As a bedroom producer it’s not always easy to get attention, bookings or record deals. In the age of the internet, doors can be opened easier - but then again, there are a million more doors now, so how do you know which one will be the right choice? That’s why we have agencies. Now, usually agents will work with artists who have proven themselves already to some degree, while young artists often get left out. The brand new Bloom Hill is there to help. The Brussels-based ‘group-of-friends-turned-professional-agency’ has an exclusively local roster of beatmakers and hopes to take their careers to new heights. To celebrate their inception, they have a release party planned at VK Concerts on October 27. But first, we had a little chat with Mathias, Priscilla and Sofia of Bloom Hill about the current state of beatmaking in Belgium and their position as an artist agency in an ever-evolving digital world.
Tell us a little about yourself: who or what is Bloom Hill?
Mathias: "Bloom Hill is a project that aims to highlight creative producers & DJs who've been working hard in the shadows for years. It’s about providing a support platform for artists that can get their ideas out there and make them reach an international level more effectively. Concerning myself, I'm the A&R, curator, booking agent and manager. Recently I got hired to be the new curator at Bonnefooi. Besides that, I'm also DJ-ing under the name of Kreshik and I run monthly radio shows on Kiosk Radio and The Word Radio with my ‘Huveshta Rituals’ concept."
Priscilla: "In essence, we are a Brussels collective that’s passionate about music and the local scene in Brussels. We have an eclectic roster, composed of alternative and exploring artists. On a personal level, I used to be a writer, but now I’m a DJ, manager and booker at Bloom Hill."
Sofia: "I would say that our main specificity is that we are deeply rooted in our time: we have been following emerging scenes in Belgium and beyond for a long time already. We elaborated an international vision within our evolution strategy from a very early stage. Personally, I have been working amongst the local music scene in Brussels as a production manager for several years now. Now, I work as a booking and PR agent for Bloom Hill, but I am also part of the Loop Session Brussels project, a monthly beat-making event in Belgium."
How important is a label management for bedroom producers in today’s music scene? Is it really that necessary?
Priscilla: "I think it is really necessary. We provide artists a constructed view on their career and on the different opportunities they have lined in front of them. Some artists find it hard to promote their own music. This may be because they don't always know who they should go to for advice, or because they don't value their own music as much as they should - or because they are not at ease with selling their work by themselves. Us together, as an agency, can offer a solution for these issues. With our experience in the local music scene, we have a developed network and we can relevant advice: a summary of the different potential financial aids, a plan for which showcases our artists can submit to, consultation on when it’s better for them to release a new project, or links with promoters who might be be interested in their project for example."
Mathias: "I definitely think that it's a life-changer for all the bedroom producers out there. Nowadays, they're generally 100% D.I.Y.. They have to produce music, mix their tracks, release their albums, promote it, be active on social media, find bookings, do the artwork, etc. It's a lot of work for just one person. Our agency helps them to dedicate most of their time for the important things. At the end of the day, the main focus should be the music. Because of this arrangement, all the producers and DJs we're taking care of have the ability to polish their work and get more opportunities to build a proper career. For example, we had the opportunity to attend a few showcase festivals such as MIL in Lisboa, Visa For Music in Rabat and even Shibuya Showcase Festival in Tokyo. Recently, we also organised a Japan Tour for ShunGu."
Sofia: "Here at Bloom Hill, we want to create a coherent collective of DJs and producers in Brussels, and then offer them opportunities to evolve their career through persuasive cooperation with institution and curators. We also handle contract management, negotiations and accounting tasks for our artists, which allows them to fully focus on their creative work. We are always clear and honest with anyone reaching out to us. Not everyone needs a manager, a press officer, a label and a publisher. Every artist has her or his own needs. Some want more gigs, some are looking for institutional or financial support to complete their projects, others just need some advice or visibility. That is why we try and build up a coherent but diverse set of services to offer to our resident artists."
In which ways is Bloom Hill’s approach different?
Priscilla: "We have an approach that is based on optimising the links between our artists and other local scenes emerging in the world. We want to create an exchange between the Belgian scene and the international one. That is also the reason why we always incorporate international acts in our events. We do this because as it stands, alternative and emergent artists are not valued enough over here. When we invite international acts we believe that we are building that bridge between the two, which is a great way to help them get the recognition they deserve."
Mathias: "We are based in Brussels, where the diversity rate is one of the highest in the world. Thanks to this environment, our mindset is open to many different influences. That's how we decided to keep an eye to any source of musical creativity happening in the city, from Moroccan bass, jazz fusion or lo-fi beats. We focus our energy to talk about these producers and to offer them a first chance in the spotlights. These days, we're gathering beat geeks who love music without taking race, gender, sex, age, taste or whatever into account. With this vibe, we're trying to give some attention to people we believe in and make them connect with the outside world."
Sofia: "All of our artists have a few things in common: to be rooted in Brussels’ culture, they have emerged from home-made studios and they present a large variety of genres, allowing the collective to curate more diverse events. Bloom Hill’s eclectic roster covers a very wide range of music genres."
On which basis did you select your current roster? Were they all in your network beforehand? Or did you contact them uniquely based on their musical direction?
Priscilla: "We have different criteria, but music comes first of course. We are always on the lookout for an alternative and innovative sound. We appreciate music that has a personal touch, something that’s the result of personal digging and hard work. We also want to work with people we can trust, who are motivated to push their careers forward."
Sofia: "We have been following some our artists since their very beginning, because we knew them already. For example, the first time we met ShunGu was back at the university. Mathias and I were all part of the same student association and we used to organise events on campus. That was 8 years ago already!"
You can have a producer making heavy trap for some rapper and then go out there and play some house records for another artist. This is what I really like about the Belgian spirit.
Much has been said about the current Belgian beatmaking scene already, but how much big league potential is in there according to you?
Priscilla: "I think there’s definitely a thing like ‘Belgian surrealism’ that shimmers through in our beatmaking scene. You can have a producer making heavy trap for some rapper and then go out there and play some house records for another artist. This is what I really like about the Belgian spirit. Some beatmakers out there have a wide range of capacities, they have no limits, they explore everything, every style, every vibe and just do what they feel when they feel it. Unfortunately, I don't feel like the scene gets the deserved recognition yet. Some artists get visibility because they have worked with certain well-known rappers, but we are still not at the place where we want to be."
Mathias: "I think that the interest in Belgian producers is rising considerably. You can see that there is fanbase now. It's a very good sign to see other booking agencies like Full Colorz or Culte pop up in Belgium who are dedicated to the local electronic music scene. This Belgian mindset gives you the opportunity to break the rules more easily. The best example is Roméo Elvis and Le Motel. Sometimes you can hear Roméo rapping on footwork beats, which is something unusual, yet it succeeded in reaching a worldwide audience. So there is definitely a high demand for good music producers these days, especially in the Belgian hip hop scene. The most important thing is to put the egos aside and keep in mind that we are stronger all together. If we don't, we'll be f*cked. Belgium is too small of a country."
Sofia: "I personally think there is room for improvement. In Belgium, except for a few names like Le Motel who, in fact, does have a lot of media attention, I don't think that there are enough beat makers in the spotlights. For me, the wide range of different styles and a freedom in the creative process is what makes the local scene so special. Brussels especially serves as a crossroad. There are so many people passing through for all sorts of reasons and as a result, many artists spend time here, building bridges between cities and bringing their influences with them."
What can we expect on the party at VK?
Priscilla: "It will be an eclectic night on which we present our roster and preview of some exclusive tracks from our beatmakers. For example, Hoang Solo (fka TMB the beatmaker) is releasing his new EP ‘Velvety Vol II.’ But Gan Gah too is preparing something for 2019. ShunGu’s debut album is shaping up nicely too. Additionally, we’ll have some time to enjoy two international acts: Kodama from France and Glenn Astro from Germany."
Mathias: "Together with VK Concerts, we’re letting a new wind blow through the venue that’s more focused on dance music. This night is the first step in that direction. Apart from the artists mentioned above, we have live and DJ-sets lined up from Hoang Solo, Peter Clinton, Mambele, Pllow, UNOS and myself."
Sofia: "The main idea about this launch party is to officially start a new chapter of Bloom Hill's evolution. We want to expand beyond the bars and cafés to showcase our artists to larger audiences. That’s why we have been partnering up with bigger venues, concert halls and clubs. It’s a new step for us and we hope to make these collabs happen several times a year. We also want to build bridges with the international scene and bring foreign fans and artists to Belgium, so they can see how great our beatmaking scene really is."
The Bloom Hill Launch Party will be held at VK Concerts in Brussels on October 27. Visit the event page for tickets and information.