The anything and everything, bound together by a childlike colourful wonder
What may have started as just 3 friends playing music and hanging out in 2019 has evolved into an incredible platform for musicians experimenting with all different genres of music under the collective Toverberg. In anticipation of Different Class’ upcoming party in Antwerp, we sat down with Toverberg founder, organiser, and DJ Florian Meersman to talk about working collectively and forming connections to club music and the club scene.
Where does the name Toverberg come from?
The Magic Mountain, translated to Toverberg, is a book by Thomas Mann. I kept the book by my bed, because it is a classic work, although I’ve never read it. I don't really know how I made the jump between seeing it by my bed and naming the collective Toverberg. We were just looking for a name and that one stuck. I read that Slint, a post-rock band, had a multitude of names before that one. The name Slint came about because one of the guys in the band had a lot of fish, and he gave the fish names based on what they thought they should be named but were not real names. He had one crooked-looking fish which he named Slint, so when they needed a better band name, they thought, maybe Slint. It was just a joke at first, but then it stuck, and eventually, they began to take it seriously. Which is the best way for things to come into existence, I think.
<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/63fc814353cb3b7e749e9f98_Subbacultcha%20Belgium%20Florian_Meersman-10.webp"/>
<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/63fc814314aaea6f02cc7552_Subbacultcha%20Belgium%20Florian_Meersman-11.webp"/>
How did Toverberg get its start?
At first, it was just me and two friends. We went to a lot of parties together, did a lot of clubbing in Brussels and Antwerp, and we began feeling like we wanted to do something productive with it, to do something of our own. I don't think we are the type of people who can just go out and not want to contribute. I really can't be passive, if I see something cool, I want to be a part of it in some way. We bought the most basic Djing equipment, and just started hanging out, seeing what we would play. At first, it was mainly house music and techno. That was already four years ago. And as we grew ourselves, we shifted out of that and started playing different kinds of music. Then Toverberg as a DJ collective stopped being, and we all did our own separate things, within Toverberg. It just became more of a space for everyone's projects. Later, when two other friends joined, it really became a platform of its own. Now, Toverberg consists of Orlan Ghekiere (Orlan), Maurice Luijten (HOFFMAN / Daniël Paul), Briek Verdoodt, Tom Boonen (TMD), and me (Floridada / Trollbeats).
<img class="editorial-image" src="https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/63fc81429c8597bc7aeebcfb_Subbacultcha%20Belgium%20Florian_Meersman-6.webp"/>
What does a collective and being a part of a collective mean to you?
There was a really nice interview in the magazine a few months ago with Otis from Slagwerk, and that was really an eye-opener to me in terms of how a collective can work. Up to this point, it has become more of a platform for everyone to do their own projects and events, and I have kind of managed the more administrative side of things. A lot of the things that Otis said about being in a collective were very true because he does it on his own, and it is a completely different experience to really work collectively. It is difficult to make compromises and to make it really work for everyone. So now Toverberg has kind of evolved to everyone doing their own thing within the platform, rather than really being a collective. One thing that Otis said in the interview was that it is necessary for a collective to evolve like this in order to work efficiently, beyond playing house parties and stuff like that. I have thought about that a lot in the past few months if it is possible to work as a true collective. I'm still not sure.
Toverberg has kind of evolved to everyone doing their own thing within the platform, rather than really being a collective
<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/63fc814278a8c8dae655ce68_Subbacultcha%20Belgium%20Florian_Meersman-3.webp"/>
<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/63fc814405cf853e17fb322e_Subbacultcha%20Belgium%20Florian_Meersman-13.webp"/>
Does anything define the sound of Toverberg?
It is sometimes difficult because, when people ask me ‘What is the vision or the sound of Toverberg?’ I could say, ‘Oh we do deconstructed club, or glitchy trance music or something,’ but I can't say we are indebted to any of those things, it can be anything and everything. I think we are all bound by our love of experimental music, of all kinds. Some of our members make really glitchy, hard electronic music, others make soft, sculpted, jazzy ambient sounds, and then there is a straight-up techno DJ. It is all bound by a childlike colourful wonder, which is also reflected in our logo. I have always liked rudimentary, colourful drawings, and unseriousness. Everything is formed and informed by a sense of community, being together, and laughter, so I think if any art is missing this, it lacks some joy. I prefer things to be enthusiastic, natural, and easygoing.
It is all bound by a childlike colourful wonder
<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/63fc814014aaea4a22cc74fb_Subbacultcha%20Belgium%20Florian_Meersman-8.webp"/>
<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/63fc8142b68bc66425d7964b_Subbacultcha%20Belgium%20Florian_Meersman-9.webp"/>
Is this approach to music how you and the rest of Toverberg built a connection to the music and DJing scene?
When I first started to go out, going to clubs, the thing that really hooked me were certain sounds. For some music, it is just the bass sound, how that sounds in a club. It still has the same effect on me every time I hear that. That's not something you can plan or explain, it just happens. It shapes everything else because then you want music to always feel like that moment when you hear that bass sound, or that piano in certain house songs. You just feel it, you feel at home. This definitely helps build connections with a scene, or within a collective, because, for Toverberg, we had those experiences together. We heard that sound and looked at each other and said, ‘Damn, what the fuck is this.’
<img class="editorial-image" src="https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/63fc8144b7533340bcd860d3_Subbacultcha%20Belgium%20Florian_Meersman-14.webp"/>
Tell me about Toverberg’s label.
The label was something I felt was coming for a long time. I also organise another event, OVERLAST, with Mathilde Luijten. OVERLAST is a nomadic showcase festival that gives a stage to young, starting artists. It has short, mostly live shows, and we are always looking for new music, so a lot of people send us really good music, but of course, we can't showcase everything. So I realized that the music that might not fit in the festival often follows a similar lifespan. It stays on a private Soundcloud playlist, maybe a few friends have it and they listen to it religiously and love it, but it never sees the light of day for other people. However, we have our first release that came out on 24 February and it is a split EP by Nykolaes and Daniël Paul. The label started out of the impulse to push those people to release their music. It is for and inspired by the bedroom producers that we know make great music, but won't try to command the limelight.
<img class="editorial-image" src="https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/63fc8143566c935d4b2b37aa_Subbacultcha%20Belgium%20Florian_Meersman-12.webp"/>
What can we expect from Toverberg’s collaboration with Different Class?
It is really a big honour for Toverberg to get this kind of recognition. I myself have been a hardcore Different Class reader for a long time, and if something came into Different Class it was like, ok now this is a serious thing. If friends of mine were featured in Different Class, I was like wow, that's a really big deal. So, for our collective, this is a big moment, a point 0 in a way. Now we can really begin and build up from this. The event will be a collaboration with ZAIKA and they are more club based than us, so we will curate the two live shows, and then one clubbing act. For the live shows, we have one really interesting secret project which is called Crop Top Core and will be featured live for the first time. Hanne will be playing her second show ever and for DJs, we're gonna feature the most interesting and upcoming, club forward DJ by the name of Instar (Burenhinder).
For our collective, this is a big moment, a point 0 in a way
Different Class feat. Toverberg & Zaika
10.03.2023 - Antwerp, De Studio
Become a Different Class member and enjoy this exclusive party