Hailing from the east of Belgium, Meakusma has been quietly achieving for years, step by step expanding its wide array of activities. It all started when five students with a shared passion for music left home to study in the Belgian capital. They started setting up parties and concerts in their adopted student town, as well as in and around their heimat - Eupen. These events triggered the idea to start a music label. Today, the organisation has become an eclectic force to be reckoned with. This summer brings the second edition of their highly acclaimed Meakusma Festival, of which we can unveil the second round of artist announcements below. With the festival lineup more or less complete now, we thought the time was right for a little chat with Meakusma’s core members.
What was it like growing up on the border of two countries?
"Since we all grew up in the German speaking part of Belgium, we were inspired by both the Belgian and the German music scene: record shopping and getting information we did mostly in Germany, going out mainly in Belgium. Of course we were influenced by what happened in our region when we were teenagers. There were quite a lot of good events taking place early on in the nineties already. This gave birth to an active scene we were somehow related to. But as we did most of our events at that time in Brussels, we did our thing more and more independently from what was happening in our home region. Other people that were active in the east of Belgium also moved to bigger cities. Today, we don’t really feel part of a local scene, since we don’t operate in a specific field or genre."
After the label and the club nights and concerts, was a festival the logical next step?
"From the parties and concerts to the label and eventually the festival, we had all these projects in mind for a while, but considering our other commitments and restraints we could only realize them step by step. Now, it feels very natural to combine our different activities. As often in rural regions, we had - and still have - a strong DIY approach. From early on, we were interested in combining listening music and more adventurous dancefloor music."
How did the first edition of the festival go last year?
"We realize that the festival was challenging for the audience sometimes, because there were a lot of musical contrasts. But the people were very attentive, interested and respectful. It was the most dedicated audience that the artists and us could have wished for. This and the help of our many volunteers made us very, very grateful. The overall vibe was laid-back and relaxed. Also, people seemed to enjoy the fact that the festival took part in a rural area, with only a small city center nearby and close to nature."
Just like last year, you’re working with a few different partners. How did these collaborations come about?
"Indeed, we count ourselves very lucky to work with partners Goethe-Institute, reiheM from Cologne, Dublab internet, Les Ateliers Claus and Ben UFO this year. We first started collaborating with the Goethe-Institute Brussels in 2011. It’s always a pleasure working with them, because they give us a lot of artistic freedom and they are very knowledgeable. reiheM is a platform for experimental music in Cologne, hosting lectures, film screenings and other sonic events. The contact came through our regular trips to the a-Musik record store. This shop has been highly influential for us over the last few years, not only through their fantastic record collection, but also through chats with them. We are very grateful for reiheM’s input on different levels. The same goes for Atelier Claus, a concert venue that has consistently promoted challenging music and that helped shape our musical tastes. Dublab, then, we approached because we liked the idea of incorporating radio into the event. Last year, the ‘Heuboden’ room they hosted felt like a calm oasis in the middle on the festival ground. This time you can expect more interviews and discussions as well as different DJ sets and live performances.
Last but not least, Ben UFO will curate his own stage. He played the closing set in the Main Room on Friday night on the Killasan Soundsystem (a heavy-duty Jamaican-style sound system from Japan, connected to Berlin’s Hard Wax store and instrumental to the reknowned Wax Treatment parties - Editor) last year. Living up to his reputation of being a daring and open minded DJ, he went way beyond the usual club set, constantly changing tempo and rhythm.
Will you be showcasing some of the label’s artists at the festival?
"Some of the artists performing such as Whodat, Viola Klein, Georgia and Even Tuell released records on the label, whereas João Lobo (from Going) will doing a release with us soon. Lots of artists are related in different ways, because they’ve played shows for us in the past, are friends or have exchanged ideas with us.
Are unheard melodies sweeter still?
"That’s what we think, at least! Our baseline “unheard melodies are sweeter still” somehow expresses our interest in music that is (or at least sounds) new and fresh. Not just in terms of new artists, but in terms of music one is not really used to hearing."
To conclude, something we’ve been wondering about for a while: where does the name Meakusma actually come from?
"The name was an idea from Christophe Hammes. It does not have a meaning, and it’s written in one word by the way: Mea Kusma is only the Facebook version."
The second edition of Meakusma Festival will take place from September 8until 10. Three new stages are introduced: the Friedenskirche, Ikob and a small street in the city of Eupen with a very specific acoustic quality. Check out the website for tickets, the full lineups, camping info and more.
And, as promised: Meakusma Festival's second round artists release!
Andrew Pekler - Anthony Moore & the Missing Present Band Axel Dörner - Baleine 3000 - Ben UFO - Bepotel - Bruce Captain Starlight - Claire M Singer - David Toop - Dennis Tyfus - Diet CV - DJ Klakke - DJ Rum - DJ/ rupture - DJ Stingray - Dominique Lawalree Ensemble - Electric Indigo - Eli Keszler - Errorsmith Even Tuell - FM Einheit + Massimo Pupillo - Fog Puma Gelbart - Georgia Group feat. Sun Araw, M.Geddes Gengras, Matt Werth... - Handless DJ - Hiele Martens Clark - HOla Hu (Myriam von Imschoot & Doreen Kutzke) - Huerco S - Jace Clayton pres. Julius Eastman’s Memorial Dinner - Jacob Gorchov - João Lobo - Jon Gibson Ensemble - Jooklo and Riccardo Sinigaglia - Jooklo Duo - Joscha Creutzfeldt - Joshua Wiley - Klaus Kaneski - Kobe Van Cauwenberghe pres. No [More] Pussyfooting - Laura Not - Lawrence - L'estasi Dell'oro - Lowcommittee - Lucrecia Dalt - M.Geddes Gengras - Mary Ocher - Masayoshi Fujita & Jan Jelinek - Matt Werth Meeuw Muzak - Miki Yui - Milan W ML - Niagara - Nico Bogaerts - Nika Son - Nina - Nosedrip - Nowerk - Ogon Batto - Olaf Karnik - Optik - Oswin - Pierre Bastien - Phantom Kino Ballet (Lena Willikens & Sarah Szczesny) - Phil Struck - Philip Jeck - Phillip Mattala - Ramzi - Rie Nakajima & Pierre Berthet - Ryus - Schneider Kacirek Jernberg - Sky Walking - Sun Araw - Tape Cuts Tape - The Eternal Chord - Trouvé Pawlowski - Viola Klein - Vladimir Ivkovic - Walter Wolff - Whodat - Wolfgang Brauneis