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.

Out of the Ordinary

Out of the Ordinary

Johan De Vylder, Stijn Verheyden, Mats Nauwelaerts, Joshua Eykens and Filip Van Loock, founders

Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.

We all have different backgrounds and grew up in different parts of Belgium. However, the five of us have are passionate about electronic music, so we came together to create our own label, OOTO.

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

Besides the many musical talents and the technological developments that have shaped contemporary house music, we believe that there’s quite a bit to tell about the geographical and cultural peculiarities of our country too. From an international perspective, Belgium holds a central place in Western Europe, which makes it a traveling hub for a lot of people. Moreover, Belgians are usually multilingual, which explains why we’ve developed a quite international and visitor-friendly producing sphere. We believe most people in the scene are quite open to influences from other countries and cultures, and so is our sound.

What, to you, characterises the country’s unique nightlife? What makes it special, who are its main players?

Again, we believe there’s quite a good deal to explain when we look at Belgium from a geographical perspective. Urban development in Flanders has quite a strange history. A few central, and very old cities (way older than the actual country) are spread over both the Flemish and the Walloon parts of Belgium. These cities attract people from smaller Flemish and French-speaking towns who want to pursue their creative or intellectual dreams. The cultural diversity of the people coming from these towns feeds into a hodgepodge of insanely creative collectives and open-minded fan bases, which is also true for house music. In Ghent for example, there’s a local talent and a local fan base to represent every musical scene.

“The more politicians are involved, the less our voices are heard.”

In your view, which place in Belgium best symbolises the country’s way of partying?

The Federal Parliament in Brussels was once a great place to party as members could drink as much as they wanted for free. But these days are gone now. Since 2017, Parliament members need to pay a yearly fee of 160 € for their drinks. Quite a sad story, right? So all we have left are small-scale festivals and open-air events.

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

Our clubbing scene is insanely diverse so we don’t think there’s a lot to change about that. What would be awesome is a 24/7 decent public transport system that could bring you anywhere in the country whenever you want.

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

The more politicians are involved, the less our voices are heard, so we think the scene should care for itself. It would be more productive if we could create a sort organisation where club owners and bookers could meet every month and discuss general concerns and share their expertise. Politicians could be invited only when necessary and we could potentially appoint a spokesperson from the scene.

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

Per visitor:

  • 2 square meters of dancing area
  • 6 to 12 beers
  • 3 cups of water
  • Free restrooms, lockers, and a cloakroom
  • 1 or 2 packs of cigarettes
  • Love and friends
  • Good sound
  • Music you like

 

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

C.J. Bolland – There Can Only Be One

A split second – Flesh

Marc moulin – Sam suffy (album)

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

Pierre, Koenie, St-Dic (RIP), Raoul and Geoffroy.

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

That would be the open-air party we threw for the launch of our record label in September 2013. It was a nice sunny afternoon where all of our friends were playing and our parents and family helped around with the catering. The night ended with a campfire and some tracks of our own were played while we started some kind of chocolate fountain. Epic.

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

For now, we’re all quite busy with our own projects, but we’ll be back on track after the summer. Stijn is working on a project called CAPOON; a collaboration of Lemakuhlar and JENS focusing on a fresh deep electric sound project. Johan, co-founder of TONE festival, is still DJing as Ogust and he just started a new project called ECHODEN together with DJ Chantal. He is also working with Mats in the studio on some new deeper tracks.

soundcloud.com/ootorec