The Red Bull Elektropedia Awards Files: catching up with Bafana

Pictures by Wouter Van Vaerenbergh

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The summer is over. And for us, that means only one thing: getting ready for the Red Bull Elektropedia Awards! With the magical date of November 15 in mind, we thought this was a great opportunity to look back on the previous editions and catch up with some of the most prolific artists that have graced our award stage

This time we look at the strongest climber of last year’s DJ Top 100. Jules Gahide aka Bafana stranded at a very nice sixth spot last year. That’s in no small part the result of hundreds of gigs where he was able to showcase his encyclopaedic knowledge of house and disco music or his top class mixing skills. Take that in account alongside his work behind the scenes for KERK, NEST, Bar Wilson and FLY OVER. and you would forget this dude only just turned 25 last month. Five years ago, he used to DJ at the award ceremony as well. All in all, these are more than enough reasons to sit down with this fella and have a little update about the upcoming Red Bull Elektropedia Awards, the current state of Ghent’s nightlife and the work you have to put in to stay relevant as a DJ in today’s music scene.

Last year you climbed 43 places in the DJ Top 100, resulting with a solid 6th place. Did you see that one coming?

"Not at all. Coming to think of it now, that was actually a really nice surprise. At that moment I was traveling through Indonesia, so it came out of nowhere. I do believe I’m a bit lucky that my artists name is ranked highly on the alphabetical order, so people see me appear in the longlist quickly (laughs). In the end, I’m happy with the recognition."

In a year where you and your team finalized KERK and started up other endeavours such as NEST and FLY OVER., is it still easy to find time to prepare your DJ-sets?

"I’m lucky music is a constant factor throughout my professional life. So it’s never been that hard to combine DJ-ing with my daytime activities. The real challenge is keeping yourself up to date with new music, which requires a lot of time."

So where do you find most of your new music?

"Every week – or sometimes even twice a week – I’ll visit record stores, mostly Music Mania in Ghent, but also Popcorn Music in Roeselare, Crevette Records in Brussels or Wally’s Groove World in Antwerp. It’s in these places I find most of the older music: 90s house, disco and funk stuff. As for new music, I just listen to a lot of mixtapes and radio shows of my favourite artists. If I can give one tip: always keep your ears open, look around and try to absorb as much as possible."

How do you keep DJ-sets interesting for yourself if you play every weekend?

"Just by keeping your selection fresh and trying out new stuff every time. Sometimes you fail miserably, and then that results in a bad gig; but that’s part of the game, you learn from mistakes like that."

We have been following you since a long time - seems like the older you get, the deeper you dig for your selection. Do you feel the same?

"Absolutely. I’m not the DJ I was two years ago – and I’m not the DJ I will be in two years from now. I change, and this won’t stop anytime soon. It would be very unfortunate if that weren’t the case."

I can’t find a better person to ask what the current state of nightlife in Ghent is like. Please give your opinion on the matter.

"There’s a reason Ghent has disappeared more and more in the background if you compare it to Antwerp or Brussels. We’re lucky we have a place like Kompass, but other than that there are no real clubs left. It’s something I feel in the human interaction around me as well; people have become more sceptical and are not as enthusiastic anymore about going out every weekend. The atmosphere here has become a little sour sometimes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good night out: stalwart concert venues and dance bars like Vooruit and Charlatan are still going as strong as ever."

Do you think that will change soon?

"I’m not so sure, especially in this political climate that’s cracking down hard on venues under a façade of noise and drug complaints. I really hope I get proven wrong and that someone surprises me with something new, although you would have to work against the odds: a club cannot be located too close to the centre, but it can’t be too far away either. We’ll see. We’ll survive."

Which have been the best gigs of the year for you?

"Pukkelpop was the best festival gig - hands down. But on a more personal level, the closing of KERK in March was a major highlight in my life so far. We had five rooms playing music all night – and I closed the last one from 11am until sometime over 3pm. All my friends and colleagues were there, truly a unique experience."

What was the very last track you played then?

"Burial’s ‘Archangel’ and then Lauren Hill’s ‘Everything is Everything’."

Do you think you’ll be able to reproduce last year’s success in the DJ Top 100?

"Nah. I think it’s more realistic to assume I’ll score a little bit lower this time, especially if you see who my competition is. Some of these DJs had a massive year and are true masters of their craft. We’ll see."

Follow Bafana on the world wide web by heading over to his Facebook page

The 2017 Red Bull Elektropedia Awards will be held at Flagey, Brussels, on Wednesday November 15.