A quick chat with Belgium’s hottest DJ - DJ Murdock!By Editor
DJ Murdock is an artist who has become synonymous with electronic music. We caught up with him as he gets ready to put on his festival: Rampage.
When did you start DJing?
I started messing around with turntables and vinyl when I was 18. I was at uni and befriended some cats that were heavily into Detroit techno and house music, were a few years ahead of me and already had impressive record collections. For my first gig, I used their records actually!
Who were your main influences growing up?
It all started with hip-hop for me. At age 12 I got hooked on Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Run DMC and that led me to discover funk and reggae and later on electronic music.
When did you start mixing?
First, I had just one turntable to play the hip-hop 12”s and the funk albums I had at the time. I then got a second-hand pair of Technics. A friend of mine had an SL1200 at home and I decided to get one myself. He brought over his and we connected them both to this little mixer I had and started mixing. I spent hours on end mixing anything and everything, mixing all through the night, then grabbing two or three hours of sleep before going to class before noon.
Was Brussels a good starting point or did you feel like you had to move on?
Uni was a great place to start mixing. There were plenty of record shops bringing in loads of the fresh stuff, be it hip-hop, jungle or techno, and there were parties everywhere. It was ideal to get schooled in different music that was out there and absorb mixing styles from different DJs in different genres.
But I never had any real ambition DJing because there was hardly anyone making a living off of it. It just didn’t occur to me that that could be possible. So I didn’t feel the need to move on.
Why do you think drum and bass is having somewhat of a revival in the UK at the moment?
Drum&bass is bound to have a revival every few years. It’s an established genre and it doesn’t sound like anything else, so it will always be a very distinguishable entity in dance music, which gives it an identity few other genres can claim and makes people eager to latch on to it. It’s powerful music that will surely keep attracting young people for decades to come, because of its energy and its spirit of rebellion.
What has your favourite experience been DJing?
I cherish the early days where I played at squats to super dedicated crowds that were hungry for new music just like I was and were open to new sounds. It was the most cutting edge I have ever experienced it. But my first big room gigs were very impressive too, playing after the likes of Andy C or DJ Marky - it put me on edge and allowed me to prove myself. Playing at the first Rampage party at Sportpaleis was really magical as well. I also have fond memories about the gig I played with Netsky on Laundry Day’s main stage in front of about 40.000 people.
What music do you listen to when you want to unwind?
I have never stopped listening to hip-hop and I still do, a lot, both the classics, especially Mobb Deep, Common, The Beatnuts and Black Star, and the new stuff by guys like Travis Scott. But it’s good to step away from the beats to chill out and recently Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Beck, Ramsey Lewis, Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway have provided the soundtrack to late hours or long drives.
Electronic artists can sell out massive stadiums these days. Why do you think DJs are the new rockstars these days?
People want to go out and hear the tunes they like. If they go see the Rolling Stones, they want to hear ‘Satisfaction’; if they go out to see Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, they want to hear their hits. The bigger the hits, the bigger the crowds, right? Add the massive production of these shows and it’s not hard to explain why they fill stadiums these days.
What festival are you looking most forward to this year?
I enjoy Dour for its free-spiritedness and cutting-edge line-ups, I enjoy Pukkelpop because it’s near my hometown and I run into people I haven’t seen in ages, I like to play at Laundry Day because it’s 5 minutes away from where I live now and there are a lot of local DJs playing so it’s great hanging out backstage, and I love Tomorrowland because it’s such an over-the-top experience.
What's the craziest thing you've seen at the backstage of a festival?
I do remember celebrating my birthday at one of the first Rampage arena shows and by the end of the night even the backstage ceiling was covered in cake and whipped cream.
Talking of Rampage, how did you manage to build Europe’s biggest drum&bass and dubstep party?
Belgium has always been big on drum&bass, and it was one of the first places where dubstep really blew up, so I guess it was the perfect breeding ground for an event of this size. 6 years ago, Rampage was one of many parties we have over here: Star Warz, Stealth Bombers, Untitled, Skankerz, F*ckin Beat, Gooseberry. From the get-go, I mixed up the vibes and booked artists that went outside of the usual drum&bass boundaries. Sub Focus, Chase & Status, Netsky and more headlined the first editions and later on we welcomed the likes of KOAN Sound, Flux Pavillion and Mistajam. So combining drum&bass, dubstep and other bass music made us stand out.
Who do you reckon is going to blow us all away this festival season?
I feel Camo&Krooked should get the opportunity to play main stages so they can further explore the different vibes they have been messing with. Locally, I think T & Sugah are going to do great, especially off the back of their new “Get Mad” single. I’m also hoping that I’ll be playing a festival that Roni Size will touch down at with the new Reprazent formation! And let’s not forget Netsky, who is completing his album right now and will surely bring the fresh stuff to festivals all over the world.