Vernon & Massimo already received praise in Belgium’s house scene, but as Raw District, this Belgian duo is certainly turning heads. While releasing dancefloor bangers on renowned labels such as Innervisions, Crosstown Rebels and Moon Harbour, they are picking up a lot of recognition in the dance community. Before they commenced their busy summer schedule, we asked the guys some questions and they were also so kind to compile a “Highway High” mix. Ideal stuff for cruising on the freeway.
Guys, enlighten us, what exactly got you into house music?
Vernon: “When I was young, I was very influenced by hip hop and its sampling culture, which eventually also got me to discover house music in the 90s - which was also very influenced by sampling. I remember regularly visiting second hand stores in order to find original samples. Years later, the mp3 made its entrance, which made things a lot easier.”
Massimo: “During my teenager years, I used to hang out with people who were older than me. Those guys were really into clubbing and electronic music. They would buy tapes recorded during the night by national or international DJs. All these experiences got me to love the scene too. At the same time, a close friend of mine bought Technics decks and I started spending all my time at practicing and shopping for records.”
You guys first teamed up as ‘Vernon & Da Costa’. What made you choose the Raw District moniker afterwards?
V: “When I quit my Ultrasone alter ego, Massimo and I wanted to get back to the studio and start something new. The idea was to start from scratch and build something new.”
M: “When we started ‘Raw District’ three years ago, our objective was to explore something different. Our goal was to stay true to our love for soul & funk and old school influences, but at the same time we wanted to try bringing something fresh and original to our music. It was very exciting as we had no idea of what it would sound like.”
How did growing up in Belgium influence your music?
V: “Belgium has a very rich electronic music culture. Nowadays there’s so much going on every weekend and we have an impressive list of cool national and international DJs playing all over the country. When born and raised in Belgium, you simply can’t ignore electronic music. The scene is so intense and respected, which makes it omnipresent. “
M: “Belgium, especially Brussels, was always part of the European cultural melting pot. More than half of the city's population has origins extending beyond Belgium's borders. With my Italian roots and parents working for European Institutions, I was always involved into multi-cultural environment listening to different kinds of music.”
Your summer agenda is looking pretty packed with sets at festivals like Extrema, Paradise City, Dour, Tomorrowland. What are you looking forward to the most?
V: “I was at one of the first editions of Dour with my parents, around 1989 or 1990, so I have a really special connection with this festival. I’m also looking very forward to Extrema in Holland, where we’re going to play the ‘Ants’ stage. It has a terrific lineup including Groove Armada, Art Departement, Andrea Oliva, Davide Squillace and more. Furthermore, there’s the first edition of Labyrinth Open in Croatia, and our gig at Pacha (Barcelona) in July, where we’re sharing the lineup with Matthias Tanzmann.
M: “Of course, playing big, well-known festivals such Dour, Extrema or Tomorrowland and sharing line ups with famous guests, is an amazing experience and we feel very honored and excited. There are a few other festivals such as Wecandance and Le Jardin des Pommes which bring an innovative and creative lineup, with additional attention for the decoration, the theme or the location, etc.. The vibe is always amazing, creating a specific atmosphere which make those events really unique.”
The last months have already been quite productive for you guys with releases on Suara, Innervisions and Crosstown Rebels. What else do you have lined up for 2017?
M: “We try to keep a constant release schedule. Our remix for Surfing Leons just came out on our Homecoming label. The EP also includes a remix by our friend Fabrice Lig. And right now we are back on Moon Harbour, where we released a track on their Orbiter III EP. Later this summer there will be an EP on Flying Circus, including two original tracks by us."
You made an exclusive ‘Highway High' mix for Red Bull Elektropedia. What was the inspiration for this selection?
V: ”We like to jump in our car and drive all night long, while getting lost listening to various kinds of electronic music. Our selection is a mix of new and old tracks.”
Keep up with Raw District’s future whereabouts by following their Facebook page.