Us Belgians are usually quite sceptic when foreign promoters come to host their nights on our turf, but when you’re dealing with an insanely successful event formula like Vunzige Deuntjes, we might have to reconsider our first impressions. With weekly sold-out club nights and festivals all over the Netherlands, the Amsterdam-based team carefully tested the waters in Antwerp this year with a handful of events in Trix, Ampere and Magiq Spiegeltent. Turns out the experiments were a success – so they are happy to expand their activities to Ghent (Club 69) and Leuven (Rumba). Word of advice to the people that love to get down on both the newest R&B and dancehall rhythms, blended with a healthy dose of guilty pleasure, come see what the fuzz is all about. But first, have a look at what one of their main men, Thomas 'Gurney-Champion', had to say about the craze that’s called Vunzige Deuntjes…
Can you explain what Vunzige Deuntjes is exactly to all the people in Belgium who have no clue who you are or what you do?
"Roughly translated, Vunzige Deuntjes would mean ‘Dirty Tunes’. It’s a club night and festival, originating from Amsterdam, that mainly focuses on hip hop, R&B and dancehall music. We started around six years ago in a club called Bitterzoet, with a capacity of 400 people, but soon grew out to a club night in most big cities in the Netherlands - and since October last year in Belgium too!"
Can we ask how many events you do each year?
"You can, but I have lost count to be honest, haha. I have no exact number, but we have about two or three events every weekend in 23 different cities at the moment. During the summer we had a little break in the club circuit, focussing on our festivals and outdoor events. So roughly guessed, I think we host about 120 events every year. Too be honest, I’m a bit baffled seeing this amount in front of me (laughs)."
You guys did five editions in Antwerp so far. How do you look back on those?
"Antwerp is awesome! It was extremely exciting to make the step to organise Vunzige Deuntjes in Belgium, as it was the first time we went abroad. As I’ve studied in Antwerp, I know the nightlife scene here is really different compared to what we have in Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands. In my experience, people here have a finer taste for music and prefer a deeper sound on their parties. Vunzige Deuntjes, of course, is a night with a more accessible sound than most club nights in Antwerp. So although we don’t strictly play popular music, R. Kelly’s ‘Ignition Remix’ or Ginuwine’s ‘Pony’ are the sort of tracks you will most probably hear on a Vunzige Deuntjes night. It has been cool to see that people in Antwerp sing along to the music just as much. But then again, isn’t Ignition Remix the best R&B club song ever?"
Seems like you are expanding your horizons with editions in Ghent and Leuven now. What’s your strategy here?
"Vunzige world domination (laughs)! No, our main goal is to bring together people and organise good parties. I think we are getting quite well-known in the Flemish market, so obviously the next step after Antwerp were Ghent and Leuven. I think both cities have a bustling nightlife scene. I love Ghent and I’ve heard many stories about Leuven, especially for students. The step after these places would be Brussels. That would be a big step though, as the music scene over there is something we’re less familiar with. In the end, we just want to spread the love and good vibes in as many places as possible!"
What does an ideal Vunzige Deuntjes party look like to you?
"The perfect Vunzige Deuntjes party would be attended by a unique mix of people, from all different backgrounds, that all came to have great time. Either with the friends they came with or people they just met in line. This, of course, would all be supported musically by a nice blend of fresh hip hop, R&B and dancehall, mixed with some very famous bangers alongside a few forgotten classics that make people go “I totally forgot about this track”! Even though we might invite some big artists from time to time, our goal is to provide a place where everybody who came out can really enjoy themselves. Plus, it’s not only in the music for us: we put a lot of effort in the decoration and side activities like R&B-karaoke, our infamous vodka challenge, limbo dancing, an arcade corner, food stalls, hot tubs (yes, hot tubs) or a panna knock out corner all inside the club."
You seem to have a knack for balancing the more accessible sounds with the slightly more alternative beats. One DJ can play Fela Kuti, while the other pulls out the latest Jeremih or Sevn Alias tracks. We presume that’s part of what you try to bring?
"We started out as a party mostly aiming for a student crowd, and even though that’s still our core demographic, we try to be inclusive and accessible to everybody. Obviously, that has to be reflected in the music. It’s all about the vibe, because if the vibe is right people can listen to almost any type of music."
After throwing events in both countries, what are the main differences between the Belgian and Dutch crowds?
"To be honest: I expected there would be a lot more differences between the Dutch and Belgian crowds on a Vunzige Deuntjes night. As a DJ I’ve played in Belgium often already and I had the feeling the crowd here prefers more electronic sounds. Even my friends from Antwerp told me they didn’t expect a concept like Vunzige Deuntjes would work. Well, I guess they were wrong (laughs). Additionally, you guys seem to really know a lot about Dutch hip hop, which is awesome! For example, every time we bring Yung Internet to Antwerp, the crowd goes bananas, even more so than back home. It’s nice to see that we all just try to have a good time when we go out."
What are the next steps for Vunzige Deuntjes in Belgium?
"We have some stuff in mind, but first things first: Vunzige Deuntjes will come to Leuven on October 5 and to Ghent the day after, October 6. If all goes well (fingers crossed), we might check for opportunities in Brussels after. Oh, and I’ve heard rumours of a Vunzige Deuntjes Festival in Antwerp in the summer of 2018. Whoops!"