I’ve been thinking about creating a new series of articles for Electro Swing Thing for a while now. After writing about 70 or so reviews of singles, EPs and albums for you, and publishing the Electro Swing News series, I was missing something else. Something that will give you the opportunity to read not only about what I think about new music, but also to get to know your favourite Electro Swing artists better. Who will tell you about the behind-the-scenes of making songs or albums, what inspires them, what they love most about Electro Swing….
I’m very excited to present you with my first interview in the “10 questions to…” series! As you know, Boogie Belgique have recently released their new album, ‘Machine’. I think this interview will be a great complement to the information I’ve been giving you about this album in Electro Swing News 01.
01. LadyDot: Oswald, first of all I have a question for you. You created and produced your first albums (“Blueberry Hill”, “Time for a Boogie” and “Nightwalker Vol. 1 & Vol. 2”) on your own. Do you remember the moment when you thought it would be a good idea to expand the Boogie Belgique project to include musicians and a vocalist? Why did you decide to do this?
Boogie Belgique: I was always impressed by the live shows of artists like Chinese Man, Bonobo, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Cinematic Orchestra, … who really perfected the art of blending samples with live music. When I first started however, I did not anticipate fans asking for a live show. I had no experience whatsoever, except for some minor DJ-skills, but really saw this as an opportunity to learn. When I started working with trumpet player and friend, Cedric Van Overstraeten, I immediately noticed the musical improvement of adding a live instrument. It felt almost like I didn’t have a choice and went further down this road to expand the band. And I’m glad I did.
02. LadyDot: Since you are working together in your current line-up, do you collaborate on songs together? If so, do you prefer brainstorming, i.e. that everyone adds something from themselves, or does one person create the basis for the song and the other artists in the band give suggestions as to what can be added or improved?
Boogie Belgique: As the band expanded and we started working with the 6 of us (Aiko Devriendt, Emily Van Overstraeten, Martijn Van Den Broek, Ambroos De Schepper, Cedric Van Overstraeten and me), we also noticed that everyone has his/her strengths. Mostly, I started creating a basis (or a sort of skeleton) for the song after which we started working together on building it into a proper song. Some tracks were made by 2 of us, while others involved the full band with each his/her own role.
We always try to find a good compromise or middle ground where we try to respect each other’s opinion and input. Also, a shout out to Jussi De Nys aka Morisse Monty, who mixed the album and even wrote on some of the songs. He really helped us in this process and tied some of the songs together.
03. LadyDot: We’ve known for a long time that Electro Swing is not just about using samples from old swing compositions. Where else do you draw inspiration from to create your next singles? I, in your work, hear influences from big bands, downtempo, but also swing hop, which has evolved a lot in recent years!
Boogie Belgique: As an artist, I think you must stay true to your roots as much as possible, when making new music. It is important to know where you came from musically and try to evolve without losing the interest of your early fanbase. This can be difficult as our musical taste changes all the time. Therefore, we really try to avoid thinking in a specific genre & experiment as much as possible in blending genres together. But this blend must contain the original “Boogie sauce” however. (haha) A mixture of melancholia and happiness with sometimes a funny twist.
04. LadyDot: Pandemic has turned our lives upside down. As far as I know, it also thwarted a lot of your plans – including the production of the ‘Machine’ album. In your opinion, did this also affect the final sound of the songs on this album?
Boogie Belgique: We were right in the middle of recording the drums for our album “Machine” around the first lockdown in Belgium. We tried to cope as much as possible by working remotely but as you can imagine, you lose a lot of human interaction, which is essential to writing music. Therefore, some of the tracks we were working on were put aside for a long time, while we worked on others. Although these times were tough, it was interesting to see how some tracks changed when we could work together again. Some of the tracks took shape over a time of several years and evolved to completely different results than the ideas that we started out with. With “Machine” we also avoided the usage of samples and found new ways to record, mix and build a song without losing our core sound. All these things were possible due to the lockdowns and the time they gave us to think & experiment.
The general theme of the album also took form under the pandemic and its aftermath. Like slowing down in life and enjoying simple things, the danger of never-ending growth and the importance of fighting climate change.
In our own way, we tried to bring these themes into our songs. But with all music of Boogie Belgique, we tried to keep much of the mystery alive and let the audience interpret the songs how they want. For someone a track can work as a breakup-song, while someone else uses it on a dancefloor.
05. LadyDot: In 2020 you released the single ‘Rhythm’. In my opinion, it is completely different from the rest of your songs, and at the same time the most fun and energetic. Do you plan to release more compositions of this type?
Boogie Belgique: think it is important to not take ourselves too seriously. That is why it can be refreshing to work on a song which simply makes people happy and has a sort of funny twist (like one of our older songs “Mr. Fisher”). “Rhythm” is meant as a track to leave your troubles behind & enjoy the moment. I think people could enjoy a song like this in 2020, which as you all know, wasn’t the best of years. Without a doubt we will make similar songs in the future, if it fits in with the project we are working on.
06. LadyDot: ‘Machine’ is an album in which we can discover a whole host of colours – from the nostalgic ‘Wonder’ with samples from an old Harold Orlob track, to the slightly danceable ‘Fly’, the soothing ‘Mercury’ and the heavily jazzed ‘Fabrica’. Which track from the ‘Machine’ album was the most challenging for you?
Boogie Belgique: The writing and arranging of “Risk” were definitely a long process where the basic idea was written in 2017. The song totally changed during the years with different toplines and unused riffs. But it never clicked… That was until we started working with Yassin Joris who wrote and sang the vocals on the song . We are very happy with that co-op & his professionalism and enthusiasm. Crazy to see how a track which felt stuck at the time, absolutely came through in the end and is now one of the main tracks of the album.
07. LadyDot: What influence did music from the 1930s have on the creation of the ‘Machine’ album?
Boogie Belgique: As always, the 1930’s had a big musical and aesthetic influence on Boogie Belgique. Both in music and in our artwork. First, “Machine” is meant to be escapist. In the 30’s, music fans danced their troubles away through exuberance, fantasizing about a better tomorrow. We want to take the listener inside the world of Boogie Belgique’s Machine, a fantasy world with a light and dark side inspired by the best and the worst things of that era.
08. LadyDot: Is there an artist (Electro Swing or representing another musical genre) with whom you would like to create a joint song? Or would you not consider featuring at all?
Boogie Belgique: Yes, we are very open to any features or cooperation. Boogie Belgique was intended as a collective where we could work with different artists. In my opinion, it is always nice to work with an artist from a completely different genre and find common ground.
A while back we made a remix for Caravan Palace, which was an absolute pleasure to do. We are expecting a remix back and are very curious what they will come up with!
09. LadyDot: I know that you have performed on the same stage with other artists. Which of these gigs do you remember best? With which band or artist would you definitely want to play a gig on the same stage again?
Boogie Belgique: In the past, we had the chance to share the stage with really great artists like The Thievery Corporation, Bonobo, Mulatu Astatke, Goldfrapp, Groundation, Selah Sue, Poldoore, Proleter, … Since Corona happened this all feels like a lifetime ago.
We won’t dare to ask for too much, since times are still difficult in the live circuit, but we definitely dream of doing all these things all over again and more. Since we’re all major fans of Fat Freddy’s Drop, they would definitely be on our list. Fingers crossed!
10. LadyDot: Maybe this is a bit of a boring question, but at the end of our interview, I just have to ask it: what are your plans for the future? New singles, a longer tour of different corners of the world? I personally encourage you to play a concert in Poland – I’m sure the Polish public will appreciate your music!
Boogie Belgique: Without spoiling too much, we can say we are going to work further on the “Machine” project, where we already have some unreleased material. We also have big plans for our live band with a larger European tour and maybe an American one. Still figuring that out and getting all our ducks in a row. Poland is surely on our radar, see you soon.
LadyDot: Many thanks to Boogie Belgique for taking the time. And to you, my dear readers, for reading this interview to the end! :)
Interview by LadyDot (Ja, Wizeruk) Date: 2022-11-14