Bredren: bringing drum ‘n’ bass to techno stronghold Fuse

Pictures by Fleur Vanden Bosch

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Working as a trio is becoming a rarity in electronic music these days. For the Lennik-based Bredren, that’s not a problem, it’s their strength. These childhood friends have already proven their worth in the drum ‘n’ bass scene – and that success might spill over now that they have been giving the blessing of one of Belgium’s premier techno institutions: Fuse. With their main room takeover on October 18 marked on our calendars, Adrien Van Dijk, Sebastien Albert and Dieter Geerinck sat down with us to talk about the past, present and future of what goes on behind the scenes of Bredren.

Give us a little introduction of who you are and how you guys met…

Adrien: Me and Sebastien have known each other since we were toddlers. We’ve been to the same school for 14 years, so we basically grew up together. During our teenage years, we often went to the same youth centre (JK Paddestoel in Groot-Bijgaarden) with our friends. It’s here we met Dieter during a DJ-contest in 2009. We immediately had a vibe going on. Dieter learned me how to mix and everything fell into place from there.

You guys started as Requake: what was this project about?

Adrien: Initially, this was a drum ‘n’ bass DJ-duo created by a good friend of ours, Vincent, and myself. He’s the one who got me into the genre in the first place. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. Sebastien was always hanging out on our rehearsals and at a certain point, he started making us beats for fun under the same moniker. The dubstep tracks got picked up quite fast by some record labels. They became so popular it transformed Requake into a dubstep act. After a while, Vincent lost his interest in bass music and Sebastien and I took the project under our wings together.

Sometimes I start making a track on my own, but it always ends up sounding less like ‘Bredren’. To make sure we have continuity in our output, all three of us should be involved from start to finish.

Sebastien, we’ve read you’re the production guy, while Adrien and Dieter are the DJ’s. How does that arrangement work for you?

Sebastien: At the beginning of Requake, I saw Adrien and Vincent play all that music on parties and all I could think about was how you could actually make such tunes… From that moment on, I became passionate about making music. As I was more of a technical person (or you can say computer nerd) I saw myself as the producer, while they were the DJ’s. Additionally, 3 people standing behind a DJ-deck is somewhat impractical. Other than that, being out there in the spotlight isn’t really my thing. I did try it out a couple of times, but after a few years, I realized that I preferred being in the studio. So when we started Bredren with Dieter, the roles were quite clear to all of us. That said, it’s all quite fluid. They always join me in the studio and I do tag along on gigs when I can. It works pretty well for all of us.

I guess you still have to meet up regularly to align yourselves, since you are all part of a group.

Dieter: Almost every track we’ve written yet was made while we were all in the studio. This has been the goal from the start: one main producer who converts the ideas from all of us in the software. It has to be a joint-venture with intellectual instead of capital input. Regarding practical agreements, we decide everything together. Sometimes we have a small business meeting before we start our studio-session.

What are the upsides and downsides of being in a group as opposed to producing/DJ-ing solo?

Adrien: I only see advantages. The only thing I can think of is that sometimes, it’s hard to find a moment to get into the studio when everyone has a busy life outside the music business. The good thing is we’re all well-aligned and we generally have the same ideas.

Sebastien: Another obvious advantage is that we can easily divide the less glamorous work among us. For example, administration, managing social media accounts, keeping up with emails, cleaning the studio (laughs). Sometimes I start making a track on my own, but it always ends up sounding less like ‘Bredren’. To make sure we have continuity in our output, all three of us should be involved from start to finish.

Most of your bookings are outside of the country. Why do you think that is?

Adrien: That’s because drum ‘n’ bass is still quite niche. It has seen a steady advance in the last few years, but despite some major achievements, you can’t say the genre has broken through on a major level. That shouldn’t be the goal anyway. It’s still (relatively) underground - and it’s better if it stays like that.

On the one hand, Belgium has the supersized stadium event RAMPAGE, on the other hand, it doesn’t look like drum ‘n’ bass as widespread as, say, techno or hip hop. Many have been discussing the supposed rise and fall of the genre over the decades, but what’s the current state of the Belgian scene right now?

Adrien: The Belgian scene is definitely on the rise. If you’ve been following the genre for the last 10 years as we have, you can notice that. Homegrown concepts like RAMPAGE, Star Warz, Steam, What-U-On-About, Concrete, Mentality, Drum Room and our concept in Brussels are great examples of that. The fan base is small but incredibly strong. I get shivers down my spine when I think about it (laughs).

Who’s killing it in the local scene right now?

Dieter: There are a couple, many of whom we try to support through our events. One87, Phase, M-zine, Scepticz, Lavance, Solace, Corrupted, SVB, Cedex & Higher Underground, Glÿph, M-soul & S-27, Nmber8, Mtwn, … The list goes on. Some of these guys are not as active anymore as they used to, but still, they had a massive influence on us.

Which other unlikely genres or artists do you guys listen to if you want to get inspired?

Adrien: I listen to almost everything. From blues to downtempo and from classical music to punk, there’s not much I don’t listen to. I was raised listening to a lot of music, played saxophone when I was a kid so music has always been a big part of my life.

Dieter: I’m listening to all kinds of music genres, from jazz to 80’s classics, from house to indie rock. I don’t listen to other music for inspiration, I do it to get out of the drum ‘n’ bass vibe from time to time (laughs).

The Belgian drum 'n' bass scene is small but incredibly strong. I get shivers down my spine when I think about it.

Sebastien: Almost every night before I go to sleep, I listen to ambient stuff like Synkro, Steve Hauschildt or Sam KDC. That inspires me. I’ve always been drawn to the greater realm of electronic music because me and my brother grew up with trance, techno, house, and hip-hop. I remember sitting next to him for hours, watching how he created trance tracks with the Music 2000 software on his Playstation.

Some might assume drum ‘n’ bass and Belgium’s longest-running techno club Fuse don’t match, but you guys have something good going on over there. How did this collaboration got to be?

Adrien: We already had been throwing parties for some years under different names. They were decent, but there was no real common denominator. We took a little break from the event business, but upon returning, we wanted to do it the right way. That meant finding a good club, having our residency, keeping it exclusive and fine-tuning a certain concept. We contacted Fuse, told them our idea and we’ve been working together ever since.

It looks like this edition of Bredren Invites will be a special one. What have you guys got planned?

Dieter: After 7 successful standalone editions of Bredren Invites we thought the time was right to move to Fuse’s main room. The idea would be to bring over a record label we’re really into and thus the choice was Lenzman’s The North Quarter. This guy is one of the best in translating those lush and soulful vibes reminiscent of 90’s hip hop on to a drum ‘n’ bass dancefloor. That should be a perfect night out to celebrate the end of the summer.