Listen Festival and Red Bull Belgium proudly present ‘The Vinyl Frontier live’: a series of 6 live interviews with vinyl lovers conducted during the Pre-Listen evenings at the ING Art Center in Brussels between March 16 and March 25 2017.
Interview Koen Galle/Bianca Boselli
Photographs Lorenzo Serra
DJ KWAK is a busy bee. He hosts a weekly radio show on Bruzz, writes for Focus Vif and has been organizing the Strictly Niceness parties for fifteen years now. The secret ? “Stamina”, he says. “As long as I’m having fun doing it, I will keep on doing it. Once the fun stops, it’s over.”
When asked about collecting music, DJ KWAK has a very straight answer : “What does collecting really means? It’s a bit dodgy to me. You have very serious music collectors, like the late Thierry Steuve. Me? I’m just buying music”. He points out the fact that even if he started listening to all the tracks of all the records he owns, he probably wouldn’t be half way through them when he dies. But he keeps buying new records, because he simply loves it. It’s a matter of senses, of experience, Kwak explains: “with vinyl, you get to touch the records, admire the covers. Buying MP3’s on iTunes is nothing comparable, it’s more convenient but you don’t get to actually touch the music”.
1. John Coltrane - Ole
To me this is the most beautiful piece of music ever written, ever played and ever recorded. It’s stunning. This is what I grew up on. Once you get over the fact that you want to rebel against your father, you just realize that at some point he proposed you really decent music. My father made me discover this song. My parents were both passionated by music, my father was more into soul, jazz, Cuban and Brazilian music, . My mom loved the opera, classical music, some classics like The Beatles and the french repertoire.
2. Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue
This record was also given to me by my dad, and that’s what makes it so important. It’s not a standard jazz record, it’s a total game-changer in the way that music was created, recorded, played. After him, jazz was not made in the same way anymore. Even the legends, like Duke Ellington, had to adapt to this unprecedented shift in their world.
There’s not only glory when it comes to Miles Davis. He was a genius, but he probably was a very difficult person to be around. He was racist, misogynist, violent. But the music, it’s one-of-a-kind.
3. Motorhead - Ace Of Spades
I’m a huge Motorhead fan, I’ve seen them live around 25 times. It’s probably not what people would expect from me, since I’ve really made my way into the Soul/Jazz/Hiphop world. But when I was growing up, things were not that niche and I believe that that’s why I’m curious about various genres. Various kinds of music were more accessible. Nowadays, with my kids for instance, they grow up with mostly commercial music and that’s it. But that’s normal, at their age everyone wants to be mainstream. But I hope I will also be able to give them a sense of freedom in their music choices, the freedom to explore whatever they want to explore.
4. Beastie Boys - License To Ill
Beastie Boys changed my life. Why do I like them? It’s again a story of senses and sensations.
I used to go to school in Uccle, in Brussels. At that time, I was into basketball. We would play in teams, in the streets. And there was a lot of hip hop in that world already. One day I’m on the bus for school and somebody puts Walkman headphones on my ears and says: “this is incredible”. I was 16 and the Beastie Boys really changed my life. They changed my perspective on things, the way I wanted to do things, my friendships, the way I was playing basketball, and even the places where I was playing basketball.
5. Public Enemy - Yo Bum Rush The Show
Public Enemy had the same kind of influence on my life as the Beastie Boys did.
In the early 80s, the world was a bit crazy. Here in Belgium we’ve had “Les tueries du Brabant”, which were organized mass crimes. That installed a very tensed climate between the police and citizens. As a young black boy, things were even worse for me. I was facing racism. I remember once I was getting out of my basketball practice at night and all of a sudden two cops were going all over me and putting a gun to my head.
Public Enemy helped me build my identity as a black man. They were doing protest music. I expect that this kind of music will come back in the next couple of years, seeing everything that’s happening right now in the world.
6. Herbie Hancock - Rock It
When I grew up as a teenager, it was the early days of hip hop with artists like Grandmaster Flash or Audio Two and the movie Beat Street. We all tried to break dance, we all went with spray cans doing shit. It was an identity, it was a way to rebel. “Rock it” by Herbie Hancock was one of those records that I often listened to back in the days along with heavy rock.