The Belgian brothers who keep breaking new ground

by Gazette Reporter
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It’s hard to estimate the influence of the brothers Dewaele, the Belgian duo collectively known to music lovers as both Soulwax and 2ManyDJs, on the landscape of modern music.
Their unparalleled ability to create, merge and remix tracks from the last five decades has led them to being hailed as the premier mixmasters when bands are looking for credible reworkings of their material, while they have maintained their place at the vanguard of innovation in music and the way we experience music.
They were among the first to use the smartphone app revolution to deliver Radio Soulwax, a 24-hour remix experience, and more recently created the Despacio sound system with former LCD Soundsystem main man James Murphy, which delivers vinyl only DJ-ing via custom-built audio stacks that change the audience’s experience depending on the different environment that it is installed in and the listeners place in that environment.
GazetteMusic caught up with David and Stephen recently as they prepared to take their 2ManyDJs show out on the festival circuit over the summer, with a headline appearance at this year’s Forbidden Fruit in Dublin one of the many highlights.

How did your musical journey begin?
We were surrounded by music growing up because of our father, so somewhere between nature and nurture we became fully immersed from a very young age.
What was your first big break?
Well, our first release as Soulwax was the second Handsome Blues EP in 1995. Although it didn’t exactly set the world on fire, it did set us on a path we have been on ever since. Did we actually have a “big break”? I think we’re still waiting…

The live, festival and club set experiences are very different – do you prefer one or the other? What’s your approach to putting together sets for each environment?
Every situation is different which is why it’s also very important to react to the situation right in front of you rather than have a preconceived notion of what a crowd wants. If you’re in the moment, you can see it and feel it, you don’t need to anticipate it. The audience will always inform you, you just have to respond.

How did the Despacio project come about?
It was originally conceived as an idea to do an old school sound system in Ibiza but evolved into something way beyond our expectations.
It has grown into a behemoth of a creation which seems to have a life of its own as it’s very reactive to the environment it is in. We are starting to worry that it might very soon become self-aware and start to control itself… and then you can interview it instead.

The Despacio project is super innovative, as was the RSWX app project – how important is it to you to be at the forefront of new ideas in presenting music to your fans and music-lovers alike?
We are always looking for something new and interesting to do. We just feel if you don’t innovate you stagnate. What’s the point of re-treading territory you have already been in? We want to explore and keep things stimulating for ourselves and for our audience.

It’s been a long time since the last album – can we expect any new Soulwax music soon?
We are trying to beat Axl Rose’s record for the longest gestation period for an album which was about 11 years…so as soon as that milestone is passed we will be releasing “Belgian Democracy”!
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