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Meet Merel Rhizoom — resident DJ at Garage Noord, Dekmantel regular and host of her own show on LYL Radio. Named after a songbird (merel is Dutch for blackbird), it’s kinda fitting she found her way into music. The second half of her name — Rhizome in English — hints at her methodical approach to music, as she often takes her listeners on trippy, conceptual journeys.

Exploring the meeting point of sound, science and art, for this mix she’s given us something to dance to. Make space in your living room, it’s getting groovy up in here.

Hi Merel, can you tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi there, I’m Merel. I would describe myself as a very curious person — I love exploration. At the moment, I’m interested in the meeting point of sound, science and art. These disciplines were separated for a long time and I think you can find a lot of interesting stuff at their convergence. 

What about the mix you’ve made? Give us a hint of what we can expect.

My initial idea was to play around with the concept of Muzak (background music that is played in shopping centres), but the need to dance is so big nowadays that I ended up making a groovy mix with lots of breaks and bass — topped up with some influences from digital minimalism.

How do you prepare for a mix like this?

The beautiful thing about this in comparison with a live performance is that you can take your time to find fitting sounds and make an interesting storyline. Normally I start with a concept in mind, which gives me a certain feeling and criteria for the direction I’m going in, then I will look for sounds that fit the concept and start building from there.

How has COVID-19 and the ongoing club lockdown affected you?

I think the whole nightlife scene has been really affected. Personally, I’m playing a lot less but I was lucky to have a few gigs this year. I don’t get bored easily and I’m good at being by myself, so I have taken this time to develop myself and work on other projects

What's something you miss from gig life that you didn't expect?

Good question, I had to think about this one. I guess I didn’t expect that I would miss the small talk — I’m a person who loves to dive deep. Nevertheless, with the heavy energy these days I’m longing to talk bullshit with strangers.

You've recently changed your stage name to Merel Rhizoom — why?

Well the least fancy reason is when you googled my former DJ name — Merel — you’d find pictures of birds. While the merel [Dutch for blackbird] is a beautiful bird, it wasn’t that convenient for bookings, etc. Besides that, the new name is also a stepping stone for future projects.

We thought the name might be a hint to A Thousand Plateaus — are you into philosophy?

Yes, I studied philosophy and I think this definitely defined my worldview. I came across this beautiful concept while I was reading A Thousand Plateaus. In short, the Rhizome represents a non-traditional way of defining the world around us — one that is based on the structure of the roots of a plant. It’s definitely worth reading about!

Ending on a lighter topic — what's one song that'll always get you dancing?

There are so many, I love to dance! Growing up in the south of Holland, I was heavily influenced by the radio station Intergalactic FM and therefore I’m a sucker for Italo Disco. I stumbled across one of my old records the other day — Pretty Face by STYLOO — definitely a guilty, but not so guilty pleasure…