My Job As: Artist / Label Manager (with Wendy Keizer)

Wendy, I introduced you shortly. But can you tell us more about yourself? Yes. Well, i'm Wendy. Yes, Wendy. Like you mentioned. I have 5 companies. Way too many. Just kidding. I'm ambitious, as you could tell already. So what do I do? It's hard to explain. To be honest, I'm very nervous. Can I say that?
-Of course. -Trust me, I'm still nervous everytime. This is really not my thing.

It's so bad I laid awake all night. It's fine but.. -That's why you prefer working behind the scenes.
-Exactly. This confirms I'm at my best behind the scenes.
-Absolutely. But I do think it's cool to share with people what I do. So, that's that. Maybe sharing this helps calming my nerves. Who am I? Wendy. 33 years old. Many people in this scene call me mama Wendy. I'm a motherly type. I'm always caring for others. I help everyone. So that nickname suits me. I'm an artist manager, label manager. I currently have 3 labels. Upcoming, APEX and Spoontech records. For 2 months now (Spoontech) That's completely new for me.

So, I have to get used to it. But I do enjoy it a lot. That's about it. Let's start with that. You started with Upcoming Records. How did you get into the Hardstyle scene? When did you think 'I'm going to start a label'? First I was in DJ management. That was the starting point of everything else. First, I worked in the hospitality industry as a manager. I had my own 'La Place' for 5 years.
-Nice. I had my own team and had the freedom to hire and so on. I dated an artist for 10 years. Through him I followed the whole process. From the start… Producing in the bedroom to signing a contract. Then DJing abroad, Defqon, Decibel and so on. I always tagged along and did a lot with and for him.

Then we broke up and remained friends. Then I missed it. It became my passion. Before I met him I went to parties already. I was just 14 when I went to Mysteryland I was 16, that was at Daydream. I was so young. So many things to see. Half naked people there.. – When you're just 14. I was like whoa. I always did Hardstyle with friends. They'd make mixtapes, perform at places. Then I did those things with my ex. I missed it and asked myself how can I keep on doing this? Then I met this guy. He had awesome ideas about an event.

He wanted to host an event but he couldn't do it by himself. He knew I was good at managing and had connections. He asked me for help and I agreed to do it. Things went faster than I thought. Craft festival would've been in Alkmaar. Then was canceled. We had to host a new event in 2 weeks. In two weeks. It was crazy. I learned a lot and I enjoyed doing it. I said I'd do it on one condition: I want the talent stage. I knew so many guys who also deserved a chance on stage. That's how it started. I invited people for the talent stage. But I also asked established artists if they knew newbies who deserved a chance.

That's when I met my first artist. Restless. He was previously called New Hard Awesome name. I looked at him and thought 'Why has no one heard of you yet?' You deserve to make it big. Back then I had a lot of free time. So I suggested to try out something. Then we started working together. New name, new logo, press photos.. merchandise, new branding. That turned into more and fast. People approached me and wanted the same thing. That's how I got into this work. After 6 months I started my own business. I realized I'll get more customers and that I want to make a living out of this. At that time I was on social benefits. So I had that to fall back on. That's how I started. My other business was in events, where we met. -Right. I quit, because organizing events is just a lot of work -That's what I used to do. -I totally get you. It's a lot of fun. You really need to have a lot of people around you with the right skills and budget.

We did it a couple of times. But we were able to offer a stage for newbies. My own talents and new talents. That's when we came to the point of wanting to release music. Then we looked for labels. Finding the right label is very difficult. You can send tons of demos. Some labels never reply. Or some never explain why they reject you. I wanted to change that. Thus Upcoming records was born. -There was a demand for it.
Yes. It wasn't easy though. Some people think you can just start a record label.

Trust me, don't do it.
-I'll remember that. I'm a huge perfectionist. I need to comb through every detail. Then after about a year and a half, I started my own label. With a lot of struggles at the start. We exist for 2 years now. Our own artists moved to APEX. It's crazy but we are already fully booked out till next year March. Weekly.
-Nice. So despite it being closed, through others, we get a lot of new artists. Despite the demo email being closed. I get a lot of new guys through referals. We work with single release contracts. If someone has a cool HQ track and good social media reputation. We go for it and sign them. What are some other things you look at? You mentioned socials, quality.. We don't require someone to have thousands of followers but they should be active. For example, we released a track of someone with 30 followers. As long as they're active and really busy with their music. As long as they want to grow. That's what we stand for. You make the first step with us. This guy released his first track with us.

Then his second track.. Now he's with Heart for Hard. That's really awesome. Those are fun moments. That's the idea behind Upcoming Records. I just keep yapping. -No problem. Less work for me. -Then APEX was the next step. That's something we as team thought of. Upcoming Records, very chill. I initially released their tracks at multiple label and told them to get a feel for every label Also good for reach. There's 1 popular label everyone wants to sign up with. And that's End of Line. Logically you can't get with them easily. -That's a good thing.
Yes, absolutely. I'm glad we have a Rookie EP that gives them a chance. There weren't many places that made the boys feel like this could be their foundation. Can't we start something by ourselves? -Of course.
Here we go again. -And you couldn't say no.
Absolutely not. Never miss out on an opportunity. We started discussing this idea. We do have a great team in place.

Business wise it would be stupid to 'give' them away to other people. The thing about APEX is.. They support each other, they are helpful.. It turned into a group of friends. -They known each other through the management. Then, last year's Decibel.. Some mentioned they're not comfortable with the name Upcoming anymore Which is understandable. We dicussed and planned this for months We printed this logo everywhere. Posters, stickers, bags.. -Stickers are ideal.
Yes, stickers are the bomb. Even at Gelredome, we had posters everywhere. We promoted a lot. Then 10 March we went online. And since then… Things have been going pretty well. They have full musical freedom. That's important to me. Not every label has that, they want things in their style. Because of that the guys really do their own thing. So that's APEX. -Next's Spoontech. That's only been about 2 months.

How did you get into that then? Did you just think let's add another label? It wasn't my intention. I wasn't like 'I really want to do that!' It really just happened. When an opportunity arises, I never let it pass by. I knew the guys pretty well. We've worked together before. There was an opportunity and I took it. Truth be told, due to Corona there's less bookings. It wasn't like I had tons of free time. Due to Corona I can say yes to this. -You created a new opportunity at that point.
Absolutely. So the cool thing is.. There are 3 labels: upcoming records.. That's where we get talents from. If they're into Spoontech style, that's ok. We train them, help them grow, teach them things. When you're ready for it, you go ahead. It's the same with APEX. It's really awesome because Spoontech has its own sound. We can really spend time on training people. So they're ready for the real thing.

-What are your plans for Spoontech? Everything's pretty new for me still. It all happened abruptly. It's not something I had time to think about for months. So, for now, just calm down. Start with structure first. Introduce my way of working to the company. With Spoontech we have a management team. We have two guys behind the scenes. They do a lot of stuff. Basically what I do is lead them, guide them, I can do all the extra stuff. For now we're slowly building it up. For next year we have a lot of fun stuff in mind.

-Now you have more time to do these things. Obviously, Corona has bad sides but it gives you more time. To build up new things. Is that how you feel also? From my experience in the scene… It can be a negative thing to some. But there are also people who handle it positively. I get the impression you are one of them. -My proverb is 'Everything happens for a reason.' The guys are like "Ugh Wendy are you saying that again" yes, yes I am. It's literally and figuratively my proverb. It's tattooed on my back. I always think in positive outcomes and opportunities. I'm happy with Spoontech. I would've never said yes to that during a busy period. I would have overworked myself. I saw it as an opportunity. Of course I don't like the current situation. Did it affect us? Absolutely. I try to look at it in a positive way.

That's how you get opportunities. Is it easy for you to be positive or is it something you need to push yourself to do? It's something that I don't even have to think about doing. -It helps with your position as manager.
Yes, I think so too. I remember telling myself.. "If Defqon gets canceled, I'm going to bawl my eyes out." At some point it was 'this got canceled, that got canceled' that hurt. But you know what, in the end it gets rescheduled. We can learn something new out of it. But honestly… The concept of APEX is strong. The team is strong. I think Corona helped us in a way. When we went online, everyone was at home. I was on social media. -I did the zoom interview.
Yes, exactly. So everyone was at home.

They'd usually be at work or busy. They wouldn't have the time.
-I would be busy too. -It would be festival season then. We talked about your positivity. What's been the highlight of everything? That's many.
-Well, go right ahead. There has been one recently actually. It's one of those experiences that brought me with both feet on the ground. I'm a 'go go go' type of person. I want to be more aware of things happening. But I'm so focused on that flow that I miss out on many things. So this is one of the moments that made go like.. This week I got a message.. From a guy who followed us from the start. A guy from the French part of Belgium. His girlfriend recently got a Cryex tattoo. To me, that was a lot to take in.

I know she's a big fan of him So that's really cool. And he got an APEX tattoo. -Yeah I saw that on Facebook! I was like "Whoa!" That's crazy, but it's awesome. I'm very grateful for that. Then he sent another photo. He got an Upcoming tattoo as well. I was like wow what'd you do?! I was completely shocked. He said "I have followed you guys for so long." "You're a part of my life now." "And you have been as well." When I read that, I started crying. It showed that you can really mean something to people. -That's not something you're always aware of.
Yes. It's not something that's on your mind. That's definitely one highlight. It really got to me. That was so intense. But really cool. That was a recent highlight. Last year's highlight..

A weekend away to Finland with our team That really was awesome. I was nervous at first. I met a guy at a boat party. He was like "Let's do a party with the whole team." Then you wonder if it will really happen. -Yes that too. Then it really happened. It was amazing. We went by plane. Without one of the artists, cause he was going to be a dad soon. But, that's worth it! We got there and his idea was to rent a villa. I was like, we'll see.

He really did get us a villa. Three story with a sauna. Bubble bath, everything, and more. It was a lot of fun. There's teambuilding. We got to DJ there on awesome stage. It was a highlight for me but for the guys as well. -I bet. Then this year's lineup for Defqon.. -For next year. It got canceled obviously. But that's alright. Better luck next time. Defqon is special to me. It would've been the 14th Defqon for me.

On my 14th time, I would've had not 1 but 5 of my own artists there. That was 'goals'. But its okay. But honestly, I cried, a lot.
-I understand. Next year, it will be my 15th time with the guys.
-Exactly. This time with Spoontech as well. So not just the APEX guys but also the Spoontech guys. So that's just really cool. But I'm sure you had some lows too.
-Yes. So what're some of the lows you had and what have you learned? Cause I assume you also got a lesson out of them.

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Some lows you couldn't do anything about. But maybe with others you realize you could've handled it differently.
-Absolutely. I didn't have any dramatic lows. The thing with most starting a business, it's the finances. At the start that was hard and with Corona even more. But I'm also aware I made this decision. There are some things I can't do. Eventually it'll get better. Then I can do all those things I couldn't do before. So that's a low. And one of the lows is Corona. Despite me being positive.. This should've just been our year. -I hear that from many people that this should've been their year. I would've traveled abroad 4 times this year. I never flown so many times in one year. Stuff like that. But it happens. It allows for other oportunities. If i ever made any huge mistakes? No, not really. I do think mistakes are to be learned from.

To be able to grow. Maybe one mistake I made… Is that I was too eager. I jumped on people and I regret it. But I'm aware of looking at it and realizing that wasn't tactful. I'll do it different next time. Then I improve and it's over with. I didn't make any huge mistakes.
-Don't jinx it. There's a table here. As we already know, you do a lot of things. What does a week look like for you? I can't imagine what that looks like. How do you do everything in just 1 week? As a manager how do you manage everything? If you ask me directly, what I do exactly in a week. I find that hard to explain. Most of the week I'm busy organizing. That's my job.
-Manager, to manage things. Organizing, chasing people to get things done, That kinda stuff, but I like it. What does my week look like? I work 6 days a week. I really try to have Sunday as my day off. The guys know that's my day off.

They know they can text but that I might not reply quickly. Or the next day. It's mornings, evenings and nights. In the weekends I'm busy with events. Then you're on the road, which I like. I'm always up really early, not cause of my alarm. My internal alarm goes off really early.
-I'm the complete opposite. I like it though. I think I only need 6 hours of sleep.

I go to bed around 12 at night and wake up at 6. Then I'm switched on. I go downstairs, turn on my laptop. Then I get to work. I use a to-do app. Tasks with artists' name and their labels. -For the techie, which app do you use? Asana. It's a great app. I taught myself to use it. Back then – you can see it over there – I used to have many notebooks. So old fashioned, notebooks.
-I love writing things down. `It's mostly 'this' crossing off tasks. It gives this peace within. I learned to use this app cause of someone else. It's great and it helps a lot. We have a new intern that I work with. She can also go into Asana and look at what needs to get done.

With the management of Spoon(tech) we also have a list. She knows what to do. Then I know 'alright' that got done.' Communication online is more efficient. What else? I have tons of meetings with artists. Due to Corona, most of them are online. Before, I'd go visit them a few times a week. So now everything's online. For the releases, I have a lot of contact with artists. I'm busy with their artwork, videos. I do the distribution for their releases. For management, I handle copyright, think about the next steps in our business. Not just now but over 6 months as well. That kinda stuff. Yes, tricky. I never know what to say. It's just a lot and I can't name them one by one. -It's cause you do a lot at the same time. -You'd be busy with one thing and then something else pops up.

That's the thing. I could be thinking today I do stuff for Upcoming records. That's just not how it works. I could be working on Upcoming records for an hour. Then I get a message from so and so. That's the benefit of being up early, it's quiet. In the first few hours, I do stuff like bookkeeping… Or fill in important documents that need my full attention. In the early morning. No texts, silence, and then everyone's awake. And then they keep on coming. Questions from the guys.. Questions from other people.. Manage videos with our video guy. Arranging artwork and design with our artwork guy. Keeping in touch with the new intern. With that I'm busy for the day. Then I'm thinking my tasks are getting done today. And then theres a whole list of new stuff to do.

-But you look happy while saying it. I think it makes you happy. Yes, I'm a big workaholic. -Yes that helps.
I just wake up in the morning. And. I think 'Yes! Time for work!' How cool is that? -Because you have a job that makes you happy. it really is my passion. First, it's in the music genre I love. I can work with young guys and really train and manage them. Together, you're on the same journey.

And an artist grows from there. And you see an artist do cool stuff. That's awesome. Its cool to go through that process together. For the ones watching this And thinking 'This could be something for me' Young girls for example that want to work in this scene. What would your advice be? Be yourself, thats important. Follow your heart, important as well. Don't get intimidated. When I first started with Upcoming DJ management. I wasn't taken seriously. I was made fun of. Another one of those chicks who think they can do something. It wasn't until now 3 years later, that I finally got more respect from people.

In general, it's different for women in this scene. In my opinion, gender shouldn't matter. I'm able to have that mama role for the guys. Keep on going even when things get hard. Don't give up. Be yourself. Follow your gut. I had more stuff to add.. Keep on learning. Be eager to learn. Ask people for help. Don't think you're on your own. I did everything on my own at the start. Cause I thought no one could help me.

Now people ask me how I do things. It makes me wish I had someone like that. You mentioned you don't think there should be a difference when it comes to gender. Do you think that contributed to you not being taken seriously in the male dominated scene? I've been specifically trying to interview more women. I noticed that 90% of my channel are men. Do you have an opinion on that? It's not something I spend time thinking on.

I worked as a manager in the hospitality industry. Before that, I was a chef. That's also a men-dominated industry. I think I got used to it. So no, not necessarily. But there are some people… I was always the girlfriend of That's how people knew me. I always tagged along. Now I'm just Wendy. It took me almost 2 years to get used to the fact I'm wendy and not the girlfriend of He was my ex for a year and a half already. So that did happen. But it isn't something that had an effect on me directly. I think it's badass to have women in this scene too. It doesn't have to be just men.
-Yes, I agree. That's the reason I'm here. Besides you doing great at your job. Let's say we're here again over 5 years. What would you tell me? Where will you be at in life? What will you be doing? I'd still be like 'beep beep beep' Cause that's just my personality.

I hope the team will be bigger than the one I have now. I network a lot with people around me. What I like.. My whole concept is based on helping new talents grow. Not just with artists,but behind the scenes as well. So with our designer, who also does the designs for APEX. Our designer was 19 when he started with us. He made flyers for the first 2 events. He did a lot for Upcoming Records, made templates.. For APEX we also have designs. We still work together.

That's what I like personally. Seeing other people grow. I can see his growth. I think that's awesome. We're networking with people around us. Now we have a guy who does the social media for Upcoming Records. Full-time. Step by step I'm teaching him. He came to me first asking to learn new stuff. He really enjoys it.
-Nice. He learns more and I want him to grow with us. Same with APEX. Our video guy who has been with us from the start. He sees the way we work and he grows with us. One day I hope to have a team with more managers managing the guys. Have multiple video guys, designers, video editors, and whatever else. I just really hope to have a whole team. That would be amazing. That's the goal. A big office with a studio attached to it. Ideally, a building with a studio for every artist. Then in between, they can have lunch together or talk about their music. Then go back to your studio. That's ideal. But we'll see. -Babysteps first.
Yeah. I always aim for big goals. I hope I'll still be able to say I have 5 businesses over 5 year and not 10.

-There's a limit. Five was already too much. Anyways, it worked out fine. But 5 really is enough for me now. We'll see. I just hope we'll have a big team and have a good base together. -That'd be great. For the boys too.
Absolutely. Finally, I'd like to ask… You have been in the scene for a while and worked with many guys. Do you have any funny stories for us? Like that was really funny. There's many funny stories.
– I bet.

For me personally, what I found really funny. He's going to hate me for telling you this. I just need to tell you. He was with Cryex and went to their first big booking. At Decibel. He won the contest. So we were on our way there. I was nervous but couldn't show him that. He was nervous himself already. I told him I brought everything, even markers. He said "Markers? Why?" and I said maybe you'll give autographs. "Jesus, do you really think I will?" And I just went like ok, we'll see. That night he gave out at least 20 autographs. Now I make sure to always, always bring a marker. That was a funny story to me. I have another funny one. We were at camp this year. Got a rental house, this was at the start of APEX. They made APEX Combining Forces There's this thing we have in our team. You know about it by now, ice.

Smirnoff ice. So we took about 6 to 8 bottles with us. We have this inside thing. You hide a bottle somewhere and when you find it you have to drink it. There were bottles everywhere. In bed, in front of your bedroom door. Everywhere. We had that with a booking in Groningen. My first time with ice. It was in the afternoon and we rented a house. I still had to drive back home. Then I had 2 of those bottles. And I had to drink them. I went to the booking tipsy. I never do that. Everyone knows me as 'wine'dy. I like wine. But I'm also aware that i'm at work. So i want to stay professional. You won't see me drunk.

But then I got there feeling all jolly. That was intense. Ice is a thing with us. -It's fun to have something like that though. That's a standard thing with us now. Now the guys.. Vasto, one of the guys from Resurrectz, MC Synergy They all had their own home during Corona. All of them moved during Corona. What did I get them? Flowers for the girlfriends and Ice for the guys. -Like it should be.
That's really our thing. I'd like to thank you for this interview. I had fun. It's fun to see things from a different perspective.

I always interview artists but there's a lot going on behind the scenes as well. That's something people don't see. If you guys have any questions, let us know. We'll do our best to answer. Like and subscribe. Follow everyone that we mentioned today. Their links are in the description. Till next time! -Thank you.
Thank you. Bye.
-Bye. Remove all of the cat hairs Gotta make sure my chair is the right way -There we go.
You seated? Maybe you should..
-No that's you.

No one ever calls me. Now I'm the one being called by an artist. How typical..

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