We're kicking off a new partnership with Budweiser: a 12-part global event series that seeks to tell the story of music scenes around the globe.
Our first stop is Brussels. As far as historic European scenes go, Belgium's place in the continent's cultural narrative is frequently unsung. Too often tucked behind the chintz and glamour of Italo-disco and French House – not to mention the totalitarian shadow of German techno – it's easy to overlook Belgium's powerful contribution to global dance culture.
The nation's relationship with electronic music emerged properly in the rave-wave of the late 70s, from which Belgium's underground steadily moved towards a more confrontational form of electronic music aimed at a seriously dedicated rave community. Come '83, the burning engine-room for this development was Renaat Vandepapeliere's R&S Records – the label responsible for cementing Belgium's standing as a global epicentre for techno, new beat and EBM. Crucially though, R&S was – as Renaat has put himself in the past – an 'international gathering'. It was the result of meeting some of America's most vital techno innovators in Derrick May & Joey Beltram and then staging a global assembly of pioneers in Belgium to export back to the world.
For our first show with Budweiser in Brussels, we're bringing together an international gathering of our own. At the top of this showcase is the figure responsible for launching Renaat's techno envoy to world domination all those decades ago. Let's make no bones, Derrick May is one a cadre of Detroit producers who can lay claim to irreversibly innovating (if not defining) techno – in Belgium, in Europe, across the world. His centrality to the rise of R&S in Belgium shouldn't be underestimated. Records like 'Innovator' were part of a wave that not only put R&S on the music map; it crafted the Belgian underground a new cultural identity.
Three decades after his meteoric rise, we've got Derrick to hand-pick his own showcase – a mirror to his favourite European techno, from Belgian and beyond. From Belgium, he's brought in two of the country's most celebrated techno stalwarts, Fabrice Lig and Trish Van Eynde, to play together in a rare back-to-back. From neighbouring Luxembourg, we've got the pleasure of Francesco Tristano, a composer representative of where techno has developed in Europe in the past decade. On the frontline of the world of neo-classical – a world that treads experimentally between techno and more traditional forms of classical instrumentation – he's a figure who finds himself receiving as much praise from both techno purists as those devoutly supportive of the classical tradition. On the flip, Deep'a & Biri join us from Israel, Derrick's unit in Tel Aviv steadily tearing their way to European dominance. Last (but by no means least) is Karim Sahraoui who will join Derrick for his headline set – a technical wizard and one of the most impactful additions to May's Transmat imprint.
Between them all, they tell a new story of Belgium and Europe's techno landscape — all guided by the man who proliferated the sound all those years ago.