These are exciting times to live in, especially if you’re a hip hop fan. On Saturday, March 10, Vooruit in Ghent will be the stage for a brand new festival revolving around all the exciting and cutting edge things happening within the hip hop movement. For this collaborative effort between a diverse and multi-purpose concert venue and a hip hop concept that has excelled in giving a boatload of outstanding parties and shows over the last few years, it’s hard not to have high expectations. And it’s not just about performances; you can expect some lectures and workshops as well. Before we dig any deeper, we let the minds behind the scenes have their say. Scroll down for a mini-interview with All Eyes On Hip Hop’s Willem Vandesande and Vooruit’s Wouter Vanhaelemeesch.
“Out The Frame”: tell us, what can we expect exactly?
Wouter:"Well, it's a one day festival, focussing on new underground hip hop artists and harder-to-categorize acts that have deep roots in hip hop culture. This might range from grime sensation Gaika to the deconstructed R&B of Junglepussy (in the pictures below) or the afro-futuristic protest poetry of Moor Mother. It's a pretty diverse lineup, but what ties them together for me is that these are all artists with a clear vision, making stuff that has an urgency and edge to it, stuff that doesn't aim to please the status quo or cater towards mainstream culture."
So is this a cooperation between Vooruit and All Eyes On Hip Hop? Where did the idea to work together come from?
Wouter: "Like most great ideas, this one was conceived at a bar – at the Vooruit bar more specifically. I had never met Willem, but I actually knew his brother Jeroen a bit. He is an amazing sound and installation artist. Me and Willem got to talk about music; all the new stuff we were both listening to at the time and it started hitting off. We said something along the lines of “we should do something together”. Willem left and I was still at the venue going over this thought. Five minutes later, I called him and I asked “why don't we throw a festival with all the artists we were just talking about?”. He came back immediately and we started working on ‘Out The Frame'. From the start we were focussed on artists we felt were making the most exciting music in and around hip hop nowadays - and not on the big names."
Willem: "That was almost a year ago, in February!"
What king of audience do you hope to attract?
Willem: "This festival is for all music lovers, from hardcore hip hop heads to people who want to discover good music. All of the artists are up and coming, so there’s definitely a lot to discover."
Wouter: "My favourite shows are the ones where there is a mixed audience having a great time that wouldn’t normally be in the same room together. Additionally, I hope there's a couple of people who are just curious - maybe they got dragged along by a buddy of theirs without knowing any of the names on the bill - becoming lifelong fans of Moor Mother or NAH afterwards."
You made sure local talent is well represented on the bill too. Who did you offer a place in the spotlights?
Willem: "STIKSTOF (in the picture below) is the only Belgian name on the bill - at the moment. They are releasing a new album in March, and we are very glad that they want to showcase the album at our festival! More Belgian artists will be added soon."
As for the headliners: what are the reasons you booked these names?
Willem: "We don’t have actual headliners on the festival. It’s all about discovering new music. That said, Open Mike Eagle might ring a bell to some people. His latest album got featured in quite some end-of-the-years lists, and just a week ago he did an NPR Tiny Desk Session."
Wouter: "I think the way we looked at this thing was to focus on an overall quality lineup. Some names are better known than others, but every artist is a must-see in my opinion. In the end, we will have two stages with about 12 live acts, plus DJ sets, so there will be a lot to digest."
Newsflash: hip hop now officially bypassed rock as the world’s most popular genre. We assume that’s no real surprise for you guys…
Willem: "That’s only in the USA, not worldwide. It’s surprising to me that this has only happened now. Hip hop has been popular in The States for a long time now. In Belgium, we still have a very long way to go if we want to achieve the same thing. However, that’s definitely not our goal with this festival. We want to give you a taste of the edgier stuff, and we'll try to bring that as varied as possible."
Wouter: "What's striking to me, is how much great stuff is happening right now. These things tend to come in waves but at this moment I think we're living in a pretty exciting time - musically."
Willem: "We sure are!"