Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.
I don’t have a specific musical background; I’ve just always been into it and never followed what other people liked, which explains my love for non-commercial music.
Today I am a DJ playing tech house in different clubs and festivals under the alias KHLR. I also organise the Wonderbos parties in Club Vaag four times a year, where we create a different experience for each season. I am also the co-founder of UNDR, the first radio station in Antwerp playing a non-stop selection of underground music and the best underground DJ shows. And lastly, I am the co-host of Flat A, the first space where artists ranging from DJs to chefs, painters and comedians have the opportunity to video stream and record events.
How has where you come from shaped who you are?
I think my stubbornness and my drive to follow my own path and do things differently are traits that define me today. I got this from my mum. Then I also try to be useful to my entourage so I am always a helping hand, ear or brain to friends and colleagues. This I inherited from my father.
In your view, what explains Belgium’s considerable contribution to global house music? What “makes” our sound what it is?
I think it is our drive for self-expression. People say about Belgians that they’re introverted and timid, so I believe they channel their energy into self-expression. To me, New Beat was the foundation of the whole Belgian musical revolution that followed. Nightlife is without doubt the place where this self-expression took place with artists trying to deliver the best music and party experience and the crowd contributing to the clubbing culture.
What, to you, characterises the country’s unique nightlife?
Our rich party culture inheritance and the variety of venues and parties.
“We don’t need a nightlife mayor; we already have too many politicians in Belgium and we know politics and nightlife don’t mix well here.”
More specifically, can you talk to us about your home base’s nightlife scene and its main players?
Antwerp’s main players are Café d’Anvers, Club Vaag, Ampere, La Rocca, The Villa Antwerp, Ikon and their countless different parties. Underground music is getting more popular so there is a lot of competition and big names that used to be exclusive and only play at big festivals are being booked throughout the year at our clubs. As a result, we’re spoiled with choices in quality music, but still, each venue keeps its own identity and party experience.
In your view, which place in Belgium best symbolises the country’s way of partying?
I would say Tomorrowland represents well the country because it provides a wide range of musical variety for all electronic music lovers. But when it comes to representing the scene, I would definitely go for Extrema Outdoor.
What, in your opinion, is missing in Belgium nightlife-wise?
We need to focus more on the experience instead of booking the biggest names. I also think we need to look at what’s going on outside of Belgium.
What can politicians do to better support the homegrown scene/nightlife? For instance, what do you make of Amsterdam having a nightlife mayor?
We don’t need a nightlife mayor; we already have too many politicians in Belgium and we know politics and nightlife don’t mix well here. Authorities should simply embrace the scene by supporting and tolerating it instead of inventing new rules and pushing the nightlife away from the city centres.
In your opinion, what are the key ingredients for a good night?
A nice atmosphere, good music, friendly staff, a decent sound system and an element of surprise.
If you had to pick three essential Belgian house music releases, what would they be and why?
I have to mention Moscow Discow by Telex because it’s an all time classic.
Push – Universal Nation
Another classic and crowd pleaser.
Junior Jack – Thrill me
Because it brings back good memories
Deltano – Ya gruuv
This is one of my favourite recent Belgian tracks of the moment; enjoy the groove.
Talk to us about a memorable night out, good or bad.
In 2000, I had to work for a promotional action for Nokia at I Love Techno. It was the first time I attended a big electronic event and I’ll never forget the vibe and the musical discovery I made that night.
What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?
I will be celebrating my birthday on April 7 at Club Vaag, then for the next Wonderbos on April 20 at Ampere, we have teamed up with Balance to invite one of the most inspiring live acts, Ame. And then of course, the first festival of the season: Extrema Outdoor.