Beats, booties and barbeques, that roughly sums up Roger Brouwn’s lifestyle the last few years. Roger’s been active in the music biz since way back, spinning tunes as Code Red. Now he’s busy with his own booking agency called ‘Missin’ Link’, every now and then he still can be found behind the wheels of steel. He’s also festival director over at BUMA Rotterdam Beats, but foremost, his crazy barbeques are infamous in and around Rotterdam!
For the people who don’t already know you; who are you, what have you done in the past and what are you up to right now?
Nice to meet you all. The name is Roger Brouwn and people may also know me as DJ Code Red.
In 1992 I started spinning records and I’m pretty much still into that. Back in ’98 I sold almost all of my dancehall, house and R&B-records (this I’ll always regret) and fully focused on hip hop. The turn to hip hop gave me a role as resident DJ at some pretty famous parties. From Chocolate in Rotterdam, Knockout in Amsterdam to festivals like Lowlands.
Next to DJing I’m also busy as an artist booker of an exclusive Dutch roster which consists of artists like Jiggy Dje, Kraantje Pappie, Hef, Kleine Viezerik and American hip hop artists like Black Milk, Sean Prince and Boot Camp Clik that ultimately tour through Europe.
In the last few years I was mainly busy as a music promoter. Not too long ago I was head of music program for ‘De Nieuwe Oogst’ (RIP), recently I started as Festival Director for Buma Rotterdam Beats and I’m also part of the team of music promoters for Corso.
How did you get caught up in the music biz?
I got caught up in the music biz mainly out of interest and a great love for music. Around the age of 12 I started drumming, but after 1.5 years lessons were too expensive to continue. At that time I had my first job and with that money I bought my first set of turntables (Soundlabs, look em up!). Everything I do right now I taught myself by being widely interested in as much music as possible, through networking and by adapting to the music world now and then.
Work wise, what satisfies you?
The best part of my job are the shows I’ve successfully pulled off and the feeling of recognition I get from friends, acquaintances and visitors. Just the thought that I transformed my hobby into my job is also pretty damn gratifying. Just last week I found HEF’s new record in my dropbox, which put a huge smile on my face. It’s all the small things that count big I guess, all giving me that rewarding positive boost.
What is BUMA Beats and where did it originate from?
BUMA Beats was founded by the former director of De Nieuwe Oogst and the people at Buma Cultuur. The ‘urban’ scene is just as interesting as the ‘dance’ scene and potentially big enough to grow up to a ADE-like (Amsterdam Dance Event) music conference.
What is BUMA Rotterdam Beats?
BUMA Rotterdam Beats (BRB) is a music conference, festival and talent-stage for people active or interested in the ‘urban’ music scene. The word ‘urban’™ sounds kind of wrong for some people, but you can’t really say ‘a conference for black music where the focus is on urban youth’. BRB is an all-embracing event for hip hop, R&B, soul, dubstep, reggae, dancehall and bass. Let’s just call it an international music showcase festival. The big line-up says more than enough
What type of people should visit Buma Rotterdam Beats?
BRB is interesting for anybody in the music industry and everybody with an interest in one or more of the many music genres we represent. It’s a central meeting point for friends, colleagues and potential new business partners to exchange knowledge and fresh ideas on a annual basis. BRB is also very interesting for new and up-and-coming artists, managers, organizers, producers and so on.
What can we expect at BRB?
Every year we provide a different program in which the latest developments in the urban music scene are highlighted. BRB is an explosion of information, a festival in which you can check out the most recent acts and follow great masterclasses for up-and-coming artists, manager etc. This year our focus is on reggae and it’s important influence on music nowadays. Shaggy is a guest of honor and also the very important reggae-producer Clevie Brown, not to mention the Godfather of the MPC; Roger Linn. Roger invented the world’s first drum machine and was asked by Akai to develop the MPC (originally MIDI Production Center, now Music Production Center). He’s giving a keynote plus a masterclass which you can access as a conference visitor.
What would you like to tell the (potential) visitors of BRB?
I hope that people will warm-heartedly embrace the festival and that they’ll see that i’s worth getting tickets for at an early stage. We’ve got a massive line-up in just one weekend, usually more than you can see in a whole year in Rotterdam! The program is very diverse, with a lot of undiscovered pearls like; from Syron (UK) and Monsieur Nov (FR) to headliners like 2 Chainz (US) and Hudson Mohawke (UK). Next to these guys there are a few club nights, going from reggae (Jamrock, 16 Nov, Corso) to gabber (Rotterdam Hardcore Beats, 17 Nov, Worm) to A-Trak in a very limited capacity venue (16 Nov, Livv Club). So versatile program-wise and I haven’t even talked about the conference!
' It was all a simple chain of events that lead to the first barbeque at Solar, the cozyness and deliciousness of barbecuing was kind of re-invented.'
How do you see the future of BRB?
Sunny! Still, a lot depends on this edition of BRB. Most important is the amount of visitors coming to the festival and their reactions. Like ADE, a festival needs about 7 or 8 years to grow up to status. If everything goes according to plan, Rotterdam may have a super rare event that 100.000+ people worldwide will possibly visit in the future.
Who are your personal heroes?
That’s a pretty tough question for me to answer. I don’t really have role-models, maybe because I learned a lot on my own. I do have big admiration for people who are passionate about what they do. I really respect that! My mom, my daughter and the people I love the most are my heroes. I’m also very proud of my friends in the hip hop scene who have grown to what they are now and are becoming leading figures in this scene and beyond. Big up!
In what way do you distinguish yourself from others?
By not thinking too much about myself, staying honest and keeping it real.
What kind of music do you play when you’re at home?
Oh wow, that’s really really various! The last few years I’ve hardly been listening to music at home, unless I’m cleaning or working. Mostly I listen to music when I’m at my office or on the road. I like almost every genre except jazz, classical music and dance like trance, techno etc… I’s just not my type of music. Some types of music give me the creeps. I usually shut it off immediately or else I’ll get pretty cranky. Momentarily it’s mainly hip hop, R&B, soul, bass, reggae and occasionally some rock. I’m always in search of new stuff, rhythm is everything to me.
Personally, what was the best party or festival you can remember?
Probably the very first after party of the Dance Parade at the Euromast, a lot of Chocolate and Knockout nights. Recently Jazzy Jeff and Lunice in De Nieuwe Oogst. Those were some killer parties! I’m glad that 2012 is turning out to be a good year for Rotterdam. Good stuff is coming up!
Of course you’re also still a DJ. Which record do you just have to keep playing?
I think it was side C of the Dutty Rock record and now the MP3 ‘Punkie’ by Sean Paul. There are a lot more but this one is one of my favorite dancefloor tunes over the last 10 years. Better keep your girl out of the dj booth because there will be some bumping and grinding involved!
You’re an organizer, DJ and you know your way around the block. What are the ingredients for a solid party?
It all starts with the flyer and the provoking story you want to tell, the audience you want to reach, the manner of promotion, how many and which DJ’s are going to spin and do the DJ’s compliment each other, do they understand the music and the crowd, the musical build-up, the all-over experience in the club and a good party host (too little of those) etc. etc.. When all this comes together and the crowd brings a good vibe the party will definitely be hot!
Next to this music thing you’re also a big BBQ-fanatic. How did this start?
I guess it all started by coincidence as I was cooking at a New Year’s Eve party by Missin’ Link. I wanted to give the artists some good food instead of the fast food they usually get in between gigs. About three years ago we were brainstorming for Solar Festival and I was like ‘isn’t it a cool idea to set up a killer barbeque for the artists backstage instead of only cooking in December?’ Solar immediately loved the idea! Word got out on the street fast and the homies over at Appelsap also asked me to do a barbeque too at their festival, and that’s the story of the rise of ‘BBQ Brouwn’. It was all a simple chain of events that lead to the first barbeque at Solar, the cozyness and deliciousness of barbecuing was kind of re-invented.