Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.
Maya: I was born to a Bruxellois mother and Antwerpenaar father, a psychedelic DJ back in the 70s, in Halle. My cousin Caroline and I were always super close, and eventually started a duo together under the moniker Moulinex’s. Our very first booking was for Magazine ELLE with Béa Ercolini and her cigar – an absolutely unforgettable night. We eventually started hosting our own parties called CANDY BITCH at Botanique with Isabeau Paape and in collaboration with Pure FM. I still DJ, but I’m also currently a graphic designer as La soupe de Ginette. Finally, I’m a co-founder of OCTOPUS Event Pool, a festive yet sharp project dedicated to pushing great artists to the forefront. We threw our first edition in April 2017 with our guest Fairmont, and our second round in Belgica was part of Brussels Electronic Marathon.
Caroline: We’ve played in clubs and venues all across the country, as well as neighbouring cities. Musically, I’ve always loved all styles of music – but when it comes to mixing, tech-house and techno are my go-to genres. And if it’s got those little subtle sounds, even better!
Maya: I’d agree: my musical starting points tend to be techno and tech-house too, but I do also love to mix things up by going from one sonic universe to the other. That’s the beauty of DJing – going from techno one night to more experimental sounds the next, especially if it’s for expositions, film release parties, or circus openings. The more offbeat, the better!
How has where you come from shaped who you are?
Maya: I grew up listening to a lot of Station Indépendante Satellite or SIS Radio, a pirate radio located just a stone’s throw away from my house in Ixelles – I’ve even created a Facebook fan page. My dream is to throw SIS (to be confirmed!), Radio Campus nights, with TV snippets and plenty of musical discoveries. I also recorded tons on to cassette tapes throughout the 80s, which I still listen to today – tons of gems on there! Thanks to Shazam I’m able to pinpoint what the tracks are today. And of course, vinyls too: Beat Box Boys’ Einstein, Code 61’s Drop The Deal, 2 Belgen’s Lena, Ibiza’s Amnesia, Anne Clark’s Our Darkness, Klaus Nomi’s The Cold Song,… The list goes on. I’m equally a fan of Kraftwerk as I am of Jean-Michel Jarre! My father was also a DJ going by the name Cactus, and growing up he would make us listen to many tracks late at night. I’ve always loved music with an electronic element: computer, big bass, larger-than-life vocals, dark and deep melodies. What I spin today is heavily influenced by my discoveries from my teenage years.
Caroline: There’s always been music playing at my home for as long as I can remember. My parents would spin disc after disc no matter the time of day and of all genres possible; from Pink Floyd to Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan to Kraftwerk and Telex. When I was 16, our “village” finally got its very own club and thus I was introduced to nightlife and started to go out to other clubs all across the country. We were spoilt with choice back in the 90s: Café d’Anvers and La Rocca in Antwerp, At the Villa in Asse, Silo in Leuven, Who’s Who’s Land and Fuse in Brussels, Culture Club in Ghent, just to name a few. This was my first entry point to DJing. After the hype surrounding clubs, this transgressed into parties and festivals. Like Maya, I also spent much of my free time recording tracks from radio shows – editing out the host, of course – creating a consecutive 90-minute mixtape. Same went for TV-clips and video cassettes. So this was all the backdrop to my 15-year career with [PIAS].
In your view, what explains Belgium’s considerable contribution to global house music? What “makes” our sound what it is?
Us Belgians know how to party! The electro, New Wave, New Beat, house, techno, acid and punk years brought a specific innovative sound to Belgium, launching a movement which has continued to evolve to this day. The 80s “Belgian Touch” had an unquestionable influence on the rest of the world.
“The 80s “Belgian Touch” had an unquestionable influence on the rest of the world.”
What, to you, characterises the country’s unique nightlife?
Main players, DJs and the public. The Belgian electro crowd is a fun one – artistically open-minded, festive and eclectic. It’s a fun mix of backgrounds and cultures; a patchwork of many different things. The perfect cook-up of all the right ingredients: good clubs, fun guests, great crowd and top-notch sounds.
To you, which place in Belgium best symbolises the country’s way of partying?
To borrow Laurent Garnier’s words, we go to Fuse because we know without a doubt that we’ll be dancing to the wee morning hours, and that the DJs are sure to have a great time themselves. [PIAS] Nites, Zodiak, our festivals and open-air parties, Brussels Electronic Marathon and Bruxelles Les Bains are also unmissable.
In your opinion, what is missing in Belgium in terms of nightlife?
Collaborations, teamwork, collectiveness, and exchanges. We need less competition and more concord and open-mindedness – something we can thankfully witness in Hedonism and OCTOPUS.
What can politicians do to better support the homegrown scene/nightlife? For instance, what do you make of Amsterdam having a nightlife mayor?
Maya: To support, become interested and participate in events themselves – it will only do them good! I was selected by the Chancellery of the Prime Minister to represent their project Positive Belgium, which intends to revitalise and burnish Belgium’s image and reputation. I DJed for one of their press events in front of 250 journalists – including the Prime Minister – at Residence Palace. Showcasing a DJ at this event demonstrated a certain open-mindedness, which I thought was great. Belgian pride reunites all our sounds, and represents all our political parties that love to have a laugh.
Caroline: Completely on board with Maya. Perhaps practically, we could also rethink our nocturnal public transport, and offer more subsidies to events that book Belgian artists.
In your opinion, what are the key ingredients for a good night?
Maya: Good music, manic chaos, free spirits, strong line-ups, high-quality sound systems, fun venues, excited crowds, and top-notch headphones.
Caroline: Nice music, happy people and good dancing shoes
If you had to pick essential Belgian house music releases, what would they be?
Maya: This selection represents the history and electronic computer sounds of heavy-duty music that I know and love.
Public Relation – Eighty Eight (1988)
Soulwax – Conditions of a Shared Belief (2017)
Soulwax – Krack (2004)
Charlotte de Witte – Trip (2016)
Vive La Fête! – Maquillage (2003)
Vive La Fête! – Nuit Blanche (2001)
Push – Universal Nation (1999)
Telex – Voice 1984 (1984)
Telex – L’amour toujours (1982)
If you could put together the line-up of your dreams, which top Belgian acts would you book and why?
Maya: Only Belgian? Public Relation, 2 Many DJ’s/Soulwax, Praga Khan, Vive La Fête!, Speedy J, Charlotte De Witte, Marco Bailey. I’ve already had the pleasure of sharing a line-up with the last two.
Caroline: I would add Daan for his sublime voice, and Goose.
Talk to us about a memorable night out, good or bad.
The one time we supported 80s icon Boy George at Mirano. The parties at Bois de la Cambre / Ter Kamerenbos, like when the power went down during Blackout and everyone went wild when it was turned back on. Wood parties, Culture Club and Mirano were a shout too. The Bulex days were fun as well: every room had its own specific style of music, we would mix for a crowd of thousands in unlikely locations. The good days.
Maya: Personally, I still vividly remember the time I mixed for Studio Brussel and Red Bull Elektropedia’s all-female Switch/Bitch Party at Culture Club.
What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?
Maya: To keep on mixing in fun spots, regardless of whether it’s big or small. Also working hard on upcoming Hedonism parties at Fuse with killer mine-ups, and OCTOPUS Events – especially for our Brussels Electronic Marathon shows.