How is Belgium's electronic music scene taking the Corona hit?
Update 19/05 - In the midst of this crisis, it’s now clear that a whole year of festivals, gigs and tours has been thrown into doubt as the world is at a standstill for the foreseeable future. Tons of sacrifices have been and will be made by all in order of humanity and solidarity. This solidarity also has to be carried out towards those who are heavily affected by the pandemic. Our clubs, festivals, artists, bars and other recreational spaces. Give them a shot in the arm by embracing one of the many initiatives mentioned throughout this longread.
(13/04) - FFORMATT, a contemporary platform for arts and music in the heart of the Belgian capital, has transformed into a drinks pick up and delivery aka ‘Drankencentrale’. They’re now a rare reseller of beer, water and sodas from the oldest family brewery in Belgium: Roman. Besides this, there’s a focus on delicious organic drinks: juices, spiris, wines, vermouth,... every great product you’re used to while dancing.
Keep in mind that webshops of other beloved Belgian clubs are still online. Finally, keep on supporting that favourite artist by watching one of the numerous streams.
Patience is the name of the game at the moment. It would be a terrible mistake if events and nightlife would reboot too soon, they’d be the bad seed. Avoiding all possible risk on spreading the virus may seem extremely precautious, but it’s for all the best. Not a doubt that we’ll catch this all up once green light has been given.
(11/05) - The state is working on a ‘safety-matrix’, which would be used for organizing smaller events in the near future. More specifically they want to reboot events in a gradual and well-controllable way. A specific code of conduct will then be integrated and an ‘event risk model’, which has to evaluate the safety-risk on the basis of 18 parameters. Specific parameters haven’t been mentioned yet, but one thing is sure: “Events will look completely different as long as this ‘metre and a half-society’ holds stand. A unique approach towards organising events will be a necessity’”, thus state secretary Zuhal Demir. We can expect this matrix on the 8th of June, starting signal of fase 3 in the so called exit strategy.
(18/05) Brussels-based C12 has organized a crowdfunding campaign in order to save the scene from dying. With their doors closed since March 8th and no prospect of reopening in sight, the financial impact of this crisis weighs significantly. The idea is simple, anyone who wishes to support the future of their project is able to fund and choose a reward in return. Their goal is to reach the benchmark of 50.000 euros, which should be enough to cover all losses they’ve encountered.
We understand the feeling may rise of being bombed with initiatives and other charity-related events. Around every corner, there’s a genuine cry for help. The amount is massive, but so is the response. Streams are filled with virtual ravers, auctions are running smoothly, vouchers are selling out and these are just a few examples. You are the scene, and it must be said you are all doing great. The spirit feels very much alive, don’t let it slumber now!
We shall all dance together soonish.
Update 30/04 - It has been weeks since our last night out. Everyone’s craving the reboot of regular life and decent raves. The hope that we all cherished has unfortunately been partially broken now. With no future summer events in sight, the quest towards alternatives has been launched. No doubt that this a hard pill to swallow, but it’s for all the best.
(18/04) - An enormous blow has been delivered to our beloved Belgian music-and event industry. The government has now officially stated that there will be no big gatherings allowed until August 31. A clarification on smaller events is unfortunately still awaited. Although, there’ll be no big events or festivals, that shouldn’t mean our summer has now become dog’s breakfast. Trial and error is what the near future has in store for us all.
(30/04) - To ease the pain and support the local scene, Voltage has announced the release of a double Transistor-compilation. Hosting a variety of styles, from hypnotical to industrial, and familiar names; a collection of Belgian artists, who have distinguished themselves in contemporary dance music not just in and outside our country. 75% of the proceeds will go to these artists in an effort to support them doing what they do best: delivering us joy and a soundtrack to our night. Supported by among other Kr!z, Jacidorex, Atis and One Track Brain, this compilation isn’t just a cry for help, but equally an affirmation that our scene is worth fighting for.
“It’s always darkest before the dawn.”
Update 10/04 - As this crisis stumbles on throughout Belgium and all across the world, more heart-warming initiatives are seeing daylight. Many big collectives such as Fuse, FFormat, Kompass, Crevette, C12, Horst,... just to name a few, are doing anything within their might in order to confine the inevitable damage this pandemic will leave behind.
In the meantime, the Belgian government seems to have heard the music- and event industry’s genuine call for help. After all, they’re one of the first industries to have been affected by the pandemic. And will unfortunately be one of the last to be able to fully resume business. Several assistance measures have now been announced by our government, although it’s absolutely not guaranteed that these proposed measures and financial support will do the trick. That’s why everyone’s help remains an utterly important factor.
(30/03) - Uncertainty is the biggest worry right now. Jens Grieten, alias Massimo Mephisto and business owner at Kompass, agrees in an interview with VRT. “Nobody knows how long this will last and there’s nothing to focus on. But when the moment comes, we’ll have to be ready to open within a week.” Far from evident.
Furthermore, Steven Van Belle aka Parallel Circuit, Voltage’s founder and booker at Fuse, lit his light on the current situation as well. “We had to postpone several shows already. If we can’t open our doors in May, Fuse’s 2020 agenda is fully packed. One of the consequences could be that there’ll be no room left for young upcoming talent, which would truly be a pity.”
(01/04) - The notorious Brussels-based club has also launched an initiative to prevent their club and the scene from dying. You can now buy vouchers, 10 euros apiece, which will give you access to an upcoming Fuse event of choice. In addition, when buying two or more vouchers, some gadgets and merch will be sent your way as well.
(10/04) - Finally, the Belgian live circuit has spread an open letter in which they define their condolences, but also their concerns about what’s coming next. A possible prohibition on all big events during summertime would claim thousands of helpless victims. A heavy blow from which many music-related businesses would never fully recover. Let’s hope a down-to-earth and open dialogue between all collectives involved can lead to solutions or a consensus.
MUSIC WILL PREVAIL
(09/04) - Luckily we all have our common antidote, music. The game of streaming has already been mentioned last week. Nowadays, a truly tremendous amount of well- and less-known Belgian selectors are hosting streams live and direct from their own homes or empty clubs. Amelie Lens, Fred Hush, Border One … just to name a few. The latter is a helping hand in charity as well. There’s a couple of limited-edition t-shirts being sold by auction, all profits for good purpose. It’s now all up to you to elect your precious speaker food.
Besides this, there’s plenty of time to dig a little deeper for some forgotten gems. On- and offline record stores are holding lots of promos these days. Also note that the world wide web is full of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered, all within reach from the couch. Happy hunting!
As every single helping hand has become a necessity to overcome this crisis as soon as possible, we all need to hang on, do not throw in the towel yet. Stay the fuck inside and we might regain our freedom soonish. Quarantine-life may not be that attractive, but at least there are multiple opportunities within your reach to ease the pain. The upcoming weather forecast is exceptionally tempting, but for all the best, please avoid unnecessary travel. It must be said, lots of you are doing great. Gratitude goes out to you to all of you contributing to this persistent battle. We sincerely hope that you and all of your loved ones are finding themselves in excellent health. We shall meet again on the dancefloor.
(21/04) - Furthermore, this unprecedented situation isn’t holding C12 still as well. Continuing to support the local Brussels and Belgian electronic music scene, C12 is proud to announce 10 music compilations dubbed Social Distancing. All artists involved are Belgian or strongly connected to the Brussels scene. Each edition consists of a collection of several tracks and will be released every two weeks, leading to a total of approximately fifty tracks. All music will be available to add on your favorite streaming service and Bandcamp. In addition for each track they will offer a limited amount of 500 free downloads. Finally, donations are also enabled for those who’d wish to support.
Most importantly, let’s not leave our heads hanging now. We shall dance together soonish, in a world brighter than the one we left behind. Our enshrined values won’t fall, quite the reverse actually. Just keep those spirits up and mind the social distance measures. It’s the only way to conquer this pandemic as soon as possible. Remember that you are the scene and the scene is you.
Update 14/03 - In the midst of rare, unpredictable times, which are severely rearranging the lives of millions of people around the world, our beloved scene is facing the most challenging period in its long history. Clubs and other venues are indefinitely closed, record stores are shut down and all parties are cancelled. Many of the people who breathe life into our well-beloved community, from artists to promoters to countless small businesses running behind the scenes, have been affected by these recent measures.
Though what’s equally as important is how all stakeholders, from both an organising as a music-enthusiast standpoint, will react.
A BOMB HAS BEEN DROPPED
Murky days, but it’s hope that remains our number one priority. As the world's norms are flipped, we are seeing that this moment fuels countless new ideas and collaborations. These times are a cliff edge for many ravers. But as it has never been our habit to sit still, these measures caused many offline initiatives to launch plenty of online alternatives. In Belgium and beyond, clubs and DJ’s are hosting numerous livestreams to keep our hunger for bass fed. Kompass was the first Belgian club to do so, featuring among other bigshot Charlotte De Witte and The Subs’ legendary One Track Brain. Meanwhile, C12 has joined the game of streaming as well with their resident Adema.
Besides Border One, Voltage Agency’s mesmerizing wizard, there are some other Belgium-based selectors who’ve been livestreaming high-quality content for free. In order to highlight their hashtag #savethesummer, Paradise City hosted a livestream featuring Lola Haro and Cellini, while Curfew contributed with a lockdown rooftop session. Not to mention our stagehost Possession, feeding all ravers a daily podcast on their Soundcloud as well as multiple streams. And so does RIMBU with their podcast series.
And even infamous video-games like Minecraft and other online communities are hosting virtual parties. Unlimited capacity, infinite pleasure!
This proves that even during these isolated days, our lively community is doing whatever it takes to keep the fire burning. And it’s this particular community who has given so much to so many. A safe zone where we can all express our true selves, a space where we can connect with like-minded people and, in the end, a source of day-to-day pleasure. Whatever form that may take.
YOU CAN SAVE OUR SCENE
(23/03) - Since us ravers never throw in the towel, why should we now? And you, how can you specifically prevent our scene from dying? Besides supporting the artists, clubs and agencies by enjoying their streams, there are various ways to lend a helping hand. Bandcamp for example, has announced that they’ll waive its revenue shares on album and merch purchases. This to boost musicians affected by the pandemic. So now is the time to buy that one vinyl or shirt you’ve always craved.
(20/03) - Kiosk Radio and Crevette Records are teaming up with this year’s stagehost C12. They’re selling a brand-new ‘support your local scene’ t-shirt designed by Guillaume Kohn. More info on Crevette Record’s website. Note that it’s never a bad idea to support your locals!
(25/03) - What’s more? As the magnificent Horst Festival, best middleweight electronic music festival at the latest RBEA Awards, has been hosting several livestreams as well, they’re also granting a discount to all who buys the Horst Arts & Music Book - a satisfying balance between art and music through which the've accomplished to bring the spirits of the festival to life. An A-list distraction in times like these.
(19/03) - Up next, Resident Advisor has spread an open letter in which they call out for help. And you can fulfill their biggest wish just by signing it. If you aren’t that keen of reading, there’s good news for you couch-potatoes as well. ‘The Sound of Belgium’, an iconic documentary covering Belgium’s nightlife and music, is now free to watch on Vimeo. So grab your most-cherished snack, plump down and enjoy the stunning ride.
Chances are small you’ve heard of Bruno Sortino. But this owner of a vinyl-bar in the city of Kortrijk, is willing to deliver records to your doorstep. How to score yours? On his Facebook profile he posts several Youtube and Soundcloud tracks, price included. First come first served! Another heart-warming initiative is #LightTheSky. People are literally lighting up the skies to express their sympathy and gratitude to all who’s affected by the coronacrisis. Finally, if your financial situation allows you to, you can always donate an amount of choice to an artist, agency or other organizations you adore.
Do you want to keep track of these updates? Stay informed on all updates concerning the electronic music scene by joining a worldwide Facebook community. There’s the brand-new ‘South/Midi platform’, co-founded by C12. Their ambition is to support electronic music & nightlife to the fullest. And so is the aim of ‘Voltage Community’. Open and absolutely free to all who’s up for discovering new music, artists or other appetizing news on the techno-scene. And the perfect way to meet new raver buddies and fellow techno enthusiasts.
Please, keep in mind that many people around the world should be listened to, as they are facing even worse challenges right now. We absolutely don't intend to direct attention away from anyone who's at risk, especially the seriously ill and the heroes who are taking care of them. That's why we feel the urge to do absolutely everything possible to help. Together, we stand strong. It’s never winter in the land of hope.
A deep sense of gratitude is felt by all for being part of this worldwide cherished community. We must overcome this existential threat, together. Our scene is in more danger now than it ever has been before, but it’s also never been more worth fighting for. One thing is sure, whenever this crisis passes, we’ll return to a world different from the one we left behind. A world in which the enshrined values of electronic music: inclusiveness, open-heartedness, peace, love, unity and respect, will stand out even more.
Take care of yourself, and others. Much love.
- Article written by Victor Seys
(Note: this article will be updated on a weekly basis)