You met Simpsons, Flintstones, Fockers, Browns, even one Mrs. Robinson herself! But did you ever have the chance to talk to Mr. Fortyfive, the first ever disk jockey born as a DJ? Probably not. Neither did I until few weeks ago! And that’s exactly where this episode with David Johannes Tokkie begins… Or maybe just few minutes or ideas before that.
My rendez-vous with Mr. Fortyfive took place at Zity Zoo in Boekhorststraat 43, the nest of charm itself, place with a story of its own. I was late for the meeting so had to catch up the lost time by talking fast and clumsily preparing the setting: microphone and camera out of the bag, two envelopes on the table, other things scattered around, falling from my hands. David was curiously yet patiently observing until I reached for the mini disc. And that’s what really caught his attention, this two decades old machine with the blade sharp sound, the vintage recorder of modern times. Everyone has their own thing, vintage projects belong to David. In his case, vintage really equals rustic ideas with the twist of 21 century. You could see it in his presence, hear it in his words and recognize it in various hobbies he likes to call “side projects”. One of them is spinning 45’s, vinyl gramophone records turning at the speed of 45 rotations per minute.
MP: You have two stage names – Mr. Fortyfive and Dj Tokkie. Why is that?
DJ: Three actually. I just made up a new one, it’s DJ Seth. People throw DJ sets so I was thinking of calling myself DJ Seth – the one that is playing dj sets! I just came up with it (laughter)! And then, there is Mr. Fortyfive. I use that name when I spin my 45’s, 9 inch singles. I have a big collection of dancing tunes, disco, funk, rock and roll. But playing vinyl is a side project. As DJ Tokkie I play cd’s, electronic funk and electro jazz. At this moment I’m going back to CD’s because I’m ending up at birthdays and wedding parties. I play this old music that everyone likes and everybody’s dancing. And that’s because I never play the same music. I never know what it’s going to be. I take my music, fell the atmosphere and do my thing. However, sometimes it’s nice to do your own stuff, jazz and funk.
MP: How did you start with records’ spinning?
DJ: My initials are DJ – David Johannes Tokkie, so I was born as DJ Tokkie but then there was a program on Dutch TV “De Tokkies” about this family that did bad things. They fought with their neighbors or put their house on fire. They were so bad that I couldn’t use that name anymore (laughter). I was always into music and sounds and listening makes you do things. So I started organizing parties and playing music there, people heard it and they started inviting me to play for them. That was the beginning. It’s a hobby, something I like to do from time to time, not every week as sometimes I just don’t feel like a DJ. But it makes good money so there are times you can’t say no.
MP: As an occasional DJ and someone who spent his life in The Hague, you must know quite some interesting places around. Yet they seem to be hidden to most of the people.
DJ: There are many things going on in The Hague – music, performances, art, all kinds of exhibitions, young designers. There is also a big need of people to meet each other and combine their ideas and skills. When you share, new ideas come out. I agree, here you have to search and eventually you will find something interesting. But you need to talk to people. When you go on a holiday, you ask local people what to do. It works the same here. There are also underground events going on and you can’t really find them but that’s why they are so nice (laughter). Maybe in The Hague it’s a little bit too hard to reach them (laughter).
MP: Is there a subculture in The Hague?
DJ: No, I don’t believe in subcultures or special areas. I look at The Hague as a whole.
MP: Still, there are different venues for expats and Dutch people.
DJ: Expats organize expat parties and it’s a closed thing, you need to get invited.
MP: Would you go if you were invited?
DJ: No, it’s too formal. It’s not spontaneous or cozy. It can be nice sometimes, when you want to sell your skills. Then you should go there, then it’s handy.
MP: Dutch are often described as cold and closed people and expats complain that there is either no cultural life or it’s out of their reach. True or false?
DJ: One has to look at oneself – if you are not opened, other people will not be opened either. Don’t be scared, when you start talking with people, you will see they are friendly and nice. And in order to find your way, you have to ask. That’s how things work, anywhere in the world. Expats keep complaining about The Hague but if you want to change something, just do it, organize something!
MP: Boekhorststraat seems to be blooming with idea, it’s also a bit hidden but still in the heart of city center, practically in front of our noses. More and more events are organized, it is becoming the hippest street of The Hague.
DJ: It’s the street with a future. There is a tension that you can feel. It has so much in it, like… criminality… (laughter). It’s diverse. If you like vintage stuff, art, you should walk this street. We want to become the vintage street of The Hague! All the shops gather to organize events every once in a while. We have performances, free drinks and snacks, we give prizes… You can befriend Zity Zoo on Facebook and you’ll find the information. In the old days you had flyers and tourist organizations. Today, if you want to be informed, you have to have Facebook. And then you’ll be informed, even more than you would like to but too much information is better than none.
MP: Zity Zoo is also a hobby or a profession?
DJ: This is also a hobby, I only have hobbies (laughter). I am actually a dealer of vintage designed furniture, buying it, fixing it and selling it again! You can check it out on http://www.dejavintage.com or in my new shop to be opened soon in Rotterdam.
MP: The event of the month?
DJ: Of course, the opening of my new shop in Rotterdam (laughter). Ok, what I’m looking forward to in The Hague is skating in Haagse Bos. We did it last year and I hope we will do it this winter as well, with winter games, glue wine, ertwen soup, music and bonfire. It’s really cozy. And it’s opened to everybody, but they have to be nice people and opened themselves (laughter).
In the past Mr. Fortyfive or DJ Tokkie played his records in PIP, Roots, Hilton, Pulchri studios and De Waterkant. This Thursday, 8 February 2013, you can listen to him again in PIP at Queue Dance party, playing some cult disco along with Frank E. Steyn from Tabass-Co, Pip Residents Hollywood & Vine and Emission that will be responsible for strictly house classics.
When he was presented with two different envelopes, David opted for simple white layout with blue bow. There was a note inside, describing Richard, age 37, businessman from UK, divorced father of one, saxophone player who adores color brown. This is how he spent one virtual night in The Hague with David.
DJ: I would take him for a bite in Est Est Est in Wagenstraat. It’s a new jazz place with live music every Friday and Saturday. It’s uniquely decorated. The owner is collector and he likes old stuff that he put inside of his bar. There are big metal elements and this interior simply makes you think. Then we would go to Grand Cafe Grote Markt also authentic industrial interior with live music. From there, we would move to a birthday party in cafe Koos, the only DJ café in town where he would meet a lot of new people and probably not even sleep in the hotel. He would feel young again! (laughter). Next day he would be having hangover so I would take him for lunch to Van Prinse & Co for big organic club sandwich with bacon and grilled chicken!
MP: What about stamppot?
DJ: No man, not in the morning!