Pierre (Fuse)

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For almost 25 years, Pierre has been a resident DJ at Fuse  (watch the excellent Red Bull Elektropedia documentary about Fuse here), one of the most iconic discotheques in the world. He was there at the very beginning, and he still is. Today, he doubles as a booker and decides who spins the records at the Brussels-based temple. His name is as synonymous with the club as is the iconic round bar that welcomes you upon entering the main room. Next time you’re around, keep an eye on the booth: chances are Pierre is at the decks, massaging the crowd with techno beats, aiming for climax.

Of course, things have changed over the past 25 years. In the early days, USB sticks and digital files were nowhere to be found, everything was vinyl. Over time, Pierre has made the switch to digital technology, cutting his poor spine some slack. A visit to his house confirms he’s still a big believer in black gold, though.

ANALOGUE MATTER(S)

Pierre lives on the ground floor of a town house in Saint-Gilles, close to Bareel and the beautiful park of Vorst. He’s been living there since 2001 and has taken ample time to renovate the apartment according to his tastes. The whole place speaks of his passion, creativity and love of beautiful things.

Next to vinyl, Pierre also collects analogue cameras. In the organized chaos, they’re strewn all over the place. Pierre is an avid photographer, mostly when travelling. “The last time I shot a whole bunch of pictures was in Palermo. There was a botanical garden with a collection of cacti I thought were gorgeous. It’s just a hobby, not something I want to make public. I made a Tumblr once, but I never really share it.”

CLASSIFICATION? WHAT CLASSIFICATION?

The house is littered with thousands of vinyl records stashed in cupboards, on the ground, against the wall and around the pick-up. They’re in the living room, the basement and the studio. How does he know his way around them? “I don’t, there’s no classification of any kind,” Pierre admits, not in the least ashamed.

“I flick through them quite regularly and rediscover all kinds of beauties, but don’t ask me to find one specific record. I just can’t. The stash in the living room, closest to the pick-up, are the ones I’ve been spinning lately. But if I need something in particular, it’s faster to find it on YouTube than to look through my crates.”

Sadly, Pierre has lost of a few records over time. Some were stolen in a bar where he’d left a few records behind after work. Another time, water leaked underneath a few cardboard boxes and a bunch of sleeves were lost to the fungi.

RUNNING FOR RECORDS

At home, Pierre’s playlists mostly consist of Funk, Jazz, Ambient, Disco, Krautrock… His tastes haven’t changed much throughout the years; much of it dates back to the early 80s. Like many others of his generation, The Sugar Hill Gang’s 'Rapper’s Delight' was his first vinyl purchase. A teacher at the art school he attended was a DJ at the Saxo club in Kortrijk. Next to painting, he taught Pierre Afro-American music.

With his friends, Pierre would hit the second-hand record stores in Brussels. “50 metres from the shop, we’d all start running, trying to get in there first. I was crazy about that whole Parliament-Funkadelic scene. 'Rock It' by Herbie Hancock and George Clinton’s 'Atomic Dog'—those would drive me mad, too. They had sleeves that were almost like comic strips, I loved that.”

THE EARLY YEARS

In his teens, all Pierre’s pocket money would go to records. With friends, he started organising parties in Doornik, while Zanzibar in Kortrijk gave him a weekly slot to fill at the booth. Pierre got deep into the newly arisen garage vibe, along with New Jersey and British House, learning to match his beats from house to disco and then back again.

In those days, Peter Decuypere—who would later start Fuse—would have a drink at Zanzibar before heading over to his own club, 55, in Kuurne. A mere coincidence, maybe, but one that would turn out to be of major impact on Pierre’s life later on.

“His resident DJ invited me to come by with my records. I was allotted the last hour of the night, mixing while he went out looking for girls. On the club’s closing night, I played as well. It was the first time my name was ever on a flyer.” 

INTFILTRATING THE ANTWERP SCENE

Meanwhile, Pierre meets Koenie, the resident at Café d’Anvers at the time. All of a sudden, he finds himself at the decks in Antwerp every Sunday night. Next, Vaudeville in Brussels offer him one day per week, and then Peter Decuypere calls, asking him if he’d like to start a new club in Brussels. He wants to call it Fuse.

“At the end of my sets at Café d’Anvers, I usually played some of the darker stuff by Detroit techno labels like Transmat and Red Planet. Peter wanted a techno club and even though at first, I was put in the smaller room, at a certain point Peter decided to go full-on techno in the main room. In the end, we closed the smaller room for a while and I moved downstairs. That’s how I got more and more into techno,” Pierre recalls.

PIERRE’S ADDRESS BOOK

Pierre’s go-to record shops changed as his career took on new musical paths. Back when he lived in Doornik, Diki Records in Moeskroen (read our feature about the history of Diki Records here) was his first choice. As a resident at Café d’Anvers, he often ended up at USA Import (read our feature about the history of USA Import here), where Koenie and Steve Cop ran the show. Later, he’d go to Music Man (read our feature about the history of Music Man here) in Ghent. And when Doctor Vinyl set up shop in Brussels, it became Pierre’s regular dealer. “Salvatore gave me the very best service. Every week, he put together a package for me that I could take home and listen to. Whatever I didn’t want, I just brought back.”

For his sets at Fuse, Pierre used to bring along two full cases and one bag of records. As a resident, he wanted people to have a different experience every week, so it was important to have enough music on hand. Today, he only uses digital files and hooks up his computer to CDJ players.

“I got tired of lugging that stuff around, my back was starting to kill me. And when I played somewhere that wasn’t Fuse, I wasn’t always sure the pick-ups would be the right setup. Once in a while, I still do an all-vinyl set, like I did at Fuse, six months ago. I still love doing those.”

Pierre and Fuse really are two peas in a pod, as is proven by the T-shirt he’s wearing. It also serves as his profile pic on Facebook, where it’s the subject of much debate, comments and likes. “Le Disque Rouge was Fuse’s ancestor. Empresa Gomez, the name you can read in the middle of the logo, is still the owner of the walls of the building. My boss, Nick, had ten of these made and gave me one. I thought it would be a perfect match for this interview!”

Text: Koen Galle - Pictures: Thomas Sweertvaegher - Translation: Jill Mathieu