Kolombo, one half of Belgian production/DJ tandem Mugwump is set to tour Australia next month. It will be the producer's first tour of the continent, so, fittingly, he'll be stopping off for a few dates along the east coast, appearing under both his Kolombo and Mugwump guises.
Kolombo has been kicking around the Belgian electronic scene since the mid '90s, and producing a disco-house-electro hybrid since the early 2000s. His partnership with fellow Belgian Geoffroy Dewandeler as Mugwump has proven to be his most high-profile production venture, though, with tracks being signed to the likes of Kompakt, Cocoon and Turbo Recordings.
To get some idea about what to expect from his forthcoming Australian tour, we caught up with the producer, where he told us about his time as a hip-hop DJ, what happens in the Mugwump studio, and their evolving live show.
You're heading out to Australia soon for the first time. What have you been told about our country's dance music scene?
Yes, it’s my first time and I’m so excited to come. I don’t know the Australian scene really well, but Marc Romboy, Spirit Catcher and Sharam Jey told me it’s one of the best places to do exactly what you want, and that's what I exactly intend to do. I've heard that the vibe and the audience are amazing, so I'll test that out!
Interestingly, you started promoting parties in 2001, but started producing in 2004. What happened in those three years that made you seriously get into production?
I started professionally to produce music around 2004/2005, but I started DJing in the early '90s, mainly with hip-hop, as I was the DJ for a local breakdance band; hence, I did a lot of b-boy battles, etc, and even produced an underground scratch vinyl. Yes. From 1999 until 2003, I learned the tricks of my trade while doing different commercial projects – mainly cheesy filtered house tracks without putting my name on it, but during this time, I was also the DJ for two theater pieces. We toured and performed with that for around 6 years. It was an amazing experience for a DJ. It also allowed me to stay in the studio while I wasn't performing with the theater play, so I was able to refine my studio skills while doing a lot of different tracks; tech-house, electro, minimal, house, everything!
What kind of parties were you promoting?
I started the Music Please parties in my hometown with my best friend Djerom, (with whom I'm producing the Louou Players project). We wanted to promote ourselves, our music and our Loulou records label in the area and beyond. He's doing this alone these days but I still DJ with him a lot there, and in the country. These parties have become frankly huge now. Always a pleasure!
Mugwump is really ticking along well. Tell us about your relationship with Geoffroy – how do you work together on tracks?
I know Geoffroy from way back in the days of his Food club residency. It was the best house club in Belgium from the end '90s till the early/mid '00s – I was a faithful clubber there. He was playing there with the likes of Kenny Hawkes, Derrick Carter, Luke Solomon, Stacey Pullen, Sneak, Mark Farina and many, many more. He's now on a quite different musical trip, something halfway between disco and techno. As far as studio sessions go, he comes with loads of track ideas and samples and has a really solid dance music background, so our sessions together work super well, and really give me some fresh air as we're doing something totally different from my solo productions. It's pretty wild when I think of it. He's also looking after the signing of all our stuff – this is going really, really well now, as we've released loads on labels like Kompakt (mainly), Gigolo, Cocoon, Endless Flight, Permanent Vacation, Eskimo and soon R&S, as well as remixes.
You and Geoffroy also, sometimes, perform live, with keyboards, samplers, etc. How often does that happen? How much preparation is involved?
We actually completely redo new versions from all our tracks (out or not) in the studio and perform them on the Pioneer CDJs with FX, new keyboards and a few samples. Our set list always changes according to the crowd size and energy. We can start really slow, too, and going up, up, up. It has a really immediate and fresh feel. We've done that a couple of times in Brussels, and it was a blast. The Spirit Catcher guys told us it was great, and it would work big time in the places they usually perform at, so it gave us some confidence. When I'm back from Oz, we have this really huge and packed party in a church in Brussels (Plastic) – with Matias Aguayo and Michael Mayer after us – where we're going to do it again. We're also doing it again in Nitsa in Barcelona later for Kompakt again. Depending on the set times, we also DJ a bit before and after. It's also a good combination of our styles.
What is your current DJ setup?
Now I now only play CDs, but I had a lot of difficulty separating myself from vinyl. I receive so many digital promos from labels, DJs, producers and friend. It's also better for my back. I always throw lot of FX in, too, and mix the tracks non-stop. My hip-hop background, I guess!