Describe yourself, your background and what you do today. How has where you come from shaped who you are?
My name is Simon Leloup, I’m 23 and I grew up in Maldegem where I still live. I work as a freelance photographer for Red Bull Elektropedia and also as a nightlife/festival photographer for different clubs and festivals around the country – Fuse, Labyrinth club, Laundry Day and the likes. I started photography six years ago but only got into the music scene three years ago. Compared to a lot of other kids my age, I mostly grew up around electronic music. As a kid, I didn’t really like house music and got into dubstep/drum and bass at first, which naturally led me to house and techno when I became older. When you’re young, you just don’t appreciate this kind of music. After having the chance to shoot a little festival and meeting some people who believed in me I slowly started to shoot for larger productions which ended up with shooting for Red Bull last year.
In your view, what explains Belgium’s considerable contribution to global house music? What “makes” our sound what it is?
What I really like about the Belgian sound is that we really have lots of different things and not one particular sound. Belgium has always had a lot of international influences when it comes to music and I have the feeling that you notice that in today’s music.
What, to you, characterises the country’s unique nightlife?
Belgian nightlife is something hard to describe, we have a great international line up almost every week in almost every large club with a lot of different styles all over the country. At its core, I’d say we don’t put everything in boxes and are mostly open minded in terms of genres.
More specifically, can you talk to us about your home base’s nightlife scene? What makes it special, who are its main players?
I’ve been working together with House of House in my hometown for the past few years, and we’ve consistently been growing year in year out. Our last edition brought in over 1500 guests, which is huge for such as small city as Maldegem. What makes it particularly special is that they focus on tech house, always trying to book artists who are on the cusp of breaking through. What’s more, the money that has been raised with the events always goes to the charity “kom op tegen kanker”.
To you, which place in Belgium best symbolises the country’s way of partying?
That’s a hard one for me to answer since I’ve been to most of the clubs in Belgium and every one of them has its own vibes and signature people. I’ve had the chance to photograph some nights in Fuse last year and to be honest every time I’ve been there the dancefloor went through the roof, as if it was the last night ever that people could rave. That’s not something I’ve seen in every club.
What, in your opinion, is missing in Belgium nightlife-wise? What can politicians do to better support the homegrown scene/nightlife? For instance, what do you make of Amsterdam having a nightlife mayor?
I think politicians have to see what a cultural value nightlife has in our country, teaming up with a nightlife mayor like there is in Amsterdam would be a great start because the gap between politicians and nightlife in Belgium is still quite big.
In your opinion, what are the key ingredients for a good night?
Vibes and a nice location are key, although the location is something small that just gives it an extra bit of edge. I’ve always been someone that loves vibes at party’s, when the music is good and everyone agrees, something magical happens in that single moment.
If you could put together the line-up of your dreams, which top five Belgian acts would you book and why?
2manydjs, Stavroz, Harted, Thang and Oaktree. 2manydjs because the way they play with the crow dis just perfect. Stavroz because I like they play with live instruments in an intimate setting. Harted because I’ve always been a big fan of his music selection. Thang because I appreciate a great DJ that can play anything and still manages to set the dancefloor on fire. And Oaktree because everything is so tight, from the production to the visuals.
Talk to us about a memorable night out, good or bad.
Not so long ago, I went to Berlin’s Watergate, which had been on my bucket list for a while. I had just before that had knee surgery, but my doctor had confirmed that everything would be fine. Then, when I got out of the club, I noticed that I couldn’t walk all that good because my knee was so swollen so my friends decided to carry me back to the apartment until I saw a wheelchair just standing right next to a dumpster and, because it looked like it was trash, we decided to take it. I’ll never forget thinking how much of a miracle it was to find that wheelchair at that particular moment.