The band Di-rect from The Hague has won the Popprijs 2021. The members received their award during a digital edition of pop festival Noorderslag in Groningen. The rock band won a cash prize of 10,000 euros and a sculpture by sculptor and musician Theo Mackaay.
The Popprijs is awarded each year to the band or artist who, according to the jury, has made the most important contribution to Dutch pop music. Due to corona, Noorderslag was held in an adapted version this year. Last year the Popprijs was not awarded at all because the music sector was hit hard by the measures.
The jury surprised the band in their rehearsal room:
Last year Di-rect celebrated its twentieth anniversary with two sold-out shows in the Rotterdam Ahoy. the single Soldier On was released during the corona crisis, and Di-rect was one of the first bands to organize live stream performances. The jury awarded the Popprijs, among other things, because Di-rect “has reinvented itself several times and has also displayed enormous perseverance in 2021”.
The jury members also praised Di-rect for thinking in terms of possibilities. “Looking back on a career of twenty years full of hits, we can conclude that this artist still, and again and again, is and remains relevant,” the report reads.
“The number Soldier On is seen for what it should be; a symbol of hope and light in an uncertain time. It grew into the anthem of the corona pandemic,” the jury continues. There are also words of praise about the friendship that the band members have with each other.
Di-rect was founded in 1999 and changed members twice. Lead singer Marcel Veenendaal succeeded Tim Akkerman in 2009 and keyboardist Vince van Reeken left the band in 2016. Guitarist Paul Jan Bakker replaced him. Frans ‘Spike’ van Zoest, Bas van Wageningen and Jamie Westland have been part of Di-Rect since its foundation.
The band debuted in 2001 with the song Just the way I do. Then came the album discover off, two years followed by Over the Moon. The members of Di-rect were between 15 and 19 years old at the time.
The song Wild Hearts is the last released single, from the album of the same name:
In 2019, metal singer Floor Jansen won the Popprijs at the Noorderslag festival. In 2018, the choice fell on rapper, singer and hip-hop producer Ronnie Flex, the year before rock band Kensington received the award.