Form & Function, Initiate & Stygian's River to host our Rotor Stage

“If the members of the community aren’t supporting each other, then it’s a competitive industry, not a collaborative culture.” - Zak Khutoretsky a.k.a. DVS1.

By strictly focusing on techno and collaborating with local as well as international organizations as stage hosts, the festival manages to be more than just another part of the industry. It keeps techno alive as a scene! Since last year the Rotor Stage has made a major contribution to this cause and can be seen as the secret ingredient in the recipe of the two-day festival. This year’s honor goes to Form and Function x Initiate and Stygian’s River to curate the line-up for the coziest stage at the festival site.

Form and Function x Initiate ϟ DAY01 ϟ SATURDAY ϟ 10.08

Introducing Form and Function

Form and Function is a 100% Belgian collective of young artists and DJ's, that functions as both a label and an agency, founded in early 2017 by Steven Van Belle, a.k.a. Parallel Circuit. The aim is to give young talent a platform that enables them to grow a(n) (inter)national reputation. They help and advise them with all aspects that come to play building a musical career.

Multiple artists featured on the label will be performing at Voltage Festival 2019. Atis and Border One will play the Rotor stage, hosted by Form and Function itself, on Saturday. The Brussels based concept Initiate seems to be the perfect co-host for Saturdays’ Rotor stage as both concepts love the deeper side of the techno spectrum and are not afraid to push boundaries. On Sunday Phara will be opening the Anode stage by Rimbu, Kafim will play the Turbine stage as a long-running resident at Deep In House and Siwei will bring his live set to the Rotor stage hosted by Stygian’s River.

In only a few years, Form and Function managed to bring all this talent together which has put them at the forefront of a new Belgian techno wave. Watch out for their upcoming releases!

Q&A with Steven Van Belle (founder Form & Function)

Where does the name “Form and Function” come from?

It's a common term in the architectural world, meaning that the form is designed in relation to its function. For the label, Form is more abstract music, less aimed towards the dancefloor and it leaves more room for experiment. Function, on the other hand, is 100% aimed towards the dancefloor.

What do you think of the booming festival-industry over the past 20 years in general?

There certainly are a lot of festivals these days. But a lot of the new ones, like HORST, Meakusma and Paradise City have really added something to the festival landscape in our country that we didn’t have before. It keeps things interesting and the festivals challenge each other to keep on developing. It’s not easy to run a festival but it is definitely fascinating!

How can you attract dancers to your stage with more local and upcoming artists while bigger acts are playing on the other stages? Do you expect a certain audience?

I'm sure that people will find their way to our stage. Voltage wants to be a festival for those who want to experience something new and have an open mind. I think the Form and Function x Initiate stage is the perfect place for them. And never forget: support your local scene!

Can you name 1 artist that cannot be missed at this year’s Form and Function x Initiate stage? Why is that?

That's a very tough question to answer with so many friends on the line-up! If I can only tip one act, I would choose someone who is relatively unknown to a lot of people, but who I truly believe in: Altinbas. A great DJ and a superb producer that you will surely hear more about in the near future.

Introducing Initiate

Initiate is a Brussels-based community with love for voodoo and hypnotic music, founded in 2015. Their main squad comprises Brice Deloose (Pattrn), Renaud Van Eycken (Hawkan), Rachid Moro (Airem), Dominic Ryan (Hesh) and Laura Vongsavath (Phanom), who are all regularly performing on their own events. Furthermore, Initiate has lots of familiar faces they can count on when a helping hand is needed. Above all, there are a bunch of friends!

Similar to Form and Function they have a fondness for delirious soundscapes. It’s the type of techno that could lead to a state of trance while allowing you to dive into an introspectional journey. Initiate is all about connecting with yourself while letting loose at the same time. Alongside the music, they always aim for a timeless space by bringing natural elements in a club environment. Fuse’s room.02 appeared to be the perfect home base for that cause, as it has a very intimate feel.

Besides the initiate nights in Fuse, the concept recently also started a comparable event series called ‘Obsidian’ at Zodiak in collaboration with Norite’s imprint. In addition to their club nights, they also organize ‘Reflexions’ at LaVallée to display another side of their ambient and electro-acoustic universe. With around 30 events so far, Initiate is clearly leaving its mark in Brussels’ techno scene.

Next gathering: August 24th with Marcus Henriksson (aka Minilogue) at Fuse.

Q&A with Renaud Van Eycken (co-founder Initiate)

Where does the name Initiate come from?

First of all, we started the concept before people started to talk about "deep techno”. We just called it "voodoo techno", being out of the ordinary as opposed to pounding techno. When the idea rose to share our musical experience, we came up with the name Initiate. We wanted to initiate people into our world, in the same vein shamanic initiation rituals are guided to experience something new.

What do you think of the booming festival-industry over the past 20 years in general?

I believe festivals contribute largely to the discovery of new music by their visitors, which is great! The counterpart is that it became a mass phenomenon where loads of people enter different scenes that had certain codes while ignoring those. When in a scene like the techno scene too many artists are rather money-driven than by true passion, it loses its authenticity.

How can you attract the dancers to your stage with more local and upcoming artists while bigger acts are playing on the other stages? Do you expect a certain audience?

Some people might not even check us out because they are just going to see the big names they know, and that’s totally fine. But we encourage the ravers to trust their ears on-site. And if they do so, we know for sure a significant group will dance at the Rotor stage to enjoy the journey with us.

Name 1 artist that cannot be missed on the Form and Function x Initiate stage at this year’s festival? Why is that?

They all have their specific identity, charms, and strengths. It's like asking if you should eat an apple, a pear or a banana… Just enjoy the damn fruit salad :)

Stygian's River ϟ DAY 02 ϟ SUNDAY ϟ 11.08

Introducing Stygian’s river

It all started 6 years ago with a Stygian’s River Facebook group that brought together a small community of ravers, based in Aalst & Ghent. Every member of the brother-sisterhood being diagnosed with an extreme case of creative ADHD. The group expanded quickly and transformed into a scene-related community where upcoming events, the newest releases, most memorable performances and more were being shared. After several years, the leaders of the group decided to start their own events.

The first edition took place in Aalst, on a boat for 500 souls and immediately sold out! Very soon the crew had to look for a bigger venue in Aalst, finding a new home in the Filatuur. A 2-room old textile factory, where they were able to host 4 events with approximately 1000 ravers going all out. Constantly on the lookout for new venues, they will be celebrating their 2 year anniversary in one special location later this year.

Being more than just a party concept, Stygian’s river quickly positioned itself as a visual arts and electronic music concept. A hybrid concept with on one hand electronic music as the auditory art of satisfaction and on the other hand visual arts being the optical side, pleasing the eye. Next to that, strong storytelling creates extra added value and makes them stand out even more from other concepts.

The visual arts aspect of the event can be found in different aspects; light installations, customized visuals adapted to the theme visual artist Malika Mario at Work and paintings and sculptures to fulfill the storytelling experience even more. Their very own designer, Stijn van Belle, beautifully puts together a consistent frame every edition. The same goals as the Greek myths have, the team wants to offer a memorable story/experience to their visitors.

What started as a project “for friends, by friends” got reformed over time, as they noticed it had the potential to go bigger. They enriched their creative think tank, upgraded their mission, their vision, but also every aspect of the party: fresh logo, updated design, new vision concerning the light installations and visual set-up and a new city. For the upcoming editions, they are looking to expand as well. Stay tuned!

Q&A with Arno Demesmaeker (founder Stygian’s River)

Where does the name “Stygian’s river” come from?

Stygian is derived from Styx which is the main river in Hades, the underworld of the dead in Greek mythology. This is the river on which Charon, the boatman, was said to ferry the spirits of the dead. In a broader sense, Stygian refers to all things as dark, dreary, and menacing as one might imagine Hades and the river Styx to be.

The main reason I’ve been fascinated by the Greek Mythologies all my life is because fantasy tales are often completely out of this world, they are illogical or utopian, but still hold a strong message behind it. In the past they’ve often been used to teach people about events they couldn’t get a hold on, such as illness and death, earthquakes or floods. Comparing these stories to real-life questions we as individuals have, makes these tales even more memorable and instructive. Combining this idea with floating on the symbolic river of death is the perfect inspiration to be creative about!

What’s the importance of growing a techno concept like this to be present at festivals as well?

In general, I think young concepts such as ours, with people so creatively dedicated, must be an example and benchmark for upcoming new concepts. They have the assignment to stand out and redefine their concepts to be even more unique and creative. But we can’t improve if there is nothing left to improve so I’m expecting a counter trend where things will get back to the basics and to the old-school black-box-raves without too much ‘tralala’ and just proper techno music. Going back to the roots. Let’s see.

Interesting you point that out because, as mentioned above, Stygian’s river is well known for its visual aspect of the events. Any special plans decorating the Rotor stage?

Sadly enough we can’t rape the festival with our decoration as we are on a hosting invitation to the festival. It’s all about Voltage’s decoration, her machinery, her beautiful infrastructure of decay and all the industrial porn that comes with it. Stygian and Voltage are working towards each other in terms of decoration but we want to respect the industrial vibe it shows so we’ll work with industrial aspects with minor Greek details.

How can you attract dancers to your stage with more local and upcoming artists while bigger acts are playing on the other stages? Do you expect a certain audience?

Local artists often have a close connection with the crowd as people know what to expect, based on previous events they’ve attended. On the other hand, people will find a way to our stage when they are tired of the mass. The Rotor stage always brings a more intimate vibe across in comparison to the other stages. To top it we added French rising talent Hadone to our stage, Brussels based since recently, so practically a local as well.

Can you name 1 artist that cannot be missed on the Stygian’s river stage at this year’s festival? Why is that?

Hadone, hands down. Such an honor having this young, talented piece of power on our lineup. He’s a great producer and selector who has created his own touch and charm in techno. Well known in the French scene at the moment, I’m waiting till the world catches him by storm, which I expect to be very soon.

- Interview & article by Simon Geleyn