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.

Paradise City

Paradise City

Gilles de Decker, founder

Describe yourself, your background and what you do.

I’m originally from a tiny town in Flanders, but I’ve been living in Brussels for the last 13 years now. After a rather corporate career I decided to go for my passion, organising my dream festival around Brussels, Paradise City. I was raised in a very open-minded family with my parents teaching me that with hard work you can achieve a lot and that I’m the master of my destiny. I think this has given me the entrepreneurial spirit.

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

It all started quite early when some guys in the 80s and 90s started fooling around with some machines and making electronic music. Our country was at the forefront of this movement with a thriving scene and club culture drawing the masses to the sound of the underground in the 90s, long before other countries had even heard of House music. It is extremely difficult to label our Belgian Sound, I mean looking for similarities between Front 242, Bonzai Records, Aeroplane or 2manyDjs is tricky. However its shows how diverse our sound can be. One common factor for our sound is that it has always remained authentic. It’s not fake, at least from my perspective.

What, to you, characterizes the country’s unique nightlife?

Before, Belgium’s nightlife used to be located on the “chaussée’s” or “steenwegen”, major peripheral arteries, whilst today it is more concentrated in the bigger cities. Antwerp has a lot going on, drawing big names to Vaag, Ampere, Café D’anvers and so on. Ghent has the hugely popular Kompass. And Brussels brings a little bit more adventure to the mix.

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

I’m from Brussels, and for me the nightlife scene in Brussels is very special and diverse. Today a lot of cool collectives are throwing some nice parties with eclectic music and upcoming artists and it works. They take more risks, booking more experimental acts than the average promoter in Antwerp for instance, which is far more Techno/Tech house oriented. And this diversity in music really attracts a very interesting crowd. Look at the different audience at parties such as Under my Garage, Brüxsel Jardin, Play Label Records, Love, or even Deep in House – all just super cool!

I mean looking for similarities between Front 242, Bonzai Records, Aeroplane or 2manyDjs is tricky.

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

Brussels. Not always good looking at first glance, but always a very special energy. A bit of a mess, but always good for a impromptu party.

What can politicians do to better support the homegrown scene/nightlife? Forinstance, what do you make of Amsterdam having a nightlife mayor?

Nightlife makes a city attractive and can be a tremendous economic opportunity. There are plenty of really good reasons to support this as a city. Let young people organise parties, events and make venues available for this. A nightlife mayor sounds cool, and if this person has the adequate power this can be a good move. A city vibrates when nightlife is flourishing, so we should foster nightlife instead of making it more difficult.

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

A dancefloor packed with energy and meeting nice people.

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

Supreems- Us together

Great track from a young Belgian producer.

Soulwax – NY Excuse

Kiani & His Legion – Motion Academy

I love music that is a bit trancy. It is quite a challenge to make a good trance track without it being cheesy. Kiani & His Legion managed this perfectly. Perfect opening track.

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

  • 2manyDJs for sure, because they are simply great musicians, great DJs and remain very actual despite their years in the scene.
  • DC Salas: great DJ and makes me dance every time
  • ATTAR!: he has been at the forefront of Brussels nightlife for well over 15 years. He is a legend that has been able to mix up the underground music with a more mainstream audience.
  • San Soda: great selector and DJ.
  • Nico Morano: fantastic DJ, but most importantly great charisma behind the DJ booth and is always smiling. Love it!

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

Paradise City Festival on 29th, 30thJune and 1stJuly