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.
Last year, there was one act that caught many off-guarded. Taking home 5 awards – 3 of them as the first place (‘Best Album’, ‘Best Live’ and 'Chase Award') – Roméo Elvis and Le Motel surprised friends and foes. In this breakthrough year, these guys have brought their contagious energy to countless venues and festivals on both sides of the language border, as well as faraway places like Canada and The States. With the release of a second album and the long series of shows that followed, the time has come to take a look back on what an exceptional ride it has been so far. Fabien Leclerq (aka Le Motel) is happy to let us have a little peak in the lives of one of Belgium’s most prominent rapper-producer duo of the moment.
Roméo’s career has been blowing up this year. You have played an awful lot of shows - and both October and November are packed with new dates too. How is the touring life treating you guys?
"Yeah, it was amazing! Sometimes almost too intense: doing 5 gigs in 2 days with his energy is not very good for a human voice. So we will take it a little slower in the coming months."
Breaking through in Flanders as a francophone rapper is highly unusual. How has the reaction been when you play in front of crowds that don’t always understand his lyrics?
"Before he broke through, our gigs in Flanders used to be a lot calmer. That has totally changed though. Most people may not understand everything Roméo is saying, but they are going nuts anyway. For example, I played with Yellowstraps and Flako in Bruges a few years ago. It was a very calm gig and there were barely any people. Yesterday I played the exact same venue with Roméo and it was packed, sweaty and loud! The Flemish crowds are really starting to sing along more and more."
What have been the most memorable shows this year?
"Many! All of the big festivals, like Dour. It goes without saying that this one was epic. Then our show at Vooruit was crazy too. The odd one out has to be Worldwide Festival (Gilles Peterson’s festival in the south of France, ed.). It has always been a dream for me to play there, and this year I could. First with a solo set and later with Roméo. That venue, that energy: indescribable."
You are literally touring all the time. Do you still find time for your own Le Motel endeavours or producing new music?
"As for Le Motel, I got a few tracks in the pipeline, but I still need to find the time to finish them. When that moment comes, I want to make a complete audio-visual performance as well. I do have one EP coming up at the end of the year. A collaborative project with the rapper Veence Hanao. So keep your eyes peeled for that! That said, we did find some studio time with Roméo though. Last week we visited the Red Bull Studios in Amsterdam for the second time. The talented Lennard Vink of Day Fly even swung by for a session. All in all, we started working on almost seven tracks, but we have yet to figure out what will happen with them."
How do you guys usually go about making a new track? Which one comes first: the beat or the rhymes?
"Most of the time it’s me who comes up with a beat and Roméo tests some of his bars out if he feels it. That’s the way we started working together in the first place. Of course, now I know what he’s looking for in an instrumental, so I can work more effectively. However, in Amsterdam we tried a lot of new things like house, garage and trap. To be continued!"
Please elaborate that part about how you met each other.
"We had a lot of mutual friends. Then one night, I was playing at a house party and he just picked up the mic and started rapping on top, which felt totally weird as my music wasn’t really suited for that kind of stuff. But yeah, it worked. So we started off from there really."
Do you think you guys will win as big on the Red Bull Elektropedia Awards like last year?
"I don’t know. Last year we won the two most important awards for us: ‘Best Album’ and ‘Best Live’. We really gave everything we had, so I don’t know if we can do any better this year. It’s been a very good year for many other artists too, so we’ll see."
The 2017 Red Bull Elektropedia Awards will be held at Flagey, Brussels, on Wednesday November 15.