An interview with Belgian beatniks Bepotel

This Friday Ars Musica and Vlek Records present Backward Ritual at La Raffinerie, a bitchin’ night of electronic beats split in two. Laps Ensemble are up first followed by players on L.A.’s thriving beat scene, plus a number of local beat heroes, including Bepotel. Allow us to introduce you. 

Friday night’s first half features Laps Ensemble playing Gilles Gobert, Gilles Doneux, Claude Ledoux and Loran Delforge – or Squeaky Lobster as he’s known by connoisseurs of Belgian beat-driven music – who’ll “progressively attempt an improvised conciliation between live electronics and sample collages by means of wild or discrete improvisations, with the support of the whole instrumental ensemble”. And as if that wasn’t enough, the second chapter serves up a more old school array of music makers in a conventional concert-cum-party type shindig courtesy of players on Los Angeles’ thriving beat-scene: Matthew David (on Flying LotusBrainfeeder label / crew), Diva and Asura (a.k.a. Ryan York, who releases on Alpha Pup’s subsidiary NonProjects). Belgian strongholds Cupp Cave, Squeaky Lobster and Bepotel will be there to complete the bill.

Bepotel are a well-kept local secret who hide behind a medley of aliases. Their most prolific members, Sagat and Walrus, have both built stellar reputations of their own; Sagat counts a well-received release on Vlek records, while Walrus is known for gracing the decks at the better parties and clubs in town, like Holger, Vicuna and Fuse, to name but a few. We recently asked them a few questions, and though the answers might just as well confuse even more, a little mystique never hurt anybody…

Who are Bepotel?

Bepotel are a band-slash-micro label who produce and release music, and features members of the late Future Failed, Elmer, Sagat, Walrus, &apos, Smaakwaterval, Zwart Geld, and many others.

What’s the story behind your name?

Bepotel is the imperative of the Dutch verb ‘bepotelen’, which loosely translates as  ‘to fiddle with’ or ‘to caress’. It’s got something to do with touching and investing love or energy in what you touch. But it also has a darker ring to it. It means touching something that shouldn’t necessarily be touched. The main reason for choosing the name Bepotel records was because we wanted to invest energy in the physical aspect of releasing music.

Is Bepotel the same as Smaakwaterval or Elmer?

Bepotel is the set of Smaakwaterval and Elmer. Smaakwaterval are healing potions, Elmer are machinery. Bepotel covers both grounds.

What does your music sound like?

)—°0__0°))-)-°°_____°)))°°°  °°°  °°°)) BOEM TSHAK …

How do you make music? The analogue way, or with the help of computers?

We try to vary our setup. The idea is to use as much gear as possible. But this costs a lot of butta, and some sounds are impossible to make without the custom wares of &apos – the hidden member of the band. You can find him on the left. It’s a hybrid setup.

Is your live set different from how you make music? What can we expect?

In the studio we jam, write and arrange tracks, while for a live set we usually come up with a couple of ideas or structures and improvise around them. We try to always create something entirely new for each set. The next sets will be pretty straightforward.

What can we hear, apart from “Hidden Tracks” on Bandcamp?

Our latest release is a remix for the reissue of the Artificial Horizon EP by eighties wave band Shoc Corridor, out on the Belgian Testtoon label. Last year we released two tracks on Meakusma’s Langesthal Compilation.

You’re part of the 54Kolaktiv. Has that been important for your music as Bepotel?

We look to Bepotel as something different from 54Kolaktiv. It’s how everything started, where we gained experience. In that way it was a great platform. Nowadays the focus of 54kolaktiv is more organisational and party-oriented. It’s not a music label.

What are your thoughts on the Brussels/Belgian electronic music scene?

Brussels seems to have a very scattered scene. The seeds are there more than ever, the city packs a huge amount of talent, it’s a pity that it’s hard to find decent underground locations to provide the scene the context and support it deserves.

What does the future bring for you?

We’re currently working on a new tape for Bepotel Records. Walrus’ debut album is ready to be pressed and we are working on an EP for Vlek records.

We have two duo tickets to give away for the night. The two first readers to email  wewrite@thewordmagazine.com with Ars Musica as the subject line will be automatically added to the guest list. 

Ars Musica Electro Night
15th March
La Raffinerie,  Rue de Manchesterstraat 21- 1080 Brussels
www.arsmusica.be