In the 90s, Yves Deruyter was at the basis of the success of Belgian discotheques with his trance music. That genre is once again very much alive at the festivals and with top DJs such as Charlotte De Witte. Starting tonight at Tomorrowland.
‘Wow mate, for the first time in my life in De Tijd! Better late than never, surely?’ Dj and producer Yves Deruyter (52) is delighted when we confront him with the relentless retro revival. The godfather of the Flemish club scene will be at Tomorrowland five times this year, of which three times as a crowd puller on stage with the dragon of the record label Bonzai.
“I’ve been playing that retro dance music for so long that I can’t even remember when it got retro,” he laughs. ‘That’s why I just call them classics. The success must have been driven by the mommies and daddies who used to go out to that music, are now about the same age as me and passed on the microbe.’
Deruyter’s DJ career started in 1985. In 1991 he also started producing for Bonzai Records. Tracks like ‘Animals’, ‘Rave City’ and ‘The Rebel’ became classics. But especially ‘The House of House’, released as Cherrymoon Trax at the time, is very popular with today’s top DJs such as Charlotte De Witte and Amelie Lens.
‘There are so many classics and yet they get my records from them’, it sounds proud. ‘Charlotte sometimes dares to pick out ‘Final Fantasy’, my hard trance collaboration with MIKE, during her DJ sets abroad. Even if that young guard is now walking with the fruits we have worked hard for, you won’t hear me complaining. I forge the iron myself when it’s hot.’ And the revival will come in handy as he plans to launch his own techno label with YDR Records in September.
His popularity is not only apparent from the Tomorrowland poster. ‘Now that almost every festival has a classic stage, my summer months are busier than ever. At Ostend Beach I closed the Classic Sunday with headliners like Roger Sanchez and Bob Sinclar. In the evening I had already played at the 30 Years Bonzai party at So W’happy in Tournai.’
The day before, he had passed the Bonzai Retro Stage and the Flashback Stage at festivals in Ninove and Waregem. It is reminiscent of the distances traveled in the 1990s between, say, Destelbergen, Lier and Lokeren, where the largest discotheques were located.
- The dance world is under the spell of 90s retro.
- DJ and music producer Yves Deruyter contributed to the success of Belgian discotheques.
- The Epoque project commercializes the retro from the 90s.
- Dj Charlotte De Witte is pulling the cart along.
‘We used to have only clubs and no festivals. Now it’s almost the other way around’, says Deruyter. ‘But we had to play much longer then. Between two twelve-hour blocks I took a shower, because there was always an afterclub I had to go to. Now it’s comparatively more luxurious and less rock ‘n’ roll.’
Still, he takes the old guard who say things used to be better with a grain of salt, because he almost only sees them at ‘legacy events’ such as the Bonzai parties, I Love Retro and I Love The Nineties. ‘Then the room is too small and the crazy cures of the past come up. By the way, everything that has to do with the nineties is back, including techno, trance and commerce.’
I’ve been playing that retro dance music for so long that I can’t even remember when it got retro.
Deruyter refers to the striking oversized T-shirts (even the long sleeves were stuffed with logos) with which Époque wants to breathe new life into 90s disco merchandising. Époque is the new platform through which KNTXT, the label of super DJ Charlotte De Witte, and the merchandising agency Andrea bundle stories, flyers and other memorabilia from the heyday of Belgian disco culture.
They do this with an online archive and a clothing line. Cherry Moon, the renowned disco from Lokeren, was the first nineties icon that they gave such a contemporary facelift with the support of curator Michiel Claus, designer Otis Verhoeve and a mixtape by De Witte.
The Sound of Belgium
It is noticeable that the driving forces of the platform have not experienced the heyday they document. Initiator Victor Luyckx says that the documentary ‘The Sound of Belgium’ (2012) was a catalyst for the increased attention for the disco culture of the 90s.
‘By correctly portraying the zeitgeist, Jozef Devillé’s documentary pulled the genre out of marginality. The accolades of international pioneers proved that music captures the world’s imagination, perhaps even more than in the past. The Belgian media focused on police raids and ecstasy pills, but actually a cult story was written à la Berghain, the famous techno club in Berlin. The trance of Yves Deruyter and co. is played not only by Charlotte De Witte and Amelie Lens, but also by international stars such as Nina Kraviz. In this way a new generation has become familiar with it. I’m from 1991. When I went to my first clubs it was drum and bass that was all the rage, but now young people want to go out to techno, rave and trance.’
Legacy events see clubbers looking back nostalgically on a bygone era when they knew the DJ, the bartender, the toilet lady and the local drug lord.
Curator Michiel Claus, who conceived the Époque concept, runs a house and techno label and spoke with the old guard, sees two audiences merging in the retro revival. ‘The clubbers who used to spend all their weekends in discotheques are now in a different phase of their lives. At legacy events you see them looking back nostalgically on a bygone era when they knew from the DJ, the bartender, the toilet lady and the local drug lord during their nights. For the young guard, the revival is like a dream. The fact that the music also appeals to them probably has to do with the way in which it came about. Often she was quickly canned in the studio by DJs who had been spinning all night. That which is ill-considered and intuitive still emanates a lot of power.’
Both Yves Deruyter and Charlotte De Witte will be at Tomorrowland in the coming weekends.