They have played Eurosonic at least five or six times and in 2012 managed to do a Eurosonic Air gig at the Grote Markt plus two more on the same night at Noorderslag, where they picked up the annual Pop Prijs (Noorderslag’s most famous award) for most noted Dutch artists. De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig (Dutch for ‘The Youth of Today’) won that prize for a good reason: the group has been a leader of the Dutch hiphop and music scene for over 10 years and has won many other national music prizes for their albums and career. “We don’t really think about prizes”, rapper Willie Wartaal reacts cooly. “If you don’t win it really sucks and you get insecure. If you do all is cool and you move on to the next one!”
Figuring out how many Eurosonic Noorderslag gigs they did is far from easy. Especially because the four members Pepijn Lanen (Faberyayo), Freddy Tratlehner (Vjèze Fur), Olivier Locadia (Willie Wartaal) and Bas Bron (De Neger des Heils) also performed on solo projects like Le Le and Comtron. Wartaal was present in 2012 as WiWa and friends. “I performed with my little brother, my nephew and a neighbour: a real group of friends, it was super cool to do.” Lanen (with Le Le) and Tratlehner (as Coevorduh) also played as relative newcomers.
Have a lie down and surf on the Popprize cheque
Some time later they were told that they would receive the Pop Prijs. Noorderslag director Peter Smidt remembers how dryly the boys took in the unexpected news and the request to put on a show after the ceremony: “Oh ok, then we will have a lie down now.” Wartaal still appreciates that. “They really kept that one well hidden. It was a crazy show anyway. What was really dope was how Freddy crowd surfed standing on the big plastic cheque that we had been presented with. Those are the crazy things we experience and will always carry with us.”
10 years of De Jeugd in 2015
The Pop Prijs was certainly not their most recent highlight. The group released two more albums, played the Lowlands and Pinkpop festivals with the whole of 2015 centred around the celebration of 10 years of De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig. “We hadn’t given that any thought until our manager told us that he had some exciting things lined up.” And so it turned out that the Amsterdam band would celebrate that anniversary with two shows in the Heineken Music Hall, four in a row in the new Tivoli Vredenburg building in Utrecht plus shows on the main stages of the bigger festivals.
Has winning the Pop Prijs changed anything for you guys?
“I’m not sure. It must have. It helps in terms of popularity, people think it’s cool and it gets your music to a bigger, more diverse audience.”
How about more respect at the hairdresser or in the club?
“I just came from the hairdresser and after all these years he still looks at me and asks: ‘Are you performing a song with somebody I should know? Could I have seen you in a video or commercial?’ He still doesn’t know who I am. Then people come into his salon and greet me and he asks me again. Haha. So for my hairdresser it didn’t make any difference. But it has to have helped in attracting bookings. And if you look at the acts that have won the Pop Prijs… that is some list!. It’s a club that you are part of forever.”
How important is it for Dutch acts to play this festival?
“We are a really peculiar act, we entered the game through this massive internet hit Watskeburt?!. So we’ve taken the uncommon route and I have no idea what other bands are thinking. It’s a jungle out there anyway, this whole music game. You live on the love of the fans, they have to dig it. The more we can play the better and cooler it gets, but each show matters.
Dutch rocker Peter te Bos misses the competitiveness nowadays. He is quoted as saying ‘We came to Noorderslag to show everybody we are the best, to blow them all off stage.’ Do you feel the same way?
“Yeah of course. De Jeugd is the best no matter what. There are so many things that I really suck at, that I cannot do. But I do know that in and with De Jeugd I am the best. You have to think that way, otherwise there is no point. What the fuck are you doing up there if you don’t believe that you are the toughest? It’s simple math for me. You have to absolutely believe in your shit, be sure that you are going to rock that joint. Otherwise you might as well stay home.”
Interview: Ingmar Griffioen
Photo: Patrick Visser