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.
Ghent-based production and DJ duo Natv:Men hasn’t been in the spotlights that many times, but they sure have a cloud of mystery looming over them. Armed with a clear vision on every detail of their growing career, Henry and Tola take things as they come: thinking twice before every next step. With a show on Kiosk Radio and a series of superb gigs under their belt, this pair of friends is only just getting started. Check out their contribution to our Highway High mixtape series below to hear what we’re talking about.
How did you guys meet and end up to mix music together?
"We have been friends for over 15 years already. We went to the same school, played in the same basketball team, always had the same interests. A fair of great memories, to only come to believe DJ-ing together was just the next step in our friendship. We’ve always had the same interests, especially within music, which influenced our daily life. It was set in stone that, on a certain point in our lives, we would work on a project like this together. Henry was already playing sets for a few years and I had been producing music already, so it felt natural to collaborate."
Where did the name and its unusual spelling come from?
"Henry always always had a soft spot for wordplay. Initially, we wanted to go for something a little more 'normal', but we needed something that could describe us better. Both of our roots reside in Nigeria, so we were looking for something that reflects our heritage (hence the ‘native’), yet still something that we can call our own (hence the odd spelling)."
Which DJs out there are inspirations for your sets and why?
"We get inspired by litterly everybody, in different ways, on many levels. Crossing many borders."
Which were your best DJ-sets you guys have played to date?
"I would say our first Contemporary night in Brussels at K-Nal, located at Bruxelles les Bains, when we had Henrik Bergqvist and Fedele over. We had just played another set at Spiegeltent in Antwerp, and we were stoked to get back to Brussels, but on top of running late we encountered so many delays – a bridge even opened right in front of us. So we were a bit nervous to make it on time, but we managed. It was the first time we felt so comfortable playing together, we didn't communicate at all during the set. The event production was on point, and you could really feel the intense energy of the crowd. When we were in the DJ-booth it felt like we were playing as one, which isn’t the easiest thing to do. Everything happened so effortlessly. You could say that this was the gig we needed in order to show ourselves how well we could collaborate on this project."
What’s your favourite slot of the night at an event? And what would be the ideal setting?
"We don’t have a favourite slot. We actually love to adapt ourselves every time. It’s a challenge to see how well you can take on different times and maintain your signature sound. We give as much attention to an opening set as to a closing one. The most important thing for us is the setting: the sound and light design of the venue. Each space has its own chemistry, especially for the lighting - and we tend to communicate upfront with the technicians if that’s possible. Equally crucial is the way we can interact with the crowd. We prefer to be really close to the people - especially if it’s an adventurous crowd which doesn’t mind a trip through some weird sounds."
You guys started a monthly show at Kiosk Radio: NATV:TAPES. What selection will you bring to these emissions?
"Yes, we are very happy that a few alternative internet radio shows like this one have emerged in Belgium. It’s a great way to play a lot of stuff you wouldn’t play otherwise. Our selections are quite diverse – and so are our guests. We don’t really have a certain guideline for them, other than “give your intake on the name NATV:TAPES and create a certain atmosphere around it”. This could go from Italo, to old school breakbeats, towards some deeper cuts or tribal, etc."
Where do you hope to be, career-wise, in 5 years?
"We are not really planners! (laughs) We’re not sure what the next 5 days will bring, let alone the next 5 years."
Any productions we need to look out for in the near future?
"We’ve been taking our time in the studio, but in the last years, we have been producing quite intensively as we have been inspired by a lot of things that happened around us. There’s been some growing interest after we shared some previews with artists and friends around us. Unfortunately, we can’t really go into detail, but we can say a release of us will see the light on a rather interesting label sooner than later."
You’re also doing parties, right?
"Yes after founding and hosting nights for 3 years, we went back to hosting small nights, which we still enjoy. We love hosting nights here and there under our new “The Dutches” nights and Contemporary. Again, maintaining a wide vaierity of acts. We’re actually hosting a next edition in the cozy Kumiko in Brussels, where we invited Oceanic - which is a resident of Amsterdam’s notorious “De School”. This guy brings records to the booth that will take you on a journey through perceptive ryhthms."
Enjoy Natv:Men's sound by pressing play at the following link. If you're in need for more, tune in on Kiosk Radio. And, finally, follow them on Facebook to stay up to date on their trippy sonic trips!