Today part two of our series on the legendary founders of the musical spawning ground called Helicopter. None other than my good friend, Vincent Polak.
Not everyone knows that Helicopter’s origins date back to 2010, in a little attic room near Sloterkade and an enterprising young bassist named Vincent. Like me, he had just finished high school and played regularly in Vincent’s mother’s attic, first with the band Rustenboogie (in which I played drums) and then with the, admittedly better, band Slow Jeff and the Tears (without me). At the time, the house was regularly shaking on its foundations, so this arrangement was, to put it mildly, not favored by the neighbors.
Then what do you do? Well, if you are Sophie and Vincent you then squat an industrial building on Vliegtuigstraat and start a cultural meeting place. One year and one eviction later, the business partners settled down in Helicopterstraat and on sheer willpower and love of art started “Sink or Swim,” which we now know as Helicopter Amsterdam. Hurrah!
Vincente, aka Benny, is the somewhat obsessive organizational brain behind this operation. With an eye for detail and uncanny foresight, Vin always manages to spot something you’ve overlooked. These qualities serve him well in his job as production manager at Paradiso. There, his job is to manage the bookings of acts, accommodating or rejecting the whims of various small and large acts and making sure the programs run smoothly.
Vinbert was forced-fed showbiz as a child, like a French goose is fed cognac; his father worked at Paradiso and his mother at Toneelgroep Amsterdam. Clearly, the path this boy would take was written in the stars, so much so that at the age of 18 he followed in father’s footsteps and became a stagehand, or “humper,” at Para. Since then, the young music manager has steadily risen to now be a major linchpin in the pop machine called Paradiso. He has also gained stage experience with band Slow Jeff and the Tears, as Vincent is also a brutal bassist, with a ringing sound that is both melodious and driving. After some years or relative quiet, Benny has also found his instrument again and is playing with a band at the Heli. Bernard and Vin, we’re all waiting on that that Clarinet-Bass combo!
But if you haven’t heard him play as a bassist yet, you probably will in the guise of DJ Vinny Benassi, the acclaimed turntabalist of the successful Launchpad concerts. After the bands have set the tone, it is Vinny Benassi who showcases a premium selection of his extensive record collection and really gets the feet loose.
Furthermore, you should know the following: he’s a vegetarian, he likes spicy food and pet rats, and he’s just a ridiculously nice guy. And single.