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.
After three banging singles (‘Falling’, ‘Keep On’ and ‘Fading Away’) and a string of massive shows, it’s clear Andras Vleminckx aka LIMITS is a man who knows no boundaries. The success might seem like it struck overnight, but this Antwerp-based beat wizard has been active as a producer in the shadows of big pop acts for many years. Packed with loads of experience, his rich sound immediately caught the ears of big industry players Spinnin’ Records and Eton Messy. Before he fully realized what had happened, he was asked to do stellar shows both in and outside of Belgium. A running start for what will undoubtedly become a glorious music career without limits (sorry, we couldn’t help it). Let’s hear him out and see what all the fuzz is about, shall we?
When did you realize you wanted to take making music to the next level?
"When I got absolutely tired of being limited to produce music for other artists, I felt I needed to start over from scratch. I enrolled for a music production course at the Conservatory in Ghent, which led to the start of my solo artist career."
With previous gigs at Ancient Belgique (opening for Emma Bale), PIAS Nites, Tomorrowland and Pukkelpop, you can state that you didn’t miss your start. What did it feel like, playing these shows?
"Tomorrowland and Pukkelpop were gigs that - until now - I could only have dreamed of. Especially the latter felt surreal, because I've been going there for years. The Boiler Room had always been my absolute favourite stage, so being able to play there myself was a dream come true. The support slot for Emma Bale was an amazing next step, as this was my first live show, which we brought as a duo – together with Domien Cnockaert, who does the vocals on my latest single ‘Falling’, as well as some other, unreleased songs. It felt like that was a way bigger achievement than any DJ-set, as this was a proper live setup including synths, an Ableton Push controller, electronic drums, guitars and a vocalist. Obviously we had to do a lot of rehearsals for this one!"
You didn’t actually start DJ-ing until quite recently, right? Wasn’t Amsterdam Dance Event last year your first gig ever? Have you picked up more self confidence in the meantime?
"That's correct! I did grow up with two Technics SL1200's and a whole lot of vinyl, but they've been collecting dust while I was working as a producer. Only after the release of ‘Fading Away’ I got back into it and learned to handle CDJ's. Right after I joined Eton Messy (a U.K. record label, ed.) I joined their tour, stopping for shows in venues like Electric Brixton in London and in:Motion in Bristol. It was definitely a quite imposing experience, as most DJ's would go through years of playing out in smaller venues first. In the end, after a bunch of gigs like these, my self-confidence is definitely present."
So, would you say you consider yourself more of a producer, rather than a DJ?
"I definitely consider myself more of a producer, as I have so many years of experience in that field. I look at the DJ-ing part from a producer’s point of view as well. For example, paying a lot of attention that the keys of the songs I mix work well together, using active loops, cue points, and sometimes really overthinking it. The recent live sets gave me the opportunity to bring out the producer in me on stage, which worked really well with my songs."
Your music is - despite the negative connotation this word usually gets - very accessible. What’s your take on the ‘underground’ vs ‘radio-ready’ debate and where do you place your own productions on this scale?
"For me, this debate is utterly pointless, as I think you have amazing songs in every genre. I hardly know anyone who listens strictly to ‘underground music’. I was just watching a documentary about Cheiron Studios (a legendary recording studio in Stockholm, ed.) and Max Martin (a legendary Swedish producer, ed.) yesterday, who made almost every famous pop hit over the last 20 years. In my opinion, those songs can be as genuine as an ‘underground classic’. I truly enjoy a lot of ‘underground music’, but when I create music myself, I can get bored easily with repetitive melodies or basslines. So, often I end up adding chord progressions and lyrics, which is why most of my music probably sounds more accessible. In the end, it’s all relative depending on your point of view, as some other labels say my music is not accessible enough for them. For my 3 most recent releases which received radio airplay, I just did my thing, without thinking it had to be radio-friendly. I always try to include some ‘underground influences’, which might not always be that obvious, as it could just be a unique house synth or techno bass that comes in from time to time. Ultimately, I try to have a good balance between ‘accessible’ and ‘underground’. Most people may only know me from the tracks that got played on the radio, but I also have a lot of other material that I play out during my sets."
Who are the producers or DJs you look up to for inspiration?
"It's way too difficult to name just a few, but here are some artists I have been playing out or listening to recently: Dusky, Paul Woolford, Bicep, George Fitzgerald, Jon Hopkins, Friend Within, Jamie XX, KiNK, Julio Bashmore, Mall Grab, etc. And then there’s great labels like Anjunadeep, Sub:Soul, AUS, Eton Messy, Potion, Dirtybird and 17 Steps. Inspiration comes from every corner, so I could be influenced by a chord progression from a psychedelic rock band or the drums of a 90s UK garage track; so not only from other producers."
Where do you want to be in 5 years from now?
What’s in the pipeline for the coming months?
"Keeping the flow going and releasing the next single."