Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.
Hush Hush is run by Hush Hefner and myself, Blackout Boy. Hefner is one of Belgium’s most versatile DJs with a strong love for house and disco, who also runs the Contrair brand and pop-up event spaces. Blackout Boy is the alias of one of Belgium’s leading dance music figures, who’s been a pivotal figure in the country’s underground dance scene for over two decades.
How has where you come from shaped who you are?
We are a product of our environment: born and raised in Belgium, a tiny country, it’s harder to stay within its borders than to visit the neighbouring countries. Belgium is a melting pot, with a strong focus on the Anglo-Saxon world, but with major influences from all kinds of other territories too. On top of that, we Belgians are hedonists and love good food, strong drinks and night-time parties.
In your view, what explains Belgium’s considerable contribution to global house music? What “makes” our sound what it is?
Because we are such a small yet densely populated country, easily adapting to what’s happening around us while combining different styles and scenes, Belgium has always been a fertile ground for new types of music.
What, to you, characterises your home base’s unique nightlife? What makes it special, who are its main players?
Antwerp has been an epicentre of house music for as long as anyone can remember, with the USA Import record store and the Café d’Anvers dance temple serving as prime examples. Techno has gotten a strong hold of the local scene as of late, and hip-hop has been making big waves as well. And deep down in the underground, it’s also the main spot for Belgian drum and bass.
“We Belgians are hedonists and love good food, strong drinks and night-time parties.”
To you, which places in Belgium best symbolises the country’s way of partying?
Every big city has its own specifics: Ghent seems to be a place where things bud and grow organically in its many small bars and clubs, eventually blossoming in Vooruit and Kompass; while Antwerp’s players love to discover new spots and move from pop-up to pop-up, or gather in big spaces when a big act passes through (which is every week!).
In your opinion, what is missing in Belgium in terms of nightlife?
We could do with more night-time public transport. Taxis are expensive, and the police have been coming down hard on drunk driving, so people tend to stay close to home to party, which is a shame. Night-trains, night-buses and trams would make a big difference.
What can politicians do to better support the homegrown scene/nightlife? For instance, what do you make of Amsterdam having a nightlife mayor?
Politicians love to flaunt themselves at Tomorrowland, but crack down on any night-time “disturbances”. Efforts should be made to educate people to be tolerant, and to not focus on the cons of nightlife but rather its pros.
In your opinion, what are the key ingredients for a good night?
Good music, the right crowd, a top-notch sound system, and dimly-lit surroundings that allows you to dance like nobody is watching.
If you had to pick three essential Belgian house music releases, what would they be?
CJ Bolland – Camargue
Technotronic – Pump Up The Jam
Kill Frenzy – Make That Booty Clap
If you could put together the line-up of your dreams, which top five Belgian acts would you book and why?
We play music that’s on the crossroads of house, hip-hop, funk, dancehall, electro, trap and garage. We regularly curate the “line-up of our dreams”, since most of the artists that know their way around all these genres are our current resident DJs. Besides Hush Hefner and Blackout Boy, a few of the acts that fit the profile are Faisal, TLP and Ekany. If we could, we’d gladly add a live show by Wizards of Ooze circa 1992.
Talk to us about a memorable night out, good or bad.
A memorable moment was walking around the Tomorrowland site a few years back, trying to escape the horrible EDM sounds, and walking into Kozzmozz’s tent, where Detroit’s Kenny Larkin was playing a mix of soulful techno, bouncy house music, straight-up funk and pure jazz.
What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?
We’re still moving around, keeping things fresh, exploring the neverland in between neo-soul, boom bap, funk, ghetto tech, Jersey club and UK garage, among other things. We’ve been dropping bootlegs and remixes all over the place since April as well, since we’ve been adapting some of our favourite music to the particular stylings of our night.