Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard that Antwerp can count on a new venue to provide its ravers with some stellar nightlife: Bar Helder. Eager to put themselves out there, this club has joined the extraordinary new Full Circle initiative, alongside Café d’Anvers, Ampere and Club Vaag. On November 10, you will be able to wander from club to club – all with one ticket – each of them offering the highest possible quality in Belgian DJs that master their own craft and style. In case of Bar Helder, this had to be the behind-the-scenes co-operator and rising Studio Brussel DJ Konna, who invited the flamboyant Hush Hefner for a proper all-night B2B sesh. Both gentlemen are no strangers to dusk-to-dawn sets that travel through the sonic landscapes of house, disco and funk – so we had to ask this duo a thing or two in order to get us warmed-up for this exceptional evening.
Are you happy with the current state of nightlife in Antwerp?
Konna: "Antwerp is slowly becoming the party hotspot in Belgium for underground music. However, I haven’t found a place around here yet that’s open to organic house music and related genres. At the moment I feel like there is a bit too much of the same generic techno and tech-house. That’s why I’m really happy with my new residency at Bar Helder, even though it just opened its doors, I’m pretty sure this will become a new hotspot for people who are bit more open-minded music wise."
Hush: "Antwerp is on a roll the last couple of years. With a lot of cool temporary venues (f.e. A-Tower, Bagger, Contrair, etc) and of course the institutions like Café D'Anvers, Ampere and Club Vaag. Off-locations like Pekfabrik or De Studio host very cool parties on a regular basis as well. Hip hop, techno and tech-house rule Antwerp nightlife at the moment, so just like Konna pointed out, I too miss a venue with a more open minded approach to house music. Kelly Palmer had very cool line-ups on a weekly basis, but unfortunately chose to leave that venue. Although in the end this new season is looking promising: Contrair is back for another run with some very cool nights, Bar Helder just opened and every major venue is hosting diverse nights."
What kind of musical trip can we expect when you guys go all night?
Hush: "Hopefully a very long one: from leftfield hip hop to funk and soul, crossing over to disco and house, probably ending with some techno and acid. It all depends on the crowd really. I try to get them to a certain place, but if they don't like it there, we'll go somewhere else..."
Konna: "The thing I love the most about playing all night long is doing your own warm-up. In the first couple of hours I play a lot of slower Balearic, afro, funk and ambient music before switching to the peak time house burners, disco anthems, techno bangers and maybe some trance, electro or Italo classics. Eventually, the after-hours are my favourite part of the night. Nothing I love more than playing some dreamy eyes closed house music."
How do you prepare yourself for these long hours behind the decks?
Hush: "A disco nap, a lot of water and some shots before the fatigue kicks in. If the vibe is right, I get all my energy from the people dancing in front of me. That, and the music, of course."
Konna: "I don’t often bring a lot of vinyl with me to gigs, except for all-nighters. When you’re already playing for a couple of hours, mixing starts to become an automatism on CDJs. So for these kind of nights I prepare by selecting a bag full of vinyl to switch up the mixing process and keep myself focussed throughout the set. Another secret of mine is to bring food with me when I play long sets. Nothing beats the taste of some croissants or pastries after many hours behind the decks!"
Whats’ the difference between doing an all-nighter solo or B2B?
Konna: "Being able to have a proper toilet break (laughs). Additionally, you’re telling a story about your music when playing all night long. So while playing B2B, the two of you are combining their stories and maybe pushing the other one into corners he would not reach if he were to play alone."
Hush: "Same. On a solo all-nighter you only go places you've already been before. During a B2B you are forced to explore new terrain, which is more challenging. If it works out, you feel like a million bucks. There actually is no better feeling than a B2B with a DJ you connect with."
What’s the longest DJ set you’ve ever played?
Konna: "I think I played about 8 hours during my all-nighter in Klub Goud for Helder. This is still one of my favourite experiences in my DJ career. I can’t describe the feeling of playing from sunset till sunrise in a packed club on the 21st floor with a panoramic view over the city."
Hush: "My longest set ever must have been around 11 hours. This was a B2B session with Bafana at Charlatan in Ghent. Solo I've never played more than 5 or 6 hours, and never in a decent venue. That's why I'm nervous for my first solo all-nighter at the opening night of Contrair this Saturday. Can’t say I’m not looking forward to my session with Konna at Full Circle as well."