Tracing the career of Rotterdam’s David Vunk is like unearthing a treasure map of subcultural sounds that have influenced not just him but the entire landscape of electronic music. Born to a musician father, a member of bands like Limousine and Spooky’s Day-Off, Vunk’s early life was bathed in the soulful strains of funk and disco to the rebellious chords of the Beastie Boys, Frank Zappa, and The Rolling Stones. This eclectic upbringing provided fertile ground for his later explorations into the labyrinthine world of electronic music. On Saturday, October 7, witness this labyrinth of sound for yourself as David Vunk joins the 15th anniversary of Control Club celebrations.
As a child, Vunk was exposed to musical instruments like various synthesizers and the Roland TR-909. These would form the cornerstone of his intrinsic connection to rhythm and groove. His father, not just an inspiration but a mentor, facilitated Vunk’s foray into DJing by gifting him two Technics pickups and a mixer, albeit with the humorous condition of forgoing pocket money for a year and abstaining from drugs—a clause that Vunk often cheekily acknowledges he couldn’t uphold.
Fast forward a few years and young David Vunk’s musical taste was broadening, thanks in part to MTV and local radio stations opening to the emerging sounds of electronic music. Artists like Technotronic, Robin S, and Doe Maar graced his TV screen and auditory senses. It was an eclectic mix and one that would go on to define his own eclectic style.
The city of Rotterdam serves as both a backdrop and an influential character in Vunk’s story. A “workers city,” with its “no stories just work” ethos and its rich history in electronic music, Rotterdam echoes in Vunk’s industrious attitude and genre-defying sensibilities. Clone Records, one of the world’s most reputable record stores, further stoked this fire, adding a physicality to his musical education. Amid its shelves, Vunk evolved into a self-appointed historian of Italo-disco, New Wave, and other subterranean electronic styles. These 90s years were transformative, marked by seismic shifts in electronic music around the globe. With these shifts, Vunk dove headfirst into the maelstrom, initially embracing the harder techno and electro styles, catalyzed by the pioneering influence of I-F’s Intergalactic FM radio station. Eventually, Vunk would feature a weekly show on I-F’s Intergalactic FM, Life is Live. During this explosive era, Vunk became a proactive homeland participant in illegal raving in projects like Strictly Techno and Matika. He even brought the Spiral Tribe collective to Rotterdam
The pivotal moment that expanded his musical vocabulary came during a set by I-F in 1998, where Feel the Drive by Doctor’s Cat was played. The track fundamentally changed how Vunk perceived electronic music. In interviews, he often recounts this transformative moment, emphasizing how it spurred him to organize electro parties in various Rotterdam clubs under different project names like Brainstorm and Electrorock.
Then came Moustache Records in 2007, an independent label started by Vunk. The inception of the label was as serendipitous as his musical journey. While on a European road trip to collect rare records, he stumbled upon a digital track that captivated him so much that he felt compelled to press it into vinyl. Thus, the label was born, named humorously after the moustaches featured on many Italo album covers. The label (and its Moustache Techno sister imprint) have served an assortment of artists from Gesloten Cirkel and Danny Daze to Neil Landstrumm over the years, all while serving as a platform for Vunk’s own productions like EPs Omega Strap and Medication Time. Notably, the labels reflect Vunk’s predilection for high-energy sets, focused more on an emotive, connective experience than strict genre adherence.
Speaking of production, the range and depth of Vunk’s skills in that department are best exemplified in tracks like Im Kellar, which explores grimy, floor-shaking techno, and Trouble Tonight on Omni Disc, a detour into a more sophisticated electro. His work subtly echoes the acid-leaning tracks of Aphex Twin or the Italo-disco-inspired moments that evoke memories of Giorgio Moroder.
David Vunk’s artistic persona is built upon decades of musical discovery and an unyielding commitment to the underground scene—be it Italo, New Wave, or any other subgenre he’s exploring. His DJ sets are expansive, touching on everything from Depeche Mode to John Maus, Acid House to obscure releases that even the most dedicated fans might have missed.
What sets Vunk apart isn’t technical wizardry; it’s his innate ability to connect with his audience by merging his musical past with contemporary beats. His Boiler Room sets or his unique re-edits, like that of Abba’s Gimme Gimme Gimme, are living proof of this dynamic interplay between past and present. One look at his live sets from the likes of Dekmantel or Lowlands Festival, and you will immediately know why he has been dubbed “The Beast of Rotterdam”.
David Vunk is a living, breathing museum of electronic music culture, seamlessly blending nostalgia and the avant-garde, the popular and the obscure. His infectious enthusiasm ensures that every set is not merely a playlist but a riveting musical manifesto. This constant evolution and celebration of the genre’s rich tapestry cements David Vunk’s place as a stalwart of electronic music’s dynamic, pulsating heart-ever-evolving, and always seeking the next boundary to push.