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 and 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 favorite local musicians to talk about what sparked their passion for music and hear their take on common dilemmas in the music industry.  

 For episode #40 of WOEI FM, we met with Ofra to talk music discovery, her growth in the DJ scene, and how it has been starting a new record label.


Can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Ofra Beenen, I have been living in Rotterdam for 20 years. Born and raised in Dordrecht, but everything really started here. My career started by organizing small events here and there. I started DJing myself about 15 years ago.

When did you first come in contact with music and DJing in general?

I think it already started in my school days. I have always been collecting and listening to music, and was addicted to MTV. Always recording music from the radio. Back then you had the top 40 with Erik de Zwart, and I'd often record the show to make my own mixtapes. Anything that was wave came by, but lots of euro-dance music later on!

I started out going to lots of band gigs, the electronic interest formed later. I discovered at Lowlands, for example, that the live scene and electronic scene were merging somehow. There was a period when the Electroclash movement really came to life, like Tiga and Miss Kittin. But there were also more acts like The Prodigy and Massive Attack!

I have always had the urge to share music very much, usually to the point of annoyance! At birthdays and house parties, people have always asked at some point: “Ofra, can’t you make a playlist?” So DJing actually grew organically from the music scene I was in and worked at the time.

Besides DJing, whats your day to day life like?

I have been active as a programmer and DJ for a long time. But besides that, I teach three days a week and have recently started my own label called Yarrow Ballet.

When I teach, I don't do it all day. I'm not very good at separating and planning tasks for myself. But when I'm with my students, I focus entirely on them. Aside from the 'normal' jobs, I do work for my label and listen to a lot of newly released music.

I always start the day listening to (new) music and answering emails. Lately, I've been busy setting up the next V/A (Various Artists) compilation for my label. I'm also working on curating some evenings like label nights and collaborations with, for example, the Listening Club. You can always find me preparing for my upcoming gigs as well!

Thanks a lot for inviting us to your home! Can you tell us a bit about your

record/CD collection?

I already collected a lot of CDs around the age of 10. I still have an entire filled up moving box upstairs... I also took over a lot of CDs from my parents.

When I was around 16/17, I started diving more into vinyl. It started with a lot of small band records, but later added a lot of electronic music. This led me to discover more sounds like italo, Chicago house, and of course, new beat!

What do you usually look for when buying or listening to a record?

I've discovered so many cool things over the years. You can also see this in my collection. It's all so different, but like my DJ sets, it can sometimes be gloomy but with a glimmer of hope, a kind of melancholy. I really love wave music, that can be minimal Wave but also old-fashioned Duran Duran, or naturally, The Human League. It's always in a specific corner. Not only because it's often 80s/90s based or influenced!

After setting up and programming Operator Radio for a few years, when did

you start to choose your own path again and start your own label?

I've had a really great time at Operator. I was able to get everything out of it that I could. They still feel like family to me, and the whole community we've built around it is so beautiful! I am still very closely involved, like advising here and there and of course my radio show!

Because I was doing so much during my time there, like programming for certain venues and also for Operator, I still missed a certain challenge for myself. That's why I decided to start a label in my last year there.

Would you call your label niche when it comes to the sound it represents? Or

would you say it's something that has always been there for people to witness?

I just wanted to return to my own little world. Besides the platform that we built at Operator, I wanted to create something for artists to release their music. But also mainly for artists/music that I stand behind!

Many friends I have met over the years also have their own labels, so they have all been my main pillar of support. Mainly Ruben from BAKK and Rubber have taught me a lot, how it all works and what to pay attention to.

"Setting up a label is not just another task. The whole functioning and aesthetics of it must have a strong foundation!"

When was your first DJ gig?

I really started DJing when Jeff Solo discovered me and asked if I wanted to DJ for Don, which was a party in Vibes. I used to spin under the name DJ 155! But many people will know that I used to be in a DJ duo called Hollywood & Vine, together with Elke Verschoor. We were known (mainly in the male-dominated Rotterdam scene) as the female DJs who's sounds nudged more towards italo and Chicago at the time. We also played at ADE, for example, but also several times abroad! Later, we were asked by David Vunk to play at one of his nights in the Noordsingel prison in Rotterdam.

So the ball quickly started rolling, and we soon came into contact with other big names from the scene! I noticed that in the underground scene, it was quite rare that two women were playing this kind of music for everyone, so we really had to prove ourselves against the big names in the scene.

When you were prepping for these kind of gigs, what were you looking specifically?

At the time I was very much searching for all kinds of genres in the electronic scene. I can remember a time when I was very into space and cosmic disco (because of IFM (CBStop100), but also leaned towards the Larry Heard side, in terms of house music. Nowadays, it's naturally a bit darker (with that earlier-mentioned touch of hope) and there are just certain types of tracks that must move me. That's why I also really like new beat because it has a certain tone and rhythm!

Vinyl or Digital?

Club usually digital, but on the radio mainly vinyl!

Is there something the readers should look forward to?

Like I mentioned before, I'm working on the new V/A for my label. There are some label nights coming up here and there, and I will be in Panorama Bar, with Intergalactic Gary, Slick Chick, I-F and Esther Duijn, for Intergalactic FM in October!

What can we expect from the Operator set?

A New Beat special set!

Open set or Closing set?

Closing! Mainly because I really enjoy ending with a ballad or a classic. Just one classic track or an old punk track. Sometimes I'll look forward to this exact moment for the entire set. A true euphoric moment!

Top memory of you playing somewhere or experiencing

something at a club/festival?

Definitely at Grauzone festival when Boy Harsher was playing! Being at IFM festival every years feels like being a kid in a candy store, so much good music and artists!

And as a special mention: The Prodigy, 2007, in the Heineken Music Hall!

Any last words to the readers?

No matter what you do, always follow your intuition. That gut feeling that tells you not to do something? Don't be afraid to listen to it.

Can't get enough of WOEI FM? Check out WOEI FM #39 with Rotational!