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.

DJ Athome

DJ Athome

Founder of Brussels Alternative Show and member of Front de Cadeaux

Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.

I’m Maurizio Ferrara and I’ve been collecting records since I was 15. I started DJing in the early 90s and founded a radio show in 1996 called Brussels Alternative Show on Radio Panik, playing mainly experimental music, wave, techno, industrial, acid, hip-house, New Beat, electro hip hop and dub. And 22 years later, I would say it’s still pretty much the case. I created a label called Pneu together with friends in 1999, releasing wave, electronic and experimental music. Then in 2006 I moved to Rome with Hugo Sanchez who I’m working with as Front de Cadeaux, my main project at the moment.

How has where you come from shaped who you are?

I was born in Liège and I grew up with the sound of La Chappelle, one of the best underground clubs in Belgium. Bernard Dobbeleer had been my first inspiration as a DJ. At the time I was spending every summer in Italy and I was fascinated by the sound of Italo house and Italo disco. So I guess you could say my style is a mix of cold and warm influences.

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

There is something special about our song; it’s like a mixture of different ingredients that have been stolen and reconstructed. The Belgian scene from de mid-80s was clearly influenced by various scenes from across the border: Neu Deutsche Welle, cold funk from New York, UK rave, Chicago house, Detroit techno and many more. The way Belgian artists produced and released music had something similar to Japanese electronic music: with humour and without restraint or boundaries. But most importantly, our scene is made of pure music lovers who like to party and dance all night long.

“Our scene is made of pure music lovers who like to party and dance all night long.”

What, to you, characterises your home base’s nightlife scene?

I have a special crush for parties and artists booked by Bonnefooi, Gay Haze, Los Ninos, Vicuna, Nose Job and Spek, and I miss the Holger Nights.

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

Fuse is probably the place that best represents Belgium’s electronic scene, with a proper techno line-up. However, I prefer Barlok where I saw so many good concerts, or this small boat on the canal where I saw Black Madonna perform at 5AM one night.

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

We need more dancers, more freaks, more queer parties and maybe fewer DJs, as Daniele Baldelli likes to say.

What can politicians do to better support the homegrown nightlife?

They should support our nightlife like every other cultural heritage. By suppressing the places where people feel good to party together, they also suppress social interactions (which are already complicated in the nightlife, and not exclusively because of drug and alcohol abuse). We need more safe places where dancing and having fun can happen in decent conditions.

 

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

People are the essential ingredient for a good night. They need to feel good and safe and dance of course. Then the line-up will be the main ingredient. This is the main reason why most parties make a selection at the door, because promoters and clubs want an audience that matches the spirit of the party. A good, not too loud sound system is also essential and the crowd should have access to safe drugs and free fresh water.

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

Grey House – New Beats The House

Because I still remember my reaction the first time I heard this track on the national radio station.

White House White – The House Of My Master

Because I like it when it’s dark and slow.

Starflight – Dance To The Beat

Because it reminds me of the cd compilations by Raddius Records, a Belgian cd label releasing mainly Italo disco and electro.

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

– Bernard Dobbeleer because he was my first inspiration;

– Jerohm playing only his Irdial Records collection;

– Deg, because I never know the records he will be playing;

– Eric B streaming from paradise;

– Frank De Wulf playing an old school set as if we were back in 1990.

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

Last week I was listening compulsively my collection of 12” and I remembered Bandulu’s live act at La Chapelle somewhere around 1995. I was totally fascinated by the way they produced techno like it was reggae.

 

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

I will focus on production as well as new releases with Front de Cadeaux.

soundcloud.com/dj-athome