Aug 23, 2022
5 min read
Perhaps the most fascinating and unmistakable aspect of speaking with Dutch DJ and producer Prunk is his unbridled love and admiration for the American roots of house music. The reverence the Amsterdam-based artist (real name, Nilz Pronk) has for the icons who paved the way for his career and label PIV Records is evident in everything he touches. From his imprint’s thoughtfully curated lineups and catalog to own his soul-infused sets that pay homage to dance music’s deep history.
As PIV Records establishes a greater presence in festivals and clubs worldwide, Prunk continues to work towards a mission he conceived when he began DJing as a teenager: To build a deeper and broader global community rooted in the love of soulful, authentic house.
One might ask how the musical influences of Detroit’s Motown and Chicago’s house classics migrated nearly 4,000 miles across the Atlantic to pique the interest of a Dutch teenager. For Prunk, it all started in the family.
“My mother was a soul singer when she was young. There was always a Motown record on in our house,” he says. “My older brother was also a big influence. When he turned 18, he began partying in Ibiza, Mykonos, and clubs throughout Amsterdam. He got me interested soulful music and what he called the ‘real house' sound.”
One of his most memorable encounters with this fascinating sound, Prunk recalls, was receiving an Ian Pooley record from his brother on his 11th birthday. From that moment, Prunk knew a life behind the decks was his destiny.
He began DJing at clubs throughout Amsterdam at 15. At the time, he was attending a professional football prep academy. However, his new path meant it was time to hang up the cleats and lean on his small burgeoning dance music network to further evangelize the soulful sound he'd grown up on.
His vision wasn’t without its naysayers. A seminal moment came at 17 while spinning at one of his largest gigs. A headlining DJ starkly told Prunk that his style of house didn't belong on the main stage. That singular comment lit a fire under the young artist, catalyzing what’s now a globally renowned career spanning decades.
Notably influenced by the deep, hypnotic rhythm of Detroit house, Prunk’s sonic style blends passionate vocal motifs, percussive flourishes, and a unique tech house flair all his own. The artist has released music on iconic labels, including his tech house heater “The Machine” (2016) on Nervous Records in collaboration with friend and fellow deep tech evangelist Chris Stussy. Other hits like "Through the Walls,” released on PIV Records in 2020, demonstrate Prunk’s finesse for passionate, piano-laden, deep house.
His presence and poise behind the decks has steadily elevated him to bigger and bigger venues worldwide. Prunk is a resident at Amsterdam’s STRAF_WERK Festival, a regular at Club Jenja in Bali, and has performed at festivals including DGTL Barcelona, Amsterdam’s Loveland, and Welcome to the Future — helping further cement soulful house’s rightful place in the dance music spotlight.
Having established a unique, globally-inspired spirit all his own, Prunk’s next calling was to codify that brand with the launch of PIV Records in 2015, an imprint with a self-described “soft spot for US classic house… with a modern European touch.”
“PIV initially stood for Prunk Invites,” he says. “But as we grew and became more successful, I realized it wasn’t just about me.” PIV evolved to the more inclusive “People Invited” with a hidden message in the name that harkens back to the label’s ethos. "If you flip 'PIV’ around, it’s ‘VIP.' We want everyone to feel like a VIP at our parties."
Inclusion in the groove is the name of the game at PIV. The label and its roster of more than 20 artists continue to expand the culture globally, with stage takeovers at acclaimed music festivals like Defected Croatia and sold-out parties in all corners of the world—from Ibiza and Lima to Brooklyn.
In 2022, the label even launched its inaugural PIV Festival in Spaarnwoude, North Holland, featuring more than 30 international artists, many within the PIV family. Among the lineup was UK duo RUZE, whose contemplative, vocal tech house track “Mindset” has become one of the label’s biggest hits to date.
The PIV sound has become more focussed and refined over the years. "It’s a really big compliment when people talk about the PIV sounds, when something is not a PIV release at all.”
Prunk’s Resident Advisor bio aptly states, “Prunk is working at his own pace, but this doesn’t mean he’s taking things slow.” By the looks of things, the now-veteran DJ and his label are on the precipice of rapid acceleration and significant expansion.
"It’s our goal to feed the people again,” says Prunk, speaking on the instant gratification implicit in modern dance music. “When you give people the groove. They respect it. It’s refreshing. You realize you don’t always need constant build-ups and breaks in the music."
The same analogy can be applied to Prunk’s career philosophy of “steady success."
“For me, it doesn’t matter who you are. If you create good music — we will support it. We created from nothing, something. That’s the power of PIV. I always say: never believe your own eye. If you stay humble, if you believe in your sound, you can be doing this for a really long time.”