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.

Hush Hefner

Hush Hefner

Yves Massignani, DJ and co-founder at Contrair

Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.

Besides DJing several nights a month as Hush Hefner, I’m also a co-founder of Antwerp’s Kleinhouse Festival and Contrair. I also regularly host Hush Hush parties as a resident DJ.

How has where you come from shaped who you are?

I grew up in Opglabbeek, a remote little town situated in the province of Limburg. There’s literally no music scene there whatsoever, so I can’t really say it formed me as a promotor nor DJ. I did take my first baby steps as a music volunteer at my local youth centre, but it wasn’t until my university years in Leuven that I got to know other promoters and DJs. Overall, what I learnt from growing up in Limburg is to always keep my feet on the ground, and to be grateful for all the cool stuff I’ve been able to do in the last 10 years.

What, to you, characterises the country’s unique nightlife? What makes it special, who are its main players?

There are just too many people to mention: the people who give their heart and soul (and sometimes even a kidney) to nightlife. The people behind the bar, cloakroom and toilets; the bouncers, the technicians, the DJs and off course the promotors. Those most dedicated and passionate about nightlife only have one goal: to make sure people have a good night out. Without these people, we wouldn’t have any scene in Belgium, let alone abroad.

“So there I was, having a drink in Illusion with three Belgian nightlife veterans.”

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

For the time being, definitely Antwerp, with important clubs like Ampere, Café d’Anvers and Club Vaag. There’s always a new club popping up too, and every weekend you can choose from small and poppy basement parties to grand techno raves. Everyone will find something to their liking in Antwerp – after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

In your opinion, what is missing in terms of Belgium nightlife?

We could do with less competitive behaviour amongst the promotors in all of our cities, and more inclusive policies by our local authorities.

What can politicians do to better support the homegrown scene/nightlife? For instance, what do you make of Amsterdam having a nightlife mayor?

A nightlife mayor is something that’s necessary in every major city with a decent nightlife. Politicians need to realise that nightlife is culture in itself which can contribute to the city’s appeal. Look at Amsterdam and Berlin, two amazing cities whose government have realised that residents and clubbers can co-exist.

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

Getting the right people in place, from the bouncer to the DJ; from the staff behind the bar to the crowd on the dancefloor. When everyone has the right mindset, you’re in for a night to remember.

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

Telex – Moskow Diskow (1979)

The very first Belgian house record I bought on vinyl.

Nacht und Nebel – Beats of Love (1983)

The first Belgian house record I ever heard – it was featured in Felix Van Groeningen’s Steve + Sky.

FCL – Let’s Go (2010)

A record I still play on a monthly basis ever since it came out in 2010 – so good!

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

It’s near impossible to make a selection of only five since there are so many Belgian DJs and acts I love. Although if Mark Moulin was still with us, it would be a dream to have him on a line-up. Soulwax too!

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

Bad nights aren’t worth remembering. The memorable nights are numerous, but if I had to pick one that holds a special place in my heart then it’s this one: when I just started university, I met Kim Mathijs who was still performing as Ed&Kim with Edwin Korver. I often joined them on their gigs, including a festival booking in Lier hosted by Outsoon Magazine, alongside Studio Brussel’s Switch founder and host Jan Van Biesen – which incidentally was my introduction to dance music. After being introduced to Jan around 1h, he proposed that we all go for a drink in Illusion, a legendary house temple that I’d never been to before. So there I was, having a drink in Illusion with three Belgian nightlife veterans. Unfortunately, Illusion was past its peak at the time so we left after a mere 20 mins. Still, an experience I will never forget.

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

Contrair Open Air is coming up in June, and we’re planning on hosting quite some parties this fall while we search for our very own venue. As a DJ, I have some very nice shows lined up for the coming months. Can’t wait for spring and summer!