With the next edition of energetic festival Splḗn hosted this coming Saturday and Sunday at Ghent’s De Chinastraat, we put a few email questions to DJ and co-founder Felix Claus about breaking the music festival mould, why he believes in championing up-and-coming artists and how to keep audience energy levels high. Make sure to tune into Splḗn‘s next show with guest Francis Inferno Orchestra on Saturday 14th April on The Word Radio from 15h to 17h.
Can you talk to us about the event?
We picked Ghent’s Chinastraat for it’s sheer amount of potential as a venue: with two open rooms, we’re able to decorate them ourselves and basically build our own atmosphere from scratch. The outdoor sand area with a fireplace is an added bonus. Combine this setting with Splḗn’s values, and you have the perfect environment in which to organise an unforgettable evening.
What were its starting points?
We started Splḗn two and a half years ago. I was always passionate about music and started DJing from a young age. When I graduated secondary school and started college, I came up with the idea to organise events on a regular base with my partner Simon. So, we got together with a couple of friends and had our first gig at a small pub in Ghent. The idea was to let go of genre compartmentalisation and just play what we liked to hear when going out. The small and dark location contributed to the fact that people were free to be themselves, and additionally lowered the pressure on us to play what was expected. Half a year later, we occupied an abandoned building with the same intentions – and the rest is history.
Did you have any pre-conceived directions you wanted to take the party?
We wanted to do something different, especially in regards to our generation: many of our peers still listen to radio which represents a narrow spectrum of music. We therefore decided to host an event which excelled in the combining of quality music and friendship, rather than solely focussing on music. Surrounding ourselves with all of our loved ones and getting them acquainted with a type of music they aren’t familiar with was also an important element for us.
How does event’s name help to evoke its content?
Spleen is all about having a kind of nostalgia, and this feeling is reflected in our music curation. Our focus is on 60s and 70s disco, combined with afro-beat, Italo disco and even house. The funny thing is that after all this time, a lot of party-goers still don’t know what our name stands for.
Can you discuss the various different people involved in the show?
I’m the main programmer, and we have a handful of people who keep an eye on the technical aspects of the organisation, from promotion to fixing DJ gear. On top of that, we always welcome creative input from our friends. Like I said before, friendship is really important to us, which is why we try to involve our loved ones as much as we can. The feeling of creating something special altogether gives off a very satisfying energy.
What do you hope viewers will get from visiting the event?
We hope they leave the premises with a smile on their face.
Would you say any influences or references played a major role in shaping the event?
The main drive in organising these parties was the Four Tet and Floating Points’ last set from a Plastic People party. Back then, I was still religiously clinging to genres like house or techno – but when I heard this set I was profoundly amazed by their seamless mixture of genres. Transitioning from Brazilian soul to US hip-hop, it just made perfect sense. It showed us that anything goes as long as it’s played appropriately.
As a curator, how do you select the artists whom you’d like to select?
I’m constantly digging for new music, and this feeds into my music curation: generally speaking, our team doesn’t want to be the 10th event promotor to book Hunee, or any big name for that matter. We’d rather invite the guys you probably never heard of because they’re still under the radar. The idea that someone might hear of an artist on the radio or at a really big party, and realise that they’d actually already seen said artist at Splḗn makes it all the more exciting for us.
Who were your previous guests?
Jamie Tiller (Music From Memory, UK), Red Greg (Melodies International, UK) Nosedrip (Stroom, BE), Calypso Steve (Red Light Records, NL), Esa (Dekmantel, UK), Robert Bergman (Rush Hour, NL), Andy Hart (Voyage Recordings, AU), Raphaël Top-Secret (Antinote, FR), Bell Towers (Public Possession, AU), Asa Moto (DeeWee, BE).spleenevent.com