Jan 5, 2023
5 min read
Ask Franky Rizardo what flow means to him, and he’ll likely point you toward the sanctity of the dance floor and the community that’s formed upon it.
From the moment the Dutch-born DJ, producer, and label boss latched onto electronic music in his adolescence, that very concept has defined his life and career – seamlessly transitioning from song to song, venue to venue, venture to venture – steadily flowing into the international spotlight.
Today, Rizardo has cemented himself as one of The Netherlands’ best-known house and techno exports. He’s graced festival stages of Mysteryland (Amsterdam), Music On, and elrow. He is a regular at global nightlife institutions, including fabric (London), Amnesia (Ibiza), and Sound (Los Angeles). And with his label LTF (Listen to Flow) Records, Rizardo strives not only to design dynamic, genre-bending dance music but also an immersive and copacetic state of mind among his audiences.
But before navigating the responsibilities of a full-time artist and label head, Rizardo was simply navigating life as a Dutch teenager, delving into the zeitgeist of electronic music in Europe at the time.
“I remember the moment very vividly. I was visiting a friend’s house. They had a music software program on the computer. I remember opening that up, and we were putting audio into the program. I was just completely blow away how that was possible. That was my first hint of, ‘Wow, this is so amazing. This is what I enjoy.’”
Quickly thereafter, Rizardo enrolled in a DJ course and started taking up gigs locally. Trance piqued his interest first, and he credits mavericks like Tiësto and Armin van Buuren for igniting his passion for the genre. But Rizardo’s sonic horizons soon expanded alongside his burgeoning community. His friends and classmates would share music amongst their group. Before long, house music entered his repertoire.
“I’m still a huge fan of trance,” says Rizardo. “But I like to say, the BPM slowed down as I got older. I remember downloading a set from DJ Roog at Mysteryland in the Netherlands. I was so blown away. Every track hit me on such a different level. At the moment, I knew straight away this is the music I want to make.”
Notably, Rizardo’s defined his career with the ability to push himself into new levels of sonic experimentation. He credits artists like Daft Punk for inspiring his eclectic music taste, reflected in the breadth of releases in his catalog across the spectrum of house and techno on labels like Defected, Milk & Sugar, SPINNIN’ DEEP, 8Bit, Ultra Moda — the list goes on.
That sonic diversity continues to present itself across Rizardo’s performances and productions. Originals like “Diamond” featuring Ukrainian artist KIRIK deliver an eight-minute deep house journey filled with fluttering piano melodies and vocals. Other tracks like “Ain’t Nobody” (a 129 BPM house remake of the Chaka Khan classic) light up the main stage, regardless of where Rizardo is.
Franky Rizardo at Sensation White, 2023
“My sound is definitely house music in the broadest sense. That goes for both my music production and my DJ sets. I like to keep things interesting. Maybe we go a little bit deeper. Then we go back to grooving. Then take it a little bit stronger. I think that’s the most fun way to experience a night... Diversity keeps it interesting for me and for the people coming to the show.”
Nowadays, many of those shows include Rizardo’s self-curated parties. He founded his brand FLOW in 2015 with friend and collaborator Jasper Poole. Built on the same principles that laid the foundation for Rizardo’s career: Bringing people into the flow state of mind, architecting vibrant gatherings, and establishing meaningful connections while creating unique moments, ultimately resulting in total immersion on the dance floor.
Rizardo started FLOW after getting a request from a Dutch radio station, SLAM!, for a weekly show (which continues to this day, approaching its 500th installment). This quickly blossomed into producing live events. Currently, Rizardo and his team produce nearly 25 shows annually, including stage takeovers at festivals like Tomorrowland, Mysteryland, and Extrema Outdoor.
FLOW seamlessly led into creating Rizardo’s imprint, LTF Records, in 2020. Today, one of the most exciting aspects of the job for Rizardo is the interplay between studio and stage. He loves discovering a unique sample or melody, molding it into a record through collaboration, then playing it to eager partygoers and awaiting the reception.
“Seeing a track grow in popularity is really fun,” says Rizardo. “It’s so much fun to get amazing demos by amazing producers. For example, an artist, Macro Tropeano from Italy, sent me a track called ‘No Me Importa.’ The first time I played that, the response was so huge. Then, I was able to sign that record and bring it back to the public to get more people to listen. I remixed it myself as well. It’s such a fun project to be so closely connected with the music.”
As FLOW continues to expand, Rizardo has his sights on new territories like Asia, Australia, and the U.S., with plans to build on his FLOW Freedom Festival internationally. The most exciting thing, he says, is witnessing the respect and acclaim for house music to thrive.
“The house music movement is growing. I think once people experience house music on a good club night, it’s there to stay.”