Igor Vicente: continuing the legacy of the underground

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The Mons-born house DJ-producer never slowed down his flow of releases for imprints like Hot Creations, Mobilee, Visionquest or Get Physical. Furthermore, he manages the strong State of Flow record label and continues to play the world's most hype dancefloors. In doing so, Igor Vicente never lost track of the roots of rave.

So tell us what growing up as an electronic music fan was like in Hainin, a small village near Mons?

“That’s a long story (laughs). There weren’t many clubs around the little town where I come from, and the few that existed, like Holy Ghost Club, were off-limits for me. My mom didn't let me go there, but my uncle was a DJ, and he always told me these amazing stories. One night in 1994, I snuck out, took my bike and went through the dark woods surrounding my town to see what all the fuzz was about. I was the first one in and the last one out. The persona of the DJs completely bedazzled me. I was obsessed with finding out where the next party was going to be; it felt like a treasure hunt”.

Is that when you started buying records too?

“There was this small venue in Mons, Le P’tit Ponch, where two resident DJ’s KRS and Kalky played every week. I learned a lot from these guys, including my love for DJ-ing. As I was taking my first steps behind the turntables, Kalky told me that "it would take ten years before I would be a proper DJ". He was right. For the next decade, I was a regular at clubs like Café d'Anvers, Decadance and Fuse. Belgium had such an active scene – I didn't want to miss anything. I would leave my house on Thursday and come back on Tuesday. As the years went on, I got more gigs, although you can't compare those days with the present. Social media didn't exist yet, so I was far less influenced by what was going on elsewhere. I was able to develop my taste and style because of this properly".

Is it still hard to find that same enthusiasm for music now that you’ve grown older and the music scene has changed considerably?

“Not in the slightest; I’ve never been more excited to continue. As I travel for my gigs, I continuously get motivated by meeting new people. Leaving your comfort zone is the most effective way to get inspiration. I just ride whatever wave I feel in the moment, a strategy that has never let me down”.

There are more parties in Belgium now than there have ever been. But to say the scene is doing great would be too easy.

You run a vinyl-only label. Isn't that a bit challenging in a time where 99% of the music consumption is digital?

“Yes, that’s challenging, but I like it that way. I don't mind the digital culture; it's a matter of personal choice. The music on State of Flow is timeless, so that's why it deserves to be pressed on wax. I don't really follow trends. Is it the most cost-effective strategy to release music? Probably not, but I think it's important to keep investing in the things you love. As long as you keep it real and honest, there will be people who listen to your story”.

You’ve been spending a lot of time in NYC lately. How come? And what have been some of the most special moments over there?

“It's always because of a girl", isn't that what they say? In June 2018, I came home from a little US tour, and I had a bad breakup. I suddenly needed a drastic change, so I bought a one-way ticket to NYC with no plans. Step by step, I started love life there again. Exploring the city, going to parties, playing amazing clubs, meeting new friends who became family, etc. It was a wonderful time with countless memories like closing Brooklyn Mirage's Avant Gardner with Prince's Let's Go Crazy. That moment still gives me goosebumps. After a couple of months, I came back to Belgium, as motivated as I had ever been”.

As a globetrotting DJ, you are in the perfect position to compare the Belgian nightlife scene with the rest of the world. How are we doing?

“It's all good over here because there are more parties here now than there have ever been. But to say it's going great would be too easy. When clubs like Decadance or Café d'Anvers closed down, it became clear we need to protect our club culture better. This impacts the music scene in more ways than you can imagine. Young DJs nowadays expect to immediately play the big clubs and festivals, which corrupts their development as artists. Social media following has trumped experience as a benchmark for getting big bookings. That’s not sustainable; not for the parties and not for the DJ’s themselves. For the risk of sounding like an old man, this is not the way to go; this is not the underground culture we fell in love with. Only booking big international DJs in our clubs isn’t helping much either. Carl Craig once wrote that “legendary DJs must pay close attention to young DJs, and young DJs must respect the legends”. He was spot on”.

Young DJs nowadays expect to immediately play the big clubs and festivals, which corrupts their development as artists.

You’ve just released new material on Mr. C’s Superfreq Records. Can you tell us something more about the idea behind this production?

“It's a collab with my friend Ilario Liburni who manages Cardinal and Invade Records. There was no idea in mind when we started on this project, which is how we always work. Artists should often experiment more, instead of beginning with a certain idea. We immediately guessed Mr. C would be the kind of DJ that would play it, so we sent it to him, and he loved it. Now it's out on his label; it's as simple as that (laughs)”.

What’s on the schedule for you this year (and beyond)?

“A lot! I'm preparing a new tour in March and April that will take me across South and North America, with shows in NYC, Miami, St Martin, San Diego, Tulum, Bogota, The Dominican Republic, and a whole lot more. Additionally, I'm also part of a new party series at 33Club in La Louvière and a new warehouse in Brussels called La Cave, starting March 21. As for State of Flow, we’ll see a fantastic release from Manglus and Guillermo de Caminos in May – I’ve been playing those tracks for over two years already! Music-wise, I'm finishing my first album, two EPs, and a couple of remixes that are coming on Deeperfect, Tolu Records, Draft, and Deft. There is more in the pipeline, but I'm a bit superstitious, so I prefer to keep my mouth shut for now!