in the Category: music
Masked by a hidden identity while delivering inaudible vocals, Belgium’s Old Painless is something of an enigma, both physically and musically. Never revealing their face in photographs, and providing little context on the internet, it’s hard to place the experimental noisemaker into a particular genre, and that’s no accident.
Having previously performed as a heavy metal artist, Old Painless draws inspiration from trap hip hop, with an aggressive style that makes for a high-energy live show. With heavy metal lyrics screamed at full volume and intense basslines, the music is an intense emotional experience. In an effort to understand how Old Painless developed their music style, we met with the artist and discovered that although often compared to artists like Death Grips and Ho99o9, they’re in a category of their own.
Interview by Jacob McPherson
Photos by Elies Van Renterghem, shot in Brussels
Where does what you do, as a ‘trap hip hop’ artist, fit within the Belgian underground scene?
I’m not really sure if there’s specifically a trap community in Belgium, but I’ve found support in the hip-hop scene. The biggest example of this is when I recently performed in Liège at Les Ardentes, opening for Young Thug and Lomepal. If I had to think of artists in the Belgian scene who inspire me, I like the energy and beats of Rare Akuma and Zwangere Guy. While I don’t make traditional hip-hop music, I definitely feel connected to the genre – especially in its rhythmic expression. As one of the largest communities in Belgium, and the world, I think there’s room for what I create – especially on the fringes/underground. Although my roots are here, I’d like to think that what I make is not specifically Belgian.
Do you have a favourite under-the-radar venue to recommend for discovering new acts, and where do you like to hang out?
While living and creating music in Leuven, I attended underground parties in the building where my released works were produced. Unfortunately, the space stopped hosting events last year, but it provided a good community for me to experiment and become inspired. A less ‘under-the-radar space’, I mostly go to Magazine 4 in Brussels to discover new music. On the rare occasion I find myself at a bar, I enjoy the crowd and vibe at Le Coq near Bourse.
Are you completely independent or do you receive support, and where is your biggest audience?
Mostly working as an independent artist, I receive help from my friends at Consouling Sounds, who focus primarily on metal / dark / experimental music. I’ve found lots of support for what I do within the Belgian community, especially in a place where there’s a scene for nearly all forms of creative expression. In addition to performing in Liége, I’ve been welcomed in Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp.
The Sound Of The Belgian Underground with Old Painless
26 Jan - Ancienne Belgique, Brussels
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