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.

Mandana

Mandana

Mandana Bakhtyari, DJ and producer

Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.

Some might say I’m the underground Belgian scene’s new kid on the block, but in fact I’ve been around for quite a while now. I’ve always been a huge rave & electronic music parties fan; I love the sound and the vibes. I started going to big rave parties at 19; unfortunately I was also studying in college at the time, until I was 23. This, clearly, slowed me down because I did not have enough time back then for my true passion: music. I was intending to study and get a degree first – which I did, I got a Communication Masters’ degree and I’m working nowadays for a big company in their events department, aside from being a DJ/producer.

As for my musical background, I started classical piano training at six. I come from a very musically-oriented family; my mother’s Iranian and my father’s Russian Azeri; they’re both huge music lovers so my childhood was always filled with music! My dad’s tastes were quite varied, he was into techno, House music and disco so…no wonder where my influences come from.

I won’t lie to you, my dream as a kid was to be a singer but I shattered more windows with my voice than music charts!

How has where you come from shaped who you are?

I never know how to clearly answer questions like this. As I     mentioned previously I’m originally big on rave parties and have always hung out with DJs, ravers, music fans. And clearly my family background has played a huge role in me being so passionate about music, attending all sorts of events and collecting beautiful and unique tracks. I like to call myself a music lover, period.

I have this really intense bond with music, it talks to me the way a person would. It’s my whole life; I listen to music when I’m happy, or sad, or whenever; without it I can’t breathe, it’s my oxygen.

And so everyone around me has always though my tastes were quite nice, until one day a DJ friend, D’jofrombrussels – a super talented artist I honestly think is totally and unfairly underrated and I’ll come back to that later – offered to teach me how to DJ for his “Bastard Love” party that was taking place at Barrio. So after an hour or so of him showing me the ropes, I remember saying “WOW, I wanna do this my whole life”. What I felt the first I played was indescribable; I was able to express myself, to communicate with people.

Nowadays, I’m super happy to be a Fuse resident for their Trybe parties and I’m stoked to have joined Loco Dice’s Desolat family.

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

Belgium’s pioneer and avant-garde status in music is undeniable. Our underground music culture is outstanding, going back to New Beat and the 80s.

What, to you, characterises your home base’s nightlife scene?

I think the reason why Brussels’ nightlife is so rich and lively, is because Belgium has a unique location in Europe and because we’re open to many different influences.

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

Fuse is obviously a key player, and then you also have new venues such as Kompass, which is located in an old warehouse.

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

I think we’re not open enough to new talents; we could use some diversity in terms of DJs. I think Belgians like to play safe and go see the same artists and same genres all the time. I don’t think it’s specific to Belgium, however I do think we’re better than that!

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

It’s a convergence of many factors. The venue has to be nice, the sound has to be pumping, the artist has to be talented and clever enough to sense the crowd’s expectations, the people have to be cool and if we’re lucky enough, there won’t be a snowstorm blocking the whole city.

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

DKA – Annessens

ULTRASONE – Meetin’ Again

Vernon Bara – LH310 – Little Helpers

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

I could not put together my dream line-up without including the people who have played an essential role in mentoring me; not because I blindly support everything they do, but because if I’ve chosen to follow them, it’s because to me they are genuinely talented and deserve to be credited.

  • oVon, formerly known as D’JOFROMBRUSSELS;
  • Curtis Zeki, excellent DJ and mentor up to this day;
  • Dka, excellent producer and outstanding live artist;
  • Sifa, talented DJ who has started producing;
  • Lee Davon, one of the very few artists left who still mix vinyl. His unique selections always leave me speechless.

No big names, only big talents, because I’d like the crowd to attend events for the music; not for the names they see on the posters.

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

Without a doubt, my last gig in London for the Desolat Seran Bendecidos party at Studio 338 with Loco Dice and the Desolat family. An experience I will never forget.

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

I will focus on my evolution and work as hard as I can to finalise my production work.