Posts Tagged ‘2manydjs’

Wot I did in my summer holidays Part 4

September 7th, 2017

Lost Village



I was only at Lost Village for one night but also thought it was a great lil festival, great crowd, perfect size, good vibes. Like Houghton, it was a small boutiquey event with a focus on delivering an enjoyable hassle free experience. Had been a bit gutted about not making Glasto this year but having been to a few smaller festivals this summer instead rather than one big monster event I have come to realise that you get most of the fun you woulda and not that much aggro. Whenever I go to Glastonbury I generally miss most of the bands on the line-up anyway so its not like being at a smaller event is much different. Generally speaking you get wasted and dance in a field to amplified music with like-minded people. All components need to be of top quality for maximum enjoyment but there is not necessarily an increase in pleasure the bigger the festival. Often the opposite…

Why smaller festivals work is that it is much easier to mingle and interact with the other punters which is half the fun and if you lose the people you are with, it isn’t insanely hard to find them again. This is a big bonus. The people at Lost Village were great and very friendly and laid back and definitely up for the craic. (irish speak for ‘avin it large). Not that I am done with big festivals completely, I just really enjoyed all the little ‘uns I did this year…and weirdly I did not miss hiking in the mud for an hour only to arrive for the last song of the act I had traipsed halfway across site to see…

All the photographs above are of crowds joyfully rocking out to the Dewaele brothers, first as Soulwax and then as 2manydjs.


April 21st, 2017

Me and my camera on tour with Soulwax

to see the full gallery please click here

Soulwax are back after a hiatus of 12 years no less & they have returned all guns & drums blazing with both a magnificent album and a jaw-dropping live show. It is very rare for a band to come back after such a long period and not be remerging into the limelight for either the cash and/or to take a trip on the nostalgia train. It is even rarer for them to arrive back with new material this good. You know when you go back to see a fav band live after they’ve been away a long time, you normally have to ‘endure’ the underwhelming new tunes and wait for the old classics to be performed? This is most definitely not one of those occasions. Not even close.

But the reason Soulwax’s latest incarnation is so spot on is probably because the reality is that the Dewaele brothers have never really been away. They have instead been continuously evolving through a variety of different mediums. In the last decade or so they’ve been producing & presenting incredibly innovative and amazing sound & vision experiences in a variety of different guises and formats. Whether it was as the sound system Despacio, the 24hr audio/visual app Radio Soulwax, creating 15 fictional bands for the soundtrack Belgica, launching their own Deewee label and studio or jetting round the world playing to thousands of fans as 2manydjs they have been pretty flat out. And now they are back with a new version of their band Soulwax, featuring themselves, original band member Stefaan Van Leuven, Laima layton (mixhell)  and no less than three drummers, Blake Davies, Victoria Smith and Iggor Cavilera from Sepultura.

The album ‘From Deewee’ is an epic voyage with a beautiful arc taking you on the most satisfying and mesmeric journey through a world of plush analogue synths and pounding beats, guided by the velvet vocals of Stephen Dewaele who draws you in and brings a human touch to this machine world. This is not cold electronic music. It is warm and emotional and wraps around you like a disco duvet. This is primarily because it is performed by people on instruments together in a room not on a computer with the flick of a mouse. In some ways it has a retro feel because of the instruments used and the way it was recorded but it has a very modern sound and sensibility and makes every system it plays on sound better than it should.

The album was in fact recorded in a single take in their Deewee studio in Gent and you can feel and hear the combined energy captured on the record. We live in a world of presets where we are essentially listening to the same drum beats over and over again and when we hear, as in this instant, something different, something real and organic and original and live, your ears naturally prick up. To hear non-computer generated electronic dance music is a rare and unusual beast in this day and age and Soulwax deliver this unique experience with extreme skill and also love. It is truly joyful. Musicians and instruments in a room together – who’d have thought it? (to get a glimpse into the making of the album check out this great trailer shot by Kurt Augustyns here )

For the live show they pretty much took the whole set-up from their studio and re-created it in entirety on tour. The amount of equipment on stage is quite staggering and not only looks highly impressive (resembling more a set from a 50s sci-fi b movie than a gig set-up) it creates a depth and quality of sound far superior to anything you would normally hear at a music show. As a live sonic experience it is breathtaking and you are utterly transported from start to finish. The crowd at all the gigs I attended veered from mesmerised to joyous to bat shit crazy and back again. Older tunes such as Miserable Girl, E talking and NY excuse got ’em going wild yet delivered due to the pulsating build up of the new tracks. In fact, its the seamless blend of the old and new that works quite so well as they enhance each other rather than clash, no mean feat considering the time gap between them. Yet for me, it is really the incendary performance of the new songs that lift you up and into the stratosphere. They just blow you away and have an even greater impact than on the record.

The new Soulwax feel like they are very much just getting started and it looks like there is a lot more to come. It will also be fascinating to see where they take this and it will definitely be a journey worth going on. Electronic music always needs a kick up the arse every now and again to stop it drifting into repetitive behaviour and somehow the Dewaele brothers are always there to do the kicking.

These photographs were taken in Paris, Brixton and Brussels and each time I saw them perform they got better and better. By the last gig of the tour on their home turf in Belgium they took the proverbial roof off. All the human members had synched up to become a machine in their own right, locked in to each other and meticulously jamming the shit out of every number. It is deeply satisfying to watch the 3 drummers in action as you seem them work seamlessly together yet with their own inimitable style and delivery. Going back to seeing bands with one drummer will probably now seem a bit lame by comparison and in  fact gigs as a whole are going to seem a tad dull in contrast to this captivating creation.

You can listen to ‘From Deewee’ here on Spotify and Soulwax have just announced they are performing at Meltdown on June 10th in London. If you can get a ticket, get one.


April 18th, 2017

Me and my camera on tour with Soulwax

Despacio in the Desert

April 22nd, 2016

Me and my camera at Coachella, my U.S festival,  my Despacio in the desert


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Despaciolimbo anyone?

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one devoted fan was so enraptured she made her own despacio badges and handed them out on the final day.

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I just got back from Despacio at Coachella Pt 1 . I am still reeling. Before this one there have only been 7 other Despacios – Manchester Int Festival, Hammersmith Town Hall, The Roundhouse x 2, Glastonbury, Sonar, Electric Picnic and now Coachella. It is going to be rolling out again this weekend for Part 2 of the festival and I am already gutted I am not going to be there. Out of the ones listed above I have been to them all bar one (Electric Picnic) and despite personally clocking up over a hundred hours on the Despacio dance floor (maybe more than anyone else on the planet) there is no drop off. Its impact has not diminished on me. I still cannot get enough. My love has not faded, it js still continuing to grow. I am basically now addicted to this ultimate dance experience and everything it delivers. When I am on the floor there is nowhere else I want to be. When I am somewhere else all I want to do is be back on the floor. Not only is it as good as it has ever been but it is actually getting better.

This was the first time it had come to America and for the young Californian crowd at Coachella, the largely mp3 generation who have been raised in a world of compressed music were literally jaw-dropped walking into the Despacio tent. It is impossible not to be. Despacio is there to show you how it can be, how it should be. It makes you feel that you are being hugged & caressed by the music rather than being repeatedly hit over the head. I watched their faces light up. It was clear from their reaction they had not even come close to hearing music sound this good before. And how could they? There is nothing on earth quite like it.  Most stumbled upon it by accident which made its discovery all the more incredible for those that found it.

It was tucked away in a corner of the festival with no great signage so it was often only the adventurous & the inquisitive that were rewarded. I was standing next to this guy beaming from ear to ear at the end of day 2 and he turned to me and simply said “tell no-one!” It was so good he didn’t even want to share it with the hoards on site. But as everyone started to talk about it, it quickly became known as the best kept secret of the festival. By the Sunday, I am in the queue going through security to get into the festival (which is a little on the extreme side to understate it severely) and the people behind and in front of me were talking about Despacio so I knew the word was out.

The gloriousness & uniqueness of Despacio is that you don’t really care who else is there. It is joyful to look up as you are dancing your socks off and see the same level of exhilaration in the eyes of those you are surrounded by & you intrinsically know you feel identical without even exchanging a single word but even if you were there on your own it would still be off the chart incredible. You are at one with the music being played, you get lost in the groove, in your own moves & come to the zen like realisation, everything about it is better than you have ever witnessed. The sound, the lights, the music, the crowd, the vibe, you…everything is superior by comparison to what you have already been to. This is as good as it gets.

What Despacio makes you want to do more than anything is bust some serious moves.  You are not just dancing. You are rocking out with everything you’ve got. Maybe because the sound is so much fuller, cleaner, stronger, more complete you feel it better, better than you ever have felt it before and as a result you are a better dancer than you ever have been before. You pull off moves with confidence. You bullseye the beat. You surf the rhythm. You tiptoe along the tempo. You’re John Travolta, Jacko & Gene Kelly all rolled into one. But you look up and everyone else is doing the same. And you are dancing together in circles. Strangers together busting full on moves and loving each other for it. When does that ever happen?

A lot of the people coming into it at Coachella might have only previously  known the dancing experience that is the EDM face the front in rows dj worship bullshit but Despacio shows there is another way. A better way. It shows you can dance with each other and connect completely. How can you do that when you are always staring at someone’s back? It shows you that crescendo is nothing without the build up. You are taken on a journey, an undulating wave that guides you, lifts you and then lays you gently down before scooping you up again and firing you off into the stratosphere. Despacio is the dance antidote to the techno foot shuffle. You cannot just foot tap & head nod your way through it, it has control of your limbs, it will do what it wishes with you.

I keep using ‘it’ as if it is the machine doing all this and maybe that is because you are surrounded by these 7 speaker stacks and that is all you can see. But it is the ‘they’ behind the ‘it’ that are making you feel this way. Tucked away from sight are the 3 people driving this overwhelmingly positive feeling: James Murphy (LCD) and Stephen and David Dewaele (2manydjs). They are the creators and curators of this perfect analogue experience. They dj together for over 7 hours each day and every choice they make feels like the right one. It is a seamless stream of killer tune after killer tune. Some tracks you know, songs that you love inside out but which sound better than you have ever and will ever hear them and then there is so much you haven’t heard before but which you love instantly. Epic tracks that land for the first time. It is mind-blowing how good the sets are. Although there are now tunes which are full on Despacio moments that you long for and which detonate like joy grenades (Jungle Boogie, fly like an eagle, plastic dreams to name but a few)  at least 50% is always new. Obscure moments of magnificence delivered one piece of vinyl at at time by the expert hands of the djs who you cannot see but who you feel at all times.

One of the greatest thing about Despacio and possibly the reason why it is not getting boring is that it is always different. It always somehow manages to morph into something else depending on where it is and who is inside it. The largely L.A crowd at Coachella turned it into a full on house party, the best house party in the world..ok, its not in a house, its in a tent but that was the vibe so sue me. They were also the first crowd to ever do a conga in despacio and also the first to have a limbo competition. It makes me people be silly. This is a good thing. If you wanna look cool go elsewhere. This is for anyone who don’t give a shit.

Not everyone that comes through the doors gets it. For some it is too far from familiar, too different to what they know, they don’t have a point of reference and for some that is too much. But I feel, rather than them choosing, it is Despacio who decides who goes and who stays. The machine filters out those who won’t be able to lose themselves in it and keeps the ones who will. It has its own natural selection process and keeps the ones who connect with it will give their all to it. And they stay for the duration.  And then they come back the next day. By day 3 I know a good chunk of the people on the floor and we are start to interact and become friends and dance together. We know we feel the same. We see it in each other’s eyes.

I have made friends on the floor at every Despacio. And at each new one I always run into people from previous events. A guy came up to me at one point who I met at Sonar and we hug like 0ld mates. By day 3 I am hugging people I met on day 1. We are all now together as one.

In some ways it is a little bit pointless talking about Despacio unless you have experienced it first hand. If you were there at the weekend you will know what I am talking about. You have probably been banging on about it to everyone ever since just like me. It is very easy to become a Despacio bore because you want people to know how spectacular it is but until you actually go you will never really know what we are talking about. If you are at Coachella this weekend do whatever you can to get there and drag everyone you know to it, they will definitely not be disappointed. The only downside is that it will make everything seem shit by comparison. You have been warned.

To read my review of the very first Despacio please click here 

To see film from lovebox please click here

Despacio will next be appearing at the Panorama festival in New York July 22-24 – do whatever it takes to get there…I will be.

Despacio Jungle Roundhouse

September 16th, 2015

Me and my camera in the greatest party on earth, my Despacio, my happiness


Despacio returned to The Roundhouse at the weekend for three more nights of magnificence. I have probably banged on about how amazing it is enough already on this blog but if you were there, you will not need to hear my words. For those of you who weren’t I really can’t begin to describe or do justice to the incredible atmosphere of positivity, happiness and love it generates in everyone who experiences it so I will just shut up and you can just look at the pretty pictures.

To see the full gallery please click here