SUB-SCAPE is a techno institution in the Antwerp/Belgium club scene; a fine event that has been presenting respected international names and local resident DJs to regular punters for over three years, and on a Friday night. We talked to founder Will O’Brien and escalator Lee Holman about SUB-SCAPE to find out more about the night and so on.
Will O’Brien Biography
SUB-SCAPE founder, organiser and resident dj Will O’Brien, originally from Ireland and now based in Belgium, has been buying and spinning records since he first discovered electronic dance music in the late 1980s.
His first proper dj gig took place at the infamous Club Kaos night in Galway and he has since gone on to play at some of Ireland’s leading venues and events such as The System, Club Mono, Traffic and the Dublin Electronic Arts Festival.
Since relocating to Antwerp a few years ago he has established the SUB-SCAPE concept and he has played at Pier 19, Café Capital, Fake Bar, SOS, The Australian Bar, Kaaiman, Petrol, Café d’Anvers, Decadance, Silo and Laundry Day.
SUB-SCAPE is now regarded as one of the best underground club nights in Belgium and is renowned for its emphasis on quality music and great atmosphere. Will invites guest djs and producers such as Fabrice Lig, Carl Craig, Dan Curtin, Âme, Marco Passarani, DJ S2 of Underground Resistance and many others to join himself and fellow resident Lee Holman every month at Café Capital in Antwerp.
Heavily inspired by the deep Detroit techno sound, he incorporates many other influences from electro to acid, house, idm and minimal into his dj sets.
Lee Holman Biography
Lee Holman has gone on to play at many of Ireland’s leading clubs and festivals as well as running his own club nights throughout Ireland and regularly guesting on national radio. His residency alongside Will O’Brien and Fabrice Lig at Sub-Scape Belgium, has seen him guest with some of house and techno’s finest DJ’s and producers including Steve Rachmad, Dan Curtin, DJ S2 (UR), Delsin Records, Âme, Aardvarck, Shed, Eddie ‘Flashin’ Fowlkes (Cityboy), Marco Passarani, Djinxx (Electronic Resistance), Ripperton amoungst many others. His djing has took him all over Ireland with guest appearances in the U.K. also.
He has recorded for well respected Techno labels such as Ferox and Nightvision with releases on Fine Art,Mowar and Elevation recordings. His material has been played by some of the worlds leading DJ’s including Laurent Garnier,Josh Wink, Dave Clarke,Luke Solomon, Luke Slater,Joey Beltram, Jori Hulkkonen, Rennie Foster, Russ Gabriel and Orlando Voorn and has got 5 star reviews in IDJ and DJ Mag.
2007 crescendoed with a nomination for "Best New Artist" at the Irish Dance Music Awards (IDMA) and live studio guest mix for revered and well respected Belgian Radio "Switch" on Studio Brussels. Radio shows include Interstate 94 for Livesets.com and 2008 see’s a brand new show for the RT-Transmissions broadcast.
Interview with Will O’Brien and Lee Holman by Kazuumi Ishii
Firstly, Happy Birthday to all the SUB-SCAPE crew and congratulations on the 3rd mark. SUB-SCAPE occupies a special place within the Antwerp club scene for being such a long running Friday night event. Considering how many clubnights have been and gone over the years, what is the secret to SUB-SCAPE’s longevity ?
Will: Cheers Kaz… well I don’t think there’s any secret really… I just do something that I believe in and thankfully I’ve been getting away with it so far ! I suppose persistency plays an important part.
Did you think the clubnight would still be going for this long when you started it ?
Will: I didn’t really think about how long it might last but of course the intention was that it would keep going for as long as possible.
What were your original intentions when you started the clubnight and do you still stick with them ?
Will: The original intention was just to put on quality gigs featuring the kind of music and artists that I would want to hear myself and hope that other people would want to aswell… That’s still the case.
SUB-SCAPE parties aren’t simply about Techno. There’s such a wide range of music; Techno of course, some Deep House vibes, modern Minimal, Electro-boogie, Dubstep, Experimental and Electronica. So you have quite remarkable line-ups. Big names such as Carl Craig, Steve Rachmad, Marco Passarani and Dan Curtin, as well as cutting-edge producers such as Mark August, Chymera and Redshape.
Will: Yeah, like I said above the music and artist programming basically reflects my own taste which is not limited to one style. I would find it a bit boring to always feature the same sort of music so I try to vary it as much as possible while still retaining some sense of connected flow… But it’s just about good music at the end of the day.
Who is behind all those pretty cool flyers – which I love btw ?
Will: I do the designs myself which is as much for practical and financial reasons as anything else. I’m not a graphic designer so my abilities in that field are quite limited but it suits the concept to have fairly no-nonsense design anyway.
How do you feel about the new technology available to DJs today, do you think it takes any of the skill out of DJing ? Have you used or would you ever use applications like Final Scratch and Ableton Live ?
Will: I don’t think new technology can take the skill out of DJing because it’s about more than the equipment used. I’ve seen a bar man in Antwerp serve drinks to customers while rocking the place using just one turntable… It’s the selection and flow of the music that’s important. I’ve got music on all kinds of formats from old cassette tapes to vinyl, CDs, minidisc, DCC and MP3… Vinyl is my favourite format but I just wish I had enough money and storage space to buy everything on vinyl ! I have Final Scratch but I haven’t really used it yet. At the moment a lot of clubs are still best suited to playing vinyl and CDs and usually the sound is better too. I guess each DJ just has to choose which format or combination of formats and technology works best for them. Techno should be about embracing new technology anyway so I’m open to whatever comes along that can make things better.
Lee: I think Final Scratch and Serato etc are all great in theory and one day it may be the case that that’s what every DJ will use throughout the world… For now for me personally I’m happy playing my records but the pro’s of using Final Scratch etc are very clear to see… No bulky vinyl to carry around and no chance of scratching records or things getting spilled or worse still, records just getting destroyed while playing due to whatever reason. I think at the moment what puts alot of people off is getting something like Final Scratch or Serato set up in a club situation… The DJ on before is trying to do his/her thing and then you got someone coming in playing around with cables setting up a laptop unplugging and replugging wires everywhere and it can get messy. The amount of times I’ve been in a club and the sound has just cut out leaving nothing but silence and red faces is unbelieveable. I think it would have to become industry or club standard before it really catches on… Something similar to the set up we have at the moment. DJs just walk into a club with their records and they have a set of decks already set up and they just perform and that’s it, hassle free. When we can do the same with Final Scratch/Serato I think you’ll see alot more people using that format.
If there was one DJ that you regard as a role model in terms of personality, professionalism and technical ability, who would that be ? Why ?
Will: It’s difficult to choose one person… of the DJs that have played at SUB-SCAPE I would say Dan Curtin, Kristian from Âme, Fabrice Lig and Lee Holman because they each have their own special style and sound and can really lift things to another level… They are also cool, down to earth guys who stay true to the music and what they believe in.
Lee: I’m going to say there are too many to mention but everyone who just sticks to what they believe in, does their thing no matter what it is. You can be playing hardcore to 50 people in your local bar and once you know it’s what you wanna do and what you want people to see you’re representing that’s cool with me. People change and so can their sound over a period of time. So whatever it is you do, as long as you believe in it, I think a DJ/artist will do it properly and it will show in their performance. I think a crowd appreciates that and will also feel that vibe in a set so I just respect that in general.
So, what are your favourites moments/nights at SUB-SCAPE ?
Will: Again difficult to be specific but for me personally there are usually moments when the party is at it’s peak and I’m no longer stressed that I can actually relax a little bit and enjoy the music… Those moments make all the hard work worthwhile !
Lee: Mine has to be when it gets to about 5 a.m. usually the residents take over again and keep the party going till who knows when…
Any funny memories or stories ?
Lee: Maybe not so funny but there was the time when on my journey back from playing SUB-SCAPE that the train I was travelling on broke down and I was sitting on the train tracks for about 4 hours, missed my flight home. I was getting lots of phonecalls from people who I knew and they just basically took the mick out of me for the whole time I was there. Frustrating at the time but I can look back and laugh now.
Will: I thought that was kinda funny at the time actually !
What is one song you will definitely have in your record box when you play at the SUB-SCAPE ?
Will: I don’t think there is one record that will always be played although there are definitely some SUB-SCAPE anthems and secret weapons !
Lee: Again lots of music… just producers who we respect.
What do you think is the best thing about SUB-SCAPE ?
Will: The music, the atmosphere, the people… It all comes together to make something special.
Lee: It’s just a great party… The people who go there get really into it and just let loose. For a DJ you can’t ask for more than that.
Will, how do you prepare yourself for the Anniversary parties ? For instance ‘SUB-SCAPE Sunday with Carl Craig’: anything goes musically ?
Will: Well I always want DJs to feel free to play whatever music they want… Carl Craig has made so many different styles of music over the years that it would be nice to hear a DJ set from him that represents his versatility as a producer.
Finally, what we can expect from the Birthday bash (on November 7th) ?
Will: It’s an all-Belgian line-up if you include me as an import so it’s not about big names… just good music and vibes all night long !
SUB-SCAPE – 3 years – 3 parties
SUB-SCAPE celebrates 3 years with 3 parties featuring 3 of our favourite producers Fabrice Lig, Carl Craig and Dan Curtin !
SUB-SCAPE 3 YEARS PARTY #1
Friday, November 7, 2008
Café Capital, Antwerpen | Doors open at 11pm
- FABRICE LIG aka SOUL DESIGNER
- PETER VAN HOESEN
- WILL O’BRIEN
SUB-SCAPE celebrates 3 years and 33 parties on Friday 7th November with a line-up that represents the contemporary techno scene in Belgium.
Charleroi native Fabrice Lig is one of the country’s foremost global ambassadors of electronic dance music who has earned respect and admiration from Detroit to Tokyo. His recent "Evolutionism" album under his Soul Designer moniker is a musical journey from the roots to the future of modern dance music that crosses many boundaries.
Brussels-based Peter Van Hoesen has been active as an electronic musician and audiovisual artist for over 10 years and his label Time to Express was founded this year as an outlet for deep, physical techno that evokes the feeling of a jackin’, bass-heavy warehouse marathon where the strobes flash, your chest rattles, salty sweat burns your eyes and you yearn for more.
Antwerp import and SUB-SCAPE Escalator Will O’Brien will ensure that the crowd are suitably warmed up and cooled down !
SUB-SCAPE 3 YEARS PARTY #2
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Café Capital, Antwerpen | Doors open at 9pm
- CARL CRAIG
- WILL O’BRIEN
A bona fide musical genius and living legend, Carl Craig’s peerless production and remixing accomplishments have gained him universal respect and admiration across many boundaries, even earning him a Grammy nomination ! He began recording at the turn of the 90s, following on from the futuristic lead of originators Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. He became a key player in Detroit techno’s second wave, using a number of aliases to release innovative ambient, techno, house, breakbeat and future-jazz sounds. One such alias, Innerzone Orchestra, issued "Bug in a Bassbin" in 1992, a track that many regard as being a key influence in the evolving sound of drum & bass at that time. He continues to push boundaries to this day, bringing his Midas touch to an array of cutting edge productions. He also heads Planet E Communications, the definitive Detroit label that employs the same eclectic and futuristic ethos that informs his own music.
On this Sunday evening edition Carl Craig will play a special set encompassing the many styles expressed through his multiple aliases such as 69, Paperclip People, Innerzone Orchestra, Designer Music, Detroit Experiment, Moxie, C2 and Tres Demented.
Support from Antwerp’s funk master K’bonus and SUB-SCAPE Escalator Will O’Brien.
SUB-SCAPE 3 YEARS PARTY #3
Friday, December 5, 2008
Café Capital, Antwerpen | Doors open at 11pm
- DAN CURTIN
- WILL O’BRIEN
SUB-SCAPE proudly welcomes back one of our all-time musical heroes, Dan Curtin, a true purveyor of fine electronic funk and hypnotic grooves. Since coming to the world’s attention in the early 90s through a series of releases which re-imagined the techno sound of Detroit with a unique twist of his own, Dan has remained one of the most eagerly observed producers in dance music circles. As well as releasing a series of landmark albums on the UK’s Peacefrog label, Dan has gone on to release for countless top techno, house and minimal labels including Strictly Rhythm, Sublime, Elypsia, Down Low, Rush Hour, Starbaby, Headspace, Tuning Spork, Soma, Dust Science, Mobilee and of course his own Metamorphic imprint. He has forged a particularly distinctive and original musical style, thus managing to avoid being identified with any particular scene. Influenced by hip hop, electro and house as much as by Motor City techno, his productions are raw, funky, unpredictable and never stand still. Deeply rooted yet always futuristic, Dan’s sound is as relevant today as it has ever been and it displays a confidence and maturity few contemporary techno producers can match. There is no doubt that Dan Curtin has defined himself as one of the key players in the development of electronic dance music as we know it today.
Equally adept as a dj, Dan loves nothing more than to rock a great party from behind the decks so there’s no better man to finish the SUB-SCAPE anniversary celebrations in fine style !
News from SUB-SCAPE escalator Lee Holman
Lee Holman is a very busy man and has recently worked on:
- a single, "Travelling EP", for Mowar
- two remixes for The Parallel’s ‘Sigma’
- a new recording for a 2600 Records compilation, "Deep Moments Volume 1 LP"