Fresh on the Scene


Pictures by The Lonely Alien


Some have already obtained small successes, spending years in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to shine and 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 heads. With this feature, we shine a light on some of the most exciting new musical talents our tiny country has to offer.

Antwerp's Björn Loykens – who goes by Loyk – is a peculiar 21-year-old talent that has been flying under some radars. His melodic approach to rap makes his songs particularly catchy, yet not two of his songs sound alike. By being incredibly direct - maybe even impatient - he launched himself into countless Spotify playlists in a record time. "Up until recently, I had never even sung live on stage, so it’s been an exciting few months with lots of positive feedback, which gives me even more energy to go for it”. Before he’s crowned as Belgium’s answer to Post Malone, we invited him on our couch to get to know him better.

What’s the story behind your first EP, 111?

The story behind my debut EP is quite a personal one. I haven’t been feeling well in the past three years because of my parent’s divorce. It was hard for me to talk about my feelings to other people. When I first tried singing over music, I realized that this might be the only way I could express those suppressed emotions. Working on my first EP has been a sort of effective healing process. That's why the EP was made, in the first place, for me. Now that it's done, I'm happy to share it with the rest of you too.

Are the therapeutic powers of songwriting why you started making music in the first place?

I don’t know (laughs). Since I was five years old, I had been dancing, but recently I felt I was at the end of that road. Instead, I’ve pursued music because I needed another creative outlet. So far, I’m learning so many new things, so that keeps me incredibly motivated to give it all I have. Even though I’m still a beginner, making music feels so natural. That’s why we wrote, recorded and released my first EP in under ten days.

Making music feels so natural. That’s why we wrote, recorded and released my first EP in under ten days.

Wait – you wrote, recorded and released the EP in under two weeks? Aren’t you afraid you rushed things a bit too hard?

Of course, I had been brainstorming and writing down scribbles beforehand, but once I had the idea, I knew exactly what I wanted, and there was no point in postponing it. I was pretty confident about the music, so why not release it immediately? I could have brewed on it a lot longer, but it wouldn't have become that much better, you know. Once it's out, you can close the chapter, learn your lessons and take your experience to the next project.

Does the EP title, 111, have a particular message?

It does, kind of. In the months leading up to the release, I had seen the number 111 in so many random things; from telephone numbers to clocks and videos. Then someone explained to me that this means angels are telling me I’m on the right path, but that I need to be careful taking the right decisions. I’m not superstitious, but it did make a lot of sense, hence the EP title.

Your very first single that came out over a year ago was picked up by Spotify and quickly got hundreds of thousands of listens. How did you feel seeing those numbers go up?

As 'Whole Lot' was my very first single, I didn't expect much when I dropped it. For some reason, it got picked up by many people, and that made Spotify chart it in a lot of playlists. Of course, numbers are relative, but 130.000 streams on a first try had me very excited. If it had reached 'just' 5000 streams, I would have been delighted too. That gave me a significant boost. I was like 'OK; I need to keep working on this, this music thing might actually work out’.

If there's a real human connection between the other person and me, I'm sure we'll be able to make some incredible music together.

How important has Spotify’s editorial become for young careers like yours?

It has become essential, which isn't a good thing, in my opinion. Yes, gave me a little jumpstart, but there's so much talent floating around that deserves equal treatment. All we can do is support each other so that a wider variety of talent get its music heard.

At the moment, your live sets consist of you and a DJ. Do you have any plans to expand beyond that soon?

Actually, I’m already joined on stage by a pianist, guitarist and drummer. Having a full band on stage always was one of my biggest ambitions. I’m learning so many new things with every gig we do, so I’m extremely excited to gain more experience on stage with those professionals right beside me.

How do you usually pick your beats, and how do you start making new music?

I’m not necessarily someone who looks for collabs with other artists or beatmakers. Instead, I'm a 'vibe' guy, someone who’s looking for a good atmosphere in the studio. If there's a real human connection between the other person and me, I'm sure we'll be able to make some incredible music together. The result will then come from a much more genuine place. I never have a particular idea in mind beforehand, though. I prefer everything to be built from scratch at the same time, both the beats and the lyrics. Once I start writing a song, I intend to finish it as soon as possible. When I'm in the studio with my producer, he'll have an idea, and I start writing the lyrics then and there. It needs to flow naturally for me, even if it means those songs don’t necessarily sound alike. In my experience so far, putting faith in my gut feeling is the way I get the best results. That’s why we were able to finish the EP so quickly.

What’s your reaction when people compare you to Post Malone?

Indeed some similar vibes are going between me and Post Malone. I don't mind when people tell me that. After all, he is a significant influence on me; but I'm never consciously trying to copy his style or vibe.

What can we expect from you in the near future?

Currently, there's a lot in the pipeline: a few singles, features, videos, shows and hopefully a debut album by the end of the year. My dream is to play all the big festivals, so with a little bit of good fortune, I hope to get there one day.