It’s an equally exciting and challenging time for artists as live events return. How did you prepare yourself for performing live again after such a long time?
[Azo]: I am happy to feel all that positive energy from the crowd again. During covid, I always kept on making music. Although I missed playing live, it also gave me the chance to take time to experiment in the studio. It helped me improve my production skills and launch new projects, such as a live show for La Gaité Lyrique in Paris. At the end of this year, I will have a new live show ready, which I am very much looking forward to.
Your music navigates through so many different avenues of dance music, touching acid, rave, techno, hardcore, psychedelic electronic and more. Has that happened organically, or did you intentionally thread these specific influences together?
[Azo]: The music I like also happens to make other people happy. That is the most important thing for me: to share my love and passion for music. I started playing in the underground scenes of Brussels. It was here that I discovered the sound I play today. The rave culture can be felt throughout my mixes and productions. I aim to share a sense of hope and freedom with my music, along with the philosophy of the first raves. Here, people from different places joined together to party, creating a big community.
Kiosk Radio has become such a playground for the DJ community, and all in such a stunning setting... we’re hoping for an invite soon! It must be rewarding to see a family build around your music there?
[Fais Le Beau]: Thanks to Kiosk, we now have a place to hang out, have a drink with friends and meet new artists. Music is our common talking point. It’s always inspiring, and provides a boost for your creativity. Kiosk has definitely united the Brussels scene, thanks to the lovely team behind the scenes. I feel both very humbled and happy to have my monthly residency show with Gay Haze there.
Next up for you both is your B2B set together at Horst Arts & Music Festival on the ‘Troppo Friso!’ stage. Talk us through the process of curating that set together.
[Azo]: I'm super excited to play B2B with Fais le Beau at Horst, which for me is one of the best electronic music festivals. I love Diego's party vibe, and we share a lot of common musical influences. We have already played together a couple of times, so I’m looking forward to share the decks with him again.
To prepare for this back to back we first shared some tracks we like, created a playlist together out of it and even did a few rehearsals. There will be a lot of 90’s raves party tracks, as my favorite dj’s Eris Drew and Octo Octa are closing the stage. I really can’t wait for this event.
Horst is such a unique setting for DJs, considering the collision of visual art, light and music. What is it that makes Horst such a special place to play, and how would you describe the festival to someone that's never been?
[Fais Le Beau]: The answer lies almost entirely in the question. An enormous amount of attention is paid to the scenography, the sound and the art installations, which together make it such a special place to play and party. Horst is a festival with a very progressive and diverse line-up, a beautiful location and a very educated audience. The past two years have been full of magical moments, moments of collective joy, the joy of being together. These are the precious moments that I am always looking for.
You’ve both dedicated yourself to creating music that connects with the queer community, particularly in Brussels through Queer Future Club and Gay Haze. Do you notice a different appreciation for your music in LGBTQ+ spaces?
[Fais Le Beau]: Being surrounded by dancers who are feeling comfortable with their bodies, expressing freedom and transferring that feeling to the crowd is something that gives me a special kind of energy. It brings me the confidence to let go and play what I really feel like, without any fear of judgment.
To answer the question more specifically, I don’t think there is necessarily a difference of appreciation of the music in non LGBTQI+ spaces, in the end it’s very personal whether you like the music or not.
The Brussels nightlife scene has evolved significantly in the last few years. What have been the most noticeable changes for you?
[Fais Le Beau]: Brussels has always been a great city for clubbing and exploring electronic music. In my opinion, the biggest change nowadays is that people feel the need to organise safer and more inclusive parties. Although the situation is far from perfect, I feel that younger collectives are bringing in a breath of fresh air to the scene. It’s great to finally see some change in that area, so I’m hopeful for the future.
Your new single ‘Rain on Venus’ just dropped earlier this month, and we can’t wait to see you drop this one at parties this year! What’s the story behind this title?
[Azo]: This was one of the first songs I produced, more than ten years ago. In the very beginning, I dropped a demo called Acid Test to my friends with a funny piano solo in the break. It became a tradition for them to listen to this song at sunrise. It’s a tradition we still cherish: listening to melancholic Detroit techno when the sun comes up during or after a rave. Because my friends have enjoyed the sound so much, I decided to give this track a good mix in Green House Studio, remove the piano solo and find a space title. Later on I sent it to "La Mamie's" and they decided to release it.
A big characteristic of your music is the colourful use of drum programming; there’s always an unexpected pattern thrown in for the ravers! Do you think there’s a place for live drums in a future Azo live set, or is there more freedom to roam in production?
[Azo]: Well, I'm such a big fan of drum machines and computer programming that I'm not sure I'm ready to introduce live drums into my life. I just invested in a vintage Roland 808 drum machine, which I hope to use for a long time.
The vintage drum machines I use, such as the 808, 707, 727, are just a little bit imperfect because of their age, which brings the track to life. I enjoy the fact that the drum machines play to the rhythm and speed that I have carefully selected.
I’m obsessed with programming, and like to operate the computer and machines by myself during my solo live performances. I like to develop programs so the machines can play a full track without me touching them. Having that said, maybe someday when I have retired I will introduce a live jazz band on a Brazilian beach, who knows :)
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Azo & Fais Le Beau play the ‘Troppo Friso!’ stage at Horst Arts & Music Festival on Saturday 30 April 2022. You can find tickets for the festival here.