Our latest podcast features PJAY. Not only is the Belgian selector behind the Kontrast concept and record label, he also recently started Futurepast with fellow DJ pals Davy and Laprade. When not engaged with the aforementioned, or digging the countless stocks at Wally’s Groove World, he’s spinning records at some of the best clubs and party destinations around Europe. In the past year highlights include Closer for Reset, Ibiza for Seekers, not forgetting Kontrast and Futurepast. Having recorded a great podcast, we were delighted to sit down and have a little chat with him…
Hi PJAY! Thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak with you. We’ve already listened to your podcast a few times – super stuff! Where did you record it?
The mix I recorded at home. I have two Technics and an E&S-rotary mixer there, not to mention all of my records. Most of the tracks I selected upfront, but sometimes when you’re mixing you find a good record that blends perfectly into the mix.
The magic of spontaneity… so tell us about Kontrast. It started with just a few friends and now it’s known across Europe as a quality underground party. Can you tell us the story behind it… how was the concept born, when and why?
We all met each other in a youth club – we’d go there every weekend actually, it was our meeting point. All the guys from the neighbourhood would go there and hang out. And with friends we were always experimenting, mixing and playing records, we’d go to [the now defunct Belgian club] Silo, which wasn’t too far from our hometown. To be honest where we lived there was no other venue where we could go and enjoy our favourite music, so the closure of Silo was the trigger for us to organise something for ourselves.
What were the first Kontrast parties like?
We had a small venue and we’d only invited friends and family. More and more people started coming to our parties though and eventually we had a small budget to invite a guest DJ. [But we outgrew that venue too]
Now the parties are totally different. We’re still organising with the same people but we’re able to have the parties at better venues and invite more and more DJs who are establishing themselves in this scene. You could say that we’re now well versed in this small field.
So what are the venues like these days?
Well today we’re hosting parties in a really awesome space in Antwerp – on the 21st floor – it’s the perfect size for our DJs and there’s a really great atmosphere. Sadly, it’s a pop-up club and it’ll be closed in the near future.
We’ve also thrown some nice outdoor parties in our hometown Hasselt – those have always been great fun.
If the venue (Klub Goud) is on the 21st floor, what’s on the other floors?
The whole building is called the A-tower. At the top of the building there is a restaurant and on the 5th floor there is Bar Gloed – a chill-out zone where you can have a little something to drink. In the weekend there’s small parties going on but I guess the focal point is Klub Goud on the 21st floor with its unbelievable view. This really is a very awesome venue. The other floors aren’t in use though.
Can you tell us who forms part of the team?
We started out with 5 friends – each of us passionate about music and passionate about playing records. The same crew is still organising the parties for Kontrast. Most of them aren’t playing records anymore due to other interests but behind the scenes they work very hard to create the good party vibe and atmosphere. A party is always a reflection of the energy behind it.
So in January this year the collective expanded into a record label with a debut EP (almost immediately selling out) May Mission by Ion Ludwig, which was then followed with the Vaseline EP by Cédric Dekowski & Felix Reifenberg this Summer. Can you tell us how you pick the artists that feature on the label? And have you already made plans for the forthcoming release(s)?
Both Cedric and Felix, as well as Ion Ludwig are good friends of ours, and in fact all three are known for their quality productions. With Ion Ludwig – we went over to his place and just listened to his tracks all day long. Together we selected two tracks for the first release. With Cedric and Felix, we met at Robert Johnson. The relationship – the friendship started from there. They’re good producers and we’re very happy to have them feature on our label.
As for the next release, I can’t say anything about that just yet but it will be another friend of ours…
And how about Futurepast. You started the party last year with Davy and Laprade. You’ve already organised parties together in the past as Kontrast and Down Under – it’s nice to see you guys come together.
On one occasion we were in Berlin and we started talking about a collaboration – doing something together as we’re both incredibly passionate for the same music. With our taste and vision, there’s a clear overlap. And we’re both able to draw experience from our respective backgrounds. Davy has already thrown parties for Down Under, and Laprade – he’s a young and talented guy from Brussels, who can definitely add some fresh juice to our concept.
How would you distinguish Futurepast from Kontrast?
The line-ups that we have had over the years at Kontrast have actually been pretty broad. I’d say that the difference with Futurepast is that it’s more specific – it’s an interpretation of the future inspired by sounds of the past. It’ll be darker and more niche than what we’ve had at Kontrast.
So how about you as a DJ – when did you first start playing records and where would you say that you drew inspiration from? I’ve heard that you sold your moped and used the money to buy your first set of decks, so I’m guessing that you didn’t go out so much after that… :p
There comes an age when you start getting interested in going out. The places that I went to played electronic music, but I was also listening to electronic music on the radio. But it is true that I sold my moped in a very unprovoked fashion and then bought my first mixer, decks, speakers and a few records. The rest is history you could say – my passion for music and finding new records has only gotten bigger and bigger.
They say that Belgians are stealthy record diggers, always finding the good stuff before anyone else. I’m sure that you too are one of them. What record stores do you like to visit?
The good thing about Belgium is that there is a lot of good music on vinyl. In the 90s the sheer number of record stores, DJs and clubs was truly impressive. And now these collectors and DJs [from the 90s] are selling their collections, so we’re benefiting for sure.
Also, many of these record stores had bought their records from almost everywhere in the world in that period. That’s why you can find some really rare and extraordinary music over here. My favourite record store – Wally’s Groove World – must have thousands and thousands of records. I live near it…
One of the most famous labels originating from Belgium is R&S Records. It must be regarded as one of the cornerstones…
Well R&S is perhaps the most famous label – if you’re thinking about the Belgian scene from abroad, but there have also been many other Belgian labels that have influenced me, and others. Without realising you bump into a good record and you find out that it’s a Belgian work of art. The Belgians released so much music in the 90s and so much of it was so good.
Your music and sound is also travelling outside of Belgium though – you’ve played in some great clubs around Europe. But Futurepast is next up this weekend – will it be the last time that you play there before the club closes for good?
Yes it’ll be the last time that I play there… it closes after New Years Eve. This weekend Onur Özer will be playing at Futurepast – it’s a real honour to have him play for our party.
Listen to PJAY’s new podcast here:
Edited by Kaajal Shah