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Tiffany Chung

19 May 2021

Text by Tiffany Chung

Citizens: TROBI

19 May 2021

They say the first step to getting what you want in life is knowing what you want, Bryan du Chatenier AKA Trobi has known since the age of 9. He started his music career DJ-ing at birthday parties and quickly moved on to producing and performing around the world. In this edition of Citizens, the Dutch DJ and multi-platinum producer shares his journey, passion, and vision for his future.

 

Hey Bryan, where did the name Trobi come from?

“When I was 12, I started making tropical house music. I took the ‘tropi’ from the beginning of tropical and replaced the ‘P’ with a ‘B’ because my real name is Bryan. But I don’t make tropical house anymore."

 

Why don't you make tropical house anymore?

“I'm a little bit older now. When I was 15, I was signed to Spinnin’ Records (one of the biggest EDM labels in the world) and started to make more house and EDM music. Now, for maybe three years, I’ve been making more pop music and hip hop with very big rappers and artists from a lot of different countries: Germany, France, Holland, the UK, Columbia. I like that I have more freedom to make different music. When you are a house DJ you can only release house music because your fans expect it. But now I can just make and release whatever I like."

 

I work hard everyday to make sure I achieve all my goals.

 

How did you start DJ-ing at 9 years old?

“A friend of my dad had a son who was much older than me who was a DJ. I think he was 18 at the time and I was 9. He had a DJ set in his bedroom, and I started playing with it. I told my dad I really liked it and wanted one too, so he got me a very small DJ set to test out. Then I told him it wasn’t good enough and he got me one of the best DJ sets, a CD 2000. It's a very good and very expensive set, like €4000 or something, and I was like maybe 12 so that's expensive but I paid him back fully though. He got me the nice DJ set so I could do shows, like weddings and private parties. If I got paid like maybe €100 or something, €50 was for me and €50 was for him to pay for the DJ set. With all the private shows that I did, I paid the whole thing back in 3-4 years. So, it was more like an investment for him, and it helped me get into an entrepreneurial mindset."

 

How did you get your first gig?

“Other than the weddings and house parties, I think the very first real gig in a club was when I was 14 and it was a teenager party for kids in a club. I was a resident DJ there and every two or three weeks they would throw a party."

 

Would you say that you're self-taught or did you have lessons or mentors?

“YouTube tutorials were my biggest teacher."

 

 

When did you know that this was going to be your career?

“At 16, when I was with Spinnin’ Records and started doing more shows. I knew this was going to be my career. But I was young and still working at the supermarket. It wasn’t until I was around 18 that I could quit the supermarket and fully focus on music."

 

What's the most exciting thing that you've experienced in your career so far?

“One of my China tours. I did a few. That was very dope. Also, playing Tomorrowland was a very big goal of mine."

 

Last show for tour in China.

Creamfields Shanghai.

 

 

Why was the China tour so exciting?

“It was crazy. It's not normal for someone at such a young age to tour for a few weeks in a country I have never been, playing in clubs. It was very exciting but that was more in my house music days. Now, I'm more in a different kind of music genre and I started working with Chinese rappers. That's something that I'm working on right now, connecting with Asian rappers."

 

Traveling must be inspiring for your music.

“Yeah, it’s like a new energy. New experiences of places, like Singapore, really gave me a lot of inspiration. It's such a beautiful country, really clean and beautiful buildings, beautiful nature. Same with China, it's so big, every city is different. One day I’d be in a city that was freezing and snowing and the day after I’d be in another city that was 27 degrees and sunny."

 

Trophies.

 

Right now, touring isn’t really possible so many producers are releasing music online. How do you stand out and cut through the noise?

“I just do my thing to be honest. I just make music that I like. I think the music that I like, a lot of people also like. When I release music, I also think as a DJ, so I'm like ‘why would I play this as a DJ?’ If a lot of DJs play the track, it will become more popular. I think things like this are very important and I try not to make music that is too weird. I like weird stuff but not too weird so a lot of people will listen to it."

 

 

Where do you envision your career going next?

“For now, I'm focusing on countries like France, Germany, and the UK. Next week I'm going to France to make music with very big rappers and singers. I work with every big artist in the Netherlands, and I want to work in new territories with big rappers from other countries. I also finished my Dutch album and it releases this year. It's one of the biggest projects of the year because there's no project with this many big rappers on one album in Holland. That’s the next thing I think that's going to really give my career a boost. Then hopefully I can go to the two other countries and make music there as well."

 

With @Vegedream.

With @Anas & @Mula B.

 

 

Tell me about ICEQOLD.

“It’s a new platform that I made six months ago. We sell sample packs for producers to help their beats get to the next level. Producers can also download free samples and free melodies too. A lot of upcoming artists or vocalists don't have the right tools to make their voices sound good and now you can just use your laptop and your voice sounds great. So, your demo will sound way better. For me, it's very important that all people have the same tools to grow and develop their beats. It's crazy because when you give a lot of people the same tools, you see a lot of different kinds of work. I really like it and I like it to give them the best. All the samples we create ourselves from scratch and before we release it, I will check all the samples myself. If it's not good enough, I tell the sound designers and they make it better because people deserve the best samples. I think people deserve good sources and when you buy something on ICEQOLD, you know it's quality. I use the platform for myself too."

 

Which do you prefer? A nice car or nice house?

“I'm 21, I’m at the age where I would choose a nice car but when I'm a little bit older I will choose a nice house."

 

Do you listen to your heart or listen to your head?

“Listen to my heart.">

 

New car.

 

Do you live to work or work to live?

“Live to work. I don't work because I must, I'm just doing it because I really like it. I love to go to the studio every day. Just not on the weekend because I have a girlfriend and I need to spend some time with her too of course. But when I’m not in the studio it doesn’t feel right, like I’m missing something."

 

Are you a thinker or doer?

“Both."

 

To finish our interview, can you name a person, a place, and a thing that inspires you?

“The person that inspires me is Michael Jackson. I have liked his music since I was young. The place is my studio. I really get a lot of inspiration from it. It's a building with maybe 6 studios in one place, so there are a lot of people making music and you can just walk in and listen to what they're making. The thing that inspires me is nature. I really like nature or animal sounds. I like to use a lot of those natural sounds in my music. "

Tiffany Chung

23 May 2022

Text by Tiffany Chung

ØLÅF CITIZENS : Virgil nicholas

23 May 2022

With honesty, well-being, and respect for oneself and each other as the foundation of Danish shoe brand, Vinny’s shoes, Virgil Nicholas has founded a shoe company with real soul. In this edition of Citizens, we step into the creative director’s classic leather loafers and discover more about his work, style, and way of life.

 

Hi Virgil, why loafers?

“Good question. I've always worn loafers and compared to all the other types of footwear in my wardrobe, they‘re the one pair of shoes that I wear to death. A couple of years ago, just before starting Vinny’s, I was looking at my rotation of the same four to five shoes I wore over and over and noticed I was missing that perfect loafer. I realized that's where I have a genuine heritage and story to tell, so it made sense that I bring that to the table myself."

 

How should one feel when wearing a pair of Vinny’s?

“I think the loafer, for me, is like when you put on a blazer jacket. It shapes you as a person, your back gets a little bit more upright and you carry yourself a bit more elegantly. Loafers do the same thing. I want both men and women to feel comfortable, relaxed, well-dressed, and feeling confident. I think when we feel our very best, we're better humans to ourselves and to our neighbors and next of kin. So, it's really about building self-respect."

Still from podcast.

From interview with Illum.

 

Is that what makes you feel confident?

“A good pair of loafers, yeah. I think one of my confidence boosters is definitely always a good outfit."

 

Do you think good taste is something you’re born with, or can it be developed?

“I think style and taste is definitely something that you can learn. It’s about what you're interested in, what you’re exposed to and influenced by. It's definitely something that you can adapt and grow into and out of. Personally, the influences from my mom and my dad and their post-colonial heritage, my African heritage, but also the urban references from when I was a kid, shaped my wardrobe. I always go to the same things. I have pieces in my wardrobe that go ten years back and it's the stuff that I love to wear the most. Then, occasionally you add new things."

 

With Silas Oda Adler.

 

What are your tips for someone who is developing their own style?

“It starts with knowing who you are. A fashionable look or outfit can sometimes become a way to dress yourself up or to hide who you are, whereas style is about what we actually like and what you can see yourself wearing over and over again that resembles you. Also, read about pieces, find out how the penny loafer came about, the history of the slip dress, or research style icons. What makes hairstyles iconic today? Why do we like 90s fashion so much right now? Why's airport style interesting? I know a lot of men that research trends and decades and fashion and it's really been a way of shaping who they are. I've done the same, more from a research and creative perspective but it definitely helps me to also keep my own style universe sharp."

 

Who's your style icon?

“My dad. He always inspired me a lot."

With kiddo.

Vinny's.

 

Do you hope to be a style icon for your son?

“He already dresses way better than me. I think he already passed me. I just want to be a good role model, that's the most important thing for me."

 

Has becoming a father changed the way you work?

Only that I have to leave work a little bit early. I love to work, so that's why I hate having to leave work early. When he sleeps, I really love to work. Especially when I get to live out my dream. I'm so blessed and lucky that he loves coming into work with me. He's an open-minded kid and really at ease around my colleagues. I can bring him anywhere and that really makes my workflow a whole lot better.

 

At parelstudios.

On the road.

 

What’s your favorite place to work?

“We got our office four months ago and we have a red couch that I love sitting on. The most amazing thing is that our office is an old apartment, so we wanted to create a homey feeling. It's always hard to leave the office which is a good sign of a good workplace, at least for myself."

 

Where do you like to relax?

“Benches in my city. I love just sitting there and people watching. Not having any plans or any distractions, just a good pair of sunglasses to watch people. If you see me on a bench, you know what I'm doing. It’s the most relaxing thing ever."

 

As a successful creative, you’ve had a lot of great ideas. Tell us about your worst idea.

“My worst idea? Ha, that’s a good one. I don’t know, I’ve had a few. There was this one project, it was right after I started my first label, I wanted to create something that was more urban. So, we started making baseball t-shirts and the execution was good, but the name was horrible – it was a combination of three French words. I speak French with my parents, so it’s a big part of me and almost everything I do creatively starts with French. We actually got a lot of traction in France, but no one understood what we were trying to say. It was just the most horrible thing I've done. We had to shut it down quite quickly for numerous reasons but mostly the name was just a killer."

 

Name one thing you hope to get better at.

“I'm always on the go, always thinking about the next step, the next collection, the next campaign, am I picking up my son? I think what I need to be better at is enjoying the present. Enjoying the moment with people that are really dear to me. The thing I really value the most in my life are my relationships. It’s easy to make up an excuse not to meet up or make time for family and friends, but if it matters, then you need to remember to prioritize them. Time flies so fast."

 

Counting blessings.

 

Tell us something you hate to do but have to.

Every month, I have to go through all my expenses and find all my receipts. It’s a work thing that I hate to do. I try to be really good at it, but I hate it.

 

And something you love to do but rarely get to.

I love to read and listen to audiobooks. I hate that I don't have or take the time to do it enough.

 

Do you have a favorite book?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Love it. It was really a kickstarter for how I started to believe in myself and knowing that anything you set your mind to is possible.

 

What's one song you listen to on repeat?

Gold by Prince. I saw him perform it live at a festival here in Denmark. It was a crazy experience.

 

Young Virgil.

 

Lastly, name a person, place, and thing that inspires you.

One of the places that inspires me a lot is Marrakech. I like it because it's a place where I always calm down, but I also see so much culture and so much honesty and genuineness in the population. I think, in general, Africa is fun because it's very true to its roots.

 

For people, I've always been a huge fan of, it’s so cliché, but Denzel Washington. I love that guy mainly because he's really talented and he can wear a lot of hats, so to speak. His body of work combined with who he is as a person, from what he says, how he thinks, how he operates, and his composure is inspirational.

 

I'm really inspired by tech and how it creates communities. For example, who would have thought even just ten years ago that there would be a car service where you can drive awesome cars without taking anything but your mobile device, logging in, driving it, then leaving it to share with another human being? It’s stuff like that, the whole shared economy in tech, I think is fantastic. It's about being helpful to each other. If the shared economy in tech could be integrated with fashion in a mainstream way, not just in the niches where it is right now, it would definitely be game-changing for the whole world.