Some have already spent years in the shadows, waiting for the right moment - others have barely left their bedroom studios. Some aim for headlining festival stages, others aim for nothing in particular – but all of them have developed a sound with the potential to turn a lot of heads. With this feature we shine a light on some of the most interesting emerging new talents our tiny country has to offer.
When you just started, but Amelie Lens and Fuse – both iconic ambassadors of techno in Belgium - already have your back, you know you’re on to something. Meet Gianmarco Cellini from Maasmechelen, a new kid on the block you need to watch out for. Armed with a clear vision on the sounds he wants to bring, and a record bag full of crafty cuts, this producer is already plotting his next move. Before he presents his debut release on the impeccable Lyase Recordings, we figured you’re going to want to know what this guy is up to.
Tell us: what kind of techno are we going to hear when you perform a set?
"That’s not easy to describe. I usually wander between a couple of subgenres. Although, I think my sound has two strong components. on the one hand, I pursue a pure electronic, straight and linear sound, which keeps a steady pass throughout my whole set. On the other hand, I like to embrace a kind of human and organic sound, less ‘perfect’ and a little rawer. I recently travelled to Nepal where I recorded interesting sounds, such as monks chanting and singing bowls. This deep and hypnotic feeling is definitely a big part of my sound."
What's your story? Where did you pick up your love for music, and how did it get to where you are now?
"Music has always been a major part of my life. I think that it started with singing Bob Marley songs when I was in kindergarten. I enrolled at the music academy on a young age, but unfortunately I got kicked out pretty fast – I’ve never been a good student. I just wasn’t a big fan of the rigid study methods, because for me, music was always more like a ‘feeling’. In the end I was still very passionate, so I started learning instruments by myself and even played in some bands as a teenager.
I wasn’t good in working together with other people, because of my clear and strong idea on how my music should feel and sound. It had nothing to do with other musicians, but I just had my own strict vision on things. When I realized this, I focussed on working solo. And that’s how I got involved with producing. It has been almost 2 years since I’ve first put my productions online. I used to have some bookings back then, but nothing really serious. It was only about a year ago that things started rolling at a steady pace. I got selected by Poppunt to pitch my project to DJs Goldfox and Faisal. They gave me a lot of praise, which was a huge motivation boost. It was the first time that someone talked so enthusiastic about my tracks. Goldfox also gave me my first club booking: closing down FortyFive, right after Charlotte de Witte on New Year’s Eve! Not much later I got signed by FloorFiller and that’s when things started going in the right direction in a higher gear."
Which elements does a good techno track need to have to rise above the norm?
"As I mentioned before - and in my opinion - a good track should have something human, as opposed to a perfect 'computer-made' sound. I like the contrast between electronic and organic sounds in a track. Additionally, a production should tell a story, even though there are usually no lyrics in a techno track. A certain feeling or vibe should be created. The audience should feel something when the track is played. They should receive a kind of ‘unspoken message’. Music doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective."
Who are the producers or DJ’s that inspire you the most at the moment?
"One of my biggest inspirations is, without a doubt, Thom Yorke - both solo and with Radiohead. He keeps reinventing himself every time. That’s definitely one of the biggest hurdles with composing music. Yotam Avni (known from his productions on Innervisions) is also a huge source of inspiration for me. His tracks feel so real and natural. He knows how to create a certain vibe like no other."
You have an ace forthcoming release on Lyase Recordings. How did that come about?
"As a teenager, coming from a completely different music scene, I literally did not know anybody in the electronic spheres. I started sending my music to a lot of producers and DJs, but most of them just ignored my messages. All of a sudden, I received a reply from Amelie Lens. She told me that she liked my tracks and that I should keep doing my thing. I worked day and night, and eventually I started to roll into the scene. I kept sending Amelie tracks and she continued to support me on a regularly basis. It’s still hard to believe that someone as big as her, someone who receives that many demos every day, actually likes my work. Eventually she linked me to one of the Lyase guys – after all, this was the same label on which Amelie debuted with her first release too. I immediately felt a certain connection with the label and we stayed in touch the entire time - I’m extremely excited to work with these guys. The track will be released early 2018, on a 4 track EP, together with Whitesquare, Nima Tahmasebi (formerly known as NT89) and the Japanese DJ RS."
Are you happy with the way things are going for techno in Belgium right now?
"I couldn’t be happier! We have some producers who are taking over the world with their music and keep putting Belgium on the map. Just look at artists like Peter Van Hoesen, Amelie Lens, Charlotte de Witte and so many others. Honestly, It’s unbelievable what some Belgians are achieving at the moment."
You’re from Maasmechelen - the far East of Limburg. What’s it like for a techno fan over there? Do you travel around much?"Maasmechelen isn’t that far... Is it? I currently study in Brussels, but I still have a very strong and loving connection with Maasmechelen. In a certain way, this place always makes me remember where I come from. As you may know, we’re known for our former coal mines. It’s no coincidence a new festival popped up that I’m involved with at exactly such a location: ‘Zwart Goud’. The festival doesn’t per se focus on techno, but obviously we already had some heavy techno names in the past editions."
Talking about events, Cycle Four, your very own party, has had its first edition in September at the mighty Fuse. How does it feel to be able to throw events in this techno temple?
"I wouldn’t really say that it’s my ‘own’ event. I prefer to say that the concept is a great collaboration between the guys from the Fuse and myself. That aside, it is unbelievable, yes! I still can’t believe that I got this enormous opportunity to play and host a night at such a robust club. I think this would be a dream for a lot of colleagues. At least for me it was – and it already came true."
You’ve got a little scoop for us if I’m not mistaken. What’s the big news?
"Yes! For our next edition of Cycle Four we’re inviting Vaal (known from the Afterlife / Tale Of Us family) behind our decks in the Motion room at Fuse. Cycle Four is an intimate and dark night we occasionally host on Thursdays. It’s a way to give students something more than the casual and more obvious options in the city, so we can ‘educate’ them with our music. The next edition with Vaal will take place on Thursday February 15, and the presale will start soon. We’re limiting capacity to keep it even more intimate!"