Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.
I was born and raised in Brussels, where I’m still based today. After studying law for and communication, I mainly focused on my three babies: Les Garages Numériques, Under My Garage and Archipel. I co-founded Brussels-based clubbing events Under My Garage six years ago with two friends. Les Garages Numériques is a festival dedicated to digital art and music, offering talks and performances. And Archipel is an ambitious project that caters to all possible clubbing needs from July till mid-August, inviting numerous artists and concepts. I also founded Under My Label with my partner in crime Arthur Tixhon four years ago, though it has kind of been left on the back burner for a while now. Hopefully we’ll have time to re-open it soon!
How has where you come from shaped who you are?
My two brothers and I were huge rock and roll fans growing up – I remember our father took me to Rock Werchter when I was 13 years old. I was also taking guitar and piano lessons at the time. In fact, my entire environment – family, friends, activities – was music-oriented. It was very stimulating. And then I discovered electronic music thanks to artists like James Murphy, Thom York and such. I loved attending concerts – and I still do. Maybe that’s why I started throwing parties.
In your view, what explains Belgium’s considerable contribution to global house music? What “makes” our sound what it is?
Belgium’s rich electronic music history continues to impact today’s contemporary house scene in its limitless approach to music production, reminiscent of the spirit of the 90s. These guys were going above and beyond to create truly innovative hybrids; above and beyond any specific genre. Take for example Amnesia’s track Ecstasy: it’s neither house, acid nor EBM, but rather a conjunction of all these styles, released on an album that would go on to be the very first electronic music masterpiece that had a distinctly Belgian – and even European – sound. In short, Belgian producers currently exert a considerable influence on the contemporary scene thanks to their transgression of rules and free-spirited production
What, to you, characterises the country’s unique nightlife? More specifically, can you talk to us about your home base’s nightlife scene?
The fact that Brussels has a limited number of nightclubs implies that promoters play a crucial role for the capital city’s nightlife. To some extent, promoters determine the rhythm and flow of the nightlife. Which is good, in a way, because they have much more freedom than clubs: we can take over exceptional sites, select the most suitable schedule times, and so on. The fact remains, however, that clubs are very important: it enhances the international prestige of a country’s nightlife – just think of the legacies behind Boccaccio, Fuse, Berghain, Paradise Garage, Robert Johnson, or Fabric. They also able to propel their resident DJs to the spotlight, because they’re open every weekend and serve as a sort of punctual rendezvous spots for an entire city, or even country. And it’s good to see that most people go a club for its musical programming, rather than the event concept itself – which is the case for promoters.
“It’s hard to build the culture without clubs and parties at hand.”
What, in your opinion, is missing in Belgium nightlife-wise?
Parties! And new clubs. If we had more of both, people would be more interested in electronic music. Today’s youths are obsessed with rap, it’s in every teenagers’ headphones – of course I’m exaggerating here, but only slightly – simply because it’s the best music in Belgium at the moment. They aren’t educated on electronic music because the offer is way too weak. It’s hard to build the culture without clubs and parties at hand. A vicious cycle…
What can politicians do to better support the homegrown scene/nightlife? For instance, what do you make of Amsterdam having a nightlife mayor?
Doing nothing against it would be a start! On a more serious note, authorities could facilitate access to industrial wastelands and relax certain laws. But perhaps politicians are not the only problem here: today, Brussels’ citizens are just less creative and yet unable to challenge the political system. It has to be said that my project Archipel is wholeheartedly supported by the City of Brussels – it’s is a massive playground for the Brussels nightlife during the summer.
In your opinion, what are the key ingredients for a good night?
A night during which you can already feel a good vibe and energy as soon as the first people step in. If you need at least 300 persons to fill up the room, it’s bad. The responsibility lies on the organisation and their set-up. Guest DJs have to be taken care of, receiving a warm welcome from the promotors and the crowd in order to provide a quality set. And of course, affordable prices and a good sound system.
If you had to pick three essential Belgian house music releases, what would they be and why?
Hector Zazou & Bony Bikaye – Na Kenda (Afro-Acid Mix) (1988)
An essential Belgian afro-acid house tune.
Capricorn – 20 Hz (1993)
A tribal house track released in 1993 by Dutchman Hans Weekhout on the Belgian Global Cuts imprint, a R&S sub-label.
Roza Terenzi – Mwah (2018)
A very nice EP just released on Kalahari Oyster Cult, a label owned by my good friend (and UMG resident DJ) Colino. He’s currently based in Amsterdam and releases excellent house-oriented tunes. This one is a bustling italo dream-house and bleep-era UK breakbeat track.
Talk to us about a memorable night out, good or bad.
It’s hard to pick only one memorable night, but I’d probably have to go with my baby Under My Garage’s second anniversary party back in 2014 at Fuse with Ben UFO, Objekt, Oxyd and Handless DJ – a dream line-up.
What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?
Archipel 2018, the third edition of Les Garages Numériques Festival, plenty of Under My Garage nights. Finally, a stage at Paradise City Festival with Call Super B2B Objekt, Joey Anderson, Willow, Or:la and Under My Garage resident DJs Rey Colino, Cabasa, Arthur Tixhon and Pallando.