Since opening its doors to the public for the first time in 2007, Woei has left its mark on the international sneaker and streetwear community with several collaborations including Asics, Patta, and Stüssy along the way.
But the interests and passions of the Woei crew reach far beyond just shoes and apparel. Besides providing the streets with the latest from Nike, Adidas, and Co., music has always been at the heart of the store. Considering the highly curated playlists and mixes that can be heard in the store, as well as hosting some of Rotterdam's most notorious parties, the belief that music unites is deeply ingrained in the Woei DNA.
Based on this deep connection, we want to shine a spotlight on some of our favourite local musicians to talk about what sparked their passion for music and hear their take on common dilemmas in the music industry.
For WOEI FM episode #13, we caught up with Osman Bas to hear about his first steps in the industry, change of name and his development of music taste.
Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Osman Bas and I am 32 years old. I was born and raised in the south side of Rotterdam, exactly where this interview is taking place right now. The southside is the best side on this whole planet. I grew up together with my two younger brothers, who are even more creative as I am. In total three boys, all born and raised in the south side!
I have Turkish roots since my parents are from Turkey. My father moved to the Netherlands when he was 17 and about ten years later, my mom moved to the Netherlands, and turned 18 when I was born.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
Monday starts off by taking a break from a busy weekend. The days begins around 10-11 am at the Operator Radio office. I am one of the co-owners of Operator radio, and my weekly work starts on Monday. I begin with uploading new stuff to the website and receiving further information from artists and DJ-s for the entries to our website.
I am the head of the program, but I also do some back-end work for our website. Any information that comes into Operator passes through me. That's always the case on Mondays, as all programs must be finished by the end of the day, for the whole week. This task is essential to be completed to run a radio station, and it usually takes half a day worth of work. Later, I reply to some emails, do some programming, and suddenly it's 18:00 o'clock already! The day goes by so fast.
On Tuesdays, I begin with some morning workouts and afterward going to the office again to recheck the program, network, and reply to emails. Wednesdays are reserved for Operator staff meetings, which take a lot of time and effort. Thursdays are often an easy day since I have time to prepare my radio show called Away with Music, as well as the regular program at Operator.
Friday, at last, is my most flexible day of the week. Mostly all my work is done by then, so I can fill in my Fridays as I wish; now this is sometimes too good to be true, of course, as my Fridays can be surprisingly crowded due of meetings.
When did you realize music was going to be a big part of your life?
It all started when I was around seven or six years old. My mom says “you used to get your pretty shirt and shoes on, walk around the house like Michael Jackson, and imitate his moves and sing” all from videos I watched on MTV. I still have some pictures so I'm pretty sure it started then.
It also goes back to my parents. My mother always used to listen to music everywhere she went. My dad used to have his cassette tapes in the car, mostly Turkish music. Afterwards, when I was a little bit older and my parents were both working, they left me home alone listening to MTV all day long. MTV back then did not include stupid shows like now, but it was only music the whole day, so that is how I spent my days!
" I think doing that developed a taste for music in my consciousness.
It doesn't mean I had a good taste myself, but listening to music made me absorb it like a sponge,
and it shows till this day."
How are you currently involved in the music industry?
I used to go clubbing when I was 16 years old. Of course, I wasn't allowed to go, but I still went because I wouldn't listen to my parents. There was a party called Now & Wow, and I wanted to go. I used to shop at a sneaker shop called Lijfstijl, the Woei of back then. Jeff Solo, my current coworker, shout to Jeff Solo, used to work there with many more big names. Them and the shop had a huge influence on who I am today.
I was there every day. I got to know these guys on a personal level, and all of these people used to go to those great parties as well: the guys were a bit older than me, but that did not stop me from spending time with them and getting myself into that group of people. I used to look up to these guys, primarily because they were already involved in the party scene. I looked like a kid in a candy store. When I finally made my way in and started going to Now & Wow parties, I saw the most bizarre things ever! Like naked people and other different things. Imagine you enter your first club, and you see camels walking there!! It was crazy.
Now Wow started at Mullerpier, but it changed location to Maassilo, which was where I went. Maassilo was still a very nerve-wracking experience, as I wasn't sure if I would be let in or not: but for my luck, I knew a security guy, Tjimme and Fred van Leer, and they knew me, so they could pass you by, which worked well in my favor for getting in. That club had perfect nights, and absorbing and consuming music that time was different as it is now.
Nowadays people can listen to music every day, and everywhere they go. But back then, the DJs were the ones that decided what you were going to hear. You couldn't listen to it at home or on your phone, so the main attraction I had to clubs was this right here, the music. Clubs were the place where you could absorb it. At this time, you had crafted DJs. It was insane.
One day at Lijfstijl; Alain came to me and told me "You're so into music every time you should drop by more often. Maybe you could play a record? Don't you want to DJ sometimes? What are your feelings about that?" This got me thinking.
DJ Civil, a good DJ from that time, pushed me during a hang out at his place into this small room where he had his decks. He gave me a Marvin Gaye and Aaliyah record and told me these are the records; here's the kick, mix it. When I am back, I will check if you can mix well or not! I couldn't do shit, I tried, but I couldn't do it. After half an hour, he came back, showed me how to do it, and gave me another chance to try. That is how I learned to play vinyl. That's also how my vinyl collection started, and slowly after that, I started doing club nights.
My first club night was called Analog, a vinyl-only party. It started at Beat Burger at the Meent, now known as Thoms. It was a pop-up place, with burgers and a small area for gatherings and parties.
It was a wonderful place, so I contacted one of the people working there because I wanted to celebrate my birthday there. They wouldn't let me do it unless I had a cool concept for it, and I quickly came up with one, Nevill Mitchell helped me out with it. That is how we started Analog. At that time, I didn't realize it would have such a huge impact on everybody there. People still ask me when I will do Analog again, and it all started over ten years ago.
What was the most absurd or challenging gig during your career? What made it so crazy?
Following the story of Analog, about 7-8 years ago, Ted and Jeff asked me to play at Now Wow, which was a huge milestone for me. It´s the first club I went to discovered the world. It was challenging for me, partly due to being overwhelmed and being entirely new to the scene. It was also one of the most important gigs for me. I messed up because, at that point, I wasn't that good. I had an idea that I executed poorly, but it didn't go down as well as I expected. The scariest part was that the crowd was full of DJs, and everybody was listening and paying close attention to what I was doing. It went overall okay, but not as good as I had hoped. I had a good conversation with Jeff afterward, and I learned a lot from it.
Digital or Vinyl?
How do you select your music for upcoming events or mixes?
Good question! I have to get inspired by something to run a radio show. For me, it's mostly music, movies, food, and conversations with people. Every once in a while, I pick some things from my inspirations and make them into something. If I watch a movie with a good soundtrack or even just one song, I take that inspiration and work from there. I use this as a canvas. This approach also helps me do more conceptual things during my shows like talk about subjects, create a soundtrack special, sci-fi special, old-school funk special, or even anything.
However, when we talk about preparations for a party, the key is to let people dance. The hardest thing for a DJ is to open up a set and make people dance. If you do that successfully, you know how to DJ. At the start, I struggled a lot to choose between playing what people want versus playing what I want and mixing that. This is always a hard thing to learn as a DJ. You might want to play hits and see people dance, but you might also want to play your stuff. The attention of people dancing is addictive. You must manage that and learn it.
The most important thing if you ask me is whether you play hits or play the rarest 12ich stuff nobody has. I would say that l like to see people dance. Always keep this in mind. If you can open a club night with no people in it, with only people coming in and setting a vibe, and then deliver the set to the following DJ; if you can do this right, then you're halfway set with your career.
Tell us about your name switch?
Yes, people might also know me as DJ. Mr Nice Guy that plays more eclectic music.
The reason I left Mr. Nice Guy behind me was that I felt outgrown from it. It didn't feel like me anymore. I simply grew out of it. I struggled with the thought of doing something else, maybe dropping the name or whatever. In the end, I am keeping the name but using it at a point where I will do something with it when I feel like it. Right now, I am going back to the core, where it all started, back to playing my own shit. I further developed my skills and my thoughts on music, and I am also teaching other people about music. It's my time to do what I want. I choose to be Osman Bas, as this is who I am.
Club nights or Festivals?
If you could play at one club, which one would that be?
At this point, any club, as there is not even one open right now. I miss it a lot, and I think anybody would want to play at a club right now. It's hard to pick one, though, as each club has something special to it, its own thing.
If I had tp pick one right now, I want to play at Paradiso. It has its own magic. I still remember the first time I played there, and I have an emotional bond with that place. I mean, come on, Prince has been there, The Rolling Stones, and I have shared the same stage, which is insane.
Do you have a current favourite song that you would like to share with the readers?
Keith Sweat and Jacci: McGhee Make it Last Forever from 1987, a sample that I know from a Mariah Carey song with Nas. Thank God I Found You is the name of the song. This song has a lot of funk and love in it. It's incredible. I listen to a lot of music daily, I have weekly soundtracks, and after that, I change it up and switch moods, and this is the mood I am in right now!
Opening set or Closing set?
Opening for sure.