Describe yourself, your background and what you do today. How has where you come from shaped who you are?
We’re a Namurois DJ-cum-producer duo that goes by the name of HeartlyBeats, besides running our party concept INSVNE with our mate Tim Baresko, and our labels House Of Hustle and House Of Bangerz with our Mexico-based partner Patrik Stedt. Our project started from a common love for house and hip-hop music five years ago, especially as the combining genre G-house was emerging, shaping our founding sound. Even if it has evolved quite heavily since then, you can still find ghetto influences in our vision of house and techno production.
In your view, what explains Belgium’s considerable contribution to global house music? What “makes” our sound what it is?
We believe that Belgium is at the forefront of electronic music thanks to its unique festival scene. Regardless of whether you like it or not, Tomorrowland is the only festival gathering the best from each and every genre of electronic music, selling out 400 thousand tickets in mere hours. In today’s time where we’re spoilt with a choice of 10 festivals around the world every week, people don’t realise how strong and wide Tomorrowland’s impact has been on a global scale, also aiding other Belgian festivals to gain traction. In terms of sound, Belgium’s musical roots are pretty rooted in hard techno while the acid movement was huge for over two decades, so it’s pretty normal that Belgian techno is creating a lot of hype right now and that its leaders are repping the nation all around the world. Homegrown hip-hop has also been booming lately – but that’s probably more of a reflection of how hip-hop has become the pop music of today.
What, to you, characterises the country’s unique nightlife?
Belgian nightlife’s allures and charms comes from its diversity, even though it is suffering from a lack of support from Belgium itself. It’s a small country, and yet people still tend to only support their local scene if it’s gaining recognition and popularity from outside the country. A great example being our friend Kolombo who’s a massive star in Brazil, Australia, Russia and even the US, yet had to work tirelessly for 20 years to make his name known here. He’s had an undeniable impact on the scene and is acknowledged by all his peers, but it took our public a ridiculously long time to realise that we’re graced with an artist of his calibre.
More specifically, can you talk to us about your home base’s nightlife scene? What makes it special, who are its main players? To you, which place in Belgium best symbolises the country’s way of partying?
Even if we hail from Namur, or launched our first parties in Brussel, it has to be said that we’ve fallen head over heels for Antwerp’s party community – they’re so passionate about music. Their scene is really wide and open-minded, and we’re so glad to have found our party home in Club Vaag: how a club should always be, from their amazing sound system and crazy lights to the party freaks dancing and smiling all night long. They won’t leave the party until you force them out!
“We’ve fallen head over heels for Antwerp’s party community – they’re so passionate about music.”
In your opinion, what is missing in Belgium in terms of nightlife?
A healthy balance between Brussels, Wallonia and Flanders. It’s most likely due to our “cultural differences”, but it’s still unbelievable to witness such large mental gaps between cities that are merely 50kms away from each other. Walloon nightlife would be close to inexistent if it weren’t for the big headliner here and there. Brussels has some really big players on site, but its people prefer to complain over actually supporting their local initiatives. Flanders is way more open-minded and offers all aspects of electronic music, with space to grow.
What can politicians do to better support the homegrown scene/nightlife? For instance, what do you make of Amsterdam having a nightlife mayor?
We’re currently witnessing Brussels officials seemingly going backwards on nightlife, with the closing of Recyclart and all the taxes put on their bars and nightclubs. It seems like our local politicians just don’t believe in nightlife – something you also feel as a producer or DJ. It’s really tough to find the right structures, whether it’s for organising events or developing your own musical project. Belgium is yet to offer a good basis which would ensure some stability and nurture confidence in getting your project off the ground. So it would be amazing to see local politics devise a specific structure for all activities linked to music and nightlife, regardless of how demanding it may be. Sure, a nightlife mayor would be a promising initiative, but it would be such a long-term commitment that we’re not sure yet how impactful it would be.
In your opinion, what are the key ingredients for a good night?
The sound system is paramount in order to make sure that the audience has the best experience for enjoying the music. Another key point is a strong line-up of different genres, of artists capable of engulfing the crowd into their musical story and embarking them on a journey. And of course, music lovers – though you most definitely reap what you sow, so if you get all these elements together then you’re sure to bring in the right people.
If you had to pick three essential Belgian house music releases, what would they be?
Junior Jack – Thrill Me
Kolombo – My Own Business
The Amazing – Qu’est ce que vous voulez
Talk to us about a memorable night out, good or bad.
Our latest party at Club Vaag was epic: it wasn’t that busy with a crowd of 300, but the atmosphere was out of this world. Solardo was giving 200% and had people going nuts non-stop for three hours long, throwing their hands in the air. We jumped on the decks too, and after messy yet amazing B2B set we set off for an afterparty 30kms away. We ended up falling asleep in the car just in front of the house though and only woke up at 10h in the morning – classic shit.
What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?
We have plenty of things coming in the next months: some HeartlyBeats releases on the labels FloorFiller, Stashed Goods and our own House Of Hustle; fun gigs and some festival business for the first edition of Vintage Village Festival. We’re planning our next INSVNE parties and working on the first label showcases in Germany, LA and Miami with a lot of dope releases due to come on both labels as well, and finally our monthly radio show in Germany.