Let your heart flutter and your hips sway to this jazzy and soulful playlist.
Dancefloors have the power to free people from their inhibitions.Experiencing these powerful spaces where dancing becomes a binding force, was a turning point for Suze Ijó.
The unspoken intimacy of nightlife led Suze to collecting records and soon developed into her journey into becoming a DJ and broadcaster. Rising out of the music scene in Rotterdam, Suze Ijó, is a household name that spins tracks ranging from an array of genres from Chicago house to disco, Curaçao, and Breakbeat. A deep musical knowledge seeps out of her mixes- colliding tracks from the past and present, creating shimmering soundscapes under the diverse umbrella of House music. Her passion for music is also apparent in her work as a curator and broadcaster for United Identities, and Operator Radio. In addition to facilitating conversation around music, she has also worked in creating spaces as a former member of the First Floor, a collective dedicated to facilitating spaces for parties and events in Rotterdam.
For mixtape #182, Suze curated a deep and soulful mix of R&B classics, salsa, and house.
Describe to us the transformative moments of your creative journey?
I think the most transformative moment happened on the dance floor years ago. That’s where it all started. I fell in love with the music and the clubs, and I remember thinking, ‘this is something I want to do forever.’ I didn’t know if I was going to end up DJing, bartending, or programming. All I knew is that I felt a strong need to stay connected to the scene.
You have played at countless festivals and prestigious venues. What has been your favorite event and why?
One of my favorite nights has been playing B2B with my friend David in the garden of De School in the summer of 2019. It wasn’t even a dancefloor set, but just a magical summer night that seemed to last forever. We played all different types of music for seven hours straight, just vibing off each other’s energy.
You were a former member of First Floor Crew, a collective based in Rotterdam which ran private parties and curated events enabling musical discourse. Tell us more about this former events space.
First Floor was a small collective of like-minded individuals coming together to share music. It was named after our loft-inspired anti-squad office building that was repurposed into a club. The space included a dancefloor, DJ booth, and sound system. I would use the space to store my records, practice and prepare my sets. It was a very free place to be creative in any way. If we felt like throwing a party, we would invite our friends. I would create a private Facebook event, a flyer, and some guidelines. It was a non-profit event, but we would allow people to donate towards the rent, food, and drinks. The parties would pretty much be open decks with no timetables. In 2017, we had to leave the building because of renovations. Following the loss of the space, the First Floor collective naturally dissolved.
How important is a space when it comes to curating events?
I did not realize how important it was until I no longer had the space. I think for a long time, I just moved back to working in my apartment, but I didn’t organize events in my house apart from dinner parties. When the pandemic hit, it became even more apparent that there was a need for non-commercial, privately owned spaces to gather. Right now, I am in the process of applying for a new small space near Rotterdam, where I can be creative, work on music and photography, and bring together friends to revive the spirit that was initially created at First Floor.
What is the music scene in Rotterdam like?
Back in the day, the scene was always very diverse and lively because of the city’s multicultural nature. Genre’s like Hardcore, Gabber, and Bubbling were all cultivated in Rotterdam.In the years before the pandemic, the scene in Rotterdam was in a state of emergency. There weren’t a lot of things happening, and whenever anyone tried to organize something, the government intervened and made it more complicated. During the pandemic, there was nothing except for the occasional seated events,during the rare moments when there wasn’t a lockdown. Now that things have fully reopened, I can see it’s building up again, slowly and steady. I feel like the music scene in Rotterdam definitely has potential.
At raves and festivals, you take along your analog camera and capture moments of pure ecstasy through portraits of partygoers. Compared to music, what do you like about photography?
I love learning new skills, and I enjoy the whole process of shooting, developing, scanning and sharing. I started taking my camera with me a few years ago to events in an attempt to capture moments of connection that I was experiencing. I feel like photography is a way to share some of my life with friends and family, and for me, it’s a great archive. Especially now that I travel abroad, my camera is so useful. Sometimes I forget about certain moments, and when I get my scans back, I am reminded of a certain time.
You DJ with turntables as well as with CDJ controllers. What is the difference between these formats, and do you have a preference?
My preference is playing on turntables; it feels more organic and humane and has fewer distractions. All you need is your ear to match the beat. It’s my first love and I will always keep doing it. I recognize that in a lot of places, the circumstances for playing records are unfit, so I always carry a hard drive with digital music. I have also started appreciating digital playing now too. It’s dependable and it’s nice to have it as a backup. Some artists don’t release their music on vinyl and it’s nice to still be able to support them and play their music. Overall, I try to put the quality of my performance first.
Despite initially starting as a DJ, you have also branched out into other practices, such as broadcasting. What challenges have you encountered with broadcasting, and what have you learned about this form of entertainment?
I love radio, and I love sharing new music, but I think my mind was a little too chaotic to do this on the regular. I feel like it’s a challenge to come up with something new constantly. I have been toying with the idea of starting a new radio show though!
What music do you listen to when you want to unwind and relax?
R&B, Hip Hop, and Jazz mostly. Maybe some mellow Electronics.
“I fell in love with the music and the clubs, and I remember thinking, ‘this is something I want to do forever.'”
Do you have a song or album that defines your childhood?
I think that’s ‘The Love Below’/Speakerboxx by Outkast. It’s the first CD I bought myself and I played it so many times. Especially The Love Below side I know so well!
Finally, how did you select the tracks for this playlist?
The playlist is inspired by this interview, some childhood influences, First Floor/The Loft classics, and some music by artists that inspire me at the moment.
Suze Ijó is a DJ and broadcaster based in Rotterdam. Suze describes herself as a “lover of all genres and rhythms,” with the intention of radiating positive energy and groove in a space. Her musical influences pool from the eighties sounds to New York, Curaçao, Chicago House, and disco. She has played in various international stages, from Panorama Bar in Berghain to Dekmantel Festival. As a broadcaster, she has curated podcasts and shows for United Identities, Operator Radio, NTS Radio, and BBC Radio 6.
You can follow Suze Ijó to keep updated with new releases, events, and performances.
Images: Andrea Amponsah
Interview and Text: Isabelle Moulding