I think my work always starts with music
Brussels-based artist Lisa Vereertbrugghen builds her pieces based on influences from her childhood, hardcore techno and the complex relationship between body and sound. We met in her bright living room to talk about her creative process, her routine and, of course, her new performance, DISQUIET.
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Lisa Vereertbrugghen. I’m a choreographer and dancer based in Brussels. Besides that, I also work as a dramaturg and I teach.
How is your daily routine as a choreographer?
I think my work always starts with music. So, my daily routine would be listening to techno music, digging into old techno archives, and experimenting with and creating new sound ideas and pieces. When the process of creating a new piece starts, my sound collaborator Michael Langeder (who has his own electronic duo, Different Fountains) and I use some of those tracks as a starting point. I also write on a regular basis, text ideas for a new show or simply random writings.
When a show is done, there’s a lot of travelling in my routine. On the other hand, when I’m creating, I like to work in Brussels. This place is very inspiring. I also go on residencies abroad but, to be honest, I mostly try to stay here when creating something.
I saw that you’ve been researching hardcore techno for a couple of years now. How did you become interested in the genre?
I’ve been researching this genre for almost nine years now. The first piece that I made after school was a hardcore techno piece. My interest in the relationship between sound and movement has been present since I started my studies (my graduation piece in choreography was not a show but a CD), but the specificity of hardcore came to me when I was a child.
My brother was really into 'hakken', the dance that is performed to gabber music. It was also very popular in Belgium, but in a softer way than in Holland. He started teaching me how to do it when I was 11 or 12 years old and it stayed with me.
When I graduated in choreography, I realised that I wasn’t interested in the dance styles I’d learned in school and I immediately went back to that kind of dance.
You’ve also researched the speed of the music and its relationship with the body…
Hardcore music has a lot of definitions. I define it as a kind of electronic music that has a minimum of 150-160 BPM, high intensity and a lot of ruptures in the flow. Speed for me is essential because it forces you to move at a speed that is not your own. It’s too fast to think and too fast to worry about what you look like.
It’s beyond the image. It goes into pure physicality.
Was that the starting point for the creation of DISQUIET, your next performance?
In DISQUIET specifically, I wanted to focus on an element of clubbing that I find essential: the dystopic side of clubbing, especially of hardcore techno. I think that there’s a lot of focus on the utopic side of clubbing – all of us together, a sense of community – which is obviously a very important component of the whole clubbing scene. But there’s another side that’s also very present, especially in hardcore genres. There’s a destructive side to it, a dystopic side. In this piece, I wanted to focus on that.
This kind of intimate relationship that I have with the dance is what I want to put on stage
Do you go clubbing a lot?
I don’t know what you mean by ‘a lot’ [Laughs]. I love to go dancing but I practice the dance not only by going clubbing but literally in my bedroom, in my house. I put on the music and I dance. This isn’t something that you can do only in the club, but also in your home.
I guess the name DISQUIET means something. Can you tell us about it?
What I find politically interesting about hardcore music is that it’s really activating. It touches your nervous system in a very intense way. This activation shakes you up.
This kind of activation is what I mean by disquiet. It gets you out of your ‘quiet zone’.
I try to physically reach the audience with the sound
Is there any special relationship with the audience in this performance?
Usually, I like to have people around me. Since this piece was made entirely during the lockdown, this was not possible and it was very weird for me.
In this piece, as in all my other pieces, I really try to move the spectator. Even though in my former piece I literally moved the audience when I was performing, in this one I try to touch their bodies with the sound. The sound is created in a way that moves. I move speakers on stage to stimulate the audience’s direct feelings of it.