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.

Calvache

Calvache

Jonathan Calvache, DJ, promoter and label co-founder

Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.

I’m a DJ-slash-producer based in Antwerp, originally hailing from Ecuador. My mother and I emigrated to Antwerp in 1984 at the age of six. After studying publicity in my new adoptive city, I’m currently a professional welder based in the Port of Antwerp.

How has where you come from shaped who you are?

Life in Ecuador back in the days wasn’t so stable: raised by a single mother, we had a few rough years. My mother was a professional choreographic dancer, so music was a central fixture in our house every day. After moving to Belgium my mom met my future stepfather, and life decidedly became more easy-going after that. My attention was soon grabbed by hip hop and electronic music in general. Soon after that everything got started. I started DJing at the start of my 20s with one of my oldest friends Pieter Delbaen aka Delbaen, going on to found the music label Deep Down. We joined forces a few years later with fellow DJ and close friend Arne Van Oekelen who started the Antwerp spin-off of Sunday Matinée with Guy Van Campenhout. From there on we had a platform that opened up opportunities and increased exposure for everyone involved.

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

We have a history dating from back in the 80s, thanks to names like Marc Moulin, Confetti’s, The Neon Judgement – all artists who helped shape the face of the dance scene that we know and love today. Later on, all the techno and house labels like R&S Records and Bonzai Records did their bit to stamp their name on the scene too.

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

We have a lot of great clubs; clubs with an important history. They’re like monuments within the scene, with beautiful moments passed on down generations. Not to forget, all of our festivals and techno concepts, like Kozzmozz.

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 not sure if Antwerp’s scene is that special! Of course we have the landmark Café d’Anvers, and Ampere which has been steadily making its mark for three years now, alongside Club Vaag and Bar Helder. There’s also the more underground venues like Het Bos. Of course, we also throw our own Sunday Matinée parties during the summer, alongside Lucid Festival.

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

Brussels! It’s always a pleasure to going out in our capital city – people really know how to party over there.

In your opinion, what is missing in Belgium in terms of nightlife?

We should be able to throw more parties in abandoned industrial places. Just more freedom to organise parties in random locations all-round.

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

Antwerp could definitely do with a nightlife mayor. Our politicians need to come to realise that the social, cultural and economic aspects of nightlife lead to an innovative, vibrant and liveable city. Big up to Amsterdam for doing a great job.

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

An awesome line-up, a great location, a crazy sound system and all of my best friends.

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

T99 – Anasthasia (1991)

Reminds me of my first time at Cherry Moon.

The Mackenzie – Early in the Morning (1995)

Yves Deruyter IV – Calling Earth (1995)

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

Hill Men, Laurens, Arne, Delbaen, Gerrie303, Pirrès. Sorry, I chose six, but they’re my go-to artists.

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

The one time I forgot the address of my friends’ apartment in Berlin, where I was staying. With no juice left on my phone after a gig in Golden Gate, I ended up staying awake for a good 20 hours, totally disoriented. After a few hours walking around like a zombie in Mitte, I found a phonebooth and called my girlfriend back in Belgium because her number was the only one I could remember, and she managed to get the right address for me.

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

Outdoor season is ahead of us, so we’ll be hosting some Matinees. I’ll also be in the studio producing some tracks for my new project Footloose, which I’m really excited about.