Jaydee‘s “Plastic Dreams” is one of those tracks that everyone who loves electronic music will lose their shit to at some point in time. Nearly a quarter-century after it first saw release on R&S Records, DJs across the world are still slipping it into their sets at peak-time. You can’t blame them: with its sinister, jazzy synth runs and crisp break-beats, the 1992 cut can still turn even the stalest dancefloors into pure mayhem.
The Dutch producer—real name is Robin Albers—told us the story behind this 11-minute rave classic, and how it unexpectedly catapulted him to international club-world stardom. Along the way, we discovered something interesting: it was named after none other than present-day U.S. Presidential hopeful Donald Trump—and the platinum credit card he used to purchase duty-free luxury items on a plane.—Aron Friedman
Jaydee: At the beginning of the 90s, I was a DJ at a Dutch radio station, playing other people’s records. Then computers and MIDI-stuff became available, and everyone around me started to make music. I bought an Atari computer, which made it possible to start my home studio. I was presenting the house music radio program “For Those Who Like to Groove,” and was already taping [some of my own] demos. I had a feeling for music, but little knowledge of instruments, so I started taking piano lessons. Mastering the C-chord would prove the basis for “Plastic Dreams.”One magical night in August, I was on the balcony with a close friend. We smoked a big joint together, then I went into my studio alone. Later on, I couldn’t really reproduce exactly what I had done [that night]. I was making all kinds of little jams. I deliberately didn’t put everything on the beat, and moving around certain parts created errors I couldn’t correct, giving it this funky groove. Then I thought, “What the fuck—guess I’ll just leave [the mistakes] the way they are.”
“On one of her flights, Donald Trump was flying business class, and paying for his champagne and tax-free goods with a platinum credit card, [something] very rare at the time.”—Jaydee
The story behind the title—”Plastic Dreams”—started in a plane. My girlfriend at the time was a stewardess. On one of her flights, Donald Trump was flying business class, and paying for his champagne and tax-free goods with a platinum credit card, [something] very rare at the time. My girlfriend was pouring drinks, when Trump handed her his card. To impress the pilot, she took it into the cockpit, and he was so shocked that he yanked the steering yoke, making the airplane shake around for a few seconds. When I heard that, I just couldn’t believe it: how can simply seeing a piece of plastic make such a huge impression on someone? Apparently, having a platinum card was one of their wildest dreams.
The first time I tried playing “Plastic Dreams” out was in a club called Goldfinger in the South of Holland. I had a weekly slot there on Sunday afternoon, playing more clubby stuff in between two gabber DJs. I’d be standing inside the dance pit every Sunday, [making sure] everything about the track sounded good. Every time, something needed to be fine-tuned: a hi-hat that was too loud, a clap that was too soft. After going about this fine-tuning for six weeks, I finally had a satisfactory version. It was extremely long though—eleven minutes—and I didn’t know what the hell to do with it. I kept it as a record for the clubs. No one else liked it enough to actually release it.
Orlando Voorn from Format #1 is a good friend of mine, and he loved the track, believing in it from the start. But most of the other record industry guys I knew told me it was way too long. One guy advised me to make a break in the middle, but I wouldn’t have it; it seemed to me the perfect record for DJs to put on during a bathroom break. Then a friend called, saying how he had three spare minutes on a compilation-CD left. I told him about this track that nobody liked. He said,
“If you like it, I like it. Just send it over, and we’ll make an edit.” To be honest, I never appreciated the edit much, but this is the radio version most people have come to know.
One week later, I received a fax with a request of Renaat Vandepapeliere from R&S Records in Belgium. He wanted to release the track worldwide. Things went really fast from there. Only days after the track came out, my office floor was covered in fax paper. I thought the machine had gone crazy. There was about fifteen feet of fax paper on the floor, and all of it was international requests for gigs and interviews. I was the first Dutch DJ in Moscow in 1993—can you imagine, only a few years after the Berlin Wall came down? I really found my calling: producing and playing out music. And the success of “Plastic Dreams” has enabled to do that.