You are known as the co-founder of of R&S Records together with your partner Sabine Maes. It is known as one of the longest running labels in dance music history. How did you manage to keep the label relevant through all these years?
Very easy: each day a siesta, just following my heart, dreams and passion + being prepared to work extremely hard – And being prepared to lose a lot too Having said that I took a little sabbatical from the industry too from 2000 till 2006, just to refresh my ears!
R&S is known for countless of classics ranging from Joey Beltram’s Energy Flash and releases by the likes of Aphex Twin, Model 500, Golden Girls, CJ Bolland and many more.. If you had to choose between the classic house sound and the tracks of today.. which would you choose and why?
Impossible to answer this one !
Do you still DJ yourself – and if so, what is the style you love playing most?
I started this year with a few DJ gigs and I enjoyed it a lot. I was dead nervous of course: I can’t mix. I don’t care even, but I know the kids are used to perfect beat-mixing .. I refused to DJ since I started R&S, as my mission was to work on the acts we signed, and not to become a DJ celeb on the back of the success of the label name made by the artists who released their tunes with us ! But now I am old enough to say I don’t take any advantage of that situation. Sabine and I built R&S by working day and night, 7/7 / 12 on 12 / !
The music I play goes all places .. Don’t have a style, creating an atmosphere for the people out there is important for me, take them on an unknown voyage of sound and rhythm, and that can be anything !
So I plan some more DJ gigs for fun, starting with our Apollo resident parties in Gent soon ! Practice a bit
If there is one thing you could improve or change in the current music scene, what would that be and how would you go around it?
Each day we got to improve ourselves no matter what we do, but of course the music industry is changing , music doesn’t sell ( Rihanna / Adele etc they do of course !
Music will be streamed, and that’ s extremely low income for artists and labels. So this is something to be discussed, as providers are making the real $$$$$$$ , and not the music industry as such . We have to be careful with this evolution, as funding new artists will be gone for ever. If that happens, we can all listen to Cliff Richard backcatalogue for the rest of our lives
We should all understand that music has its social and cultural role in our lives. it’s as important as food etc. But for food, gas, power you name it, well you pay cash.. But music is already cheap, and stealing it is considered normal
But I am a realist and optimist and we all have to adapt and accept it. It’s up to the industry to move along with progression and be upfront with new ideas.
How is the radio climate for dance music in Belgium currently? Is there a lot of support?
Don’t listen to Belgian Radio at all.. Sorry, it’s boring and not very inspiring !
Do you find dubstep interesting?
I find all styles of music interesting, call me a musical gypsy, there is always a tune (or more that blows me away in all sub genres of dance music) .. I am open to it all and not a music snob, I keep my mind as open as possible
Which country has been the biggest supporter of underground techno during all these years in your opinion?
Again hard question, I think all countries have their underground scene they support ..
The past few years you have been managing a band called The Plea. How did that come about and how different is it than the work you have done for dance music?
I always wanted to work with songwriters, a band and by accident Sabine found them on Myspace! I was so happy! Great band, great vocalist and songwriter, and yes I know people compare this new band with U2 etc.. Just bollocks, it’s an awesome band! Irish of course.
They got a stunning debut album.
Of course a totally different approach as dance music and a very expensive exercise ! DJ’s / Dance producers promote themselves by DJ gigs.. A memory stick and off they are
A band needs to play a lot, transporting their instruments, amps etc ., always a few people to travel etc etc etc ..
Bands need a lot of airplay or they have no gigs at all, a complicated matter, always the chicken or the egg situation, as radio will not play new bands / there are always exceptions of the rules, if the hype is around the band etc etc ..
But it’s all a very interesting hard road .. We learn from it a lot.
Being part of new experiences, for example, last The Plea was on a support slot with Snow Patrol in Germany, and suddenly they were playing for 10.000 people in an arena with a soundcheck of 10 minutes. Great to see, this is where a young band has to prove themselves . Also on the tour, you can see this whole machine working, just awesome, also a very hard working world. It’s not a joke, not always glitter and glamour as most people think.
It’s full on ARBEIT .. So a part of my dream is to make the band big, see them play in big arenas / Festivals /Stadiums .. Just love building new ventures, take a challenge, as we did with R&S 30 years ago !
I rather regret what I have done, than something I haven’t done in my life! I just plan my own route in life, don’t need to follow anyone really
Way back everybody looked at us, and thought we would never succeed . But imagination passion, hard work and following a dream & faith, does work !
Thanks again Renaat for taking the time for this interview!
Listen to The Plea’s album The Dreamers Stadium on Spotify:
New on Apollo (relaunched May 2012):