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Meet the Lineup: Tember

Just when we thought we had bid him farewell, TEMBER returns with a special set for Glamcult Selects, bringing with him his signature unpredictability and curiosity. Meet Tim Lensvelt, the enigmatic DJ and experimental radiomaker (Echobox, Radio TNP), who will be opening our highly anticipated Glamcult Selects event this week! Balancing his day job as a civics teacher with his nocturnal sonic explorations, he artfully harmonizes the structured with the creative, much like he uses his three decks to combine the weird, dissonant, and obscure into a danceable mix-match of fun. TEMBER’s raw and honest social media presence has resonated with many, offering candid reflections on the challenges of modern DJ life—a refreshing contrast to the often over-glamorized music industry and instagram content we tend to see. As we dive into our conversation with TEMBER, get ready to uncover his thoughts on music that defies categorization and his love for the rabbit hole of sonic discovery. This Thursday, prepare to be captivated by a two-hour opening set that promises to be as multifaceted and surprising as the man behind the decks.

Hi Tim! How are you?
Good, I’m good. Today is my day off, so it’s chill. 

Nice! Glad to hear, let’s jump into the interview! You describe yourself as a collector of the weird, the obscure, dissonant and curious. Within these themes, there’s still a lot to choose from, what is it that sparks your interest?
Well, you actually summarized it quite well already, in the sense that there’s a lot to choose from, and there’s still a lot of vague and open and I don’t like the specification of sound too much, so I like the things that fall outside of the categories. When I listen to music, I generally like to be surprised a little bit. I don’t want to know what’s going to happen next. I don’t want to know what the pattern is or what structure or template it is following.

And what do you do in your daily life besides DJ’ing and radiomaking?
Besides the music stuff, I teach, that’s my day job. I teach at an MBO, which loosely translates to a community college, I suppose. I teach ‘Burgerschap’, which is quite hard to translate, but let’s say it’s civics, a bit of everything to do with society and all. 

Does that have any influences on your musical pursuits?
No, absolutely not. It’s actually quite the opposite. I prefer to have a bit of balance where on the one side I can be creative in my musical output, and on the other hand I have something that is a little bit more stable, and very different as well, which I’ll use as another way of thinking and doing and being. 

Best of both worlds.
Exactly, not fully dedicated to one thing, but have a bit of everything going on. 

What are your biggest inspirations?
We’re going back to the theme of unpredictability, curiosity and surprises. And I really like artists that do that, that are able to surprise and just have that bit of a different thing going on. So for example, locally speaking, I’m talking about artists like Chananja, Factory Girl, DJ Marcelle, of course. Luke Cohlen is fantastic. Derozan is great  too, Mulo is fantastic as well. I also really love that these people are obsessed about music and sound, and it shows in their craft. You know, I can be a little obsessive about the things I like as well and love digging  deep. I guess that just when something or someone triggers my ear, I need to know what it is. I like the rabbit hole. It’s comfortable. 

Nice and warm.
Yeah, nice and warm, a bit muddy sometimes, but other than that, you know, it’s good.

When you hear a sound/noise, are you able to combine it in your head, or like, does that happen?
Yes, yes, that happens a lot. I’m not a very thorough listener. When I’m looking for music, I don’t listen to the whole song – usually I just go through a bunch of stuff all the time. Stuff saved up that I still need to listen to, and eventually I will listen to it in a whole, but when I’m initially looking for the music, I’m really just looking for that bit, that small piece that sounds interesting. Lately, I really had that with vocal music, just using vocal sounds as an instrument. And this little obsession with the vocal sounds, whenever I listen to it I’m like, “oh god, this would go so well with a more dubby beat or some crazy drums.” Finding these little connections is also what makes the digging fun for me. Maybe it sounds like shit, or maybe it sounds somewhat good. 

Maybe if it sounds like shit, it’s even more interesting. And do you produce music?

It sounds like this would be up your alley.
It does sound like that for sure. I feel like I can still achieve a lot with DJing, the collecting of music allows me to create new things as well. For example, when I DJ I like to play at least two songs at once, preferably three if possible. I also mix very quickly, so usually songs are played no longer than two minutes. Usually it’s between 30 seconds and 90 seconds that I play a song. So in that sense, it’s a little bit like producing myself. But I am also a little stubborn. I find it hard when I’m not good at a new thing. DJing felt more accessible.

On social media you’ve shared quite a vulnerable side of DJing and sometimes even to the point that your DJ persona came almost more known for not being booked than being booked. I remember one little beat matching mistake.
A classic. 

A classic. Almost cost you your life. And you’ve even retired, but now you’ve been booked more than ever it feels?
God, my master plan, playing hard to get, you know, finally pays off.

What’s the next step? Is this an official comeback? Are we rebranding or is this a master plan?
It’s definitely not the master plan. It’s funny you mention it, because there is no plan. Technically I never said I was going to retire, but people kind of interpreted it that way. So I’m rolling with that now, but  the whole idea for me was that I was thinking too much about these things – like being a ‘bookable’ or an ‘unbookable’ DJ. That for me just ruined the fun of it. And the moment you start talking about music as an industry, it’s gonna suck the joy out of it. There’s all these factors that influence your joy in something. I wanted this to be a creative thing. I wanted this to be something I could express myself in. I figured it would be best for me to take a step back and re-evaluate why I’m actually doing this. And ever since, I’ve been doing some radio shows that I really enjoy, so I’ll talk a bit more during my radio shows. I’m just  doing it with friends, exploring. So, you know, you could call it an official comeback, but I’d rather not have any words for it. 

The comeback of the retiree, we could say that.
Yeah, exactly. If you want to milk that baby, go for it. Wasn’t my plan.  

No, I’m kidding. It’s good you’re reflecting on what gives you joy or not. So, if you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
Oh, that’s a tough one. That’s like asking me if there’s a solution to it.  

Yeah, and to make you feel bad for not changing it single-handedly.
Yeah, sorry – my bad. Well, in a sense, I would say put all the money away, but then, I also don’t agree with that, I do believe that people should be able to make a living out of this, as it’s art. I do wish there was more focus on diversity, not only in people, but also diversity in sound, and that there’s more focus on community and not so much on hype or on social media generated stuff. And that’s also why I got into this music thing. It’s not only because of the music, but also because of the social aspect. And that kind of gets lost when we only look at, you know, what’s the most amount of tickets I can sell. But, of course, there’s also the other side of the problem; lack of cultural recognition means lack of funding means clubs need to look at how to stay alive. It’s so difficult to know what the solution is… but I guess, emphasis on community would be my key point from this. 

Yeah. I feel like that’s at least a good start if it’s not the end point. What’s your biggest accomplishment thus far?
My biggest accomplishment… tough question. I’m trying not to look at these things as accomplishments anymore. That’s kind of the purpose of my break as well. But I’ve been extremely thankful for every gig I’ve had the opportunity to play. I’m very happy that I got to play for local collectives that I’ve really enjoyed going to for years. I’m very happy to have played at the clubs I’ve adored and that I’ve always had a good time in. I’m happy to have played with amazing artists. So they’re all good accomplishments. Not one is better than the other.

Do you have a favorite club memory you want to share?
Although I’m not very sentimental (or so I’ve been told), I do have one. I think it was a formative time in my life, when I was in my early twenties. I remember going to De School. It was one of the places I first really started clubbing. And I remember going to the garden there, 6am, and the sun was slowly coming up. I remember listening to two DJs, I think it was Girish and Vox Supreme.  At that point, I had no clue who they were. I had no clue what was happening, but it was the first time that I was in a setting where I felt so wonderful. I felt surrounded by all the people. I was just standing there on my own, hands behind my back, just bopping. It was like slower listening music. I was just enjoying the sun and I remember the music just being very weird to me at that time. At that point I wasn’t into experimental music or whatever you want to call it. I loved it. I was really just vibing to that very slowly and taking it all in. And then only years later I realized, “oh shit, that was Traumgarten.” The label/collective by Vox Supreme that I’m now super into and have been for years, so that was one of my very fond memories of clubbing. 

That’s a good one, and it’s so fun that it makes it full circle, you’re able to book them now, work with them together now. So what’s your favorite song at the moment?
Let me just pick something at random. My life is very non hierarchical so no favorites here. I’m gonna do a little shout out to the new Kakofonico EP on Pho Bho Records. It’s an Italian label. It’s called Landjakaku, it’s a great EP, really tickles the brain. 

What makes someone in the crowd stand out to you?
Uh, I don’t look at the crowd because I’m very focussed on DJing (and a bit shy). So, I have no clue. I prefer when there’s a lot of smoke. But I do appreciate when people are genuinely enjoying themselves, however they want to express that.

If you could make your dream club lineup, what would it be if there’s no restrictions in place?
I feel like the perfect lineup doesn’t exist, you know. It’s dependent on time and place and sometimes I’m in the mood for just a dumbass party where I can dance my ass off. And sometimes I’m in the mood for just bobbing my head all night, you know. But honestly I think even when there’s no constraints of place or time or money, I would still like to keep it local.  Have a fun party where everybody can socialize but also get surprised by music and dance their ass off if they want to. A multi functional space, where music is important, but so is the socializing aspect.  

You mean the smoking area.
The smoking area, yes. Also very important.  

Sounds good. And who are you most excited to see at Glamcult Selects?
DJ Marcelle. I mean, she’s the OG inspiration, everything she does, fantastic. Love her whole attitude, love her sounds, love what she does. Yeah.  

Nice. And of course the common thread in your work is unpredictability, but now I’m wondering what can we get excited for at Selects?
Easy answer: Just come find out. I can’t tell you. I don’t even know yet. How am I supposed to know yet? Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you don’t. Hey, at least you probably didn’t predict it. I like to think I have some surprises.  

What are you manifesting for the rest of the summer?
Well, first of all, Free Palestine.

Of course.
That’s a pretty big one for the summer. Other than that, I just would like to continue with just re-exploring what music means to me.

Is there anything I have asked, that I haven’t asked, that I should ask, or that you still want to talk about?
I feel like I’ve talked maybe a bit too much, so no, haha.

Thanks so much for your time and really excited to have you! 

Words by Pykel van Latum
Images courtesy of the artist
JUNE 6 – Dr Jan van Bremenstraat 1
email RSVP@GLAMCULTSTUDIO.COM to attend <3