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REACHIN’ Humbert Tutuarima

For our first segment of Reachin’ we have the privilege to kick things off with Humbert Tutuarima. To hear his story we visited Humbert at his home and we were also able to record two mixes with him at De UurwerkerDe Uurwerker is Humbert’s homecourt as he serves as resident, spinning his records about three times a week. Besides the audio recordings, we have also videotaped both sets. Below you’ll find one of the recordings of his set at De Uurwerker and the two SoundCloud mixes. Scroll down if you’re curious about our conversation with Humbert!

Humbert Tutuarima, 60 years old and DJ

People sometimes have trouble with my last name, still it isn’t that difficult! My name is Humbert Tutuarima, just turned 60 and DJ at De Uurwerker in Groningen where I play three times a week. Well not right now, but that’s what I’m looking forward to doing again. Right now, as a human-being, I’m really enjoying the small things in life; the sociability, music, but also this conversation. Everything really. Every day I walk for at least an hour. I’ve seen some parts countless of times during my walks, but I still try to pay attention to different things along the way. Anything to help me clear my mind basically. Furthermore, I am a sociable guy with life-experience who enjoys a challenge. I also enjoy hanging out with younger people, but I guess that’s mostly because of my job.

During his gig at de Uurwerker
Hospitality and music come together

I am involved with music on different levels. Naturally, I listen to it a lot, I watch documentaries, but I also read quite a bit on artists and bands. I listen to a wide range of genres. During the ’80’s I would go out in Groningen, but I also went to Amsterdam a lot. My oldest brother used to live there, he was a photographer and was working for the recordlabel CBS at the time. Hence why I visited frequently. Back then there were DJ’s, but DJ’s weren’t really a thing until the ’90’s. Each decade had its own genre of music, ranging from soul to disco and hiphop and house. No lie, there would be something totally different each decade. It was almost like it was a rule or law, that it had to be that way. Before I started spinning records, I gained extensive experience in the hospitality business. I worked at different cafes, restaurants and coffeeshops, also as manager. Not the coffeeshops where people go to buy weed though, but where people go to enjoy a good cup of coffee. These two worlds now have truly come together at De Uurwerker.

From Paradiso to Groningen

Since my brother lived in Amsterdam, I got to go there a bit more often as well. Some time later he got a job at Paradiso, the premier music venue in Holland. Man, Paradiso, incredible place. It was almost as if I lived there and I would sometimes help out with the catering. This was after I had worked in Amsterdam for about a year during the ’80’s. A little while later I decided to move back to Groningen, where I mainly worked in the hospitality business. At one point I ended up working at Café Soestdijk and one of the students working there had two Technics turntables he didn’t use. He encouraged me to start working with vinyl so I borrowed his DJ-set for about a year and got myself a mixer. I messed about for a bit and as of right now I’ve been playing music for over fifteen years. I’m currently using Pioneer CD-players with a healthy combo of passion, sense of rhythm and a wide taste of music and I believe those are my trademarks as a DJ.

Taste for music influenced by my family

Ever since I was little I developed a taste for music. I come from a big family in Groningen, which existed of eight children and two loving parents. Music was always at the heart of our family, partly due to my disabled brother. The radio was always on because that would make him happy. When my older brothers and sisters started going out when they hit puberty there was a lot of good music going around. That was during the ’70’s. Genres such as soul, rock and pop were on the come up. I think I was really influenced in my taste of music by my older brothers. Then my oldest brother moved to Amsterdam for work and a couple years later I moved there as well. I moved in with family who lived in Almere-Buiten and I worked as an assistent-manager at Dr. Adams Shoes in the P.C. Hooftstraat in Amsterdam.

At Humbert his house
My sources of inspiration

My taste in music is rather broad. I used to buy a lot of records, sometimes only for the cover art, no clue what kind of music was on the record. On the back of the records I’d read who played alongside certain solo artist and I started doing research on their backgrounds. Sports is another thing I tap into as a source of creativity. I love basketbal and I believe that music fits in that culture really well. I also get a lot of enjoyment from sports such as wakeboarding, windsurfing and water skiing. Once I’m in the water, swimming or playing sports, time just flies by. I simply won’t leave the water because I can really focus there. That focus is something many people lack nowadays. Everyone is so quick to lose focus and nobody listens to each other anymore. Many youngsters might not realise it because they don’t know better, but I’m telling you, so much has changed and I do believe that’s because of all the new technology. 

Quirky kid

Besides music, fashion has also played a significant role in my life. If I like something, I’ll buy it. I think that’s a product of my past. My parents were always well-groomed and my brothers and sisters also had a great sense of fashion. It’s only natural that you take on the habits of people close to you. Clothing can be an extension of who you are and who you want to be. When I was in kindergarden I only wanted to wear cowboy clothing to school and I remember a highschool teacher telling me that I was quirky.  A little while later, for example, I started wearing stuff that was in fashion during the ’50’s, long coats, high hats, you name it. People often seemed surprised when they saw me and my outfits.

Humbert Tutuarima a.k.a. deejayhummingbird
Music and fashion are close relatives

Besides working as a DJ and in hospitality, I do have a history of working in the clothing industry. This sort of built on the affinity I already had with fashion, back then I would have something new every two months or so. Right now I think my hat is something that people recognize me by, I just dress the way I am. My brother used to date a model, both of them always looked great. Actually, as with the music, both of my brothers were always a big source of inspiration for my style. Because of my brother’s relationship with a model, I was exposed to fashion a lot and my interest would soon shift towards nice and casual clothing. Because of my interests I was also allowed to provide the music at several fashion shows. In the end it seems that music and fashion are closely related.

At Humbert his house
No DJ can compete with a liveband

Anyone can spin records, but creating a good set is an entirely different ballpark. Myself, I always try to tell a story. There has to be a clear sequence in your set, with the right build-up. I often perform for about six hours and that’s quite a long time. Because of that it can sometimes be difficult to come up with something new each time. Every now and then someone will tap me on the shoulder asking if I could play something different. This makes me laugh though. Yet, nothing beats a liveband. Those are facts, no DJ can compete with that. I’ve visited concerts from Earth, Wind & Fire, David Bowie and Jon Bon Jovi, but also Prince, Talking Heads, Beyoncé, Simple Minds and the list goes on. Phenomenal. You won’t get that atmosphere with just a DJ-set on stage.

My brother's last breath

The most gripping moment in my life has to be the passing of my severely mentally and physically disabled brother. I was around thirty at the time. I literally saw him breathe his final breath. We had to pull the plug ourselves, because he just couldn’t keep this up anymore. Words cannot explain how to escape such a negative spiral. His death made me decide to get married with my girlfriend at the time. Marriage never really was my thing, we were together for about ten years and we were working towards buying a house. It felt as if I had to give something back to my parents who were already getting up there age-wise. My father’s health was also in decline back then. In the end I got married and divorced a few years later. To make things worse, In the midst of the divorce my father passed away and I really had to drag myself through all this. At that time I had also recently lost my job and with all the other stuff going on, I still have no clue how I managed to get through all that. You just move on, I guess. 

The biggest compliment of my life

I’ve seen some serious lows in my life and those setbacks scar you for life. In putting yourself first you learn to deal with that, pursuing things that make you happy. I’ll never forget my father’s funeral. I was working at De Pintelier at the time. I’d prepared an entire speech which I had basically memorized. Suddenly I ran into a bunch of former colleagues, even people I hadn’t seen in years. I was shocked and it really had an impact on me. I decided to read my speech from my paper so I wouldn’t have to look at them. After my speech I immediately walked up to them where one of them said to me; “You have always been a role model to us, you taught us everything.” That has to be the biggest compliment I’ve ever gotten.  

At Humbert his house
Be thoughtful of the opportunities you get

You’ll always have ambitions, but they’re a little less strong compared to when I was thirty. I used to have ten dreams at a time, now that’s more like two. In hindsight I should’ve seized more opportunities in my younger years. I simply wasn’t that ambitious, I should’ve been, though. Then again, it’s always easy to talk about that in hindsight. Right now I don’t really have huge ambitions anymore. If something happens, it happens. But if it doesn’t, then that’s fine as well. Still, I want to give the readers a piece of advice: take life a bit more serious after you turn 25. Be thoughtful of the opportunities that might present themselves, be alert and seize them. Many people in their twenties and thirties don’t realise how important that particular period is in a lifetime. Your personality is shaped here and you grow into an adult. Yesterday I was 25, in a split second I was 32 and now I’m here. Use your time wisely and make it work. 

Written by Lars Meijer