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MEOKO chats wit Red D about We Play House Recordings and FCL + Exclusive Mix.

Red D is the seasoned veteran who has been playing house music in its broadest sense all over Belgium and beyond since the early 90’s. He started the label ‘We Play House Recordings’ in 2008 as an outlet for the music of San Soda, a friend he met through football in his hometown located in Belgium. The label soon reached a great recognition in the European House scene, as more artist started to get involved with WPH Recordings. It was only logical that Red D and San Soda ended up in the studio together and started the tandem FCL, named after the local football club they’ve both played at. FCL have been playing their vinyl trade together or separately as Red D and San Soda all over Europe and beyond in the last two years. A true Belgian legend with a voluminous knowledge about music and the industry.

Well, no further introduction needed. First of all let us thank you for the time to have a little chat with us. When you think back about last summer, what has excited you the most?

That’s a very open question 🙂 Last summer has been the busiest yet, especially because there was a lot of travelling going on. In Belgium I’ve been used to playing multiple gigs per weekend for years, but doing three gigs in three different countries in one weekend was fairly rare before 2013, and with the summer festivals adding to that I was kind of curious to see how I would handle that. And I have to say I really enjoy the hectic aspect of all that, although I have no idea if I’ll tell you the same next year… Other than that it’s those quiet moments in between gigs that I cherish the most. Looking for a late night snack in some remote village in the Netherlands on a warm summer night all by myself…and actually finding some Turkish place that was really good 🙂 Musically speaking there were so many great moments, but again most of the Dutch gigs are always among the best ones.

San Soda and you became acquaintances of each other through football. Nowadays your both busy with turn tabling, producing and with the label, do you still have time to meet up?

Well, with all the FCL gigs going on I think we’ve spent more time together on the road and playing than we did when San Soda was still living in Belgium. Of course to do music together we need to arrange it differently, but we don’t release record after record, so that all goes pretty smoothly. For anything we do we usually spend one afternoon together in the studio and then work on it separately, so no real distance problem there.

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So, no time to kick some ball together? 

No, and that’s his loss and well as the team’s. His loss because his stamina is disastrous by now (he’ll beg to differ :-p), our loss because he really is a great player. I myself am always happy to move my flights and stuff about so I can still attend the games. Way too much fun to miss out!

You’ve started WPH Recordings as an outlet for his music. Do you therefore see yourself as his mentor? How did you help Nicolas becoming the respectable DJ he is today?

Mentor is too serious and too big a word. From the first moment we met I was happy to share all the musical knowledge I had with him, both the creative side as the business side. With every young artist on the label I give them advice when they ask for it, and I give my candid opinion on everything, but in the end it’s them that decide what they do. I myself always loathed older guys waving their finger in my face like a school teacher, so I try and not do that myself. In the process I probably was/am some kind of mentor, but I just try to get people to get the most out of their talent by sharing what I know. San Soda will of course always be a special case, because us meeting each other is the very reason why we are doing what we are doing. I wouldn’t be speaking to you without him, and maybe you wouldn’t be asking about him without me, although I’m a firm believer that if you have talent and are working your ass off, you will end up achieving something.

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Do you think it is more difficult for young and talented Belgian producers to make a bust into the international industry in comparison with producers from the UK or other leading countries?

I don’t think so, I know so 🙂 But it’s not a black and white story. You can breakthrough really quickly as a Belgian artist too, but then you need to be on a big UK or other leading country label. I’ve been more than happy however that being from Belgium and doing the label from Belgium as well has allowed us to slowly grow and develop a solid fan base of music lovers who do not really care about hypes or trends. But I honestly have felt that for example San Soda and also WPH as a label haven’t gotten the attention they deserved in the first years. I’ve seen labels and artists from New York or Berlin or any other ‘credible’ city or crew who’ve done two or three releases and who are already doing tours and being hailed as the freshest thing on the block, quoting 1000 euro+ DJ fees and the works. If they get it and prove to be worth it later on, kudos to that of course, but to me it’s not how it should be. But it’s like when kicking a ball at 18 years old and being good at it: when Chelsea or PSG come knocking with a fistful of dollars…who can say no right? So to answer your question: yes, it’s more difficult, but also more rewarding when it does happen. I stay away from patriotism as far as I can, but I can’t help but liking the fact that I/we are Belgian and as such kind of exotic 😉   

Where did your love for electronic music sprouted from? And who has been your mentor when you started out?

I have no idea really. My parents didn’t have a record collection and never pointed me in any musical direction. My two uncles were Bob Dylan fanatics, and I hated that. At home it was more talk radio than something else, but for some reason electronic and black music was always better to my ear than anything white and rock or pop based. I recently heard one of my oldest radio tapes from around 1986 and almost all the tracks on there were already electronic or synth pop. And when I discovered both Public Enemy/hiphop and new beat in the same year (1987) there was no more turning back 🙂 Coming from a rural town my enthusiasm and endless searching for ‘my’ music are the mentors that got me where I am today.

I do believe you don’t agree on the fact there are arising different subgenres within House music. There is simply house music, good or bad. What is your opinion on these emerging trends and hypes?

I should even say that there’s just music, good or bad. But for lack of a better description I simply play house, even when it’s not… Hence the name of my  label: ‘We Play House Recordings’. Subgenres have only been invented by press and pigeon-holing people. Much to my own joy, whenever something is called some kind of sub-genre…I usually don’t like it. 99% of everything ever put in the tech-house/deep house category on *insert portal name here* should never have seen the light of day imo.

You’ve launched the series ‘Our Beat Is Still New’, in which producers of now pay tribute to the legendary Belgian 80ies new beat sounds. I don’t believe the new beat sound is very familiar with the younger generation these days? How comes?

Because as usual Belgium never truly promoted and exported their sound. People that have been ‘at it’ for years know about new beat, but it never really made it out to the world as a movement, so how could people know? Also when Belgium’s producers moved on and created the ‘hoover’ rave sound they wanted to steer clear of any attachment to new beat, so they specifically didn’t promote their background. That’s the big difference with for example Chicago house, because there any second or third generation was happy to quote their influences.

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How’d you come upon the idea to resuscitate this sound?

Well, because I still love the original new beat sounds, and because I felt that Belgium should start being a bit proud of its heritage. Without knowing each other, at the same time where I had my idea, some other Belgians were making a documentary on Belgium’s rich dance music history (The Sound Of Belgium), so now finally it seems we are coming to the world and telling people: “This is us you know!” 🙂

What can we expect of these takes?

What I certainly didn’t want to do was release a compilation with older tracks + remixes. That’s a bit lame and I see it everywhere. Let the past tracks be the past, but do get inspired by them! Hence the idea to ask a bunch of my favourite producers of now to make a new track inspired by new beat. Some of them knew about the sound, others had never heard of it. And that’s exactly what made the compilation special to me, a perfect mixture of new and old. People like myself who lived new beat simply made a track that could have been made 25 years ago, others made something utterly fresh. It also sums up WPH for me: use the old to make the new. No throwback like we’ve been bombarded with these last years. I don’t want to hear a ‘Jersey house chord’ that sounds like 20 years ago, I want to hear what a Jersey chord sounds like now.

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2013 is proving to be the busiest year for WPH and FCL yet, with the success of ‘Its you’ and multiple other releases. What do you expect for 2014?

We’ll just keep doing what we are doing and we’ll see where we end up. There is no grand scheme in anything, apart from doing and releasing the music that I like.

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You’ve composed a two-hour mix for us, how will you best describe the sound you’ve put together?

I’ve actually made a mix lasting 3,5 hours. I had three different podcast requests so I spent a full Monday afternoon behind my decks and made a mix that should give people a perfect impression of what it could sound like if I/we get to play a club night from start to finish. Building it from an empty room, welcoming people with slow stuff that’s perfect for lower volume and doesn’t demand dancing (although that can of course happen), moving to more housier territory and then building to rougher house and techno, only to end of more end of the night type of tracks. Part 1 is to be found here, parts 2 and 3 can be found through the other podcasts. Just like when digging for vinyl, now readers and listeners should do some searching for the rest of the mix. For the record, I called the mix ‘Monday Clubbing’.

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Links:

WPH Recordings: https://www.weplayhouserecordings.com/

WPH Soundcloud: https://www.facebook.com/therealfcl?fref=ts

Words by Paul Fluks