Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.
I was born in Ghent and have lived here all my life, but I recently moved to Deinze – a small city outside of Ghent – to be able to achieve the things I want to do in music.
“We are ravers, that is for sure and now it is being translated into the huge Techno revival in Belgium.”
How has where you come from shaped who you are?
It made me the versatile DJ that I am today. Ghent has a really broad and diverse scene shaped by the New Beat years of Boccaccio, the legacy of R&S Records and then the era of legendary Pop Life, Eskimo and Belmondo parties that turned into the golden times of Culture Club.
In your view, what explains Belgium’s considerable contribution to global house music? What “makes” our sound what it is?
First of all our sound has been underestimated – a lot! We’ve never claimed it and we had to bear the consequences of not being seen as a real scene that matters. I think that is typical Belgian, we are too humble. But lately our sound has been recognized in documentaries such as The Sound Of Belgium and the remix series of the Trance era in Belgium. We are ravers, that is for sure and now it is being translated into the huge Techno revival in Belgium with some of the biggest Techno names on the planet coming from Belgium.
What, to you, characterizes 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?
First of all, for me, Belgium is a festival country. All efforts are set on the summer, which is too short, but during the year there are only a few players holding up the reputation. Clubs should be more respected and supported as they are the main players keeping the scene alive. Look at the really old-school players such as Fuse and Café d’Anvers that are still going after more than 20 years. And then you have the new players doing things right like Labyrinth Club and Kompass. Festival-wise we really are on top of our game as Tomorrowland and Extrema Outdoor have been bringing the crème de la crème to Belgium combined with a lot of local talent. But we really can be proud of how we manage to stay relevant being a real small country.
To you, which place in Belgium best symbolises the country’s way of partying?
I love Ghent as it made me who I am today, I got to party a lot and to develop my skills week after week for many years, but Antwerp is, for me, the city where it’s happening at the moment and the past few years. I think that there are many opportunities there that contributed to being a real scene within Belgium.
What, in your opinion, is missing in Belgium nightlife-wise?
People here are more focused on what’s happening outside of Belgium and that brings us to the fact that not a lot of people work together as a team nor as one scene. So, if there is one thing missing, I’d say it is the unification of the scene to make sure we matter more internationally.
What can politicians do to better support the homegrown scene/nightlife? For instance, what do you make of Amsterdam having a nightlife mayor?
Politics have a huge role to play in all this. In Belgium it has always been a struggle to get the understanding and support of the politicians. They do not seem to get that without an actual scene a society cannot survive on the long term. The Amsterdam example is one to strive for. In an ideal situation there is one person in charge per city to guide all the matters of nightlife with a budget to be spent on supporting the local scene. There should not be any taboo about it. Kids have to be able to express themselves, it’s art, it’s a way of life.
In your opinion, what are the key ingredients for a good night?
Location is everything. Then a good infrastructure (soundsystem and drinks) and, of course, a good line-up. If you follow those steps, in that order, you don’t even need a huge name on the line-up.
If you had to pick three essential Belgian house music releases, which one would they be and why? Please also provide YouTube links.
Jaydee – Plastic Dreams (R&S)
This symbolizes the true sound of Ghent, for me, raving until the early hours, unifying all genres on the dancefloor.
Sven Van Hees – Gemini (NEWS)
For me the most inspirational album. And it comes from Antwerp. Proves that lounge could also be made here!
FCL – It’s You (We Play House)
For me a true milestone as they opened up the way for many of us here in Belgium towards credible house music on international level. And also, the proof that a small independent label can break boundaries by doing things their own way!
Talk to us about a memorable night out, good or bad.
Partying at a unique location in Ghent, at the time the Museum for modern art. Not necessarily the best party ever but it demonstrated how crazy things could be at a time when politics gave us opportunities.
What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?
We’re pushing boundaries with the label, releasing more than ever and signing a lot of local talent. I’m also releasing several new EP’s soon, on Kittball (Germany) amongst others, and I have just remixed one of my heroes Sven Van Hees.