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Behind the decks with Jeff Solo

What ties natural wine, a container, a beard, and an incredibly varied music selection together? Indeed, Jeff Solo! As one of the founders of Operator Radio, Jeff has been in the middle of anything music and nightlife related here in Rotterdam. His musical style finds its roots in hip-hop but has branched into an eclectic combination of sounds. Hard to define, easy to dance to.

The man has been an inspiration and good friend of ours for some years now. This Saturday he’ll make his B45 debut during our Weelde Halloween extravaganza, closing off the B45 area. But before we get to his set, we asked the man of the hour some questions.

You’ve been creating waves in the local scene for quite some years by now. How did you get into digging and playing records?
Whilst growing up, music was pretty much always around me. That was mainly because of my father and his Indonesian/Moluccan roots. As a youngster with access to the internet (back then in a real premature state), I was already downloading a lot of music. But I have to say, when I started breakdancing, it really started. Back then we trained every week, so we also needed new ‘mixtapes’ to dance to. I didn’t have any money to buy records or CDs, so I was scouring the internet and mostly fora like ‘B-Boy World and Dutchbboy’ for mixtapes. Those tapes made me listen to breaks/music from Krautrock records, oldskool electro, garage rock etc. It really opened my world which at the time consisted mostly of hip-hop.

A few years later I moved to Rotterdam and I started working at a store called ‘Lijfstijl’ that was owned by a good friend of mine. There were turntables in the store and a few crates of records. It was there where I started practicing for hours & hours with the vinyl that they had. The store was also frequented a lot by people that were active in the nightlife, DJ’s, promoters etc., so the store also functioned as a hub/meeting place. I started going out a lot, and although the DJ’s and parties were really good, I wasn’t really hearing the music I wanted to hear, so I decided I wanted to become a DJ myself. I went out to buy a pair of headphones, a few spindles of blank cd’s and I just started. In hindsight I can say I probably didn’t go the right parties for my taste, but I don’t regret it because with DJ-ing I truly discovered one of my passions.

Operator recently celebrated its five-year anniversary. You’ve been an unmissable pillar of this successful online radio-station. By no doubt digital means have changed the radio landscape. As an insider, how do you see the future of radio?
The future looks bright! All around the world you see these little initiatives pop up and people that are passionate about all kinds of music are connecting more & more. I think it’s a great development that starting an initiative, platform, radio station or whatever, now has a really low-threshold. You don’t need the most expensive website, studio, or gear to start out, just a good DIY mentality. In the upcoming years a lot of these new initiatives will mature and I hope everyone will be successful in making their organisation healthy in a financial and organisational way, because that’s the hardest part. People tend to forget how much work, passion and dedication goes into projects like these. But regarding the future, I think it’s safe to say that internet community radio is here to stay!

You don’t need the most expensive website, studio, or gear to start out, just a good DIY mentality.

What are some things you still want to do in the coming years with Operator?
One of our biggest dreams is opening up our own bar/hybrid event space where we can serve drinks and food, house a radio studio, and even host occasional listening sessions and club, or movie nights. 

Which record do you bring to every dancefloor, and why this one?
It’s really hard to choose, but I’m gonna go for a Dutch producer on this one. It’s from Format, an alias of Orlando Voorn, an amazing producer from The Netherlands and the track is called Dance. I just love everything about this track, the vocals, the bass line, the programming of the drums and just the overall sound. Also make sure to check out his other stuff!

In an interview with ‘Every Day is Friday’ you state that “we need to embrace dance music as culture”. What are, in your opinion, some steps cities need to take for this to happen? 
In general, cities or municipalities have to keep their ears to the ground regarding the wishes and needs of their inhabitants. Regarding dance music/night culture, the easiest way is to install an independent advisory board such as the N8W8 here in Rotterdam, or Stichting Nachtburgermeester Amsterdam. Such initiatives have already proven to be successful around the world. Also acknowledging the fact that night life has a great economic value, would really help.

Thanks Jeff!

Want to experience Jeff, Rahaan and many more in proper action? Come have a dance with us, Saturday the 29th of October at Weelde. Doors open at 9 pm sharp and we’ll go on till 6 in the morning! Tickets are available through our website.

Photo by Mark Bolk