In the minds of most dance music lovers from in and around Amsterdam, October is quite a special month. For five long days, the city and its inhabitants welcome the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), bringing with it more than 300,000 revellers who attend over 450 events and see more than 2,000 DJs who champion the many sub-genres electronic music. It’s one of the events of the year; the one everybody talks about long before it commences, hoping to see their musical heroes firing up the dancefloor. Appearance and line up rumours spread like celebrity gossip wildfire, as attendees travel to the city from almost 100 countries. But of the hundreds of events, only one hosted the true dubstep sound and experience. 10 days ago, True Soldiers Productions (TSP) presented Dub Explorations at the OT301 featuring the Dubstep Ambassadors Joe Nice and BunZer0 as well as FKOF fam (and Holland’s own) The Illuminated.
As we’re never ones to turn down the chance for a good party, we were present to witness TSP flying the dubstep flag. Our very own Korrupt headed out to the pre-party at Vibes Bar in Amsterdam, along with The Illuminated’s Yuri and Tim aka Karma Initiative, and had a chance to sit down with the man behind TSP…
Hey Tahdeo, how are you? Hello FKOF gang! I’m Tahdeo Sparks, the man behind True Soldiers Productions, American-born from Virginia. Throughout my life I changed from home base periodically like the Caribbean (Virgin Islands), Seattle, Miami and most recently Costa Rica before moving to Amsterdam in 2009.
How and when did the concept of ‘True Soldiers Productions’ come about? The concept has been in development for many years, starting back in the mid to late 90’s. I had just finished a stay at several places and was experiencing sessions at the dancehalls in the Caribbean. I bonded to dub, followed by the original jungle, trip-hop, down-tempo and experimental electronica at later times.
I was really impressed by the sounds of the different areas, especially when I moved to Miami in 2001 where electronic sounds had a solid setting. I was painting, selling my art and doing expos’ in several clubs throughout the area that touched both the underground and the massive VIP type of venues. I also met my wife who is Dutch, in Miami, and together we moved to different places while I continued to spend many days painting as I listened to music I picked up along the way.
Spinning at reggae nights gave me the opportunity to expose my love for music, and had a small gallery to show the world my love for painting. When I arrived to Amsterdam in 2009 it was a culmination of everything that I had been gathering during my travels. It soon came to me that it was incredibly inspirational to have access to fresh mixes live, and have direct communication with the artists. I had such a genuine love for the music and such a hunger for the new sounds, so that was the final piece of the puzzle and the moment I decided to be a selector of selectors and put together a proper DUB EXPLORATIONS event.
What’s the philosophy behind True Soldiers Productions? My goal was to bring the true foundation of bassweight that holds spontaneity and energy in the dancehalls of the Caribbean and combine them with the future sounds developing throughout the UK & Europe. TSP is all about sonic explorations; representing both the legends as well as providing a stage for the producers that live under the radar. It has a true respect for all artists pushing the boundaries and expanding sounds into new realms of possibility. In two words: Foundation & Future!
How does ‘Dubplate Diplomacy’ tie in with the TSP philosophy? It’s a pretty self-explanatory way of saying “let the music do the talking”. Running specific sessions with that as my actual intention has brought crews together in order to work out an open dialogue through music. It exactly did how I intended it and has caused many projects to flourish along the way.
[Part 2 is here]
What kind of relationship do you have with the one and only Joe Nice? How did this come about? It may sound cliché but Joe is really like a brother to me, just straight up family. We are both originally from the DC Metro area so that gives us a common grounding and as fellow crate diggers and huge fans of all sorts of music our conversations can basically go on forever. I met him through Sub.FM two years ago. When I heard he had never run a session in Holland I simply knew it had to happen. I flew him in specifically for a session in Amsterdam and he flew back the next day. He has joined TSP another three times since then. I respect his passion and personally think he is in a league of his own in regards to having a unique style and presence!
What’s the story behind The Illuminated and TSP? I met Joep a few years back after a set by Mala at the Melkweg in Amsterdam. It was nearing dawn, raining and we just talked out front afterwards where he was telling me about The Illuminated’s projects and I told him what I was doing and hoped one day to get them involved. They are solid, and very talented guys as they have a unique stage presence: they are carrying the flag and leading charge for the Dutch underground bass sound.
Were there any events or artists at ADE 2013 that you thought were severely underrated? I was fortunate enough to attend quite a few events at ADE this year, and must say that however highly rated DJ Shadow is, the truth is that he’s severely underrated. I have witnessed many impressive musical moments in my days but his set at Paradiso for ADE was one of the most phenomenal, most-inspiring things I have seen or heard without a doubt.
What can we expect at TSP’s last session for 2013? It will be the real deal where I want the “Foundation into the Future” session to become a live experience, supported by the ‘Twilight Circus Dub Sound System’ with the true modern day dub specialists. Also on board is Roommate from San Francisco who has been pushing the sounds for years with Babylon System and now with his solo projects, he is one of the most prolific underground producers at the moment with his ‘King Dubbist’ and ‘Avocaudio’ labels. Some other special guests might be stepping up as well, more to be revealed soon…
What can we expect in the future from True Soldiers Productions – what are your goals? I’m taking TSP to the next level as I’m going to be involved with some festivals to represent true underground vibes. We’ve also got the TSP label in the works so definitely watch out for that!
What’s been your highlight release of 2013 so far? I have to say Mindstep has continued to provide the quality and I’m also very excited with the new EP from the Illuminated on Underslung Audio; as well as the newest LP from Uprise Audio.
Any shoutouts to conclude with? Too many names, but I’d like to thank all the fantastic and passionate artists who have believed in the true TSP vision, shared their skills and have been flexible when needed. Large ups to all the local supporters who keep it alive as well. Special shouts go out to my brother Matt and all the family back in the US and Costa Rica! Last but not least, massive love and respect goes out to my wife Tiffany for supporting and dealing with it all.
Korrupt’s ADE Heavyweight Edition review
The night was still young as I headed to meet up with Joe Nice; the one man that got me into the true dubstep sound back in the days when I lived in the DC Metro Area. He was just chilling on the couch when we arrived at Vibes bar, speaking one sentence as we greeted; “I’m on fire.”
After warming up at the pre-party with an open set alongside Dubbacle and SubDimension, I headed down to the OT301 with everybody for the real deal. The Illuminated were in the hot seat at the beginning of the night with a set that reached out to old-school anthems that were blended with some of the freshest bits you could possible find. They were just the right duo for the job, creating enough headroom for what was about to go down.
Unfortunately FKOF fam BunZer0 had to cancel his set, as he’d been struck down with an illness that had already taken a week from him. However, this only meant one thing: a longer set-time for Joe Nice….
Joe Nice’s stage presence was truly remarkable and obviously familiar, you know that he goes all out when he takes his shoes off. Did he really just do that? Oh yes he did! With a solid number of heads in front of the speakers, he fired the most sought-after dubs through the soundsystem at OT301. The butterflies that I felt back in the days were flying all over the place again while being blown away by the weight of his exclusives.
One moment later, the lights of the venue went up, the sound disappeared and I had to say my goodbye to Tahdeos, my hero Joe Nice and the rest of the crew. The next moment, I was waiting at Amsterdam Central Station for my train to Rotterdam… I left with spirits high, my first ADE experience was one I’ll never forget. And Dub Explorations was as true as it gets.
Foundation & Future indeed.
Click to DOWNLOAD
- Binomial – Nothing To Prove
- B9 – Avenue
- Geode – Jade
- B9 – Flemmy
- Jafu – Mercenary
- Blackleg – Space Jockeys (Promise One remix)
- Thelem ft. T-Man – Bring Me Down
- DubApes ft. Kinetical – Gaia (Widowmaker remix)
- Thelem – Synthetic Artifacts
- BunZer0 ft. Kamine – Recicprocity
- Darj – Two Faces
- Clearlight – Circular Thinking
- Prism and Valor – Biodigital Jazz (Gantz remix)
- Ipman – Aight (Killawatt remix)
- Thelem – Grainform
- D-Operation Drop and Geode – Angkor
- VGB and Shiken – Samurai Movement
- TeeFreqs – U
Peace, love and respect.