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12.10.2017 | Words by: Emma van Meijeren  

“This clock doesn’t tick effortlessly. When I look at it, searching for the right time, it 
doesn’t seem to move. It’s a timekeeper that tracks the gridlock. It’s timelessness. Maybe?” 

— Astrid Roemer, Was Getekend

You can catch her radio shows on Amsterdam’s Red Light Radio or London’s NTS. Or you can find her in the club, in Amsterdam’s Claire or Marktkantine, Rotterdam’s BIRD or BAR. This year the Utrecht native Carista started her own platform and party, United Identities, where she showcases and unites musical talents from various backgrounds. She’s also the opening DJ in Het Muzieklokaal during the 62-hour ADE weekender. We talked to Carista to find out where she comes from, what motivates her, and what makes her clock tick in time and (club)space.

Q: What is your favorite time to DJ?

A: I love spinning during the night! I guess I’m sort of opening the night in Het Muzieklokaal even though my set is from one to three. I love that I get to set the tone for that particular night.

Q: Time is a strange thing in clubs. Sometimes we go to clubs to forget about time, to stop thinking about the ticking of the clock. How do you relate to such escapism?

A: I think it’s really sick to get to do something like that. I guess I do it too sometimes. I love to have a good time and to walk around all by myself. It inspires me. But you also just go to a club to chill. It doesn’t always need to have a reason, and I don’t know other people’s reasons to come out. Some people might have to break out of their daily routine, just to do something else for an hour or two or three or four or five, haha. The key is to never forget your sunglasses when you walk out the club in the morning! 

Q: How did you start DJing?

A: I’ve always been into collecting records, going to record shops and checking out new music. When I was younger I was obsessed with this blog by two guys from Rotterdam called Moovment blog. One of the original founders of the website, Nevill Mitchell, is now a good friend of mine. I’d check their blog every day and from there on I just continued looking for new music. People around me were DJing but I tried a lot of other stuff first to find out what I love the most. I used to photograph a lot and started meeting more and more people with the same music taste. It’s not like any of them learned me how to DJ though, I did that on my own. I took a few workshops but I didn’t like them and so I quit after the first three or four sessions. This was around 2010 and after that I just taught myself by checking tutorials on YouTube, haha.

Q: I also heard something about a mixtape competition and an impromptu first gig…

A: Yes! The club BIRD in Rotterdam had a mixtape competition and the winner was supposed to DJ the same night. I’ve always liked what BIRD did. They’re very much into black music, so I entered the competition. I made a short mixtape and I was so nervous when I clicked on the send button. I prepared a little file with tracks just in case I’d win and then I heard I won by e-mail, so I had to be there in a few hours and do my first gig. Of course I sucked at it but I loved the reaction of the crowd and that they seemed to love to see a woman with a great music taste behind the decks.

Q: Can you tell me something about your new platform United Identities?

A: United Identities is my baby. It’s a way to put my ideas into a physical form. I hope to use it to show my curating skills more, which is something I’m already doing on the radio. It’s also kind of a music label and with ‘United Identities’ I actually mean that in the literal sense of the words: bringing people of different identities and backgrounds together.

Q: And there's the party.

A: Yes, I noticed recently how there’s not a lot of women (of colour) out there throwing their own parties, doing radio shows or bringing people together in this way in The Netherlands. Most of the parties aren’t for the culture. They’re focused on money. I think my stubbornness put me in an interesting position to offer a platform that isn’t corny. A platform that’s truly about the music, the vibe, dancing and the artists that I’m inviting over to do their own thing. So I bring at least two DJs/producers together on a night —two DJs that don’t necessarily have to be playing the same type of music— and one of them is also a producer and releases one or two tracks via UI. It’s my dream to have club nights like these all over the world but that’s just a matter of time.

Q: We all hate this question, but could you describe your own style?

A: No.

Q: Okay, so I guess I’ll describe it for you…

A: Oh, but what will you say?

Q: I don’t know yet...

A: Ok. So from what I hear I’m a pretty heavy selector. It’s what people say… just… I guess my booker always says there’s a soulful element to how I spin. Whatever genre or music style I’ll select there’s always soul that people can connect to. And I guess that’s my thing. But you know, it all depends on my mood too. I never really prepare my sets or put my music in a particular playlist in Rekordbox for that night, because the promoters who book me know what they’ll get for their event. I don’t want to settle for anything or anybody. I did that a few of times in the past and I hated myself at the end of the night. When I play out I try to let go and interact with the people and have a great time myself!

Carista will be playing Het Weekend during ADE on Friday night at 01.00 in Het Muzieklokaal. See full schedule here, more info can be found here.
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