Ever since finding a connection with renowned labels such as Hotflush and Turbo early on in his career, we knew there was still a lot to expect from Tim Van de Meutter, aka Locked Groove. Few years later, the man gathered an impressive discography, bundling Chicago, Detroit, minimal trance and 90’s rave, while adding labels like Life and Death, Permanent Vacation and Kompakt's Speicher. to his fanbase. Although he emigrated to Berlin, Locked Groove still stays true to Belgian dance heritage and its DNA, which he inherited. In his sets, as well as productions, he crafts industrial retro or trance, with melancholy and atmosphere, claiming his own referential sound. 2018 was ushered in with the reboot of Locked Groove’s eponymous imprint. While we were already spoiled with two releases, there’s still lots more to come during the following months. Seemed like the perfect timing to meet up and discuss his plans and views.
It’s striking to see that 2018 has given you a second wind. After rebooting your own label, Locked Groove Records earlier this year, your release schedule is augmenting firmly. How would you explain this change?
"The label’s reboot was driven by the decision not to solely release on vinyl anymore. Continuous waiting periods at the pressing plants were hindering the label’s growth and operations. We chose to focus on a digital approach, which gave me the luxury of putting out tracks in the waiting queue at a high pace in the previous months.
It also took me a while to figure out where I wanted to take Locked Groove Records. In the past I wasn’t 100% convinced of some productions, so it seemed better to clear things out first. Putting out some records just for the sake of it didn’t feel right. Hence the label’s hiatus."
Releasing at a high frequency forces you to make a distinction: When do you release on your own imprint and when do you outsource your tracks?
"I think the idea behind Locked Groove Records is clearly defined: It’s a series of more functional club tracks. The next EP on my label is hard to pinpoint, it has one straight on club track and a more broken beats orientated production. So sometimes it’s hard to make the distinction, because it’s a very personal interpretation. But the main purpose is to put out the club tracks on my own label and keep my more leftfield inspired productions for other labels."
Your Heritage EP on Hotflush Records definitely seemed more situated outside of the club area, presenting tracks harboring a lot of melody and song structure. Is this a path you will further explore in the future?
"Well it’s definitely my intention to continue the idea with Heritage pt. 2. I can say it’s slowly emerging, but it’s still early on in the process to pin a date. It won’t appear before the start of next year.
First and foremost, the focus will be on extending the Locked Groove series. There are still three releases scheduled this year, so there’s still some work to do. I don’t want to plan too much ahead and rather want to look at thing release by release and see what happens. That way I can easily make adjustments."
Your most recent output was Zillion EP, having a clear reference to the legendary Antwerp discotheque. You seem a bit young to have experienced the club its heyday. Is there a special bond in play?
"The funny thing is my grandmother used to live just around the corner, so some mornings I would see the remainings of the last night (laughs).
Although I haven’t really witnessed their golden days, its legacy can’t be underestimated. It was one of the first and largest in the mega club tradition, not only in Belgium, but even on European mainland. So, to me it has a very legendary status, but I feel few people of my generation still know it.
One year has passed since they broke down the building and at the moment there’s a Zillion film in the works, so I thought it was an interesting timing to link my EP to their tradition."
Belgium’s retro and trance heritage are well presented in your productions. How important is the Belgian legacy for Locked Groove?
"I try to integrate the sound in my own productions, but It’s important to keep it fresh and balanced. Producing this genre of music can be treacherous, because it can quickly become cheesy or seem like a gimmick. It’s a very sustained challenge.
I respect our tradition a lot, however sometimes it can be a troubled relationship. Most of the tracks which are getting a lot of attention, are either poorly produced or very well-known tracks. To me, the real gems are harder to find and they’re not the biggest hits. I find it important to give those the recognition they deserve.
‘The First Rebirth’ for instance is a very renowned track, but I don’t think it’s relevant to integrate it in my sets. I often find there’s so much quality music which isn’t receiving the praise it deserves. So, I keep on digging deeper, in order to give a second life to some productions. Being Belgian, it’s important to represent the Belgian club culture in a tasteful way."
If you're at Pukkelpop, don't miss one of his signature sets on July 17.