by adrian for inthemix.
Original article :: here.
2007 has been a big year for Raoul Belmans and Dimitri Dewever, otherwise known as the Swirl People. Continuing to proudly fly the flag of true underground house music, they released their album ‘Swirl It Up’ earlier in the year to a fanfare of critical acclaim. Those in the know know that the Swirl People are doing it right.
The album was released on Raoul’s own label Aroma, which is revered across the globe as one of the house scene’s most important imprints. Having recently established a new sub-label, A Second Smell, Raoul has his eyes on several emerging Australian house talents, like Ricardo Rae, Anyo and Simon Vincenzi. He’s heading back down under for a DJ tour this month, so ITM tracked him down for a chat.
You played a number of festivals last year when you were here, this time around though is all club dates – what can we look forward to?
I believe it was the year before last actually? This year I’m doing only clubs since this music has to be represented in these places too, that’s where it all started!
Do you think we may get to see a Swirl People live set with Dimitri sometime in the future? How will Swirl People transfer from the studio to the stage?
This summer we did a few live shows with Swirl People in Belgium and Holland, with a full 5-piece band. It was a great experience and we are certainly going to do this again for the next festival season in Europe. I would love to do this in Australia too at some point, so let’s hope we can do this next year.
Congratulations on your third album, released this year, ‘Swirl It Up’. 15 years ago did you have any idea that you would be in such an established and important position in the house scene?
Thank you very much! Of course this couldn’t be expected 15 years ago, but I knew then that I was destined to do this, it just felt natural. I just continued doing it, and the result is now we’re known worldwide with Swirl People, the label Aroma, and also myself as DJ.
How has your approach to production and DJing changed compared to that of your younger self?
Nowadays we have much more gear in the studio and we work way faster because we know the gear better too. It’s much more fun to have a faster result, and this means we have time to move our boundaries and try out new ideas on tracks.
Recently you signed Melbourne resident Ricardo Rae for your label, Aroma. Will you be checking up on your boy whilst in Australia? Where else in the world are you looking for new talent?
Ricardo Rae will be touring in the US while I am in Oz. I’m not really looking for talent, talent comes to me. Lately I’ve picked some others from Australia, though, for the new label, A Second Smell. [People] like Anyo and Simon Vincenzi. Watch out for these cats!
Aroma and the new label A Second Smell both continue to sign up artists, how are you working to press vinyl against a worldwide shift towards digital distribution?
It’s been a struggle the last few years, that’s a fact. But, I know that we cannot give up on vinyl. There will always be people who will continue using vinyl, or at least collect it, so I feel obliged to press at least for them.
What do you see the future looking like for independent record labels such as yours?
The future doesn’t look really good, but nevertheless it’s a passion that I’ve been doing almost 10 years now, and it’s not easy to give it up. I like giving exposure to new artists, to discover them myself. As a DJ I like my label, I love to play out its music. I will continue until someone tells me that I have to stop and find a ‘real’ job.
Care to share details on any of your new “up and coming” signings?
This week we have an Aroma limited release – only 500 copies – called ‘Wotcha Gonna Do’ by Swirl People featuring TLP. It’s a hip house track and it’s going to be big on the radio here, there’s a video clip of this track too. I’m really excited about this project. Furthermore Giom is remixing a project by Natalie Williams, and the rest of the signings on Aroma will be revealed next year. On A Second Smell, next up is a release from New York duo Hustle & Flow, and after that there will be a follow up to the Super Jam EP from Vernon & DaCosta. It’s all exciting music that I’m happy to present to the world!
Record label manager, touring DJ, producer… you’re a pretty busy guy. How do you manage to fit it all in?
I have a laptop glued on my body, that’s how I manage everything!
Do you have some cool gadgets to help you manage your time – or to pass the time – whilst on tour?
3G cell phone with an 8GB memory for all my music, demos and mixes I get sent, and also my laptop and a few credit cards to go shopping.
What’s currently rotating in your iPod?
The Ben Westbeech album, some J-Boogie mixes, the Nextmen album and The Coup.
Last year you got into a bit of trouble in a Melbourne nightclub the night before your set there – are Australian security overly wound up?
The whole entire place was on ice, what do you expect? Hahaha!
Are Australian club’s cool? What do you look for in a house club?
A good house club doesn’t need to be fancy; it needs to be intimate with a good sound system, a well-equipped DJ booth, cool door people and generous bartenders.
What are Raoul’s top tips for relaxing on a long tour?
Eat well, sleep long, don’t watch too much telly, work out, shop for gadgets, sneakers and cool jackets, and keep in touch with home base!