Meet DJ Creeps: Amsterdam’s youngest breakthrough DJ
It doesn’t matter when, or what age, you got into DJing… It’s why you became a DJ in the first place.
Such is the case with young Dutch DJ Stefan Speelmeijer AKA DJ Creeps. He experienced his ‘selector calling’ at the young age of eight. A path he took because he felt so emotionally attached to music, he’s now six years deep into the craft and has developed a remarkable name for himself.
Following the relatively recent Dutch tradition of aspiring and voraciously ambitious young DJs such as Martin Garrix, Oliver Heldens and Maduk who all broke through in their teens, not only does Creeps have a weekly radio show, he’s played multiple small festival arenas such as Zomerfest and Podiumfestival and getting public Twitter co-signs from Laidback Luke about his skills on more than one occasion.
These are all hugely commendable manoeuvres for any DJ at any age, but they seem more significant because Creeps is still only 14 years old and studying in school. His age, however, is negligible when you understand his ambition and witness his chops at the controls. A natural who’s not shy of some serious blurred-hand, high tech loopery and wizardry on our Prime series, he’s found a vocation that suits his abilities and passions and is running with it with the freedom, support and exciting future that only a teenager can enjoy. Oh, and some amazing and loyally supportive parents, Ed and Sonja.
We caught up with all three of them recently to understand life from Creeps’ unique young perspective on the game… And what he has in store for us this year.
I want to be a DJ! I want to be a DJ!
This is no new thing, right? You’ve been on this for six years…
DJ Creeps: Yes, that’s right. I started DJing at eight years old. That’s when I got my first DJ lesson, I really liked it and I wanted to continue.
When you’re eight you want to get into everything. Every sport. Every hobby. What was it about DJing that drew you to it?
DJ Creeps: Music does a lot for me. It’s very emotional for me. For as long as I can remember, when I hear a sad song on the radio I’ll start to cry. It touches me, so DJing felt like the perfect thing to try. In primary school I found I was learning very easily and I had no challenges in my life. My parents said ‘don’t you want a challenge?’ My sister was learning the guitar at the time so I thought ‘okay I want to be a DJ’. That’s when it started.
Sonja: You know I think he was saying it when he was younger. ‘I want to be a DJ! I want to be a DJ!’ I don’t know where that came from. We have no other DJs in the family or are connected with that culture. But eventually we said if he does well at school he can have a DJ lesson. He had to work for it and he got it. And from that first lesson I noticed that when he’s behind the DJ controls he seems so happy and confident and full of life. He took to it very quickly because he outgrew his basic set up very quickly. He always seems to confident and curious about every function he can do on the machines.
don’t worry mum, I know what I’m doing
When was your first gig?
DJ Creeps: My first gig was at my school party when I was 10. It’s quite funny; I put my USBs in the players but it crashed and I lost all my music. The DJ said ‘you’re a DJ so go and play my music.’ It was quite scary, but I did it for about half an hour, didn’t make any mistakes and had a lot of fun. The DJ told my father that we should search for some gigs, so after that my first official gig was in a shoe store. In the beginning I was playing in a lot of sneaker stores, then there were a lot of radio shows and it eventually I got bigger gigs. I played my first international show and my first festivals last year.
Tell me about the festivals…
DJ Creeps: The first was Podiumfestival where I opened as the first DJ…
Ed: It was amazing to see because the tent completely filled up while he was playing.
DJ Creeps: It went from zero to maybe 1000 very quickly, it was still one of my favourite gigs I have done.
Sonja: You know, I get nervous because we never hear him prepare his sets. I ask if he knows what music he will intend to play but he says ‘don’t worry mum, I know what I’m doing’ but we see him just plug in his USB and play from his heart.
Ed: He’s a freestyler, he plays to the crowd.
What other crowds have you played to?
DJ Creeps: There were a lot of fun shows like Zomerfest here in The Netherlands and also I was booked to play at a club and festival in Calafell, Spain. The festival was a small pool party gathering called Somos Pool Party and the club was The Suite. They were both amazing experiences, too. I was lucky because my teacher let me take the time off to play there.
I was going to ask if your teachers were supportive of your DJing…
DJ Creeps: Yeah they are. They’re very supportive. Sometimes I have extensions on my deadlines if I have gigs and things to do. I can handle both pretty well; if I have a lot of commitments, the teachers will be understanding and give me a bit more time. But also if I have exams and tests then I don’t take so many bookings.
I imagine you’re quite disciplined with your time?
DJ Creeps: I have a routine I’m comfortable with. When I get home from school I take a short break, then I do my homework and revise. Then in the evening after dinner I practice mixing, then have a little bit more free time then do a little school work or revision before bed. It’s planned in blocks.
we are not making something like a star. We are making a happy boy
Ed and Sonja; you go to every gig with Stefan and what are your thoughts on the darker side of the music industry such as pressures on health and aspects such as drugs?
Ed: We drive him to every gig and stay there to watch and enjoy it and bring him home again. Of course, we consider the dangers of the music industry and have concerns but we support Stefan with our own experiences and advice. We make sure he’s informed and sensible enough to avoid that side. He knows what he wants and if anything we hold him back a little because there’s so much time to achieve all this. We also go for quality not quantity. We want to work with the right people and make sure Stefan is working in a safe environment and has that important balance.
I think there’s a strong movement towards that since tragic events such as Avicii’s passing…
Ed: Exactly. We will never push him. We’re always looking to other DJs and talk to guys like Laidback Luke and his management and see how they deal with their private life. They provide a good example of how to have that balanced lifestyle.
Sonja: I’d also like to add that this is all for the love of Stefan and making him happy. We have had some people say some very negative things on social media. That we are exploiting Stefan. I really want to tell the world that we are not making something like a star. We are making a happy boy.
Ed: We are all in this for happiness.
Sonja: Not for money or bragging or fame. We are doing this because it makes him happy.
Ed: He said nothing makes him happier on earth than DJing
DJ Creeps: This is true!
Sonja: I’m so proud of Stefan, he works hard with his heart. We all do.
That’s beautiful. Stefan, are you working hard on productions, too? That’s got to be the next step, right?
DJ Creeps: It’s funny. The first ever track I attempted to make was in 2016 and it wasn’t very much of a track. But I sent it into a demo drop for an Armin Van Burren and Fedde Le Grande workshop anyway. They accepted me and, after the workshop, a couple of DJs listened to demos and Dirtcaps listened to mine. He said it was really great for someone who’d started producing, which was cool and very encouraging for me.
Where you at now with it?
DJ Creeps: I’m getting there. My teacher has been amazing and my productions are getting better and better. They’re starting to look more like proper tracks.
Ed: Watch this space because we’re talking to a few labels at the moment. We set a goal to see if Stefan could release a record before the end of the year and this could well happen.
DJ Creeps: I’m just really enjoying it. It’s a whole other skill compared to learning what to do as a DJ.
You’re very technical as a DJ. I saw Laidback Luke posted about trick you’d posted?
DJ Creeps: Oh that was crazy and very special to me. For me that trick is simple because I know what I’m doing and have practiced and practiced it. But reading the comments made me think ‘wow’. People like David Guetta and Tiësto. That blew my mind a little bit. It was very kind of Laidback Luke to post that. It’s still hard to explain how happy I was about that. I have to say it’s down to the functions and workflow on the Denon’s.
Ah thanks for such a natural segue! How do you find Denon DJ equipment?
DJ Creeps: I just love the feel of the Prime series. Other equipment I’ve used feels a bit cheap and light. Denon lends itself to a lot of creative opportunities. Like I said, the workflow is fast going from roll to hot cues to loops. I love that loop section and you click in the button and scroll it and make it bigger and smaller. It works really fast and I’m always super happy.
Nice. What can we look forward to this year?
DJ Creeps: As many gigs as I can do. More Dance Flow shows on Layzer. I just want to get better and better at both mixing and production and play to bigger crowds. This is my life.
Ed: There’s lots happening we can’t quite reveal yet but there are many exciting plans in the pipeline for both events and maybe for releases, too. One thing we can reveal is that Stefan is back at Podiumfestival this year.
DJ Creeps: But instead of opening, I’ll be playing before the headliner.
Opener to almost top of the bill in the space of a year. That’s amazing.
DJ Creeps: Thank you
Ed: We’re incredibly proud of Stefan. We had no clue about dance music before he had that first DJ lesson but it has changed our lives as much as his. It’s a great experience so far and thank you to everyone who understands and supports Stefan’s ambition, too.