The 2018 Red Bull Elektropedia Awards (RBEA18) are almost upon us. November 13 is coming closer slow but steady. For the 9th year in a row, Belgian electronic music talent in its many shapes and forms will be put in the nation’s spotlights. With an exclusive ceremony at one of the country’s most prestigious concert venues, Flagey, the very best in 22 selected categories are celebrated for their efforts and accomplishments in the music industry in the past year. Artists, DJs, parties, festivals, record labels, photographers, graphic designers, video directors, etc. There are categories for every single segment across the country’s broad electronic music spectrum.
Currently, our team is in the midst of the organization of this massive event – but before we shift into a higher gear, it might be wise to take a look back at the winners and trends of last year. After all, it’s important to be well-informed before the day comes when you cast your votes. For the record, only music that came out between October 1 2017, and September 30 2018, is eligible for this year’s nominations.
Clearly, we need to start with Roméo Elvis, who dominated the ceremony with 5 prominent first-place awards in the last two editions (each). Last year, he was able to put trophies for ‘Artist of the Year’, ‘Best Song’, ‘Best Album’, ‘Best Live’ and the ‘Chase Award’ (i.e. best urban) on his cupboard. His producer Le Motel also took home the first place in the ‘Best Producer’ category. This shows the Brussels-based rapper has built committed audiences across generations and language. He hasn’t slowed down as far as live shows go and he released a deluxe version of his award-winning ‘Deluxe 2’ album this year with plenty of new material. So maybe he is in for another round of celebrations this time.
But Roméo isn’t the only rapper who dropped new treats this year. Damso, Hamza, Isha, Blu Samu, JeanJass & Caballero, DVTCH NORRIS, Le 77, STIKSTOF and Moka Boka all released albums this year. The race is on. Last year, the impeccable brotherly duo Soulwax ran away with the gold medal in the ‘Best Label’ category for their excellent DEEWEE Recordings. This year, the guys have made a critically acclaimed album this year too. So maybe they’ll bring home a different award this time?
Hip hop may have dominated for the most part last year, techno secured a few key victories too. One of the most enthusiastic faces on the winner’s stage last year was Amélie Lens, who claimed the number one spot in the ‘Best DJ’ category (plus she came in second with ‘Best Song’, third as ‘Best Producer’ and third as ‘Artist of the Year’). Her rise to the top seems far from over, so other DJs will have a tough job competing against one of Belgium’s biggest techno talents. Lefto, Faisal and 2manydjs have all won that same gold medal in the years before, so maybe one of those can reconquer the title. Or maybe Charlotte de Witte or Cellini, who can both look back on an excellent year can take us by surprise.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Dour Festival, Pukkelpop and Tomorrowland formed the top 3 best festivals in 2017, a category that’s traditionally exceptionally hard to break into. Maybe this time, we could see growing niche players like Paradise City, XRDS, WECANDANCE or (the final edition of) HORST claim the silver wear.
Perhaps the fiercest competition can be found in the ‘Best Club’ category. Fuse took back the title last year after Ampere had won it the year before – but with clubs like Kompass, Bloody Louis and the brand new C12 on the lookout, it will be a close race for sure.
All in all, there are many Belgian artists, parties and DJs that had a stunning year. It will be interesting to see how names like blackwave., Blu Samu, Cellini, Charlotte de Witte, C12, Témé Tan or STIKSTOF will do this November. For now, we’ll have to wait a little bit longer until the nominations are in. In the meantime, it can be said that our country can be proud of our versatile community of electronic music fans, both inside and outside the nightlife scene. On November 13, we’ll know who can claim the highest honours for another year to come.