With Opposites, we show a different - opposite - side of Belgian artists as they let us in their personal bubble and showcase five of their favorite tracks, completely opposite of what they’re known for.
"There have been and there are still quite a lot of people who like to stereotype me as an ‘Hip Hop/R’n’B’ urban music DJ, due to my years as a resident in the urban room at Culture Club in Ghent. Luckily the amount of people who know that my musical knowledge extends to much more than that simplified description is getting bigger by the day. I grew up in Tielt at a time when dance music and in particular hip hop music wasn’t the huge popular culture it is now. While most of my peers were into new wave or rock, I tended to hang out with the rock and psychobilly kids, and also with the first generation of youths into house music. Here are some tracks you might not associate with me as a DJ, but which are also a part of who I am. And at particular moments, I do play some of these tracks during my sets."
Slayer - Angel of Death
A very controversial song because of it’s lyrics which are inspired by the also quite controversial book and movie ‘The Boys From Brasil’ by Ira Levin. A lot of people claimed that Slayer had neo-Nazi sympathies because of this song, but they did not seem to notice that Slayer’s lead vocalist Tom Araya comes from Chile (a controversial country when it comes to harboring Nazis after the war, no doubt) and Dave Lombardo is a Cuban - both of them obviously not of Aryan descent.
The album ‘Reign In Blood’ was one of the first releases on the ‘American recordings’ label which Rick Rubin (of Jewish descent) started after leaving Def Jam records. I dropped this at Pukkelpop when Slayer had cancelled at Pukkelpop, which was the first time I ever played the Boiler Room (2014). It was Public Enemy’s collabo with Anthrax and my admiration for Rick Rubin as a producer that made me check out this record. It takes me back to my punk rock days back in my hometown Tielt, when I was already deeply into hip hop but most of my friends were into skate rock and punk rock. We got connected through our mutual love of ‘Licensed To Ill' by the Beastie Boys.
The record goes crazy in all directions at first, reminiscent of some of the 70s electric jazz period when Miles Davis would work with two drummers at the same time, but then it breaks down into a slow 4/4 beat which is, in some sense, very much in the same vain as the tempo of a early hip hop/ rock breakbeats like ‘We Will Rock You’ by Queen or ‘The Big Beat’ by Billy Squier which Dizzee Rascal used in his first single.
SIS - Trompeta
Going to WMC in Miami always interested me more than going to Ibiza, because I got the chance to hear the best ‘deep house’ and ‘real' house DJs in Miami. I also got the chance to see some of the best hip hop DJs and MCs in the world at the same time, which isn’t the case in Ibiza, where everything is dominated by techno and minimal sounds. Try to find a decent hip hop club or a jam with amazing hip hop DJs like the Do Over in Ibiza.
Whenever you go somewhere in the world, there’s always good and bad dance music, it’s up to you to try to be at the right place at the right time. When my friend Matt Edwards (better know as Radio Slave) was playing at Space in Ibiza -after a sick session by my brothers 2manydjs at one of Guetta’s Sunday residency nights- we were hanging out with our friend and legendary Belgian DJ/producer from Lommel, Buscemi. All of a sudden some people recognized him, we started talking, and in no time we became friends (that’s how it goes sometimes in ‘house’ culture). They informed me and my wife that we had to go check out Ricardo Villalobos at Cocoon Mondays at Amnesia the next day.
I had heard a lot about Villalobos’s legendary status, including the fact that he spins vinyl records which was one of the reasons why he was definitely on my list of DJs to check. Contrary to what many people may think or know, my wife and I have quite a history in house culture, so we quickly recognize a good house DJ when we hear one. All of a sudden, Ricardo dropped a tune and I looked at my wife, she looked back, we both were awestruck and went like "wow, what the fuck is that tune playing right now?!". Shazam was non existent so all we could do was keep the tune in our memory but the way we experienced it and the way it sounded, we just knew it wasn’t gonna leave our memory. I mentioned this tune again and again to some of my friends in the house movement. It’s pounding bassline, which somehow reminded me of dub reggae when it dropped into the tune somewhere half way the track was imprinted in my mind for life, but I thought the chances of me finding out what it was were minimal (sic).
One day, I’m standing at Music Man records at Steendam, Ghent and I hear somebody playing a tune! I run to the DJ booth and I say to Biens who was working there at that time "What the fuck, that’s the tune I heard Villalobos play at Amnesia!". The joy you feel when you discover a tune you heard a DJ play months before can not compare to finding it on Shazam right away. It’s a part of the culture of record diggin. Been a fan of the SIS’s productions ever since... #classicbyallmeans
Radioslave - Grindhouse (Dubfire Planet of Terror Remix)
During the period I was running my Saturday residency at Culture Club (2001-2012), I met a lot of big legendary DJs from around the world. I’ll never forget how Kerri Chandler was trying to level the sound system in my room for hours while I was playing. I felt honoured to see this man at work trying to make the system sound good, simply because this is his passion and he understands that one of the most important and most essential things about being a good DJ is making sure that the music sounds good and knowing how to make the music sound good. Sadly this is a skill many young DJs lack, some fail to understand the importance of this. If you don’t see that this is what good bass driven music is all about, then you definitely lack understanding of dance music and culture.
When Matt Edwards of Radioslave was invited to play at Culture Club, he was impressed by the amount of records in my DJ booth. I had about 10, sometimes 14 crates in my booth, as I always played all nighters and I became famous for playing #TLPTROUBLEMAN #EARLYMORNINGCLASSICS. Whenever the main room became less crowded towards the end of the night, people would move over to the small room as many of them knew that the party was only about to start in my room.
Matt is a vinyl collector like me, and through this mutual love for digging for various musical sounds we became friends and shared quite a lot of good moments together, talking about, reasoning about music and dancing to music together. My wife and me hung out with Matt when he was playing with his brother James (from Rekids) at WMC in Miami, and we had a great time together when we were in Ibiza as well.
I’ll never forget the moment Matt introduced me to the legendary Francois Kevorkian at the Pawn Shop (a now defunct legendary club in downtown Miami). I witnessed Francois and him talking for an hour about how to create a certain effect or sound while producing (it’s great to see great producers who are actually great DJs as well). We went into the second room around 09.00 in the morning to listen to Loco Dice. I had heard a lot about him, but had never seen the man at work.
I remember telling Matt how I loved it that producers in the techno/minimal scene love to make extra long tracks who last longer than 10 minutes sometimes. I told him this reminded me of the way Miles Davis would release albums with just one long track on each side of a record. Techno/Minimal DJs do not care about making ‘radio friendly’ music which fits into the 3-4 minute format which most daytime radio channels consider the norm. Loco Dice turned around and showed the utmost respect to Matt, who said hello and remained more than humble. "Wow, what an amazing tune he’s playing" , I said to Matt. Again, still no Shazam around, so I somehow hesitantly asked him "Do you know what that tune is or who made it?". He looked back at me, and in a very relaxed manner he said "it’s my remix of one of his tunes!"
The Cure - Close To Me
Going to the annual Notting Hill Carnival in London is a musical highlight for me at the end of every summer. It's a genuine celebration of various musical flavours created by various generations of the large group of Caribbean immigrants who came to the UK looking for a better life.
You will hear Caribbean music ranging from Ska to Studio One Rock steady vibes, to soca, calypso, salsa, zouk, dancehall, lovers rock, dub reggae, soul, rhythm and blues, onto more modern day variations of these genres like UK grime, UK garage, jungle (drum’n’bass), trap, hip hop, r’n’b, afrobeat, ... There was always one soundsystem bringing a bit of a pumpin’ Ibiza house type of vibe at the carnival. It was Sancho Panza, located at Conlan street and junction with Middle Row. (about a block away from the mighthy Earth Ruler Aba Ashanti, one of the roughest and most legendary dub reggae sound systems on the planet).
I had the honour to mc on that sound system when my brothers the Glimmer Twins were invited to play a set on their hard hitting Funktion One speakers. They always drew a pretty large crowd to the point the police had to block the road to prevent the area from getting congested. It was the first ever carnival experience for the Glimmer Twins (Mo and Benoelie), who had just flew in from a gig in Mexico. For the first time in my life, I was afraid to grab the mic on the sound system. But once I had the mic in my hands, I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop anymore. MC-ing on a sound system at Notting Hill Carnival was definitely one of the highlights of my career.
I will never forget the the first time I heard Julio Bashmore’s ‘Battle For Middle You’ blazing through the Funktion One set up by Sancho Panza. I didn’t know what the tune was but the pounding bass line stayed in my mind for months, until I finally heard the tune again and right away I knew that was the tune I’d heard months earlier. My wife and I always loved to check Sancho Panza during the warm up hours, before we moved on to Aba Ashanti or Norman Jay’s legendary ‘Good Times’ soundsystem. I don’t remember which year it was, but we made sure to arrive early at the premises, because we know things would get hectic and the police would eventually seal off the block. So in order to be able to witness the Good Times sound system, we had to be there before 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
While we approached the sound system, we were vibing along with the crowd getting’ their carnival vibe on. All of a sudden, the DJ put on a tune I hadn’t heard in a while, and while we instantly recognized it, it took us about 5 seconds to realize it was ‘Close To Me’ by The Cure. When that legendary and immortal bassline came through those Funktion One speakers, everone’s hairs just rose up and the crowd went into a fuckin’ frenzy. It’s one of those moments when you realize music can never sound good when being played on an iPhone (YEAH I SAID IT AND I’LL SAY IT AGAIN).
Dance music (which is all about thumping bass) has to be played and to be listened to on a proper sound system. Ever since that day, every time I hear that tune by the Cure, it immediately takes me back to that Monday afternoon moment at the Notting Hill Carnival. And that is the sole reason why I refuse to download an .mp3 of the song. Any self respecting DJ who wants to play that tune, must at least play a .WAV file. Well, at least if you want the bassline to come through the speakers like the way it did on that day! Unforgettable!!!
Tracy Chapman - Talking about a revolution
Watching a documentary about Jesse Jackson being the first black person trying to run for president of the United States during the eighties, left quite an impression on me as a kid. I was very politically conscious from a young age, and I read the books about the cruelty of the injust apartheid system in South Africa. I also read the biography of Malcolm X and plenty of books about the Black Panthers. When Greenpeace was becoming a popular organization, fighting for the rights of animals, and one of the first organizations who started warning people about ecological changes, I was one of the first kids to run around with a ‘This Body Is in Danger’ t-shirt.
I don’t exactly remember when I first discovered Tracy Chapman’s debut album, but I do remember I was already reading NME (New Musical Express), the best British publication about pop/rock music (next to Melody Maker) on a weekly basis. It was the type of album I would listen to from beginning til end over and over again. I do believe I was already listening to the album before her appearance at the Nelson Mandela tribute at Wembley stadium in London.
I had the album on a cassette tape. I must’ve recorded it from someone. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally purchased a vinyl copy of the album. The moment I really got excited, was when I discovered a 12” vinyl copy of her hit record ‘Fast Car’ in a ‘dollar bin’ in a large warehouse near Kortrijk a couple of years ago. I realized how timeless, powerful and classic this song was when I played it at Feest in het park festival as first tune a couple of years ago. All the young females sang the song out loud as if they had been listening to this album from the moment they were born.
I picked the ‘Talking about a revolution’ from her debut album as the song is -given the current political climate we are living in- as powerful and meaningful as it was almost 30 years ago.
Master Musicians of Jajouka - A Habibi Ouajee T'Allel Allaiya
Back in 1993, when I was performing with DJ Grazhoppa as Rhyme Cut Core, we got a call from a jazz musician from Antwerp. Luk Mishalle is one of Belgium’s well known saxophone players and a man who dared to experiment with the sounds he heard around him in his neighborhood in Antwerp, which has a large population of Moroccan immigrants. Luk told us he was working on a musical project for Antwerp as cultural capital of Europe. He was putting together an 18 piece musical band with local moroccan musicians, Belgian jazz musicians and he wanted to incorporate some hip hop elements in the group as well.
As both Graz and I were familiar with the Master Musicians of Jajouka album, we decided to take a part of this project which was quite an amazing experience. I’ll never forget performing in front of about 2000 Moroccans at Poetry in the park in Rotterdam. And while we were bringing some gnawa/gnoua music -which is Moroccan TRANCE music- I witnessed how a whole lot of women went into an undeniable state of trance while listening to these hypnotic sounds.
Ever since that moment, I always smiled whenever somebody mentioned the word TRANCE as a sub genre within House music, because I knew that no matter how many pills or other drugs these people may consume while listening to so called ‘trance music’, this could never compare to this ‘real’ trance music which was being played LIVE by musicians and they’d never experience a real state of hypnosis like the crowd in front of our stage on that day.