own studio in there, the other studios are owned by well-known artists like Speedy J and Taras van de Voorde. We’ve also got a huge area next to the studio, that we want to use as a nightclub. We don’t know the exact details about that, but we really want it to happen.

Pussycat was your alias, you now play and release under the name David Vunk. Where do these two names come from?
Pussycat was my secret project with Ricky the Dragon and Seutek. We released a couple of records under these names on labels such as Crème Organization. Before that, I used David V as my artist name. David V was more tekno/techno-related so it didn’t fit my new love for italo-disco. I found myself playing ‘funkier’, while I don’t play any funk or hip-hop though, so I added ‘unk’ to the David V nickname.

In almost every set you play I recognize the track ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)’ from ABBA. It seems to be your trademark.
[Laughs] That’s a secret version of the track — only two people in the world got it. The producer of the record didn’t find it good enough and left the cd with the track on it in my car one day. It’s funny to see that the audience don’t seem to know which track it is, until they realize it’s Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) from ABBA. It’s a dance floor killer and literally works every time, even at moments when the crowd seems to tumble in a little bit. I have to say that I even considered releasing this version with Thriller from Michael Jackson on the b-side on Moustache, but it’s going to be a difficult project with all the copyright claims that these tracks have.

Rotterdam is your hometown and seems to develop a lot musicwise. How do you experience this yourself?
In the nineties Rotterdam used to be absolutely fantastic with clubs such as Parkzicht, NightTown and all the record stores on the Nieuwe Binnenweg. It kind of disappeared when bigger organisations took over I guess. Lately Rotterdam indeed marches up a lot with clubs like BAR, Bahn and Perron’s new initiative Annabel.

What’s your relationship with BAR’s clubnight Gay Bar?
I’m a resident at Gay Bar and Aad Spacemaker & Erik, the promoters of Gay Bar, are really good friends of mine. Besides that, I also make music with Aad. I just released a new record on their new label Electronic Emergencies. Aad, Ari Versluis and me also organize Panic In the Darkroom — a gay transsexual trava party in the oldest gaybar in the Netherlands Cosmo Bar.

What do you like about gay parties then?
My music works really well at these parties, the atmosphere is great and there are nice people. Besides that, I’m not averse to it at all. I always come completely spruced up to Gay Bar.

Do you see a big difference between the crowd in Amsterdam and Rotterdam?
I really like the crowd in Rotterdam, but maybe that’s also because it’s my own home base. On the other hand, I love the Amsterdam crowd to. There were times that I really wanted to move. I think it’s so much better for your career to live there. From there on you can grow. Also I have really good friends there like Tako, Young Marco, San Proper, Tom Trago, Martin De Waal and Tessa and everybody who I forgot. Just look at my friend Steffi for example. I used to play with her at Mazzo when we were residents. She now lives in Berlin and is part of the Ostgut Ton crew.

Cormac, Lupe and Titia already shared their favorite queer-minded track with us. Which track gives you that feeling?
For me Bad Boy from Frankie Knuckles is the ultimate gay-classic.

Originally published at www.studio-80.nl.