As the Belgian house and techno scene evolves every day, churning out new producers and even more DJs, there are those who remain stand the test of time. Antoine Verbrugge, aka DkA, is one of these people. Many people will know him from his sets at the impeccable Hasselt-based techno superclub Labyrinth, where he joined the artist agency and thus is to be found regularly behind the decks. Blessed with an exceptional talent for production and an urge to make the most out of every DJ-set, this twentysomthing Carolo has been around for over a decade – and without stealing the spotlight all that often, he has never left the stage either. The time has come to ask this Labyrinth resident a few questions.
“I actually started out playing hard techno when I was about 13 years old, but switched to house and techno around my 18th birthday”, Verbrugge answers after we asked about the early days of his career. “That’s also when I started producing. First for other artists, but eventually just for my own projects. It was a very natural process, without ever consciously ‘deciding’ I wanted to make my job out of this”.
Charleroi isn’t particularly known as the party capital of this country – most artists from the area make the move to Brussels at some point in their lives, as did Verbrugge. “I used to live in Brussels for 10 years, but since 2 years I’m happy to be back in Charleroi”. He seems to be very satisfied with this decision – in all honesty, something we didn’t expect him to say. But he continued to clarify his motives. “Since making music is all I do now, I don’t have any distractions here. I’m closer to nature, my friends and my family. Besides, I can make music anywhere”. Those arguments actually make a lot of sense. “Brussels can be a bit suffocating, and my focus is way more on point here”. So what’s the scene like over there, we asked. “Well, there’s Rockerill – a very cool club in an old factory space, where you can find some cool house and techno nights. But in general I don’t really tend to go out when I’m not playing myself”. A very reasonable thing to do when you are booked almost every weekend.
As with many producer-DJs, Verbrugge admits he likes playing live sets more than DJ-sets. He elaborates, “By far the most shows I do are live sets. I use a pretty minimal setup, as most DJ booths I have to play in are just too small for all the gear and instruments I used to take with me”. What does his setup look like now then? “A laptop, Ableton Push and an Evolution UC33. Sometimes I bring a vocalist with me – or stuff to make live samples from”. This can be backed by one of us, who once saw Verbrugge crush a can of soda in order to sample it on the spot. Pretty fun to watch and making the show more memorable to say the least.
So that’s no more DJ-sets, we wondered? “Yea I still do them of course. But being a big record collector I only do strictly vinyl sets now when I’m DJ-ing. It’s just the way I have always done it”. Fair enough.
But DkA isn’t the only music act Verbrugge spends his creative time on. The ones that have been paying attention will know that he is also one half of Brussels Pony Club – a band he and Parsifal Marin formed in order to showcase their diverse sound. “I’m doing most of the production – essentially a more pop sound – while Parsifal does all the rest really”, Verbrugge says. “We actually recorded an album already, but we’re waiting for the right record label to release it before we can let anyone hear”. So that’s a nice little exclusive you read here first.
We had to ask though, where did the name for the band come from? “Well, I was walking around in Brussels, drunk, and I saw this name somewhere. We agreed it could make a great name for a band. That’s the story”, he explains with a smile. So while we are talking about names, what does ‘DkA’ actually stand for? “Actually I used to work under the name ‘Doktor A’, until my label at the time told me they didn’t like it. So I changed it to what it is now. The difference in upper and lower cases just makes it stand out more on flyers”.