in the Category: music

Normally I just make songs or tracks, now I can get out of that box

In his home in Brussels, producer, musician, and former DJ (for now), Victor De Roo, draws from both the nature of the nearby woods and the cultural hub in the city. From his use of the Dutch language to his unique collaborations, Victor De Roo’s work is far from linear. We discussed his many projects, including an upcoming event at his residency at Het Depot.

Interview by Dlisah Lapidus
Photos shot by Jente Waerzeggers

Your Spotify says, 'Controversial ex-DJ and producer' We used to know you as a DJ, but now you are more well known for your live performances, what has this change been like for you?

That is a translation from Dutch, so it's not that I'm trying to be controversial it is more questioning, is he a DJ? Is he a musician? Or a producer? What is his thing actually? I used to DJ a lot, the last four or five years. But I pretty much stopped doing that, just because I wasn't feeling it anymore. After the lockdown, I kind of fell off with it and started focusing more on producing my own music, and I guess I just didn't get back up on my horse. Last Summer I did a bunch of live shows and concerts in Belgium, mostly in Brussels, some in Ghent or Antwerp.

My output as a DJ and my output as a musician was day and night and had practically nothing to do with each other

When DJed, I was already doing projects, but my output as a DJ and my output as a musician was day and night and had practically nothing to do with each other. I think now my live sets are still different but it's more in line with the music I put out. It's more logical to do these live sets right now, but I don't know how it will evolve. Maybe in two years, I'll be DJing again. But for the moment, I can be honest, I just don't feel it. Four years ago when I saw someone DJing, I had this instinct to join, but that is completely gone now. 

How do you manage all your projects and how do you put your personality into everything you do?

I only make music, I can’t sing. That's my biggest handicap as a musician because my life would be way easier if I could just sing, then I wouldn't have to do all of these strange collaborations. But actually, it's a blessing, because it forces me to work with different people, which I really love to do. In these collaborations, I make the music and then I work together with someone who is into poetry or who likes to sing. Really just anyone who is doing nice stuff which I think could be nicely combined with my music. As for putting my personality into my music, People often say that there is a sort of melancholic atmosphere, around or in my music, which is definitely the case. But I'm not necessarily in search of it, it's more a result than my intention. I just make music, the same way I cook. I don't use a cookbook with all the steps written out and I never took lessons on producing or making music. I just try to make something here and there, add stuff and experiment. I use a lot of trial and error.

I only make music, I can’t sing. That's my biggest handicap as a musician

I also have a ‘sort-of’ band called De Nooit Moede. And we make what we call pseudo rock because it's rock-ish, but not rock at all. We are not used to making rock music, we are used to making electronic music. So we are basically making rock music with the techniques and the tools we usually use to make our electronic music.

Do you write lyrics, even though you don’t sing?

Yeah, with the band I wrote the lyrics of two songs. I read and I write a lot. I am studying journalism. So I'm actually really interested in texts and words and the Dutch language especially. But I don't feel like doing it with my own music. Maybe it’s too much. I like to focus on the music side and I think it is nice to do the sort of joint venture like I do the music and you do the text.

Why did you choose to make music in dutch? Do you see yourself part of a Dutch-speaking music scene?

There is a big Dutch singing scene, and we are definitely not part of that, we are more in the underground. Compared to other Dutch musicians, I do definitely feel somewhat like the black sheep.

It is more of a logical choice to sing in Dutch. I don't feel like singing in English, although a lot of Belgian bands do that, because everybody can understand it. For us though, that was a no-go, because we really wanted to talk and sing about our lives and what we are doing and also include the small nuances, which can be hard to do in English.

Your music feels somewhat 80's inspired, is that one of your influences?

I am aware of the 80’s influences in my music, they are definitely there, but I also try to be careful with it because I don't want to make music that sounds like it's from the 80s or a copy of music made then. I’m not sure if I am succeeding, but I am really trying to make music that has a circle of influence, including IDM influences, and Kleinkunst, the Dutch country music from Belgium. I try to put all those kinds of genres together, so it can have influences of the 80’s and other styles, but it has to be contemporary as well.

Well then, what music has influenced you?

I was always into music. Before I was 15, I listened to a lot of rock music, like Nirvana and all the classics. And then I got into hip hop. For two or three years, I think I might have only listened to J Dilla. He was a big, big influence and an eye-opener. I just like the way he makes music. But then when I was 18, I really got into new wave and all these experimental western music, and also the avant-garde scene in Belgium. 

People often say that there is a sort of melancholic atmosphere, around or in my music, which is definitely the case

When I used to DJ, I would find new music all the time, and I was always searching for music in the record stores in Brussels. It was nice to see both sides of it. I wasn't only looking for music to play radio shows, but I was also looking for music that would inspire me to make music. And that also travelled over, so when I played DJ sets, I could only play music that truly inspired me as well. Now I'm not really DJ-ing anymore and I'm not discovering as much music. I'm just not doing that stuff right now. But it will definitely take over again. One day. 

What are you working on at Het Depot? What resources do they have to offer?

I started my residency a year ago, and was super grateful for the opportunity to join their residency program, because my studio had actually just gotten broken into, and I was in search of a new place. I have played there a few times and have some really big things coming up with them which I am looking forward to.

You are doing a video for KNAL, what can we expect from this project?

This video is going to be a 15-minute audiovisual performance for a dome, so it will be projected in 3D with 3D audio as well. I am working with Lewi Moors, who will be doing the visuals and I am making the music. It's going to be a really cool way to sort of soundscape electronic experiments. This will actually be the first time that I'm doing something like this. Normally I just make songs or tracks and now I can get out of that box.

Laat Open presents Overmono live + Nosedrip + Mad Miran + Victor De Roo + islas
5 Nov - Leuven, Het Depot
KNAL! 360° Videos : Fatima Al Qadiri & Transforma / Victor De Roo & Lewi Moors
4 Dec - Leuven, The Dome (Het Depot)

You can enjoy these events for free as a Subbacultcha member.