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Interview with Boogie Belgique

Interview with the founder of Boogie Belgique, Oswald Cromheecke, who has invited four musicians to join him on stage and in studio to bring his musical project on another level... Looking forward a new album, a first single is already available for free on bandcamp ! : Hello, we have been following you for some years now, but for those who don't know you, who are you Boogie Belgique ?

Hello ! We are a 100% Belgian band with a sound that can best be described as a mixture of old and new. A mélange of genres like Trip-hop, Hip-Hop, Electronica and Jazz with a flavour of nostalgia. Our band consists at the moment of 5 bandmembers : Me, Oswald Cromheecke (producer, guitar), Cedric Van Overstraeten (trumpet), Aiko Devriendt (keys & synth), Martijn Van Den Broeck (drums) and Ambroos De Schepper (saxophone). : How did you start music ? How did you fall in it ?

I started out alone in 2012 with only samples out of my mother's cd-collection. I used them to write songs for a former reggae-band named Jahfar. I loved the sound of old jazz and vintage soundtracks and started combining them with modern touches. After a while this became something completely else which wasn't suited at all for a reggaeband. That's when I decided to give it a go on my own and drop the songs on Soundcloud.
I released my free debut album Blueberry Hill with Dusted Wax Kingdom in the summer of 2012. From there it went very very fast. : The title of your first album was Blueberry Hill, a mythical title of the black music: a tribute to your influences? Did you listen to a lot of jazz and blues when you were a kid ?

Yes, I've always been a fan of old jazz and big bands in particular.
Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, Count Basie, Sidney Bechet, Benny Goodman and many more. I always was fascinated by old movie soundtracks like Bernard Hermann's Vertigo or the overture of Jungle Book.

As I get older, I appreciate Jazz more and more. The possibilities and its future with artists like Chilly Gonzales, Mammal Hands, Get The Blessing, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and many more... : How do you compose your tracks (in your debut and as time goes by) ?

Working with samples feels a bit like making a collage. It's really difficult to start a song from scratch so using a sample to build your track, makes it a lot easier.
But it can be really difficult to find the fine line between a good track and "kitch".
In my opinion something very important since you're working with old samples that have a whole history behind them and have to be "respected" in a way. 
I wanted to make music that people could dance to but also music that could be played in your living room or in your car. After experimenting for a long time I started to make a kind of mixture between Abstract Hip Hop and Electroswing music. I try to produce music that has modern beats but still has that delicate/vintage touch that you can hear in the originals. I try to look for a nostalgic feeling, a nostalgia for a time that never existed. : A favorite sample among those already used in your music ?

I always loved the sample from Danny Kaye that I used in The Little White Duck. It made the rather dark track a bit crazy and funny. Which can be a really cool combination. : How did you put together your live project ? How would you like to change it ? Is there a tour in the future ?

For the first albums (Blueberry Hill, Time For A Boogie and Nightwalker I&II) I worked alone but when playing live I wanted something more. I started playing together with Cedric Van Overstraeten, Aiko Devriendt and Martijn Van Den broeck where we started to combine the samples with live instruments. This actually opened up a new way to approach Boogie Belgique. It became more "layered" and interesting.
As we're playing more and more together, the chemistry works better and better.
Since a big part of our liveshows is based on improvisation this is a really important issue.
Still, the full live band is an experiment. And we hope to keep evolving and becoming better.

On the latest album Volta we wrote the music with the 4 of us without changing our "core sound". I'm really proud about the outcome of working together and I'm really curious about what the future will bring for Boogie Belgique.

I can't say too much about a tour but I can say we're definitely going to play more and more in France, which has become a big part of our fanbase. : The best and the worst live memory ?

A few years back most of our gear was stolen from our van a couple hours before a big show. It was the worst live memory because of the stress of the moment and the feeling of being robbed. But in a really short time we managed to get enough stuff together to make the show and keep a positive mindset. Looking back at that day, we're actually proud to have recovered from that and still being able to go on stage and perform. Now there's not much that can touch us. So the best and the worst in one single day ! : Boogie Belgique is often classified in the electro swing category, but isn't it a little reductive since your music sounds funk or hip hop as well ?

It's always difficult to say which style or genre Boogie Belgique is, as it's really a mix of different genres. In a broad sense you could describe the music as a blend of Abstract Hip-hop, Electronica & Jazz with a nostalgic feel for the 20's to 40's era.
When I started producing I always searched for a particular feeling in a song. A special mixture of melancholia and joy, which is difficult to describe. Sampling old music was for me the perfect way to achieve this. Combining this with influences from our own time, you get something entirely new. And that's what we hope and try to achieve with Boogie Belgique. No matter what genre you get in the end. : What are your album projects ? What new horizons do you want to explore in the future ?

As you may have heard we just released a new single named Chicago.
It's a completely free track which you can download on Bandcamp.

At the moment we're putting all our time, except for live shows, into writing for the new album. Really excited for that. Keep an eye on social media because more singles are going to be released in the near future. : Could you name a mythical album for you ? And an artist ?

Wow, that's a difficult question. I'm going to name a few that influenced Boogie Belgique because it's too hard to pinpoint one in particular.
We've always been a big fan of the early work of Groove Armada like Vertigo.
But also DJ Shadow with Endtroducing, Portishead with Dummy and The Cinematic Orchestra with Man With A Movie Camera. : Could you recommend us a favorite artist ?

Lately I've been listening a lot to Son Lux, which I like a lot.
The mix between rock, hip-hop and electronica really pushes the boundary on genres. Go check it out if you don't know it.
Also check out Andy Shauf, a personal favourite of mine at the moment. : Where do you see yourself in 10 years ?

That's a really difficult question since I don't try to plan too much. Since everything went so fast for Boogie Belgique. It still is hard to grasp the reality of it. To play on shows next to Bonobo or the Thievery Corporation. Certainly when you started producing alone on your laptop on the way to school.
My biggest hope is that we can become an underground classic. A band who set themselves on the map and influenced the next generation.

Propos recueillis par : Lacar.
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