Detroit Sound Conservancy launches Kickstarter to reconstruct iconic Detroit sound system

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Detroit Sound Conservancy launches Kickstarter to reconstruct iconic Detroit sound systemClub Heaven Sound System

“Detroit’s sonic story is not over,” and the Detroit Sound Conservancy (DSC) will see to the longevity of that “sonic story” via the restoration of one of Detroit’s most iconic techno sound systems, that of the now closed Club Heaven.

A non-profit group that supports Detroit’s “sonic heritage through outreach, preservation, education, storytelling, curation, and innovation,” the DSC looks to not only recover, but preserve Club Heaven’s sound system via a newly launched Kickstarter campaign that will fund the system’s renovation.

Seminal artists in Detroit’s techno movement, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson gifted the sound system to the DSC in 2017. The system previously occupied a Detroit basement for approximately 20 years before May and Saunderson transferred ownership of the sound system to the DSC. Now,  the group aims to rebuild the system via “electronic archaeology,” which entails replacement of the system’s cables, drivers, amplifiers, horns, and speaker cabinets.

“Since our founding in 2012, Detroit Sound Conservancy has preserved and celebrated Detroit music history from below,” the DSC said. “This means we spend our time telling stories that have rarely been heard outside of our own neighborhoods and local communities and have yet to be included in standard depictions of Detroit’s musical history. This includes stories of Detroit’s queer dance ecosystem from the late 1960s to the present day in which Club Heaven is a key moment.”

A prominent nightclub that doubled as a “safe space” for the queer population in its hey day, Club Heaven served as a sonic sanctuary for black LGBTQ youth, while simultaneously offering an outlet to DJs, club promoters, dancers, and other frequenters of the Detroit club circuit.

Donate to the Kickstarter, here.

Photo Credit: Mixmag

H/T: Mixmag

Claude VonStroke delivers his Movement set turned album, ‘Live In Detroit’

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Claude VonStroke delivers his Movement set turned album, ‘Live In Detroit’Claude Vonstroke Live From Detroit 1

Dirtybird don and Detroit native Claude VonStroke announced that he would release his headlining set as a live album after playing Movement Music Festival over Memorial Day weekend. Originally released on Apple Music, the set is now active on all streaming services and titled, Live In Detroit.

Jam-packed with VIP edits and deep cuts, VonStroke went all out, bringing the fans in his hometown some of the weekend’s most dynamic house and techno. From originals like “Grenade,” his industrial collaboration with EPROM and his previously unreleased, “Maharaja” to Wyatt Marshall’s techno remix of the classic “Who’s Afraid of Detroit,” Claude VonStroke has put together 85 minutes of the grooviest dance-floor tunes. With the album consisting of the DJs continuous mix along with 13 individual, unmixed tracks, the Dirtybird boss has blessed us all with this massive offering of house and techno bliss.

Producer Sessions 002: Movement 2018 Sounds of Detroit

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Producer sessions

Producer Sessions is a series from Dancing Astronaut meant to shine a brighter light on the producer community. Each volume will guide producers towards some of the freshest sample packs, plugins, FX, and presets out there. Today’s session: Movement Sample Pack

This week, Splice celebrated Detroit’s rich history in techno music with a series of sample packs, contests, interviews, and editorials. The series is called The Sound: Detroit, starting off in the 1980’s and leading into the creative process of today’s most innovative artists. Following Motown’s Movement Electronic Music Festival, Splice facilitated the curation of their new Movement Sample Pack. Click HERE to check out sounds of Detroit perfect for house heads.

Spearheaded by Shigeto and Waajeed, the sample pack came together in Detroit during this past edition of Movement, with so many artists returning to the city, making the event an opportune time to gather talent and sounds. To truly capture the sounds of Detroit, Shigeto and Wajeed drove across Motor City, making stops along the way to capture hours of field recordings from scapes along the I-75 bridge to kicks at the Eastern Market and mechanical foley of the Archer Record Pressing plant.

These field recordings led to dissected, deconstructed, and transformed samples from artists who were in town for Movement festival, transforming each sound into loops and one-shots with their own unique approaches.

Artists that contributed to the pack were Andrés, Antenes, Mija, Black Noi$e, Blake Baxter, Chuck Daniels, Chris Koltay, Delano Smith, Mark Flash, Shady P, Ectomorph, Gene Farris, Jon Dixon, Ariel, Marco Shuttle, Kweku Saunderson, Marshall Applewhite, MGUN, Milan, The Saunderson Brothers, and Venture to the D. This collection contains over 400 percussive one shots, synth loops, ambient textures, and vocal FX. Click HERE to start a 14-day free trial and start producing like the pros.

Background

A serious producer should have an extensive audio library, filled with a variety of organized samples and more companies like Splice are filling that need every year. These days, a subscription to Splice is a no-brainer for producers at any level. For $7.99 a month, Splice gives producers access to their entire library of high-quality samples, loops, FX, and presets, coming in at over 2 million sounds. At that price, producers get 100 credits per month to explore Splice’s massive library, save sounds they like, and download-to-own at a rate of 1 sample per credit.

Producers at the highest levels use Splice to find inspiration because it’s so easy with their massive library and quality partnerships. Some of the most popular sound designers have contributed to Splices’ library, including exclusive packs from KSHMR, Sonny Digital, deadmau5Amon Tobin, Zaytoven, KRANE, Lex Lugar and more.

Photo Credit: Joseph Pearson/Unsplash

X-Altera – Compound Extraprotus

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x-altera

Detroit-based producer Tadd Mullinix is a man of many names and many skills. From his hip-hop tinged instrumentals under his Dabrye moniker to his acid and techno releases as JTC, Mullinix has never strayed from creating from an array of genres and perspectives. Fittingly, the eclectic producer has just released a new jungle-inspired single, titled “Compound Extraprotus” under his new X-Altera alias.

Coming just a week before the self-titled X-Altera LP drops on Ghostly International, “Compound Extraprotus” is a dark and textured approach to jungle that showcases Mullinix’s grasp of a wide-range of production styles. A close listen exposes an homage to electronic cultures of the past, with Mullinix finding inspiration in “the deep, melodic techno of Detroit and London.” With two X-Altera singles already out, an album to come on June 15th, and the release of a Dabrye LP earlier this year, Mullinix continues to position himself as one of Detroit’s top purveyor of underground sounds.

H/T: Resident Advisor

DA’s Movement 2018 soundtrack: 10 tracks that rocked the festival

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Movement

1) Andrés – New For U (Live)

From DJing with Slum Village back in the day, to playing congas, to rocking the MPC and making some of the most soulful house around, Dez Andrés is one of the finest that Detroit has to offer. Andrés had a jam-packed Movement weekend filled with afterparty appearances, contributions to Shigeto‘s set, and even his own set at the Stargate stage with a live band featuring a who’s who of musicians such as the likes of Ian Fink (Scott Grooves’ keyboard player). His timeless classic “New For U” sounded so fresh with live instrumentation as it wafted over Hart Plaza.

2) Psychedelic Research Lab – Keep On Climbing

Eris Drew was one of the most anticipated performances of the weekend and she definitely delivered on the hype. Playing a moody, tension-filled set at RA’s Underground Stage before Helena Hauff, the smartbar affiliate ripped through her wax-filled set with poise and passion. Building deep grooves and maintaining the crowd’s attention, this classic rave track from Scott Richmond and John Selway, together as Pyschedelic Research Lab, was a highlight, sounding fresh as ever. Perfect timing to drop the track too, as Kim Ann Foxman’s Firehouse label is re-releasing it with a set of remixes from Deetron and herself.

3) Floorplan – Let The Church

Whenever Carl Craig takes the stage at Movement, it’s must-see entertainment. The Planet E don commands a crowd so well, especially in Detroit, and started off his set on the mic preaching Detroit Love. As his set progressed into thicker and more energetic cuts, this one from fellow Detroit-er Robert Hood and his daughter under their Floorplan moniker made a huge impact on the crowd. Hammerings drums gave way to a tweaked-up gospel vocal for pure techno madness and a big reaction.

4) Paul Nazca – Memory

Laurent Garnier hardly ever makes an appearance stateside, which made the legend’s Sunday closing slot at Movement extra special. As his two-hour set reached its peak, he dropped a monstrous record which he and Sven Väth have supported heavily throughout the past couple years: “Memory,” by Paul Nazca. The song’s classic edge and cunning central hook whipped the audience into a frenzy with each post-break, and felt like the perfect selection for the moment.

5) Jeff Mills –  The Bells

One simply cannot do Movement, or celebrate Detroit techno in general, without the ever-iconic Jeff Mills single, “The Bells.” Its synth stabs and clanging melody that embedded itself deep into electronica’s psyche so many years ago could be heard throughout several sets during the festival — from the Underground to the Stargate stage — and each play sparked joyous looks of recognition and subsequent madness. It’s pure, raw techno that defines the genre itself, which is why the single remains fresh and widely rinsed today. To top off the festivities, techno founding father Juan Atkins also paid homage to his colleague by kicking his set into high gear with the classic.

6) Prince – Head (Hazmat Live cover)

Taking place at Detroit’s fabled TV Lounge, Soul Clap‘s annual House of Efunk party is really a can’t miss — the lineup is always packed with a diverse set of heavy hitters, the vibe is so fun and jovial, and the curation of set times between the outside patio, side alley, and indoor club is just perfect. When the magic hour came and the sun started to rise, Detroit’s own Hazmat Live took the reins with a seriously impressive live house set, filled with drum machines, samplers, analog keyboards and vocoder talk box vocals. The diversity in his live set was fantastic, as he peppered in his own take on classics such as The O’Jays “I Love Music” and Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover”. Keeping the purple theme going, his dubbed out version of “Head” was blissful at whatever morning hour it was (we forget, ha).

7) Aretha Franklin – Never Grow Old

The newly re-positioned Pyramid Stage was a highlight for many during Movement weekend, and with due reason. Looking out on the Detroit River and Windsor, Ontario, the Pyramid Stage was not only arguably the most scenic of the stages, but also packed a serious punch with it’s lineup. Radio Slave was a name we were super excited for, and he delivered a diverse heavy-hitting and funky set that got the final day festers pumping and moving. Dropping unexpected bombs such as Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax, Radio Slave also paid a cheeky homage to Detroit’s Robert Hood, breaking down his set to go into the velvet-y vocals of Aretha Franklin’s “Never Grow Old” which Hood famously sampled on his techno version of the track with the same name. The angelic vocals were uplifting right when the crowd needed them, and then was followed up with Hood’s banger “Baby, Baby”, a perfect tip of the cap to one of Detroit’s legends.

8) Wu-Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M

Wu-Tang Clan were one of the most sought-after, and unifying forces of Movement; no matter one’s musical preference, attendees flooded the main stage en masse for this legendary reunion. They celebrated their 25th birthday as a group at the festival as well, to add to the fervor. Naturally, they couldn’t go without performing some of their most well-known classics to their packed and adoring crowd. “C.R.E.A.M” was one such single that they pulled out of their archives, which proceeded to be met with supreme hype from viewers.

9) Regal – L’Éternité (Charlotte de Witte Remix)

Many are in agreement that Charlotte de Witte destroyed the Underground stage during her sub-closing set on Monday. In addition to earth-shaking techno she unearthed for the affair, the rising Belgian talent also threw in a few of her favored productions as well. One of these was her sultry remix to Regal’s “L’Éternité,” which was strategically placed within her mix to up the momentum. The original’s French vocals captivated the sweaty onlookers, while thunderous kicks anchored feet to the ground.

10) Maceo Plex & Maars – Mutant DX

Maceo Plex and his wife Christine Maars of the Odd Parents are electronic royalty, and thus a collaboration between the two is bound to be brilliant. Their recently-premiered “Mutant DX” shows off all their chemistry as producers and as lifetime collaborators, and serves as a nice, grooving tune that’s raunchy enough to rock a festival dancefloor as hard as a club. When Maceo played it during his set closing the Pyramid stage on Day 1, madness ensued as gazes remained transfixed on the hollow synth pangs flowing out of the speakers.

Claude VonStroke announces first ever Dirtybird live album

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On the afternoon before his debut headlining performance at Detroit’s annual Movement Festival, Claude VonStroke took to Twitter to excitedly deem the opportunity a “dream come true,” as well as a “major bucket list set.”

The combination of VonStroke having made almost a dozen appearances at Movement before eclipsing a headliner seat, as well as growing up in Detroit himself, “where it all started,” he says, opened the door for an unprecedented offering: a live mix album–a first for both VonStroke and his distinguished brainchild, Dirtybird Records.

The live-set-turned-album, Claude VonStroke Live From Detroit, endured four months of meticulous curation before VonStroke hit the Movement stage with nearly 150 pre-cleared tracks loaded in his DJ cannon.

“My set is very much an old-school style DJ set, all music no-one’s heard before, special versions, secret edits, all the stuff I’ve been saving just for this performance,” VonStroke says.

VonStroke accrued multiple VIP edits from within the tightly woven Dirtybird family, an unreleased VonStroke track, “Maharaja,” as well as a brand new remix of his iconic and highly applicable track, “Who’s Afraid Of Detroit?” from Wyatt Marshall.

Formerly known as Elevator Musik, Marshall turns the timeless, tech-house track into a more overt techno display, leaving the echoing, water drop-like synth melody intact over his robust, driving bassline.

The album is to be released June 15 exclusively through Apple Music.

Photo Credit: Shauna Regan 

Heathered Pearls taps Matrixxman for old-school, acid techno rework on forthcoming remix EP

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Ghostly International‘s Heathered Pearls revisits his gorgeous 2017 ambient techno EP, Detroit, MI 1997-2001, with a collection of remixes which further interpret the material and the city of Detroit that had so greatly shaped the Polish-born, Brooklyn-based artist.

So far, Alexander’s shared the first of the reworks, Matrixxman’s “8 am techno reawakening,” an acidic, lo-fi interpretation of “Under The Bridge,” one of three new angles for the piece on the remix set.

Drilling the ethereal number deeper into the underground and stripping the track of its pearlescent shimmer, Matrixxman unveils a rattling, old-school acid techno. With a much more immediate interpretation, Matrixxman’s “8 am mix” possesses both a fitting title and the contrasting properties to enjoy in accordance with the dreamy original.

Detroit, MI 1997-2001 Remixes is out July 13. Pre-order it here.

#FBF: 10 iconic Lost&Found releases ahead of the label’s Detroit showcase

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2012 marked the year that Guy J left the Bedrock nest to form his own label, Lost&Found. It’s since become one of the top labels within the progressive arena, with its owner and his colleagues showing impressive curation skills through their choice of artists to work with. The label only continues to grow in this regard thanks to its keen tap on forward-thinking music and its fervent fan base that grows by the day.

Lost&Found is nearing its sixth birthday, and Guy J is currently on a brief jaunt to North America. He’ll be stopping my Detroit during Movement Weekend to host an afterparty of his own: a label showcase. He’s brought his friends Khen, Eagles&Butterflies, and more in tow, making for a night of quality and highly melodic music.

As he kicks off his North American adventure and prepares for his label’s historic day, we thought it a perfect time to share some of our favorite releases on Lost&Found. It’s all things ethereal, sentimental, and hypnotic.

Purchase Lost&Found Detroit tickets here


1. AMbaassador – The Fade (Guy J Remix)

2. Redwood – Brian Cid

3. Guardian – Cid Inc.

4. Ego Tripping – Pedro Aguilar

5. Modular Memories (Guy Mantzur Remix) – Blusol

6. Indian Stories – Visnadi & Matteo Bruscagin

7. Sahar Z & Navar Temporary Sanity (Guy J Remix)

8. Khen & Guy Mantzur Ft Kamila – Children With No Name

9. Airborne – Guy J

10. Helena – Roy Rosenfeld

Sian prepares for Movement weekend with a tasty techno playlist

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Sian

Detroit’s Techno Week is in full motion, and the city is finalizing preparation for one of its biggest annual affairs: Movement. Thousands from all over the world are trickling into the genre’s birthplace for a Memorial Day Weekend filled with quality music and equally good energy. Outside the festival, set in Hart Plaza, Detroit’s venues will also play host to the finest house and techno from across the world in celebration of the dance underground.

One particularly special event will take place on Saturday night: the world debut of Marsian, a collaborative moniker between stalwarts Sian and Marc Houle. Together, the two will be putting on a grueling live set that explores the more sinister aspects of their respective techno and house sounds.

Their appearance is just a portion of the rest of the night in store; in fact, Sian has organized an entire showcase around his Octopus imprint. Other guests joining in on the festivities include Carlo Lio, Lee K, JUHEUN, Shelley Johansson, and Michelle Sparks.

Sian has since prepped a high-charged playlist for those curious of what to expect for the night, pumping it full of fresh Marsian, Raito, Wehbba, and more. It’s deep, driving, percussive, and slightly acidicserving as an excellent pregame listen, or one simply to increase excitement around the Saturday night affair.

 

Purchase Movement tickets here

Featured Image captured by the Octopus team 

Charlotte De Witte on her intellectual bond with music, perseverance, and wisdom gained along the way [Interview]

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Charlotte De Witte

“My goal at that stage [of my career] was just to be happy with what I do . . . and to feel satisfaction in what I’m doing right now,” mused Charlotte de Witte on her earlier days. Little did she know when taking up the art of producing and DJing at the age of 17 that years later, she’d climb the ranks to earn a reputation as one of the top talents of the new generation of techno elite. “Music made me happy, and it still does,” she continued.

This simple, yet strong feeling that music she describes is one that drives many people’s musical ambitions. She grew up in Belgium, a place with electronic music running through its veins. Though often overlooked, the country played a major role in electronic’s development and integration into the mainstream in the earlier rave days, and remains home to some of the world’s most reputable festivals. Before “discovering the music [techno] on a more intellectual level,” de Witte enjoyed what she heard while going out with friends. She started her journey in electro, before “going out more and digging deeper into the music, and music culture/history.”

Charlotte De Witte

Photo Credit: Zook Photographs

What sets this budding musician, who is just hitting her stride, apart from others is her keen ear for arrangement. In her research and experimentation, de Witte has found her way into cooler, subtly industrial shades of techno. Her music is minimal in nature, but it’s through clever arrangement of each element that she is able to move her audiences. Her no-frills approach thus becomes purposeful. “…A couple elements like a kick, some percussion, and maybe a vocal…grabs your attention so well,” she explains about her appreciation for this sound. “That’s what I really love about [this] music — I can actually get lost in the emptiness of the track, you know?”

She had a solid methodology in place as well when it comes to forging pieces that fit her preferred aesthetic: “For me, it’s really important to have a good and functional low end. All the rest of it is kind of easy to make.” Her creativity flows afterward, lending itself to ear-catching vocal bits, and sparse, yet impactful synthwork. Audiences lap up each each output, indicating her profound understanding of her art, and her relatability to listeners.

Charlotte De Witte

Photo Credit: Boda Gábor

Moreover, de Witte’s persistence is a prime driver of her success today. At the beginning of her journey, she was vastly underestimated; not only in the sense of being a woman in a male-dominated realm, but also for her young age. After all, many instinctively discount young people at times due to the difference in life experience and perceived wisdom. Charlotte has turned a blind eye toward naysayers since the start, simply aiming to reach a satisfactory level by her standards and learn as much about her new scene of choice as she could. Eight years later, and we now see her set to host a stage at Tomorrowland (where she will be hosting a stage), and earn a top slot at the techno mecca itself: Movement.

Due to take over Movement’s Underground Stage for the penultimate set of the night, we sat down with de Witte for an interview, where we gathered her thoughts on the festival and dove deep into her growth and evolution as an artist.


Let’s start with you getting rid of your Raving George alias and showing the world that you were a kick-ass female artist. What are your words on deciding to make this change, and on women being respected adequately in the industry?
To be honest…I first started playing when I was 17, so I was very young. So I was both the only female in the underground industry, and I was also very young. Those two aspects didn’t make it very easy for me in the beginning. I do have the feeling that a lot of people tend to narrow it down on just the sex or the gender, especially. In my situation, [this] was not the case; it was both being a woman, and also my age. People love to talk about gender, and gender inequality in the music business, so to me this is an important side note because especially nowadays I feel like female artists are getting much more respect, and are being taken [more] seriously when they start compared to well, eight years ago.

Ah, you make a good point, that ageism is also an issue as well. Do you ever still find yourself having to prove that you have as much knowledge as other people, despite your age, then?
Not nowadays, but when I started because I was only seventeen. I was very, very young, which made it very difficult for me to be taken seriously. Combined with my sex, of course, that was also very tricky for me in the beginning. But now I’ve been DJing for 8 years, so that’s quite a long time. I mean I’m still very young — I’m 25 now — but, I don’t feel as insecure and new to the scene now as I did back in the day, so I think that’s what I’m trying to say there.

Yeah. So, how did you work to push through those negative assumptions at the beginning of your career? Or did you just persevere and have faith that one day people would take you seriously?
It wasn’t really my goal for people to take me seriously. My goal at that stage just to be happy with what I do . . . and to feel satisfaction in what I’m doing right now. I’m not really a person who gives up easily on herself, so that wasn’t the case in the beginning. But yeah — you should just stick through, and don’t give up when others try to shoot you down in any case. I try to look at things in a positive way. Music made me happy, and it still does, so I will not let people get me down that way. After all those years, people have tried to bring me down . . . they shut their mouth nowadays. I proved them wrong! [But] I was not necessarily thinking, “What should I do to convince these people, to prove them wrong?” It was just like, “Okay, I really love what I do, so I’m not going to stop in any case, whether they believe me or not.” You know?

When you were 17, did you realize you wanted to do this full time? When did that moment really arrive?
Not at all. I never expected this to be my life. It sort of happened, and throughout the years, I kind of discovered and found out that I really loved doing it and that it makes me happy, and that I must have some sort of talent in this because things were going really well. So yeah, things just happened, and you just go with the flow, and then at some point, you end up with a manager and you can play all your first festivals and really nice clubs, and you can start travelling. So yeah — you just go with it. Now this is my full time job, and my life! I’ve never had another job.

You’re a lucky one! It feels like over the past few years you’ve really blown up and reached ‘full speed’ in terms of touring and such. What has been the hardest part of adjusting to this new lifestyle so far, and what lessons have you learned along the way in terms of balance, self care, maintaining inspiration, etc?
[Over the past] two years I’ve started touring multiple countries in one weekend, and it’s really amazing to meet and get to know new people, their culture, and their food. Because I’m a massive food lover, I love trying new foods, local foods, and food cultures. But I did underestimate the impact it would have on my life. First of all, the lack of sleep is something that’s not easy on your body, though you can get used to it. I haven’t woken up next to my boyfriend on a weekend day for over two years now . . . but I’m kind of used to it in a way. I [also] underestimated the fact that I don’t see my friends and family as much as I would love to, and that’s one of the downsides, but you get so much in return. So that’s something that’s kind of hard — not necessarily the loneliness, but not seeing your loved ones as much as you want to.

I did kind of balance out my health — I’m not getting drunk at every single gig anymore, I try to drink some water, and I try to eat healthy in between — which is not easy, especially when all you have is airport food. I try to sleep as much as I can, too. I’m an easy sleeper; I can sleep wherever, whenever, so that’s a good thing.

That’s cool — you’ve basically learned to avoid the burnout before it happens.
Yeah — I mean, people talk about the burnout, but you never really know when it will hit you, right?

Well it seems like it’s far off for now, yes?
Yeah — so far so good! I’m feeling pretty good, so I’m feeling pretty happy. My voice is completely gone, but aside from that, I’m feeling okay.

We can imagine because you’re losing it every weekend! Let’s switch gears to your comeup and development of your sound. You began with electro, but now you’re kind of putting out cooler, almost industrial shades of techno. How did you get from point A to B?
Well, it’s just like evolution. That was 8 years ago, and I was only seventeen. I grew up and became an adult first, and now I know what I want in life. I think just by going out more and digging deeper into music and music culture history, it really was a logical step that you discover what you really like. Everything that’s happened so far is what’s gotten me to this point, if that makes sense.

Speaking of, you use a lot of classic trance in your work from fellow Belgians. Did you ever listen to that growing up, and did it help play a role in what you like today, or did you just discover it during your evolution?
Bonzai was a label from the 90s, so I was too young to be alive during this period of time — which is a shame, because I think I was born too late. Since I started going out, me and my friends always went to parties and even afterparties where I got in touch with that music. But it wasn’t until around five years or so ago that I really started digging deeper into Belgian music history and got to learn stuff about Bonzai and the rave scene. So I discovered it on more of an intellectual level than when I did when I was going out with my friends and just having fun.

It seems like Belgium is underrated when it comes to electronic music!
Well it is! It didn’t used to be. In the 80s and 90s we were huge, but we’re surrounded by really important countries for electronic music and cities like Berlin and London and Paris, so I we have quite a lot of competition going on. But Belgium is definitely underrated, because we make up a big part of dance music history.

Another thing you’ve said is you’re drawn to darker music because it touches deeper on emotion. We feel like another big factor is the cathartic, heartbeat factor of the drums. Do you think that might part of it too?
Kind of! I really love techno music because you can get into a trance by listening to a few elements. You’ll only have a couple things like a kick, some percussion, and maybe a vocal, and it grabs your attention so well . . . you know? It just feels simple and really simplifies everything. That’s what I really love about music — I can actually get lost in the emptiness of the track, and the purity of the track sometimes.

Less is more; you can interpret the music your own way! Yuu had trouble DJing at first, but now you’re feeling more comfortable with performing, and taking on longer sets. Where do you see yourself taking your DJ art next, and how do you deal with stage fright?
When it comes to DJing, for now I’ve just been focusing on what I’ll be playing through North America…I have Movement coming up, and that’s a big thing to take off my wishlist. I always wanted to travel as a kid, so I’m very satisfied that I get to do that and I get to do music. I will try to do this as much as I can and see the world.

I am thinking of doing an album, but I need some more life experience and I need to tour a little bit more. That’s not something you really want to rush, so I am taking my time with that. I’d like to start a label in the following years as well, so it’s all really vague [at this point], but I’m just focused on touring a lot and making time for production. It has been really difficult to find time in the studio because I’m constantly away, so that’s something I’ll probably have to take into account for next year.

On stage fright, you don’t lose it. Every single gig I’m always nervous. Depending on the gig, I’m more or less nervous, but that’s not something I think goes away if you’re a musician. You’re not a performer, you don’t have to stand up on stage holding a microphone, and you don’t have to put your hands up in the air, you don’t make the people follow you. You’re a DJ; your job is to just play the good music and make flawless mixes. So that’s why you don’t see me being very crazy behind the decks and drawing unnecessary attention to me. That helps when it comes to stage fright, because you’re not really performing. You’re just doing an intellectual performance with music.

You’re getting into your bubble when you’re playing every time; If I’m at a really big festival, after my set is done I often just stand there and I don’t really know what’s really going on because it’s all so overwhelming and crazy to be standing in front of thousands of people and see them dancing and going crazy to my music. It’s absolutely crazy, and I cannot get my head around it. It’s really intense. It’s amazing and beautiful, but it’s really intense. So you don’t really realize what’s going on in the moment, but instead, afterwards.

It must be crazy; sometimes it’s easy to pretend people don’t exist, but we can’t imagine this on such a grand scale.
Yeah! You can’t really pay full attention to what’s happening. I try to get in touch with the crowd and build a relationship with them. But to fully realize the amount of people standing there to see YOU is something I try not to do, because it’s too crazy!

When it comes to preparing for a set like that, what’s your process? Do you pick things on the fly, do you have a rotation of tunes, etc?
That’s kind of a hard one because I have a weekly radio show, and there I make a brand new set every week. I use entirely new tracks and do lots of research, but I think when it comes to playing clubs, especially at festivals, people that come to watch you are quite a broad audience — your goal as a DJ is to make people dance. So it’s really hard for me to pick a track for a festival, because you don’t want to go too commercial or too underground. And you want to play your own tracks. It’s really difficult, and that’s why I find it logical to plan a festival set because you want to keep everything in balance, and you want to keep the people dancing. It’s not easy!

And you have to figure out how to fit it all in a couple hours too.
Exactly. I have a lot of music. It depends on the day, what I’ve played in before sets, but actually if you think of it, you don’t have so many tracks that fit into that one moment when you’re standing on stage at a festival and people expect to be dancing, having the time of their lives. So you don’t really have that many tracks to choose from.

You make a good point! So we see you’re hosting a stage at TL. How did that come about, and who are you hosting/what ethos are you looking to build with your artist selection?
Well I played at Tomorrowland for the first time in 2011, and I’ve returned there ever since so we’ve developed kind of a working relationship. And then this year they hit me up and said, “Hey, let’s do a little KNTXT stage!” KNTXT is the name of my party that I host in Fuse, a club in Brussels that’s been open for over twenty years. My party is now about three years old, so to host a stage at Tomorrowland is really cool. Music and artist-wise, we want to keep it in the same line as KNTXT in keeping it fairly underground. We won’t be hosting big artists like Ben Klock or Nina Kraviz at our stage, but we do have DVS1, and there will be the fresh new generation of the techno underground.

This is your first Movement, right? How does it feel to be playing at the techno birthplace?
It’s crazy. I’m really excited for that one, especially because I will be around for two nights, so I get to explore Detroit. I can’t imagine the place; it must be so incredibly amazing, so I’m really looking forward to that one. When I was in the US recently for my tour, everyone was telling me that I would love Detroit, the people, and the clubs.

What is your process for writing music? What inspires you?
For me, it’s really important to have a good and functional low end. All the rest of it is kind of easy to make. For example, vocals — I can get really creative with those. I think that if your low end doesn’t sound just right, it could really ruin your track. It could be a make-it-or-break-it type of deal, so I always try to work really hard on my basslines, percussion, and background noise because that’s all really important when it comes to making techno.

That’s definitely a theme in your music; there’s a lot of white noise in the background. Final pressing question: We need an update on your life as DJ Nina (context here). Did you ever get a dog named Tiësto?
No! I haven’t had a dog in a really long time, actually. I would love to have another dog again — even if his name has to be Tiësto — but that’s not going to happen anytime soon because I am too busy.

Featured image credit: Marie Wynants

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