Popperola and Ampere Present: TEEN, 27 February 2016, with Pirrès (B.), Raoul Belmans (B.), Luke Solomon (UK) and Brett Johnson (US).


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The ideal birthday should be a  joyous communal celebration of the fact that you’re fully alive.
But what if you were born on a day that doesn’t happen on a yearly basis, but only every four years? Well, that just means you have to party super hard – an extra 150 percent at least!

Dr. Poppers ( Tom Nys), curator and writer about dance music and contemporary art, happens to have his birthday on that notorious leap day 29 February. This year he turns forty, which in leap years means he turns ten, effectively becoming a teenager!
For this momentous occasion, Poppers teamed up with Ampere, a relatively new club in Antwerp already voted second in Red Bull Electropedia’s Music Awards for the category “Best Club”in its first year of existence . Together they plan to put on a most memorable tenth birthday party – and everybody’s invited to join the festivities.

Poppers is certainly no stranger to the Belgian party scene. He was a member of the infamous Oase de Pleasure collective in his hometown Leuven who programmed djs such as Koenie, Smos & Baby Bee, Aphrodite Terra (FR), Timmy Richardson (US), Elliot Eastwick (UK) and Keb Darge (UK). Later he organised his own Popperola parties featuring the likes of Crispin J. Glover (UK) and Stefan Goldmann (DL). All of the artists mentioned above deal in the deep and funky house which holds a special place in Poppers’ heart, and this is exactly the music that will fuel TEEN – along with that sweet house party vibe to match.

The evening will kick off with Ampère resident Pirrès, a sure bet to get the  partygoers started on the dance floor.

Next up is Raoul Belmans; a long-time friend (and neighbor) of Dr. Poppers. Raoul is also a highly respected veteran of the Belgian funky house scene with considerable international renown. He was a resident at the legendary Food club nights, label owner of the seminal house label Aroma, former dj at Belgian national radio Studio Brussel and one half of the producers duo Swirl People. This is most definitely the man to bring the party to the next level!

We should have a good vibe going by the time Londoner Luke Solomon dives in. Luke is another longtime deep house mainstay: resident at Bar Rumba in London, co-founder of Classic Music (truly a well deserved name) along with Derrick Carter. and Music For Freaks with Justin Harris. Justin and Luke also formed the core of the musical project Freaks, whose “Where Were You When The Lights Went Out” became a dancefloor hit. Recently Luke is also involved in Powerdance, a new live project featuring several interesting figures in today’s dance scene.

Last but not least we present Brett Johnson, who has his roots in the lone star state Texas but now lives in the German capital. His quirky and boompty productions were rapidly picked up by Classic Music. His own label Easoteric built up a respectable catalogue, and presently Brett has regular releases on high-profile labels such as Cynosure, Visionquest, Get PhysicalLegwork and Bang The Box (the imprint he ran with Lance De Sardi). Apart from all that, Brett is an excellent and highly skilled dj as well as an extremely lovable guy.

Club Ampere is guaranteed to be the ideal club for this stellar line-up, offering a superb sound system, great facilities and a top-notch staff. It should be clear that TEEN will make a legendary night out, as well as a birthday well celebrated!

27 February 2016; doors 23h00
Ampere, Simonsstraat 21, 2018 Antwerp (B.)
Presale tickets €12.00
RSVP https://www.facebook.com/events/1669794879946863
All artwork by Uber and Kosher (www.uberandkosher.com)


Bespreking: Party 10 Days Off: The Last Waltz (Day 10) met o.a. Magnus, Ed & Kim, CJ Bolland & Raphaël, Darren Emerson, Pierre & Trish, 27/07/2014, Vooruit, Gent (B.)

Ed-KimHet doek is na twintig edities uiteindelijk gevallen voor 10 Days Off, het Gentse dance-evenement dat de clubcultuur op haar best celebreerde. Steeds samenvallend met de befaamde Gentse Feesten, leverde het atypische festival tien opeenvolgende clubnachten met sterke namen, een gevarieerd aanbod en een zeer aangename sfeer. Ooit was het pionierswerk, nu is het voorbijgestreefd door dancefestivals die op een duidelijk rockleest zijn geschoeid. Ik maakte (een deel van) het afsluitende, negentien uren durende feest mee in de Vooruit en schreef er een stuk over voor het blad Gonzo Circus, dat je HIER kan lezen!

Competition: CLR at ADE, 19/10/2012, Undercurrent Amsterdam (NL) – The winners!

Hurrah, fanfare, confetti!

In response to the Popperola competition of this week, whereby I had the pleasure to give away 2 x 2 tickets to Chris Liebing’s CLR party at the Amsterdam Dance Event this Friday, I received a great number of mails. Logical, since the event is sold out for quite some time now. Lots of answers were very inventive but in my opinion Alexander van Zweden came up with a terrific find, most likely using his mix panel as an inspirational source: Cue, Loop, Repeat. The second winner is Michel van Keulen, who came up with Celebrate, Live and Rave. And that’s exactly what I imagine he will be doing Friday night. Congratulations to both of you and if you feel like it, send a report when you’re back home and sober!

Competition: CLR at ADE, 19/10/2012, Undercurrent Amsterdam (NL)

Friends, let’s talk technooow again, because at the end of this week, from October 18th until October 21st, the city of Amsterdam (NL) will host ADE again. Yes, the Amsterdam Dance Event: a redundancy of, uhm well, dance related events in Amsterdam. Seriously, it’ll be massive, with elaborated talks about the future state of music technology, impressive showcases of the most up-to-date labels and parties with a line-up that’ll make you want to cry because no matter what hipster location with fabulous music you will be in, you’ll surely miss out on some other cool gathering. But my mind has already been set on one opportunity: the CLR party on Friday, October 19th at Undercurrent.

Since 1999, Chris Liebing has been passionately developing CLR into a top-quality techno label because, really, he cares for techno. Having gained a sort of top status himself, he is at this point able to work with the biggest names in the scene. Nevertheless he also has a keen ear for new talent and promotes those who he believes in ardently. And this ideology is reflected nicely in the line-up of this affair, which features Liebing himself, Terence Fixmer, Monoloc, Drumcell, Tommy Four Seven, Brian Sanhaji and Dj Emerson.

In his hometown Frankfurt-am-Main, which is primarily known for its high-finance environment, Liebing has set up his own Bank of Frankfurter Techno Talents (BFTT) which also includes Brian Sanhaji, a young, slick button-loving German who knows exactly in what settings the genre of techno will bounce best. Give Sanhaji the most awful track in whoomp whoomp music’s history and he’ll nevertheless master it so that it will be a dance floor bomb. His own productions are as tight as a Frankfurter banker’s ass so I can’t wait to check out his live set.

Monoloc is another Frankfurter whose career has been launched by Liebing. The latter gave this incredibly skilful dj a chance on CLR and I was amazed by all of releases from the start. CLR will release his debut album soon and I must say it’ll be one of my top ten musical outings of 2012. ‘Drift’, as the record is called, is a meandering journey into a forlorn but beautiful landscape scattered with remnants of the n-th industrial revolution. I guess he’ll unfold similar ideas about environmental planning for Amsterdam that night.

Then there’s Dj Emerson, who I witnessed wrecking Berlin party crowds several times. Originally from southern Germany, he now resides in the capital and remains a solid choice for promoters. One can always rely on his experience, his steady groove and overall funkiness.

Tommy Four Seven is British, but now lives in Berlin as well and his type of techno concurs finely with the city’s nightlife. Chris Liebing also soon recognised his abilities and brought out a few of his tracks and remixes. But personally I got hooked on his music thanks to his ‘Deer Code’ ep on Darko Esser’s Wolfskuil label and later, his incredible ‘Surma’ ep on Electric Deluxe. Indeed, those are two Dutch labels so I reckon he’ll know how to rock Amsterdam (can one actually techno Amsterdam? Well Tommy most definitely will!).

Furthermore there’ll be Terence Fixmer playing. Yes, it’s that French muscle music man! Do I really need to introduce him to you? Well, he’ll certainly make you sweat like a work-out you’ve never experienced before. And he’ll do it by means of a live set this time. You better rehearse while playing his ‘Comedy Of Menace’ album out loud. Plus, you’ll lose a few pounds, I promise!

Another headliner is Drumcell, leader of one of my favourite labels of the last few years, namely Droid Recordings. I must admit, when I thought of California ten years ago, I imaged blue, cloudless skies, a vivid sun, white beaches and roller-skating girls but Drumcell, who hails from that region, changed that preconceived opinion drastically. For he delivers this dark, uncompromised, pounding kind of techno that you associate mostly with industrial European cities with a cold climate. He hasn’t played at the Old Continent too often so I’ve got high expectations to hear him play!

Lastly, Chris Liebing will play. He’s the founder of CLR and lives in Frankfurt. He produced albums and tracks that shaped the genre. He does this great podcast which we all love so much. He never compromised. He’s passionate. He’ll burn Undercurrent to the ground, although the place is close to water.

If you’d like to warm-up already or want to get a sense of how the music will sound at this event, I’d say you check a recent recording of a back-to-back set by Monoloc and Dj Emerson at Lehmann in Stuttgart. You can find it here. Recently Tommy Four Seven in turn did a great podcast for Darko Esser’s label Balans, which is to be found here.

But there is more! Liebing also was so generous to give 2 x 2 free tickets for the CLR ADE party to Popperola, which I will donate to whoever who’ll do an effort and will mail…!

As you know, CLR initially stood for Chris Liebing Records – in the beginning it was as simple as that. In 2010, Liebing changed that into Create, Learn and Realize, a new and beautifully conceived acronym with the same letters. So, I want you to think about some alternatives, send them to dr_poppers@hotmail.com and the best ones will win a free ticket to the CLR party in Amsterdam. Clergy, Laymen and Royalties? Cute, Loveable Robot? Cannelloni, Lasagna and Ravioli? Cockeyed, Laughable and Ridiculous? Be creative and send your best catch. Winners will be announced during this week! Good luck!


Publication: “Tinka Pittoors. Symbolic Violence” Monograph

Well I’ve turned nine… And it was great!

Because first and foremost the Popperola birthday party on that silly, extra day February 29th was wonderful! Yes, it was a treat and I would like to thank everyone involved, everyone that lend a helping hand, the people of Club Montreal (Leuven), all the people who showed up to dance and everyone that sent wishes and gave beautiful presents. Last but not least I’d like to show my deep deep deepest gratitude to Raoul Belmans and Stefan Goldmann, who were amazing to have as djs. Okay, I’m almost out of superlatives!

Now, some news on a different front: on February 16th, the first monograph of visual artist Tinka Pittoors was presented in Museum M in Leuven, Belgium. I had the honour to write a large text in the book and was granted the opportunity to edit the whole thing. Tinka Pittoors is a Belgian artist who creates colourful installations, assemblages, sculptures, paintings and drawings that consist of found objects – mostly related to garden decoration and road signalisation – and constructed elements. Last year, I curated an open-air exhibition with new pieces of Tinka in Leuven’s Botanical Garden (check it on my Portfolio pages if you like). From that moment, we discussed the possibility to conceive a book that ‘d give an overview of the artist’s career this far and that would lay out some directions that her oeuvre could possibly take in the future.

The book, which is titled “Tinka Pittoors. Symbolic Violence”, is published by Tinka herself and the graphic design is done by Kim Beirnaert and Pierre Stubbe, two highly talented art book designers who have worked with several important artists and institutions in the past. And I must say in all modesty: it just looks stunningly good!

“Tinka Pittoors. Symbolic Violence”, 2012
Dutch-English, 96 pages
Essays by: Tom Nys and Dominique Legrand
Excerpts by: Christine Vuegen, Ruth Loos and Jan Van Woensel
Edited by: Tom Nys
Graphic Design: Kim Beirnaert & Pierre Stubbe
ISBN/ EAN: 978-94-6190-768-4

You can find more information about Tinka and her work on www.tinkapittoors.com. Through this website, you can also order the book.

Finally, here are some photos of the book presentation night:

(c) Lotte Veuchelen

(c) Lotte Veuchelen

(c) Lotte Veuchelen

(c) Lotte Veuchelen

Popperola Presents: Dr. Poppers’ 9th Birthday Party. Stefan Goldmann (DL.) interview

After having interviewed Raoul Belmans, guest of the Popperola Party this Wednesday, I also wanted to hear out the other dj of that particular night. That is, as you know by now, Stefan Goldmann! Here’s the result…

Okay Stefan, 2011 seemed to be a busy and decisive year for you. You played more often, did a performance at the German Time Warp festival and played in Ibiza for the first time. Moreover, your output of last year already proved its importance. Lastly, the label Macro that you’re running with Finn Johannsen turned five; it released several very interesting records and found its place on the map of the industry and in the hearts of the fans. Now, I know you’ve always tried to manage your agenda, schedule and so on very conscientiously, so was this change of pace intended?

Stefan Goldmann: “Last year brought some quite exciting DJ gigs, which I’m really happy about. Besides that I changed a lot of things in terms of how I work. 2011 was the first year I didn’t want to release another single, but focus on new ideas and concepts instead. What seems to make sense now for my own music as well as for Macro is that we try to cut the time span between idea and implementation to the shortest possible. You know, in the past I’d often hesitate, like anyone probably, and be like “I’ll never get away with this” or “I’ll have to figure this out for a longer time”. Now it’s really just doing it. Some ideas seem so clear and simple when they come to mind that I’m astonished no one has implemented them so far. Sometimes it’s ‘in the air’ and you just have to do it and release it before others do, like planting a flag on a little South Pole. Being first is important and part of the fun in a way. I’ve tried to do this constantly and there’s a dynamic going with it that also brings up really interesting opportunities.”

An important event in 2011 was the release on Macro Recordings of unpublished work by your father Friedrich Goldmann, who was a composer of contemporary classical music. I thought of this as a courageous and difficult enterprise. I’m interested firstly in the preparatory stage: how did the idea evolve and how hard was the selection process? Did you for instance need to build in a certain distance because of the aspect that it was your dad’s music you were working with? And can you explain your choice to put the result out on Macro – because it is indeed partly your own label, but it doesn’t seem an obvious decision?

SG: “For me music is a fairly subjective thing anyway. I’m as biased towards Elektro Guzzi’s as to Friedrich’s music. Then, the selection of works was fairly easy – Friedrich himself felt that the compositions he wrote in the last couple of years opened a new chapter and were strongly going to areas that the usual avant-garde contemporary stuff simply doesn’t cover. I too felt it is really important music that just wasn’t documented on any of the releases he had. Since one of the key problems of this kind of music is reaching people outside their core audience (and trust me, I know the CD sales numbers of some of the most sought-after and most often performed composers), releasing with a New Music label was not an option for these works. It would have stayed within professional circles and the outside world wouldn’t have noticed much.”

“With Macro and especially the distribution of this CD as a subscribers’ special for The Wire magazine we reached a wider, more diversified and yet, as it turned out, pretty interested audience. You also don’t just get the usual musicologist’s feedback in the vein of “the pizzicati add up really nicely around bar 72”, but anything from drug associations to synaesthetic descriptions to whatever really. It was good to see this music is not just for analytics. Ex post it looks like a quite obvious decision to me. I’m quite happy how this one worked out.”

Also last year, you profiled yourself as a sharp music sociologist with several remarkable writings about the current state of affairs in the dance music scene. In some of your music there is a conceptual element in play where you also seem to tackle some of the typical tropes in dance, like for instance edits or beat patterns. This type of ‘institutional critique’ was and still is quite common in the field of visual arts but is rarer in music, though it exists – like in punk, most obviously. In effect, you are able to make a good dance track while bringing across meaning on a higher level, a remarkable quality. But tell me, what is the bigger idea or purpose of all this; can you elaborate a bit on that? And do you feel that your message is coming across so far?

SG: “The writing was aimed at addressing a few assumptions on how music works socially, how it gets noticed and what economy stands behind it. There is so much fog around this and it needed a voice saying something different from “spam as many mp3s as possible around and you will succeed”. Because people do just that and it never worked or it worked out differently from what they expected. I guess most musicians feel like being in a Kafka novel where things happen and you just can’t figure out why and how. That is a pretty intriguing situation that has not been discussed much in the context of music, so I wanted to investigate this a bit. Is that in the tradition of ‘institutional critique’? I never thought of anyone’s behavioural patterns as institutions, because it’s really just the sum of individual human reactions affecting a certain result. But certainly these adopt functions that institutions fulfil elsewhere.”

“Then again, the conceptual element seems like an anchor to me in an ocean of endless abundance of music. It adds a seemingly objective side to it, like adding some new coastline to the map. If I can’t show the difference of one piece of music over what we already have, I’d better scrap it because otherwise it’s just redundant. If there’s a conceptual difference on the other hand, that’s exciting – it shines. It radiates that energy you don’t get out of just another beat. Spotting a good concept is like finding that one gem in the middle of an enormous waste disposal site. With dance tracks, what I’d ideally like to hear is stuff that anyone in the room notices as being different, almost with an alien side to it – you and I don’t need to like it, just feel something is there.

As said, Macro Recordings celebrated its fifth birthday a while ago. To put one of its basic premises simply: it is about quality over quantity. The output has always been deliberately modest. But as five years have culminated in a double mix compilation (“Macrospective”) and as some of your artists have grown during that period along with the label, most notably Elektro Guzzi, is that moderateness at this point still a sustainable strategy? In what direction do you and Finn want the label to go in the future?

SG: “To be honest, we wouldn’t be able to handle more output. It is really a matter of time, and quantity just costs time without adding anything significant. Of course we try to do what is right for the artists we work with and there is not really a time limit in this regard. Some labels plan their schedule in a way where they allocate certain months to certain artists. Like: “now it’s time for a new single by dj A”. We don’t do that. If one of our artists comes up with a project, we try to release it for the shortest time possible and in the moment when it makes most sense, not when it keeps the label catalogue looking smooth. Therefore we try to avoid planning ahead too much or cluttering our schedule with too many releases. Circumstances, artists, everything is changing – too much strategy doesn’t really help there.”

To finish: at this moment you are preparing a new album which will be the follow-up of your debut “The Transitory State/ Voices Of The Dead” (2008). How is that going so far? Since you received a lot of positive reviews and appreciation for that double debut, where have you put your standards now?

SG: “It is almost ready. Since it won’t be much like “The Transitory State”, it is hard to compare. It sounds different, and it comes with an idea, a limitation even, that bonds all the tracks together in it. The obvious thing is that the first one was kind of a compilation since all tracks on “The Transitory State” were also out as vinyl singles and EPs. So this is the first real dance and club album I’m doing.”

Thanks a lot, Stefan!

Popperola Presents: Dr. Poppers’ 9th Birthday Party. Raoul Belmans (B.) interview

Can you feel it? It’s the anticipation rising!

Only three weeks until Popperola presents a birthday party in Leuven. On February 29th, Stefan Goldmann from Berlin will play with Raoul Belmans – I dare say a local as well as personal hero. Belmans has been around for more than twenty years now and may be called one of the spearheads of Belgium’s house scene. We asked him a few questions, to learn what he has been up to lately…

Raoul, recently in some bar we were discussing the fact that several of the people at parties that you play might be exactly half your age. Last year you also celebrated the twentieth anniversary of your dj career. Evidently the scene has changed (as well as the industry, which isn’t always the same). So what about the audience, specifically? In what ways has the public changed compared to ten, fifteen, even twenty years ago – for better or for worse?

Raoul Belmans: “The public has changed significantly during the last decade(s). First, the older generation is split up in two camps: you have the ones that used to go out a lot but now only go out once in a while, when their partners allow them to step out of the door so to speak. On the other hand there are those that still go out almost every week(end). I get a lot of people nagging to me that it used to be better back in the days and I don’t blame them. In general, there are less parties and tons of music is inferior in quality.”

“Still, the people that go out more are apparently really up-to-date and they appreciate newer sounds. They appreciate it even more that you mix that up with stuff from previous decades. They are well aware that there is good music around now and there was good music around back then.”

“The new generation is split up into youngsters on the one hand who don’t have a fucking clue what I am doing or have done already… And they usually don’t care either; ask me to play dubstep and such. But to my joy there’s also a part of this generation that is very open-minded and embraces all things new and old with a passion that I recognise from the beginning days of my career… And frankly, that gives me tons of energy and hope. House music is here to stay after twenty years, there’s no doubt about that.”

In general, what did house music do for you? What place does it take in your personal history?

RB: “House music has always been a big part of my life. I’m passionate about doing the job I do and it already took me all over the world spreading the vibe. I feel blessed that I was able to do this and it made me realise that you have to chase your dreams in life – no matter what. Life is too short.”

A few years ago, you adopted the alias Raoul Lambert. Could you explain shortly how that persona differs from Raoul Belmans? And suppose you’re playing as Raoul Belmans, does this Lambert character often whisper suggestions in your ear and vice versa? Do you tend to follow those?

RB: “The Raoul Lambert alter ego surfaced around 2002 because I had the urge to play long nights where I’d be able to go much broader than the house music territory usually allowed at parties. It was my mission to explore the roots of house music and pass this on to the crowd. At the same time, I wanted to put a big ‘fun-factor’ into the game as well as a personal challenge. After a few years a lot of the disco-heads now are turning back to house – mostly old school sounding so in a way both my alter egos fuel each other a little now, I must admit. But I love it when these boundaries dissolve.”

During the last few years you have mainly been producing solo. How is that working out for you? How do you yourself evaluate your newer productions?

RB: “The adventure of going solo is one I had to take on in order to develop myself as a producer. Of course it’s different than when I was spending time daily in the Swirl People studio. In a way, it’s harder but I’ve learned a lot in that short period of time. The only disadvantage is that I work much longer on a project because no is around to tell me when a track is finished and to tell me whether it’s good or not. I’ve got to work on that part a little more.”

Lastly, you played at my birthday already in 2000 – that was my sixth. I recall you put down a long deep house set. What are your own memories about that one party, as far as you can remember it?

RB: “I remember it being a hell of a party in the middle of the week with all people into what I was playing, an amazing underground vibe that I haven’t felt so much yet in my life (this was in a small squatted garage annex storage depot in Leuven, as an edition of a series of parties called Oase de Pleasure, organised between 1997 and 2002 by a group of freaks including myself, ed.). We should do this again on the coming 29th!”

Happy birthday Dr. Poppers!

Thanks man!