Expat Artist: Vera Kertesz on being a musician and DJ in the Netherlands
Expat artist Vera Kertesz urges you to be brave! Believe in what you do and just do it. Search for the good things in yourself and challenge the difficulties.
Name: Vera Kertesz / Dj RachEL
Nationality: Austrian, born Hungarian
Country of residence: The Netherlands
Reason for moving to the Netherlands:
I am a so-called Third Culture Kid. So living abroad is quite a normal thing for me now. The first time I visited Amsterdam was in 1995. I didn't like it. Two years later, I travelled up and down the Netherlands, and fell in love with the city of Amsterdam. This time I had long term friendships here -- such as people I met on tour -- and because of my relationships I decided to move here.
Which medium(s) do you work in?
I work first of all in the field of music, as a DJ, and also playing in different projects.
How has living abroad influenced your work as an artist?
It has definitely added to it. Moving abroad is leaving your comfort zone, which means you have to work harder to achieve anything. On the other hand, it is a really good lesson for networking. It widens your horizons -- many influences cross your path.
For me, living abroad created opportunities to work in new genres, with different media, and also to evolve musically and artistically. It presents a lot of challenges but that means growing, which is always a positive thing. It stops you from standing still, which is the end of creativity for an artist. It forces you to be on the move, to look outward more, and to leave stiff conceptual ideas behind. For me it also meant meeting Budapest Delight and to become a part of it. It is fantastic.
Vera at the Magneet Festival with Budapest Delight
Diversity, joy and facing challenges. I love to leave the so-called 'comfort zone', mix styles and experiment with the unusual.
Be brave! Believe in what you do and just do it. If you really love it and enjoy it -- people will go along with you. I wish to return to people a piece of confidence in themselves. The current culture we live in is based on critisism, doing better, faster, harder -- and there is no limit. Excuse me but that is bollocks. You can only grow when you build on positivity. We learn based on negativity at school, at work, etc. Search for the good things in yourself and challenge the difficulties. That is clearly my message to everyone out there.
Which famous local artists inspire you?
Tricky question. My inspiration comes from the artists of the 80s. Before you call me old fashioned, check out Gudrun Gut´s current work, as one example. My other great inspiration is definitely not local: Peaches. Sorry, I can not name a current famous Amsterdam-based artist I would call an inspiration.
Which up and coming local artists do you find worth mentioning?
Now we are talking. Amsterdam has an awful lot to offer. I can recommend Budapest Delight and Comport Records with their artist line up. There is, of course, LIttle Elf records. There are so many potentially great artists in this town, who are good at what they are doing. I could start a list and it would be very, very long. My advice is to go out and dive into the night life! Amsterdam has so much to offer and to discover. There is certainly no lack of talent in this town.
How easy or difficult is it to mix with the local artistic community?
Absolutely not difficult. There are loads of opportunities and possibilities: open stages every day, places where one can try out his or her skills. There are organised groups for everything: open sessions and open mike nights, contests, and more. No matter what kind of artist you are -- musician, poet, comedian or DJ -- it's very easy to dive into the artistic community here.
Can you offer some advice to others wishing to break into the local art scene?
Go out and spread your art. Get on open stages, talk to people. Join projects and don't be afraid to take initiative. Ask everyone and tell everyone about what you do, don't be shy to ask about bookings. Offer cooperation when you have the possibility. It's really not different here than any other place, except that Amsterdam is definitely more open for it. If you start to talk to someone who is performing at an event -- you won't get odd looks, but interest. At least that is my experience. Always be professional.
What kind of financial support is available for artists working in the Netherlands?
First of all, there is the Fonds voor de Kunst, an organisation that helps artists realise projects and gives financial support. There are several cultural organisations who can help, as well as foundations. Which organisation you approach also depends on the genre and kind of the project. A bit of a research is required every time, but there are possibilities. Of course with the current economic situation, it is more difficult to get support. But it is not impossible.
How would you describe the local art scene?
Vivid, diverse, colourful -- open for new things. There is a place for (almost) everything.
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