Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.
My name is Arnaud, I got into music by listening to my parents’ records and learning how to play the guitar. Later on, started mixing as a technician for live shows. Twenty years ago, I went on a trip to London and I discovered vinyl and house music. I got hooked and I still am today.
How has where you come from shaped who you are?
Belgium had a big influence on electronic music in the early 90s but I have to admit that I wasn’t that much into it at the time. I think that what shaped me the most is the disco and funky grooves I discovered when I used to listen to my parents records. It touched me at a very young age and it is still very present in my way of feeling and expressing music today.
In your view, what explains Belgium’s considerable contribution to global house music? What “makes” our sound what it is?
We used to have a scene with artists recognised in their own country, now we only have a few. People used to visit our little country to enjoy the musical experience our clubs and resident DJs were offering at the time. They were the pillars and the guests were just the cherry on the cake. So the scene was there and the crowd was loyal to their favourite DJs or clubs regardless of the hype imposed by today’s social networks and its influencers.
What, to you, characterises the country’s unique nightlife? More specifically, can you talk to us about your home base’s nightlife scene? What makes it special, who are its main players?
Brussels’ nightlife has had great periods like those years at The Wood and Dirty Dancing. But then the underground electronic music scene became a kind of no man’s land with promoters putting a lot of effort into throwing amazing events but the audience only following the hypes. Luckily we still have promoters with the will and strength to continue offering quality musical experiences like Brüxsel Jardin, Paradise City and Endless to name a few.
“Can you imagine that some of our producers have already played around the world but they were never booked in Belgium?”
To you, which place in Belgium best symbolises the country’s way of partying?
The last few months, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Brussels. However, the first thing that comes to mind is Thé Dansant because they really put a lot of effort in creating the right atmosphere with a good location and decoration. I also like the worlds of Paradisa City, No Man’s World, Bar Helder and Club Vaag.
What, in your opinion, is missing in Belgium nightlife-wise?
We need people to have more faith in local DJs and see them as main artists; we need our crowd to be more curious; and we need our scene to be more united. Can you imagine that some of our producers have already played around the world but they were never booked in Belgium? However I understand that promoters need to be careful about their choices as they also need to attract people. So maybe it comes from the crowd or a miscommunication… If e could work a little bit on all these things, we can bring Belgium’s vibe back to the top.
What can politicians do to better support the homegrown nightlife? For instance, what do you make of Amsterdam having a nightlife mayor?
Amsterdam and Berlin’s nightlife bring business to the city, which helps their local scene grow, so it’s awesome. In Brussels on the other hand, you see neighbourhoods dying out because of gentrification: people move to a neighbourhood and complain about the noise generated by local bars and clubs, so as a result they have to close earlier, or even close down. I think politicians should keep in mind that these places have been here for a long time and that they should help them grow. So yes, a nightlife, or rather a party mayor could help, but I’m not sure our country is ready for this.
In your opinion, what are the key ingredients for a good night?
A good location; a warm welcome; a smiling staff; a well-chosen warm-up act to build up the atmosphere; a line-up that is built to go up; a proper sound system so we don’t have to put earplugs on; a good light jockey who actually feels the music and most importantly and a positive party crowd. If you don’t have that last one, everything else is wasted.
If you had to pick three essential Belgian house music releases, what would they be and why?
Kid Creme feat. MC Shurakano – Down and Under (Together)
In played this track so many times. Its bassline just makes me dance every single time and there is something fresh and groovy in the construction of the song… The vocals are just the cherry on the cake.
Plus I had the chance to bump into both of those producers and they are just incredible people. Just to explain how much I love that piece of work, I just listened to it a dozen of times while writing this
Age of Love – The Age of Love
It is always difficult to explain why you like a track more than another especially when you are writing about a classic like The Age of Love. All I know is that when the crowd recognises the first notes of this track, they just let themselves go like nothing else matter.
Pole Folder feat. Shelley Harland – Love Chemical
Pole Folder is a guy I also had the chance to meet, something like 10 years ago. I never heard of that name before and absolutely didn’t know what he was doing. Heard a dj set. We were introduced to each other. Just a great discussion!
Back home I realized that this guy was something else. He already played around the world several times, kept a low profile and a friendly face. Amazing person!
‘Love Chemical’ is one of the first tracks I heard and I just felt in love with it!
If you could put together the line-up of your dreams, which top five Belgian acts would you book and why?
- Pole Folder (live) will warm up the crowd with his airy vibe and his special connection with the crowd.
- Felix Cage would continue with his special romance that defines what he does.
- Stereoclip because I still remember the first time I saw them play at Fuse. We work in the same studio called the Mansion Playground so I knew his universe, but I was still surprised by his unconventional energy.
- Rodriguez Jr. (live), because even though he’s not Belgian, he has lived here for more than ten years so I think he is part of the scene. We played together several times in Belgium and I was his tour manager for a year. An incredible adventure.
- Bigasti b2b O.D.Math O.D. because Bigasti is one of our newcomers at Electronical Reeds and he never stops to surprise me every time he plays. And Math is an old friend of mine and he can take control of any crowd at any time. Is it cheating to put a b2b? Trust me, combining those two would be really interesting.
Talk to us about a memorable night out, good or bad.
One of my best nights took place at The Wood. I was playing b2b with So’Lex, another great DJ from Brussels, and we were challenging each other musically, getting the crowd crazy. Then I put a track by Deeligent Soul and the public just went mad. I felt overwhelmed by the energy in the room and
I realised all I ever wanted is to share these moments.
What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?
I’m focusing on Electronical Reeds and its coming releases, working closely with the artists, the PR, the distributor, the graphic designer and the crew on. Besides that I’m also collaborating with Bigasti on a coming EP. So 2018 is all about releases and studio work.
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