Leuven-bred producer Wits dropped out of school and left his life in Belgium behind to find his inner soul in Asia. Bangkok was his place of predilection, and also the place that provided him with enough inspiration for what was to become his debut EP, Soi 14. In the fourth edition of our First things first section, the travelling soul opens up about Thailand, the ups and downs of being a bedroom producer and his unstoppable desire to travel.
Listen to Wits debut EP over on his Bandcamp page.
A word about your name
When I was abroad travelling in Ghana and later Thailand and Laos, I noticed that my dutch name ‘Wietse’ was too difficult to pronounce for most people. So people started giving me nicknames, one of them that stuck with me was ‘Wits’.
A word about your music
When people ask me what style of music I make I always find it difficult to place my music in a specific genre, most of the times I just ask them to listen to it. I mainly focus on making hiphop beats, but some of my beats are too complex to rap on and sound better leaving it like that. Projects like ‘Soi 14’ give me the freedom to explore my style and it gives me less restrictions in terms of structure and complexity.
A word about your hometown, your scene
I was born and raised in a little town called ‘Everberg’, it’s in between Brussels and Leuven. There is not really a scene there, but since I always went to school in Leuven I call Leuven my hometown. Before I got signed with Marmalade Productions I was not much involved in the local Hip hop scene, but nowadays I notice people are starting to get to know me.
The hardest thing about getting this release out?
I wanted to release something of my own for some time now. But because I was a bedroom producer I found it difficult to release something I put so much work in on my own. I wanted it to be heard by more people than just my friends. I was lucky that Bas from Marmalade approached me with the idea that I be part of their project. The Marmalade team helped me with the finalization and distribution of my album.
A habit you had during recording this release?
When making beats I work the best when I’m alone and cannot be disturbed by things from outside. I love to get lost in my own world of music and lose the sense of time. Most of the beats on my album are little journeys into the night. I would get lost in making the beat and suddenly realize it’s 5 o’clock in the morning.
After two years of studying in Leuven I found out the direction I was heading in was not for me. I quit school and wanted some time off. I decided to go backpacking on my own in South-East Asia. On one of my stops in Bangkok I met someone who is now one of my best friends. He was studying at SAE in Bangkok. I went to the school with him and decided this is what I would love to study. Since SAE is an international school I would get the same Diploma in Belgium and Thailand. So my decision was made quite quickly. Besides that I just love Thailand and it’s people!
What was the most difficult track to produce on this EP?
The last track ‘Baiyoke’ is probably the most complex track because it is constantly changing. For me it is also a kind of summary of all the influences I got from living in Thailand for a year. Not only from the local music, but also the people I met and the music they listen to.
Thailand, especially Bangkok is a pretty noisy city, how did you manage to give a new vibe, more calm, “chill” to your EP?
Bangkok has many aspects, it’s busy, noisy, restless, but also has other aspects. If you search well enough you can find these unlikely calm spots inside the city. Little parts in the city where you can wind down from the speed of living in a massive city like this. I also travelled a lot in Thailand, one of the towns I love is just three hours outside Bangkok and has lovely scenery and is much more chilled out than Bangkok. I used to visit this place every two weekends.
Can you explain in a few words, what Thailand meant to you?
A great inspiration for my music and a beautiful country.
What does “making it” means to you?
I think it’s the same for every person, to be able to make a living out of your passion. For me that passion is making music.
What was the first concert you ever saw?
I think my first concert has to be either at Couleur Café or Reggae Geel. But the concert that left the biggest impression on me is Gorillaz when they were on their Plastic Beach Tour.
What software and equipment/instruments did you use?
I produce in Ableton and I own a MicroKorg, Arturia Minilab and MPD and loads of plugins. Simple but effective.
What first experience would you like to re-live?
When I was 18 I went to Ghana to live there for a year. This experience changed me in many aspects and I’d love to relive that feeling.
Your favourite debut by another band?
That has to be ‘Illmatic’ by Nas. For me it still is the best hiphop album ever made. I recently wrote a paper about the making of the album and the things that influenced Nas into making this masterpiece. It made me appreciate the album even more.
What your parents think about your music?
My parents always supported me in following and finding my passion, even when I decided to drop out of school to travel. My mom loves my tracks and sometimes gives me the weirdest remarks on my songs.
Where you’re going to next?
I’m currently working with several artists connected to Marmalade Productions. A few other releases which I am part of are coming up. I will keep on making music and see where it leads me.
A band we should be keeping an eye out for
Roncha is one of the MC’s signed with Marmalade Productions and I love his style of writing. I often find that I can very much relate to his lyrics. He will be releasing an EP in May.
What question should we have asked you that we did not?
Where the title of the album and the titles of the tracks come from. All these tracks have small anedotes connected to them. Little stories or moments that stuck to me while I was living in Thailand.
Other than music, what your current occupations are
I’m currently a student at SAE Brussels, where I’m doing an additional year to get my Bachelor in Audio Engineering. Besides that I have an never fading desire to travel and see new places.facebook.com/witsbeats marmaladeproductions.be/