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Belgium: The Vinyl Frontier

The Vinyl Frontier Live: Geoffroy Dewandeler aka Mugwump

The Vinyl Frontier Live: Geoffroy Dewandeler aka Mugwump

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 Nicolas Legain

Geoffroy is an elusive presence, building a legacy of non-formulaic music, fusing together 80’s pop music, ebm, indie, dub, film scores, kraut, industrial, post-punk & new-beat influences with house, disco & techno trough DJ sets and live shows as a 4-piece band.

Geoffroy’s pick for his artist name “Mugwump” comes from the famous “Naked Lunch” novel byWilliam Burroughs, which was later adapted into a movie by David Cronenberg. In this story, an essential character is a Mugwump, an alien-like species. But the word “Mugwump” also comes from American politics, and the term has evolved to refer to someone who is rather independent. His musical spectrum is difficult to pinpoint, as it is rather broad. He has a very electronic side, similar to the records he has released on Kompakt, Cocoon, Gigolo and various disco labels. He takes in bits from here and there, going from techno and disco to rock, indie, but also new-beat, new-wave, pop, punk. He then creates “a fusion, a mixture, a kaleidoscope of different influences”.

His debut album album was released in 2014, but he’s now working on the sequel, which should hit the shelves by the end of the year. He has put together a band with different musicians and will do most vocals. The album will be out on his own label, in partnership with !K7. Geoffroy Mugwump has an impressive vinyl collection, with about ten thousand records in his living room. He now buys mostly second-hand music. He likes the vinyl format for rare and old stuff and new albums, but is now more of a digital buyer when it comes to new dance music.

If you’re looking for great vinyl, here are Mugwump’s recommendations: Crevette Records, Doctor Vinyl, Cosmic, Caroline Music and Pêle-Mêle in Brussels. Or Rough Trade in London.

Records:

1. The Smiths - How Soon Is Now ?

"I bought this record at Caroline Music 30 years ago and The Smiths are my favorite band from my teenage years. It was a real taste-opener for me, mostly for guitar music, and it allowed me to discover more similar bands later on. While hanging out at USA Import, where I would later work at I met the late Mark Kamins, the legendary NYC 80’s DJ (discovered Madonna too). He was one of the first International DJ to guest in Belgium at the first-ever house party here (« Gare Centrale »). We started talking in the shop because he was wearing the same Smiths t-shirt as I did, same sneakers and we had similair haircut and mentionned he had just played “How Soon Is Now” in Japan and people were in tears. This really underlined my own vision in terms of music: the cross pollination of the NY scene Marc Kamins was championing in the House and Dance music worldwide."

2. Nitzer Ebb - Let Your Body Learn

"This record was also purchased in Caroline Music. This artist is one my favorite electronic acts with Front 424 and DAF (Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft). Nitzer Ebb had an amazing energy. I discovered them in my young years, at a nightclub called “La Scala”. They played a lot of electronic music, such as New Order too. At that time, this kind of music was very mainstream and was being constantly played on the radio. Today, this would be considered “niche” music, but back then it was quite everywhere, helped by the strength of the independent labels of that period."

"This song also goes way back for me, as I used it in a performance at high-school. Every year, they would invite the parents and the kids could perform what they wanted. The boy before me played Rick Astley, which was obviously very conservative. And then I got on stage, lipsyncing Nitzer Ebb in a tapemix I did of them with Front 424 while my friend mimiced the Khadafi’s speech (out of the « Funkadhafi » intro) . At that time, I didn’t realize how shocking and aggressive it could be, it was just normal and funny."

3. Killing Joke - Turn To Red

"This song is from 1979. It was played out later in New-Beat parties and at every nightclub for years. I discovered this song at a nightclub in Brussels, La Gaité. It was a club where Eric Beysens (Eric “Powa B”) used to play. He would play very obscure and intense songs. I made a lot of musical discoveries in that club. There are three DJ’s who really influenced me, one being Eric Beysens. We met when I was very young at USA Import. There, I also met and worked with Poltergeist, my second major influence. The third one is Koenie, who I worked with in Antwerp.I was very close to the three of them, and they taught me a lot. These three DJs embody the real way and Sound of Belgium for me, with daring and broad music."

4. DJ Shadow - Lost & Found

"This is DJ Shadow, on the label Mo’Wax, with a drum loop from « Sunday Bloody Sunday » (U2). In the 90s, next to the usual 4/4 music, you had a lot of new things coming from every dance corner. Three labels were at the heart of the UK Industry, Talkin’ Loud with Gilles Peterson, Acid Jazz with Eddie Piller, and The Beats/Trip-Hop music also got very big through Mo’Wax with James Lavelle who revolutionized the record label industry. It all kickstarted the career of many acts, including DJ Shadow’s. I can relate to his music, as a lot comes from digging and sampling. I started producing music by sampling other people’s music, as most DJs who turned into production did. Creative sampling."

5. Transphonic Club Tools - Incidental Meditation

"This song is from a 4-volumes compilation I made in 1996. This album sold ten thousand of copies, and got licensed by SONY France. At that time, I had just been introduced to Crammed Discs by Samy Morpheus (Minimal Compact), a label from Brussels, who I’ve then worked for as a freelancer. Under that label, I did the “Moving House” series and learned a lot about the music business. While this record features big names of house music like Louie Vega, Mood2Swing or Basement Jaxx, what we’re going to listen to is much rarer. It’s a song from Nu-Groove (a major American House music label). It was played by Poltergeist, the best House DJ from that era. At that time, people in Belgium were going more into the Hard Rave stuff, and Deep House was very marginalized. Poltergeist championed Deep House and has had a major impact on me ever since. Koenie would later push it forward at Café d’Anvers. The compilations, which I stopped for more than ten years will be back on June 2, 2017. It will be a fresher and broader take on house music with 17 exclusive tracks from i.e Andrew Weatherall, Roman Flügel or Tuff City Kids and even Arbeid Adelt!"

6. Gino Soccio - Dancer

"Gino Soccio is a Canadian producer. “Dancer” really epitomizes what dance music is all about (« dancing and going higher » !). I think that this is also the blueprint for Seven Days and One Week, from Emmanuel Top. The synths are very similar. I was resident at the Food Club, in Leuven, and this record was in nearly every set I played. The parties we were having were insane and the music was always very daring. I was co-responsible for programming the music and the DJs. We invited big artists from the UK, the USA, France to come and play. But this song really created a wild dance vibe in the club."

7. Mugwump - Boutade

"This song is obviously a special one, as it is one of my own (with Kolombo, my studio partner). It was made in 2008 and this record put Mugwump on the international map. It was very well-received in the disco world in the UK. What really makes this track more special for me is its tight connection with Andrew Weatherall. He played it in his DJ-sets for like two years. This led to us to exchange remixes and him to regularly play at the Leftorium (I played for his night too). That kind of support from an artist I admire is extremely motivating."

8. Protomartyr - Blues Festival

"This last song is completely different from what we’ve been listening to. This is quite a heavy kind of rock sound. This band comes from Detroit, USA. They’re from the Garage scene. I bought this record at Dour Festival, which probably one of my favorite festivals in terms of line-up. The latest album of Protomartyr is one of the records we listen to the most with my band."