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Awanto 3

If you think know Awanto3, you barely know half the story.

A one-man artistic whirlwind compelled to act on a constant stream of contrasting ideas, Belgian-born Amsterdam resident Steven de Peven is a hard man to pin down.

Both musically and literally, in fact: today, he may be performing interactive theatre, sneakily putting up guerilla street art, designing a range of laugh-out-loud t-shirts, joining the dots between house, techno and African rhythms in one of his distinctive DJ sets, or tapping out a thrilling jazz-juke-cumbia hybrid on his cherished MPC2000. Then again, he may be doing none of these things: de Peven has packed more into his 39 years on Earth than most people manage in a lifetime.

De Peven’s outlook is simple: he makes his own pranks and fantasies into reality and shares them with people. His approach to life is refreshing: be creative, collaborate with others and share the results with the world. Oh, and have a laugh in the process.

To date, he’s found a myriad of ways to share his creative exploits with the World. As a youngster, it was through break-dancing, DJing and graffiti art. Then it was through acting, though he quit drama school and later spent time “immersing himself in characters” as part of the Pips:Lab collective, an acclaimed experimental interactive theatre troupe based in Amsterdam. Then there was Klakson, the vibrant electro label he founded with school friend Dexter and pal Steffi, and Rednose Distrikt, the eccentric Amsterdam collective whose impossible-to-pigeonhole soulful fusions inspired a whole new generation of Dutch producers.

Since then, de Peven has continued to pull in different directions, searching for new ways to make his vivid fantasies come to life. There was the occasional Alfabet series with Tom Trago, and musical collaborations with half of the musicians, DJs and producers in Amsterdam. And that was just last week.

Right now, he’s concentrating on Awanto3 – or at least concentrating as much as a man can do when his brain is coming up with a million ideas a minute. His first solo album Opel Mantra – produced with the assistance of some of Amsterdam’s best musicians – recently appeared on Rush Hour. A kaleidoscopic set shot through with “future voodoo”, it’s already wowed critics.

As for what could come next, it’s best not to make any predictions. De Peven has spent the last 20 years doing the exact opposite of what most would expect. That can be heard in his DJ sets and his musical productions, and seen in his visual exploits – both on stage and out on the streets. Given that we’ve learned to expect the unexpected, that probably means he’ll do exactly what we expect.

Confused? We are, but that’s all part and parcel of dealing with the unique personality that is Steven de Peven. It’s best not to ask questions – just strap yourself

My Bands Sessions

Thursday, March 19