Beyond genre

Related event

Does a musician need to define their sound? We invited Kontakt Group to co-organize our party at PILAR on the 11th of May. For the occasion, our writer Jeremy Tawedian had a chat with co-founder and DJ Lucas Vandervelde (aka Aroh) about genre-bending and his curation process.

You’ve been in the Brussels music scene for ten years now. How would you say it has changed over the past couple of years?

I think the biggest change I notice is that the level of collaboration is much higher today. There was a lot going on before, but it was all confined to very small niches. I felt like people didn’t really interact with each other. Once you create a space for everyone to come together, like KIOSK, connections will form naturally. Now, everybody talks to everybody, even if it has to be in broken English. I think it makes for more interesting collaborations. On top of that, with social media, you can just DM anyone and collaboration can be born out of that. It’s very interesting as a DJ, as a producer. That collaboration is what a healthy scene needs.

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How did Kontakt Group start?

Kontakt Group has always been Victor De Roo, myself, and an ever-changing cast of people. Back when we started working as a label, in 2017-2018, we released a lot of music inspired by new wave. Victor and I met through our common love of this type of music, very much embedded in this 80s, Belgian, sometimes dark sound. But things have changed since then. Our fifth release was a trap tape, for example. Our sound has definitely evolved and broadened.

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Would you say there is a Kontakt sound?

There is a Kontakt sound, it’s just hard to define in terms of genres. For me, as a DJ and as a part of Kontakt Group, I love incorporating all sorts of musical influences.  Whether curating a DJ set or the label, I don’t like being limited to one thing. That flexibility is  a mindset that really suits me. From the outside, people might  ask, “Ok, what is this label actually?” But everything we do is consistent. It’s just hard to assign it a genre. When it comes to events… we love this combination of live acts with DJ sets afterwards. It gives a nice dynamic to the night.

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Can you tell me more about your curatorial process?

Earlier in my career, I thought I had to narrow my sound down. These past two years, I’ve realized that diving into different sounds was an advantage. If I can start a set with new wave and then go into d&b a couple of tracks later, the focus can be more on moments and feelings rather than genres.

A couple of weeks ago, I was hanging out with other DJs before a gig. One of them asked me, “What are you going to play this time?” I don’t really know how to answer that type of question, I just have a direction I know I might take. Instead of waiting for my answer, he said, “You know what? You don’t need to tell me. You can just surprise me.” That’s what I’m aiming for. Not to play the same type of sets all the time, but to surprise people.

If I can start a set with New wave, and then go into d&b a couple of tracks later, the focus is on the moment and its feelings rather than genres

There’s so much stuff out there, yet people can be very focused on one niche. You just have to let go, which is a very important part of nightlife for me. Wanting to be surprised.

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Any words of advice for young musicians?

I’m 31 years old now. It has taken me a long time to get to the point where I’m okay with doing what I want. The industry will try to corner you and put a brand on you. If at one point, you don’t want to do that anymore, you’re fucked! Some even change their name and start over again. We’re in an era where everything has to go so fast. I don’t believe in that. It puts a lot of pressure on young artists, to have that return on the investment for an agency or label. My advice may be a massive cliché, but everything takes time.

 You just have to let go. Wanting to be surprised is a very important part of nightlife for me

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Anything you want to plug?

The next Kontakt Group release will be Non-Stop Shopper by Van de Slag. It's the aftermath of the now-defunct band De Nooit Moede. It’s going to be released in April. It’s sung in Dutch, not that we typically do things in Dutch only. We just find it an interesting language to work with.

And the Different Class party we’re doing with Club Détour at PILAR, of course!

<div class="editorial-banner"> <div class=“editorial-credits”> @aroh_dj </div></div>

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