Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.
I’m 44 years old and I’ve been a resident at Fuse since its opening in 1994. Today I’m also the head booker there, which means I’m responsible for the club’s programming. Besides that I also manage two small vinyl labels: one for Fuse and Lessizmore, which I started in 2006 with Jessica Bossuyt, and I also produce music, but very sporadically these days.
How has where you come from shaped who you are?
I was born Tournai, a small city close to the French border, well known in the nineties for its “routes des clubs”. Alcohol being cheaper in Belgium, a lot of Frenchies used to cross the border to go out in clubs near my town. To be completely honest, the music was not that great and I wasn’t really interested in that scene. What influenced me the most was my encounter with Jean Marie Van Soye, a painting teacher at the local art school who was a resident playing funk, jazz and disco at a club called Saxo in Kortrijk in the seventies. We used to go out there all the time with a bunch of friends and this guy taught us so much about music that he became a kind of guru for us. My interest in electronic music was quite limited at the time, except for some EBM and Detroit techno, but it surely grew later on.
In your view, what explains Belgium’s considerable contribution to global house music? What “makes” our sound what it is?
Belgian’s main contribution to global house music was New Beat. We have the tendency to be fixated on that sound but it was basically a crossover between EBM and the emerging American house scene. A lot of New Beat tracks were simply slowed-down covers of American tunes, like Neon’s “Baby wants to ride” for instance. To put it bluntly, New Beat was nothing more than a darker and slower version of house music. It was the cultural effervescence that surrounded it that made it special; it was the peak time of our clubbing culture.
What, to you, characterises the country’s unique nightlife?
I don’t think our identity is quite defined at the moment. Indeed the country seems to be in search of its new identity in a world where most clubs look very similar and we are looking a lot at Germany and Holland for inspiration. This is another consequence of globalisation, which is often a synonym of standardisation.
Can you talk to us about Brussels’ nightlife scene and its specificities?
Brussels is made of a multitude of small niches with their own particularities and some of them are interconnected. Unfortunately there’s only a few clubs left in the city and a lot of events take place at off-location events.
To you, which place in Belgium best symbolises the country’s way of partying?
It would be hard for me not to mention Fuse… It is one of the longest living club and it withdrew the test of time.
What, in your opinion, is missing in Belgium nightlife-wise?
Adapted spaces to organise events are sorely lacking in our country and the gentrification of our cities also make them close one after another.
What can politicians do to better support the nightlife? For instance, what do you make of Amsterdam having a nightlife mayor?
The rules are getting stricter and very little subsidies are being granted to support small structures. These regulations have a negative impact on the scene’s creativity and lead to cultural impoverishment. We need to understand that nightlife is an important part of any city’s cultural life so money should invested in it, just like it is the case in Berlin. That being said I’m not convinced that a nightlife mayor is the best option because he would need to be completely impartial. I would rather have a system where both the authorities and the nightlife actors can communicate so that everyone’s voice can be heard.
In your view, what are the key ingredients for a good night?
A few friends, a cheerful crowd and great music on a good sound system. The rest comes later…
If you had to pick three essential Belgian house music releases, what would they be?
Hiele – Enter.
I find Hiele a very interesting artist with his own universe. This is one of the few house tracks he has produced.
Joris Vermeiren- Evoluon part 1
This minimal techno track was made Joris Vermeiren 15 years ago, way before it became a trend.
Zazou Bikaye – Dju Ya Feza
This proto-New Beat track was released by Crammed Record’s boss Marc Hollander and Hector Zazou in 1983.
If you could put together the line-up of your dreams, which top five Belgian acts would you book and why?
It’s a very difficult exercise that I sometimes have to do this for my job. There are so many talented artists in diverse genres that your line-up can easily look like a patchwork if you don’t make the right decisions. But more importantly, I hate rankings, especially when it comes to art because it’s a lot too subjective… Have you seen that “Black Mirror” episode about rankings?
Talk to us about a memorable night out, good or bad.
The most memorable nights out are often the ones you remember nothing about!
What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months
I have a little tour in Asia coming up, as well as a few gigs abroad and nice festivals this summer.