The House Hundred

Portraits of a scene's past, present and future greats

We’re teaming up with Bulldog to select 100 essential people, places and projects in Belgian house music. From producers and DJs to record labels and festivals, these are the forces driving the homegrown house scene forward, one BPM at a time.

CJ Bolland

CJ Bolland

DJ, producer, engineer and member of Magnus

Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.

I’ve been professionally active in the techno scene as a solo artist since 1989. I’ve also worked as a producer and engineer with various bands since 1997, notably with dEUS. Together with dEUS’ singer and songwriter Tom Barman, I have a electro-pop band named Magnus.

How has where you come from shaped who you are?

Growing up in Belgium, I was strongly influenced by the thriving EBM scene. Bands like Front 242, The Neon Judgement and The Klinik strengthened my already blooming passion for electronic sounds,
inspired me to write music and more specifically to programme quirky machines.

I prefer a night out in an unpolished venue with a great line-up to a comfortable overpriced cheese-hut.

In your view, what explains Belgium’s considerable contribution to global house music? What “makes”our sound what it is?

Belgium’s mark on the global electronic scene was amplified with the birth of New Beat and labels like R&S, Musicman and Bonzai that later took it to the next level.  Our EBM history crossed over with Detroit techno, Chicago house and acid house, gave us a dirtier approach, fatting up and later speeding up our sound. Our aggressive sound pumped up the dance floor and the world took note.

What, to you, characterises the country’s unique nightlife? More specifically, can you talk to us about your home base’s nightlife scene? What makes it special, who are its main players?

When I started clubbing many moons ago, you could start on Thursday evening and not get home till Tuesday morning. Each party pouring over into the next one. That was unheard-of beyond our borders.

I don’t think politicians need to get involved, on the contrary, they better stay out of the way and let the scene explore and control itself.

To you, which place in Belgium best symbolises the country’s way of partying?

Boccaccio was a prime example. If you arrived at 1AM on a Sunday night, you knew you were in for a long haul.

What, in your opinion, is missing in Belgium nightlife-wise?

I like that many promoters are taking it back to the underground. Personally, I prefer a night out in an unpolished venue with a great line-up to a comfortable overpriced cheese-hut.Kompass in Ghent is a new fine example of how to get it right.

What can politicians do to better support the homegrown nightlife?

I don’t think politicians need to get involved, on the contrary, they better stay out of the way and let the scene explore and control itself.

In your view, what are the key ingredients for a good night?

A good night for me simply means hearing great new music, especially when it’s unexpected. The sound system and acoustics must be of a high standard, the rest is irrelevant.

If you had to pick three essential Belgian house music releases, what would they be and why?  

[1989] The Project – Here We Go

It is that 1989 release that made me discover R&S Records. I like its funky drive and its touch of acid

Emmanuel Top – Spherique

Emmanuel is always on top with his 303 programming.

Absolute Body control – Final Report

Groundbreaking.

If you could put together the line-up of your dreams, which top five Belgian acts would you book and why?

  • DJ Raphael b2b DJ Boat bringing Antwerps finest electro
  • Eric B (RIP) for his amazing acid sets and to see him again
  • Dirk Ivens’ Live mashup of The Klinik
  • Absolute Body Control and Dive because that’s how it all started for me
  • Deg to finish it off with funky techno vibes.

Talk to us about a memorable night out, good or bad.

Ghent Club 55’s underground acid parties were insane. There was no lights except for one strobe flashing in slow mo’… No drink or drugs needed.

What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?

After completing my last album as Magnus, I am free to indulge in my machines again and see where the techno vibe takes me. I also have many gigs planned, so I’ll be out there playing.