Homework Talks Amsterdam, Chicago House, and Keeping It Groovy
Homework’s Zip Stolk and Tom Waist.
Photo by Laura Andalou
DJ-producers Zip Stolk and Tom Waist may as well be time-warp Chicago homeboys, considering their keen grasp of the jacking classic house sound. But in fact, they hail from present-day Amsterdam.
As Homework, the pair has taken the international scene by storm since 2010 with a series of delectably deep cuts on top house labels like Exploited, Made to Pay, and 2020 Vision.
Of course, Homework has also become synonymous with adventurously eclectic DJ sets, serving up loads of obscure crate digger gems alongside their sleek forward-looking house and techno fare.
New Times: What glues the two of you together, creatively, as a duo? And what do you each bring to the table as individuals when it comes to the creative process and vision behind Homework?
Homework: A very similar taste in music is what binds us creatively. But far more important for the way we work is that we're close friends. We have more or less the same sense of humor, which makes things a hell of a lot easier. Especially being on the road. We'd hate to travel solo. It's good to always have a sparring partner at your side. In the studio, we work very differently. Zip is very meticulous and precise, but also a tad slow. Tom on the other hand works very instinctively and fast, yet sloppily. When you put those traits together, you hopefully get some dynamite.
Amsterdam is obviously a magnet for international artists and creatives because of its history as a capital of hedonism and personal freedom. Beyond the vibe created by tourists and visitors, what is the local Amsterdam music scene like? How do you feel Amsterdam has shaped you as artists?
The music scene in Amsterdam has always been top-notch. We're really spoiled when it comes to good clubs and international artists visiting them. Every weekend, there's loads of great parties. The funny thing is that even though the scene is so hot and happening, Amsterdam still feels like a very small environment for us. You really have to be an extreme hermit DJ to not know everyone in one good night at one of the many clubs over here. It's an inspiring place. There's always something new happening to discover.
The Homework sound is obviously very informed by classic Chicago house. How did you first get drawn to this sound? Are there any particular artists, records or early experiences that got you hooked in the beginning?
We worked in a record store together before our production and DJ career took off. We learned a lot while there, listened to a lot of soul, funk, and disco. And slowly, the history of house music started to work its charm on us. So we started exploring the genre. Artists like Mr. Fingers/Larry Heard and DJs like Larry Levan and Danny Krivit, but also guys like DJ Spinna, they are great idols to have if you're looking for interesting — sometimes not even house music-related — tunes. Finding our own sound and way of working with those inspirations took years before it clicked.
You're known for an eclectic anything-goes approach to your DJ sets. As DJs and crate diggers, what turns you on musically the most? Are there any specific sonic ingredients you look for in records?
Talking about music is like dancing to architecture. It's something you feel instinctively, so it's very hard to describe. But it probably has something to do with groove. Everything we dig, from raw techno jams to sweet disco tunes, has a far amount of grooviness to it.
What's been going on with you on the production front this year so far? Any forthcoming studio projects or releases we can look forward to?
In May, we're releasing a new four-track EP on Jacques Renault's Let's Play House imprint from NYC. We went very analog on that one. We're also working with WOLF to put out a new EP on their label. The last one, we've been told, did very well, so we're very happy to work with them again. And then there's a compilation coming out on Dirt Crew, which will feature a new track by yours truly. Also, stay tuned for the cheesy '80s-inspired video we made for our LPH EP — it's shabbily charming. Well, it's meant to be that.
We're looking forward to your set at Bardot, a small room known for its super-intimate artist performances. What can we expect? Do you have any special tricks up your sleeve for this gig?
We function the best in intimate surroundings — we're big fans of smaller clubs, actually. Our music works best in those smaller venues. There's a greater feeling of togetherness, of experiencing something with your fellow dancers and listeners. We never really do a lot of preparing, so we'll probably be improvising it on the spot, as we usually do. We're looking forward to it!
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