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Hotseat - Pepijn Brandenberg

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~ Physical therapist & DJ ~

About two and a half years ago, Pepijn Brandenberg moved to St. Maarten, leaving behind the small town of Almkerk where he grew up. He quickly integrated into the community, where he helps patients as a physical therapist during the day and gets people in the party-mood deejaying for various events at night.

How did you come up with the idea to move to St. Maarten?

After travelling through Southeast Asia for five months, I realized that the world was bigger than my town in the Netherlands. I wanted to see more of it. By chance, a colleague of mine at the time pointed out a vacancy looking for a physical therapist in St. Maarten. I applied immediately; and four weeks later, I stepped foot on the rock.

What was your impression of the island?

I started working right away so it took a while to find my way around. Eventually, I started to get to know more people and with them explored more of the island. As soon as that happened, I started appreciating the island life more and more. Life here is very spontaneous compared to Holland and of course the weather and beaches are a big plus.

What's the best part about being a physical therapist?

I enjoy that the job is active; I would hate to be sitting behind a desk all day. Through my job, I get to meet a lot of different people and help them. It's great to see that with my guidance and the patient's determination, the progress they make and as a result get better.

What is the hardest part about being a physical therapist?

Seeing people who are convinced of their diagnosis by reading medical advice on the internet. Sometimes, there is also a bit of a language barrier due to the multicultural society here; but I get through it by using hand-gestures.

Besides being a physical therapist, you are a DJ! When did you start deejaying?

I was always busy listening to and collecting music. When I was 14, I also played guitar in a band. Eventually, I got more interested in alternative genres; specifically, electronic music. I started learning more and more about deejaying. When I was 17, I got my first break playing for a club called Xenex as a resident DJ. It is a place fully run by volunteers and I still think it's one of the coolest places on earth! In the following years, I started organizing my own events and parties. By chance, during one of the biggest events I was hosting, I got the phone call that I got the job in St. Maarten.

What is your favourite music genre?

Basically, I listen to everything depending on my mood, except for country and overly commercial music. I can DJ most genres but I prefer to play Drum and Bass due to the various layers and the journey you can make with the music. It would be great to organize a Drum and Bass rave on the island!

How did you start deejaying on St. Maarten?

I didn't know anyone in the beginning. One of my colleagues told me there was a DJ competition at Soggy. The night itself, I had five local DJs playing a mix of hip-hop, reggae and dancehall before me; I got pretty nervous. But when I got behind the DJ-booth and started playing my 10 minutes of house music, the place exploded to my slight surprise. It was one of my most memorable moments on St. Maarten. I did not win, but because of that competition, I met a lot more people and got a lot more opportunities to DJ. So far, I have played with Quintino, Bassjackers, Sydney Samson, Jacob van Hage and DJed a lot with DJ Kaiser for Ministry of Sound. I also do the occasional wedding.

How is it combining physical therapy with being a DJ?

It's a funny combination. I have patients who, with a slightly doubtful look on their faces, ask: "Aren't you a DJ?" They are two totally different careers, but I love the variety; and they complement each other that way. If you hurt your knee jumping up and down to my music, you can come see me to fix it the next day!

What's in the future for Pepijn?

Soon, a new system in going to be implanted on the island to preserve the quality for physical therapy so that will be interesting. As for deejaying, I hope to do a lot more gigs playing in front of as many people as possible, preferably ladies, of course.

If you could invite three people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be, what would be the one question you would ask and what would you serve them to eat?

Laura – the cute girl who is interviewing me at this moment; I would make her a few Asian dishes.

Oliver Sax – to talk about his book Musicophilia; I would take him to a local restaurant and we'd both have oxtail soup, which I haven't tried yet either.

Ron Swanson – because he is the manliest man ever. We would chow down on lots of bacon and steak, sipping on whiskey.