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August 2, 2014

Talk to: programmer Alex van der Meer


Who are the people that work behind the scenes at Volkshotel? Time for a closer inspection with our own club and programmer Alex van der Meer (34).

As a child, Alex was always delving into his parents record collection. Later he started spinning and organising his own parties as Afrodelique, The Daisy Age and Lift. In 2008, Alex started as a programmer at Canvas, later followed with Blijburg and Amsterdam Roest. Since early this year, Alex is a full-time programmer at Canvas, Volkshotel.

Canvas has grown quite a lot, but how did it start out?
Canvas has undergone a tremendous transformation and I like it when the people that now come are aware they are in the old Volkskrant Canteen. For five years it has been a club and restaurant as well as a lively part of the Broedplaats, Urban Resort. Now it has become a place that has many more functions. So, people can also have breakfast, lunch and dinner here. Canvas is a place for cultural activities and on weekend nights still remains an edgy club.’

During the renovation of Canvas, a temporary DOKA club opened in the basement, what did this experience bring to the new Canvas?
‘With DOKA we have shown that we can create a daring place with better sound, more capacity and longer hours than we originally could on the seventh. With successful club nights and experimenting quite a lot, we now know what does or doesn’t suit us. I am confident that we can show that outspokeness now. Again, DOKA has strengthened our conviction that there is still a demand and place for venues that dare to be different.

An important reason to open DOKA was also the crew. Doka ensured that we could keep our crew at work and then return back to take over the new Canvas. To us, the people make, or better are, the place.’

Does Canvas has a different sound than before?
‘Our motto is to be internationally appealing but also locally relevant. In the long term we want to continue to offer opportunities to new, young initiatives and remain constantly up to date. The idea is to have a more coherent style in sound that we bring every week, so that people know what to expect and trust our selection in artists. We don’t live in a bubble, as we are very open to what is going on in Amsterdam and internationally, now the challenge is to also be an influence and guide on a broader cultural level.’

When you talk about young initiatives, who are we meant to imagine?
‘For example, we are working with the gents from Aspirations. They stood out to me, because they are music lovers first and foremost, they put on successful parties organized for 150 people. They were clearly ready for the next step and then it’s exciting to see whether a bigger stage suits them and their style and ultimately the crowd that comes to Canvas. After a start in Canvas and DOKA they will now play editions in Canvas, something I look forward to. They have a good drive and vision of what is going on within their genre, which makes them leaders.’

Finally for the amateurs among us, which clubs worldwide are currently cool?
‘Robert Johnson in Offenbach am Main, Germany. It’s an example of a club with a legendary status and an unique mark on culture, in Europe and even worldwide. The experience that they can offer to the crowd and indirectly themselves (basically choosing music and art over financial gain or fame) is their main priority and strength and it shows in how popular it still is, internationally. Apart from the location and the reputation I particularly like the philosophy. They seek long-term originality and relevance and this is what they have achieved. A permanent place in the landscape in nightclubs.

They create the perfect conditions in which artists can fully come into their own, something I would like to achieve with Canvas. The ingredients are already there: we have a dedicated crew and we are more than just a club. Canvas can also be an exhibition space, a place for film or a cocktail, this makes it dynamic.’

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