Talking about DJ’s that are making waves in this country – you can’t find many better than this one. Lommel’s very own Faisal Chatar aka just Faisal has had a brutal year in which he won the gold medal in the ‘best DJ’ category on the most recent Red Bull Elektropedia Awards, regularly worked on TV shows like De Ideale Wereld, hosted his own stage on Pukkelpop, played about 4 sets every weekend (selling out most of them too) and hosted his own weekly Saturday night show for the second year on the country’s most loved radio station for electronic music, Studio Brussel. None of that is about to change soon, except for that last part. In anticipation his third season on the airwaves, we sat down with this cheerful lad, hoping to uncover some exclusive bits in the process…
Sup Faisal. Can you explain what will change exactly in this new season of your Studio Brussel show? What kind of Faisal will we hear on there?
Well, I used to have an hour every week, but I got an upgrade - so now I’m doing a 2 hour show, from now on without my co-host Jeroen Delodder. It used to be me DJ’ing and Jeroen hosting, kind of like Lefto & Gus. But now I’ll be hosting it myself. That’s what I know for sure. What I don’t know is what I’ll be doing exactly. I’d like to keep it open. Maybe I’ll do a 2 hour mix. Maybe I’ll invite a guest DJ. Maybe just someone to talk to or interview. Maybe I’ll just hum whale sounds for an hour and read some cooking recipes in the next. I don’t like to think about it too much, I’d rather have it organic.
Will you be able to find enough new music every week to fill the whole show?
Oh yeah definitely. There’s so much good music coming out, I could fill a 2 hour show every day. The hard part is mixing those tracks together. Because usually the selection is focused on the music being new, rather than the flow of all those tracks in a DJ set. It’s the opposite of DJ’ing live for a crowd, where I focus more on the flow and try to jam in some new stuff here and there.
Hearing you play all sorts of sounds on the radio and on your shows made us wonder: is there anything you don’t play? Is your wide taste a way to keep things interesting for yourself?
I can’t really explain why my taste is the way it is. I don’t play all sorts of sounds to try and keep it interesting to me, it just already is. I’ll play everything and anything if I think it’s good or if I feel it or if I would dance to it myself.
What genres did you like when you started playing? How did it go from there?
I’ve always liked all sorts of genres. And from the very beginning I was mixing those up. When I put together a playlist on my iPod, it was never a ‘hip hop playlist’ or a ‘disco playlist’. It was a mix of everything going from Ahmad Jamal to Easy E.
What was your reaction when Studio Brussel first reached out to you?
I was pretty honoured, as anyone would probably be. Not because of the extra bookings that would roll in or the exposure of me as a DJ, but because now I have a platform as a selector.
I can showcase new music and support or local artists that I love and appreciate. I’ll be honest though, I might’ve done a little happy dance when I got home.
Did this show on Studio Brussel help you to open doors?
Not really, there are so many DJ’s that don’t have a show on Studio Brussel that are doing equally well. It did help me find a structured way to organize my music because it was really messy before. I also started making more DJ edits to make the music fit my show, and now I use those all the time when I have a gig.
You don’t even have CDJ’s at home. How the hell did you become so good at mixing?
I don’t know, it’s just really not that hard. I still make plenty of mistakes, but I just don’t let it show. I hate it when a DJ or performer has that little ‘I fucked up’ expression. The show goes on, you fucked up, the crowd is still there, just keep it going and fix it.
Do you usually prepare your sets (both for the radio and on events), or is it all spontaneous and random?
The radio sets are pretty worked out. I know exactly what my first track will be, my second and so on, all the way to my last. And I even know when I’m going to start mixing them in or out. When I DJ in front of a crowd, I tend not to prepare anything at all. I like to feel a crowd. You can tell by the way they move or react that they like a certain vibe, and I like to pick up on that.
Your dad was a DJ as well, is that where you got your inspiration from? Ever thought about doing a B2B with him?
Nah not really, I never saw him DJ’ing or anything so I never looked up to him as a DJ. For all I know he laid down shitty ass mixes. I do look up to him as a music lover. He inspired me to find and appreciate all sorts of music. We had stacks on stacks of records going from Curtis Mayfield to Jimi Hendrix and from the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack to Pink Floyd.
What would you do now if you never would have become a DJ?
I don’t really have that many other skills so…. Probably wash cars at a traffic light for 50 cents a pop. Or be that guy that sells iPhones on eBay and then mails them a rock in an iPhone box. I also like kids so maybe work at the ball pit of an Ikea.
When a Belgian DJ already hosts a stage on Pukkelpop, plays Rock Werchter and owns a show on national radio, what could possibly be the next aim?
To keep showcasing new and exciting music is my only aim. And the more platforms I have the better, so I guess my next aim is to find more of those. And maybe buy my own CDJ’s.
*Pictures by Daniil Lavrovski.