Lifting the veil from Brussels' latest pop-synth enigma
Get your mind, body & soul to the capital from April 4th to 7th, because the annual BRDCST festival is getting better every year, and you should witness that. This year, they open up each door and morph into a bigger city festival, programming acts at six different locations spread around the city. The line-up? As eclectic and exciting as we like it. We sat down with artistic director Kurt Overbergh for an elaborate preview.
Interview by Dries Robbe
What is BRDCST?
Broadcast is a cutting-edge festival, something AB really needed lately. It is not an indie festival – with all due respect – for white indie guys; we want it to be a window into the world, with ‘borderlessness’ as its main theme. We aim for this on three levels: on the genre-level we want to combine on one festival different genres such as Egyptian jazz, American primitive guitar, avant-jazz, black metal meets grime, … On a geographical level, we try to break out of the Anglo-Saxon character of the world we live in, by letting artists curate. This year Nadah El Shazly from Cairo opened up a whole new world for us by programming artists from the Cairo underground, which is wickedly interesting. And lastly, on an artistic level, we want to give a place to artists that destroy borders between genres: Bliss Signal combines black metal and grime, Shabaka Hutchings has roots projects, rhythmic projects, but now comes with his electronic outfit The Comet is Coming.
BRDCST artistic director Kurt Overbergh photographed by Tina Herbots
The fourth edition is getting closer, what has changed over the years?
As it always is, we started with way too many ideas and had to limit them afterwards. With the first edition, you give a first general timbre to your festival and with the second edition you start really creating your identity. So for the second edition we started working with curators, and now for the fourth edition, we’re really working on a city festival. These curators are very important to us: they can open up a door somewhere we would never manage to come, and you create almost a double credibility because the artists are approved by these curators. Over the years, Sleaford Mods provided us some radical stuff – though they told us we weren’t going to sell any tickets with these acts; Forest Swords gave me a list of 60 acts, of which I left out every act I knew; and Nadah El Shazly really opened a window to a new world of progressive Egyptian music. And this curatorship makes everything a lot more personal too.
What acts from this Egyptian scene stood out?
I read about Maurice Louca already, but didn’t know him. He released the Sun Ra-inspired record Elephantine this year, which received raving reviews everywhere. When you start discovering his other projects, among others The Dwarfs of East Agouza, he let you enter a whole new universe. But also Zuli, who is making avant-garde electronica and somehow does not want to sound like his Arabic roots. The whole amalgam is amazing.
The curators are very important to us: they can open up a door somewhere we would never manage to come
All the other acts you programmed yourself?
Actually, there are other curators that we didn’t name as such. There is an evening curated by Berlin’s multi-disciplinary label PAN, one by the woman behind the neo-classical label Sonic Pieces and the Turkish psychedelica is also curated by a woman.
How do you make your own choices?
You gather an amalgam of interesting artists, curators, and try to fit them under all those different ‘themes’ the festival is tackling. We don’t try to do this in an obvious way; the artists have to come close to the theme, and do something interesting with it instead of having a one-on-one relationship with it. It has to be a challenge to make the theme fit during programming, you cannot just give it a theme afterwards.
Why the ‘city festival’ format?
You can really set up city dynamics, you can invite more bands – what is no goal as such – and you can give every location a theme.
What is the theme per location?
One of our long-term partners, Bonnefooi, has the Turkish psychedelica theme, a genre that has regained popularity lately. Café Central stands for The Art of Noise, a manifesto from the futurists, and serves the amazing Guttersnipe, Bliss Signal and Cocaine Piss. La Machine has the New Wave of Jazz as theme with artists as Alasdair Roberts and Bendik Giske – a transgender saxophonist. In Beursschouwburg you can find the producers, and Cinema Palace is the place for neo-classical music. The actual plan is to expand even more, step by step.
What locations are you dreaming of?
Between AB and Caroline record store there is this renewed underground complex with a space three times as big as AB Salon. It would be possible to work with projections, sound installations and artwork expositions there. Next to this, I’m also dreaming about the Goede Bijstandskerk for 2020, which is only 300m away from AB.
Where do you want go to with BRDCST?
It’s not about big, bigger, and biggest for me. We want to keep the musical DNA we’re having now, and organise it on even more locations with even more bands. And, mostly, that BRDCST becomes a festival that people come to blindly; that we get that much confidence from the audience so we can keep following our musical heart for 100%, with the consequence that we grow up together with the audience. The more people that give you confidence as a programmer, the wilder you dare to program. And I think we’re in need of that.
What are your personal highlights of the festival?
I’m really curious about Gwenifer Raymond, who made an absolutely gorgeous fingerpicking guitar record. There aren’t many women who delve into the Fahey-esque way of making music; this fact alone makes it amazing. Another personal highlight is Bendik Giske, who uses the circular breathing technique and makes dance music-inspired jazz music. Bliss Signal’s black metal makes this day complete for me.
HIGHLIGHTS DAY 1: Gwenifer Raymond, Bendik Giske, Bliss Signal
HIGHLIGHTS DAY 2: Guttersnipe, PAN label day
The latest record of Guttersnipe is insanely good, so I’m really looking forward to this one – I love their artistic radicalism and roughness. They are a noise duo that is exhaustingly shouting at each other, and they make me think of Lighting Bolt, another drum-meets-bass outfit. Friday is also the PAN day, one of the labels that pioneered in electronic music.
Black Midi is a standout for me this day. I’ve heard their sound a thousand times, but it’s about the intention, the soul you put in it (just like Thurston Moore said), and when you do this right, you can make something personal. Their energy and rawness is amazing. And it’s so cool how they don’t make use of social media in these times. And of course, the amazing Egyptian scene we talked about earlier on.
HIGHLIGHTS DAY 3: Black Midi, the acts of the Egyptian scene
Yonatan Gat, formerly in Israeli band Monotonix, really intrigues me. He now has a new wicked guitar project with some avant-garde musicians, and working together with Indians too. People who saw it live already were stunned. And lastly, Refree, a flamenco artist. He released a record on tak:til – whom we hosted a label night with last year – a quality label for me. He worked with Lee Ranaldo and Rosalia already, and makes very beautiful, intimate music. We’re letting him play 3 (!) times that day.
HIGHLIGHTS DAY 4: Yonatan Gat, Refree
The BRDCST BY NIGHT shows of Mumdance (4/04), Aïsha Devi (5/04) and Zuli (6/04) at Beursschouwburg are all free for members.
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