The Punk Rock scene in Brussels: A journey through time

Cover of the first album of The Exploited, released in 1981

What about Punk rock in Brussels? Punk rock is an explosive arrival in the history of music. Emerging from the New York underground scene, it submerged the United States, crossed the seas, and found followers all over the world. The conquered territories were filled with its sounds, visual elements, culture and philosophy.

Belgium was not spared from the storm, and many bands were born there. In Brussels, as in many other cities, there are still venues, bars, record stores, where the heart of the movement continues to beat. In this article, Futurgrooves proposes to retrace the tumultuous journey of punk rock through time. Starting from its origins, we will see what it has left in its wake, up to its current manifestations in the capital.

What is punk rock ?

The emergence

It is the 70’s. While rock music is in full swing around the world, one club, at 315 Bowery in Manhattan, is rocking the New York music scene. Indeed, in the background of the CBGB, artists with famous names performed there on a regular basis. Patti Smith, for example, made the club her HQ and performed until late. She will soon be followed by a multitude of groups: the Ramones, the Cramps, the New York Dolls,… All of them practice a rock with particular accents. They are the pioneers of an unprecedented movement whose impact, will extend to different spheres of society and not only musically. Punk Rock was born, it has started in the dark rooms of CBGB and Max’s Kansas City and was about to undertake its long journey through the world and the times.

The CBGB, mythical club of New-York, where we saw the emergence of the first manifestations of the Punk rock.

In 1976, Malcolm McLaren, a British record producer, becomes the intermediary of this New York experience. Carries the Punk rock in the United Kingdom, and London quickly becomes the epicenter of the movement. A new effervescence, which sees the appearance of groups such as Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Damned. In a dazzling way, Punk started to conquer Europe, and spread to the borders of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Brazil.

Punk rock is first of all music

At a time when the market has taken over the music scene, rock has become a “mainstream” genre. The institutionalization of which it is the object is manifested in a striking way in the arena – these gigantic concerts – serving to declaim albums financed by the multinationals of the music. Punk intends to oppose to the grandiloquent virtuosity practiced by these groups of Mainstream rock.

Punk is simplified and thundering, with short numbers that are supported by screams and vehement songs. The number of instruments is also reduced. An electric guitar, a bass, a drum and a singer are enough to fulminate in yells of protesting texts, often with a political content, sometimes seeking to scandalize.

Punk rock is also a philosophy

If it stems from music, the Punk movement is embodied in a diversity of arts and spheres of life. It is the expression of anti-authority, of an opposition to the mainstream, of the denunciation of a commercialized, globalized and standardized society, and, more generally, of the rebellion of a youth rebelling against social injustice and the status quo. Punk thus advocates a return to authenticity, to the local scene, and is deployed via small record companies and independent distribution. The promotion of the movement wants to be free from the mass media, and is done through Fanzines, these magazines produced by passionate people for other passionate people.

Punk is also about DIY – Do It Yourself – claiming that it is not necessary to be a performer trained in the best academies to manifest one’s artistic fiber. Anyone has the capacity to become a cultural actor. It is enough to want it and to jump in the adventure with fury. Punk is an invitation to go from being an object to being a subject of history.

The slogan No Future was popular within the Punk movement. It is taken from the song God Save The Queen by the Sex Pistols

The legacy

Punk did have a considerable impact on the world. At first considered a threat, it had a socializing function that created new identities. The growing influence of the movement was accompanied by a modification of the structures of everyday life. New interpretative frameworks appeared, which were so many fertile grounds for the emergence of new values, new judgments and reasoning, and which translated into new individual and collective practices. There was a turning point in Western history: Punk rock had just redefined codes, redrawn the boundaries of morals.

Like most of the movements that preceded it, the craze around Punk culture went into decline. It was reborn under the impulse of a second wave in the 90s. The worldwide success of Nirvana, a grunge band, brought rock back to the forefront. This favoured the emergence of punk rock artists such as Green Day, Good Charlotte, the Offspring and Rancid.

It was Nirvana's album Nevermind that put rock back on the map
Green Day adopted many musical and visual elements of Punk. Here, Mike Dirnt.

These emerging bands sold more albums than any other punk rock artists of the 70s, fueling a debate within the movement. Even though the punk philosophy was all about authenticity and refusing to go mainstream, global stars were emerging, wearing all the symbols of this universe. An internal tug-of-war preoccupied many artists, oscillating between the will to make their music known to the greatest number of people, and the will to remain at a local level. Punk tended to become an integral part of the culture.

The U.K. Subs, British punk rock band from London

Despite these developments and the widespread belief that punk rock has been corrupted by the mercantile industry, the underground scene has lasted. An eloquent example is The U. K. Subs, a band from the first British upheavals, still active today. In the continuity of the seventies, Punk rock keeps its influence on the protest music and seems to be able to continue its unrestrained race as long as a desire of rebellion remains. This is how Dick Lucas summarizes it in the documentary Punk’s Not Dead:

“the fact that punk rock endures and will endure is a testament to what punk rock does for all of its fans, it buzzes them with drive, energy, anger or love […] It is this drive that creates the reincarnation of punk rock again and again.”

And Belgium?

As for the rest of Europe, the punk wave has largely flooded Belgium. Thus, as early as 1976, the movement started to gather in Antwerp, Liege, Namur and Brussels.

The mythical concert of Patti Smith in an auditorium of the ULB, constitutes a great starting point. Later on, many people started dancing to the Ramones or the Clash in Brussels clubs like the Canotier. An eclectic range of bands, from Belgian bands like Hubble Bubble, to American bands from CBGB, performed here.

Then the capital saw the emergence of its mythical club, the Rockin’Club, in the basement of Forest National. It is in this room of 200 people that amateurs and professionals express their love of the Punk rock in front of frenzied crowds eager of pogo. From this agitation emerge bands made in Belgium like Chainsaw and the Kids.

A Rockin'Club membership card

The Canal district also had a great importance in the development of alternative rock. It was a place where, since the 70’s, famous artists made their first stage. The de-industrialization of the factories and warehouses along the banks of the canal gave rise to a multitude of exceptional spaces at low prices. This attracted an underground artistic activity in need of financing.

The Brussels scene today?

Aerial view of the Willebroeck canal, a path of industrial development in the 19th century

So, it is on the banks of the Willebroek that one of the highest places of Punk Rock in Brussels is located today. The Magasin4 was created in 1994, when a punk band decided to take over a warehouse located at 4, Store street. Without external funding, the concert hall was threatened several times. It was forced to move and is now located on Avenue du Port, while its surface has tripled. Supported by the city of Brussels, it puts forward punk artists, but extends its repertoire to other genres such as psychedelic, ambient, industrial, … As you can see on its homepage, the institution has survived the pandemic, and celebrates this year its 25th anniversary.

In fact, the Belgian Punk scene continues to be active. Among the bands in vogue, we can mention Pink Room, Kookaburra, Baya Computer or Nervous Shake. If Magasin4 is the most emblematic place of the current Brussels Punk rock, you can hear it in many other places. For example, we could mention the VKVaartkapoen – where an alternative music program is still going on. As well as the Café Central, in the Halles Saint Gery, or the Cobra Jaune, in the Marolles, which each have their own stage. Or at the Brasserie de la Source, in Tour et Taxi, as well as at the Brasserie de la Mule, in the heart of Schaerbeek.

pink room

On top of that, many record shops continue to keep the movement alive, like 72 records, rue du Midi. And then, as for the classic rock’n roll, it is a style which can arouse the interest of everyone, who will come to attend one of these concerts sometimes in a festival, sometimes in a big Brussels hall.

The underground character of Punk remains however, and continues to be expressed in various places, where unknown artists make their instruments scream during punctual events. Is itinerancy the price to pay to keep its purest authenticity? Nomadism rather than institutionalization. Anonymity rather than notoriety. Maybe this is also the spirit of Punk.

Aleksander Vinter: the most prolific artist of the electronic scene

Aleksander Vinter, aka Savant, is an out of the ordinary electro artist. Born in Oslo, Norway, he has Asperger’s,  an autism spectrum disorder. Moreover, he is one of the most prolific artists you can find. Since his debut in 2009, he has released thirty-four albums, twenty EPs, two hundred and six singles, nineteen mixtapes. An endless and eclectic discography that explores the vast majority of electro genres. According to him, he has composed more than 11.000 tracks since his adolescence.

Aleksander Vinter picture

Savant, the syndrome behind the stage name

Aleksander Vinter suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. He has never hidden his disability and talks about it openly in interviews.

“My childhood was really special. I have autism and I’m really like … a cloud. To me, I’m not an artist, I’m more like a camera that floats around and spends its time observing everything and anything.

I didn’t care about people, I just wanted to have fun with my toys, make music, play synthesizer, record myself on tapes and that since I was four years old. “

He has also been diagnosed by doctors as having savant syndrome. This is a rare condition that can affect some people with autistic disorders, who develop an area of skill and excellence that contrasts with the limitations of their disability. Aleksander Vinter discovered he had the disorder as a child after spending several weeks under observation in the hospital. He underwent tests, several scans, to let the doctors study his brain. This difference materializes, in his words, in the way he perceives art. “They are like shapes that make sense to me”. 

He describes the discovery of this syndrome as a revelation. He decided to accept his difference and throw himself body and soul into what he is passionate about, music. He turned his difference into a strength and adopted the name of his syndrome as his stage name:  “Savant“. 

An artist with a multifaceted discography

Singer, guitar player, piano player and many other instruments, Aleksander Vinter is an accomplished musician. He claims to be influenced by a variety of genres, from jazz to blues as well as video game and 8-bit music. This variety of influences can be clearly felt when browsing his discography.

Each album has a strong theme that transports his music into a very specific universe. Slasher (2018) refers to the golden age of 70′ horror movies, ZION (2014) has a lot of oriental influences, Protos (2014) can be listened to as a full-fledged space opera. Cult (2013), with its grandiloquent melodies, is reminiscent of church music – with a Savant twist, and Alchemist (2012) is a little gem mixing, in its own words, classical music, circus and pirate songs. An intriguing cocktail that remains one of his most popular albums even today. The elements that make up Savant’s discography are often found throughout his discography, namely guitar riffs and 8-bit surges that are intertwined with the unique influences of each album.

Aleksander Vinter album covers of Protos (2014), Cult (2013) and Alchemist (2012)
Album covers of Protos (2014), Cult (2013) and Alchemist (2012)

Far from being anonymous, Aleksander Vinter often appears masked when he performs live. Often appearing on his album covers, in drawings, Savant is an extravagant and colorful character. He regularly wears a Guy Fawkes mask, a reference to the movie V for Vendetta.

Aleksander Vinter is a unique artist. His discography is as eclectic as it is vast. Each album is an invitation to travel, in a different universe each time. He is also an extraordinary character, extravagant, a true music lover who knew how to make a real strength out of his handicap.

Credits: Léo Marchandon

CREVETTE RECORDS : THE DISTRIBUTOR’S, RECORD SHOP’S & BRUSSELS LABEL’S FEEDBACK

Futurgrooves and The Void Project team honors its collaborators and the artists that allow the label to grow. Today, we are catching up with Pim and Jakob from Crevette Records, The Void Project’s official distributor in Belgium and elsewhere. Focusing on the Brussels record shop of excellent electronic music: Crevette Records.

Who is Crevette Records?

To begin with, Crevette Records is a fascinating duo, who decided to create a place dedicated to electronic music that did not yet exist in Brussels. In 2016, Pim hadn’t found his musical pleasure in the capital. He then decides to launch the adventure of Crevette Records, by proposing a record shop axed on electronic music. Later on, Jakob joins him to develop the distribution side of Crevette Records. In only 5 years, Crevette Records has imposed itself as an unmissable place of underground electronic music in the Belgian capital.

crevette records logo

What is Crevette Records?

Crevette Records is mainly a vinyl record shop, but not only! Crevette Records’ project has, in reality, many roles in the music sector: label, records store and distributor. A true showcase of the Brussels scenery, Crevette Records is the link between the capital’s artists and the world’s record stores. Actually, Crevette Records’ power is to create a link between professionals and the particulars, on a local scale, but also on an international scale. The record shop offers a meeting place, where the passionates can meet, share, and discover music. “We call it a record shop, but in reality the ‘shop’ part is only a small part of Crevette Records. The social function is very important”, Pim explains.

Where is Crevette Records?

If you walk through the emblematic Marolles neighborhood, it would be impossible to miss the green glass and the pink shrimp of the record shop, drawn by Lea Nahon, artist and tattoo artist. “We chose Marolles, because it is a place that I love, and then when I visited the shop, I knew it was the right one!”, Pim explains. “A good thing about the Marolles neighborhood is that everything is open on Sundays and closed on Mondays, which is very cool for DJs”, Jakob adds.

crevette picture technics mk2
crevette picture shop
crevette picture front window shop

Walking into the record store, Crevette’s team will welcome you (of course) with music, in an intimate atmosphere, intertwining nature’s green and industrial decoration. With its 4 listening stations, the shop is really well-thought to find and listen to your future favorite tracks. It’s actually a well-known craftsman known in the Brussels electronic scenery who was in charge of the shop’s layout: Clauset & Dekeyser.

Crevette Records : why? For who?

Crevette Records addresses everyone with axed electronic music propositions, but also disco, original African music, jazz, soul, and hip-hop. With over 10,000 disks, Crevette Records addresses itself to a diverse clientele with one thing in common: the love for music. “Our clientele is as diverse as our disks”, Pim explains. “Actually, our shop is axed on electronic music in the widest way, we don’t only offer dance music, we offer music that you can listen to anytime”, Jakob adds. Crevette Records started with DJs as its first customer base, but finally imposed itself as a meeting place for collectors, as well as the first starters. “We see children, seniors, DJs, tourists… we see ages from 5 to 75!”, Jakob details. “And it’s actually better than to have only a certain profile that comes into the shop”, Pim adds.

Crevette Records also supports the local and international underground scenery, by proposing disks that have just come out of pressing. Crevette Records is then more than a record shop, by proposing TO DISTRIBUTE disks, such as The Void Project , Basic Moves and the last EPs of Hoot’s label and the Warning Records’ last EP.

Crevette Records : new projects to come?

For almost a year now, Pim and Jakob have been planning the expansion of their distribution network and have decided to support almost 10 additional local labels. New things are planned for the webshop as well, but they won’t tell us anything more and make us wait for the surprise. “We have worked on a lot of things that, we hope, will be seen soon”, Pim concludes.

Crevette Records : the feedback

The Void Project and Crevette Records are initially tied by a collaboration that isn’t ready to stop anytime soon. Professionalism, trust, and common passion, The Void Project has been able to cross borders, thanks to Pim’s and Jakob’s amazing work. VP004 will soon be in the record shop’s cases, and we hope it will soon be available worldwide thanks to The Void Project’s official distributor: Crevette Records.

KOMPO : THE BRUSSELS PRODUCER AND COMPOSER’S FEEDBACK

Futurgrooves and The Void Project team puts to honneur its collaborators and the artists that allow the label to grow. Kompo, producer and composer of electronic music from Brussels welcomes us for an interview. Producer of Transylvania Express and Space Travel, with A.G for The Void Project’s third EP, here is our meet with a curious and extraordinary artist. 

Kompo: a surprising artist

Producer and composer from Brussels, Kompo suggests a disconcerting universe, and rich in musical experiences. It’s by improving himself that Kompo slowly entered the small world of Brussels’ minimal scene. Surrounded mostly by amateurs of rock and punk music, step by step this producer and composer arrived at Zodiak’s DJ booth. It’s by discovering Para One that Kompo got interested for the first time in producing electronic music. “It was the first artist that got me interested, he made me want to start producing music, I really asked myself how he did that”. Since that day, Kompo composes and produces at a frantic pace. A real geek for machines and modules, it’s with his insatiable curiosity that he explores more sonorities to produce minimal tracks, experimental and unexpected.

Kompo: the discovery of Brussels’ minimal scene

While Kompo has been producing for almost 10 years, it’s only in 2018 that we got delivered his first EP “Monfidelfido from Black Wall Records. This EP is composed of 3 minimal titles, hovering experimental music and proposes a last track with worrying sounds featuring Herton.

This project was born thanks to his first mixes in Brussels’ nightlife, especially at Zodiak, “It’s by entering this small world of the minimal electronic scene – that I actually thought was a big world – that I go to meet the team at Black Wall Records”, he explains. This Brussels label with a slight orientation for techno wanted to propose something different, and only naturally went over to Kompo for this EP 100% minimal.

Kompo: Throughout the meetings

Kompo is active in the underground projects of Brussels, worn by actors such as collectif Beatronic or the Zodiak nightclub, “I am not officially in collaboration with Zodiak, but I feel involved because it’s like a big family”, he specifies. Kompo has an amazing curiosity: he always wants to meet more people, “Even if a certain meet doesn’t turn into a collaboration, it’s always interesting to discover how other people produce music, it allows me to always learn more” he declares.

Certain meets sometimes turn out to be musical crushes, like it was with A.G , who he produced two tracks with for The Void Project and with whom he got his last project out with Dim Sum Records: Kepler 156. These two artists are complementary, starting with the way they approach music to their respective set ups. “For a few months, A.G and I had almost the same set up, the same crushes and it was funny to start with a track in my studio and to finish it in his”, he explains.

Kompo: a curious artist with inhibited productions

Kompo never waits to discover sound universes. He recently acquired a module that he already controls, despite the complexity of how these machines work together. Kompo constantly nourishes his passion for music and doesn’t hesitate to shake up the established order set up by minimal. His track Swarti featuring Gaouta under the label Fixed:Composite is an irrefutable proof, by proposing a track that intertwines minimal and arabic vocals. For the rest, we can expect a few notes of clarinet, an instrument that he’s currently learning how to play.

Kompo : the feedback

So, what should we really expect with an artist like Kompo? It’s a question which Futurgrooves’ team cannot reply to. Kompo is an explorer of the sound world, never full, hungry for new musical experiences. Only a word from our team: an artist to follow without moderation!

ELZO DURT : THE BRUSSELS ARTIST’S FEEDBACK

Futurgrooves’ team honors the collaborators and the artists that allow the label The Void Project to grow. We met an iconic artist from Brussels: Elzo Durt. The graphic designer, author of the last 3 covers of The Void Project, invites us to his workshop for an interview. Reviewing Elzo Durt’s journey and his passion for music.

Elzo Durt : the background

Brussels artist, iconic in the underground scene, Elzo Durt went from being a master in psyche art & punk. Devoted to collage, he collects illustrations issued by Art Nouveau, Art Deco, engravings from the 19th century, comic books or pop illustrations from the 60s & 80s to sublimate by assembling them, depending on his desires and the clients’ previews orders.

For Elzo, everything begins at ERG (Institute of Graphic Research), where he obtained his degree of graphic designer in 2003. He will then open his own gallery and his publishing house Plin Tub’ at Recyclart. Plin Tub’ was the logical follow-up of his work in his final student years at ERG, which intertwined visual arts, edition, communication and music. Plin Tub’ was the den of freedom and Art Brut, according to Elzo Durt. 

In almost 20 years of career, Elzo Durt produces for musicians and labels, but also for medias, for collectives or brands, such as  Carhartt, Arbor Snowboards le Recyclart, Voxer, Born Bad Records, The Oh Sees, Magnetix, La Femme, Laurent Garnier, Le Monde, La Libre, etc. He exposes his art in Europe, but they have also reached the US.

The music passionate is also a DJ and co-founder of the labels Teenage Menopause and Drink And Drive. 

Elzo Durt is a confirmed artist and therefore unmissable. It’s with more and more creativity that he transformed his art into his job: let’s go back to his work and his passions.

Elzo Durt : modernizing the past

Elzo Durt bases his work on illustrations because he doesn’t draw. In full knowledge of his sources, he works on all his documents numerically to gain precision and freedom in terms of formats which allow him, for example, to expose in large. If we look closely, we could think that Elzo Durt draws a line between the past and the present with his desire of modernizing the old, ‘The idea is to make modern images from old images. I like recollecting nice things and play on the border of that”, he explains. 

His very colorful and confusing universe mixes joyful, morbid, sometimes hardcore representations, while preserving the messages’ efficiency. His artwork today embodies hundreds of forms of surrealism, with the mash of  different ages and distinct universes. “In a way, surrealism influences me, and in another, it’s a side that I want to protect, maybe because I’m Belgian.”, he explains.

Elzo Durt : graphic designer for the love of music

It’s mainly because of his love for music that Elzo Durt started doing graphic design. That world had always appealed to him and wanted to be a part of it. As a punk and rock fan, he is open to multiple genres!

From his earliest age, he was rocked by rock music thanks to his dad. “The first CD I ever bought was London Calling by The Clash, because my father used to listen to them”, he explains. He naturally strolls along the road of rock’n’roll, with a first true musical epiphany thanks to Nirvana. “It was the first ever group that belonged with me, I was 11 and it was a huge deal to me, it still is. That was a great moment!”, he confesses. 

Since then, Elzo Durt was able to work with his favorite bands, such as Magnetix, Frustration, The Oh Sees, Jack Of Hearth. “To work for your favorite bands, it’s the Holy Grail, it’s insane! Frustration I’ve never done the album cover but I dream of it!”. In this small underground world, he explains that everything depends on the human relation and the meetings. It’s probably what he likes best, deep down.

But how can we talk about Elzo Durt and music without mentioning Born Bad Records, Teenage Menopause and Drink And Drive ?

Born Bad Records, it’s the story of a meeting, a passion for music and a friendship. He worked for a longtime with JB – Jean Baptiste Guillot – by producing numerous album covers. His psyche & punk universe perfectly corresponded to the Parisian label’s explosive identity. 

Later on, Teenage Menopause is born, his first label founded with his partner in crime: Froos. At Teenage Menopause, we can find post punk, garage, grunge, cold wave, and many other unclassifiable genres. “Teenage Menopause is a bit like the child of Born Bad that influenced us a lot and I’m very proud of it”, he confesses. Teenage Menopause is an avant-garde label, that is the result of a beautiful friendship and a lot of parties

In 2020, Elzo Durt founded Drink and Drive with his friend Valentino Sacchi, because he couldn’t find himself anymore at Teenage Menopause. “It was impossible to stop and I wanted to come back to something a little more punk, brutal. So we got started with Valentino, but it’s less professional than Teenage Menopause”, he explains. For Elzo, Drink and Drive is a way to continue being a part of a scene and to have fun without arguments. “All we want to do is make CDs, make noise!” he explains. So, what to expect from Drink and Drive? Nowadays, a compilation Lo-Fi punk of Belgian bands is in the making. 

Elzo Durt : the feedback 

Author of the 3 last The Void Project covers, Elzo Durt is an unmissable artist, precise, a good listener, who was tempted by the adventure to work with an electro label with tints of house & minimal sounds. Finally the collaboration The Void – Elzo is a mixture of professionalism, humility and trippy covers! If it sticks, why deprive yourself of it?

 

Maison Records: the record shop’s feedback from Brussels

Futurgrooves and The Void Project team promotes its collaborators and the artists that made it possible for The Void Project’s label to grow. Today, we went to check on Pierre-Antoine and Thomas, the founders of Maison Records. The two Brussels-adopted deliver to us their course and their future projects.

Who is Maison Records? 

Five months ago, Pierre-Antoine (P-A) and Thomas decided to break the boring lockdown routine by creating Maison Records, a secondhand record store centered around electronic music and every type of house. The two French men originally from Montpellier (Thomas) and Lille (P-A), are actually bartenders and festival organisers, who moved to the Belgian capital a few years ago. Due to the stopping of events, the guys of La Petite Soeur launched the adventure of Maison Records.

Where is it? 

This welcoming duo and full of humor has chosen to establish its headquarters of electronic music in a glass room, on the mezzanine of Supermarket, a shop that supports local creators. Supermarket and Maison Records, united in one place, support Belgian artists, each one in a different way, and they actually don’t only share a place. “Our projects match because Supermarket only works with Belgian or European creators. If it’s further, it would be fairtrade business”, P-A confesses. “We sign up in sustainability, in the sense that we are a second hand store, we bring collections that people haven’t had the necessity of using back to life”, Thomas insists. Maison Records is then an adventure resulting in a combo of passion and friendship. But what do we find there, who do we run into?

picture mezzannine maison records
pictrure vinyls maison records
pictrure mezzannine maison records

Maison Records: why, and for who?

On your way to Maison Records, it won’t be rare to run into people who have a passion for music, but you certainly will run into DJs! Indeed, on your way up to the mezzanine, you will be walking into the den of the maxi 45 spins, a disc format initially aimed for DJs and their mixes. We are talking about form here! Looking at the content, Maison Records is an electronic music gold mine, with a sensible preference from Thomas and P-A for house music. “We are really into garage, there’s a lot of UK sounds. Here, you will only find danceable music, that is mixable, and a synonym of party. According to us, this remains very subjective. The idea was to really do something that resembled us”, Thomas explains. To compose their collections, the two music lovers listen to the enthusiasts. “To select the disks, we base ourselves on requests, on what we’ve already sold and on our own taste”, P-A explains. 

Beyond the second hand, some local gems are also to be discovered, like the productions of Hoot label and The Void Project. The duo is inclined to suggest new sounds and calls for the support of Belgian artists. “Initially, one of our rare conditions to promote new sounds is the proposition of Belgian labels’ productions. It hasn’t been long since we moved to Brussels, so if we can promote the Belgian scenery, then you’re all invited!”, they explain.

During their opening, Maison Records would get 400 discs per week, but since then, the bins are full and the selection has become more picky with the merchandise that comes into the store. “We have become more selective, we only allow discs to come into the store if we like them and if it is salable”, P-A emphasizes.

Maison Records: projects to come?

Initially the duo wanted to get started in the creation of a label, and then in the creation of a record store, but with the sanitary measures, this project was unachievable in this particular order. Now that Maison Records has come to life, Thomas and P-A are getting ready to reach the mark of the founding of a label: Mezzanine Records. Furthermore, starting from april 2021, Maison Records is “moving out”, or more like it’s expanding with an extra space, dedicated to electronic music, always at Supermarket.

Maison Records, the feedback


Maison Records and The Void Project met due to their passion and their common desire to promote the local scene. Futurgrooves’ team is pleased to have reached out to the duo that aligns so well quality and humility in their propositions. A mezzanine comparable to a gold mine for music lovers, Maison Records is slowly becoming an unmissable record store in the Brussels electronic scene. Only one word on behalf of our team: stay tuned.

ALBUM of the month: ACTS OF REBELLION by ELA MINUS

In October 2020, Ela Minus, percussionist whose trademark is analog productions, released her album «Acts of Rebellion». This album with sensitive, dancing and rebellious sounds did not go unnoticed within the Futurgrooves team. Review of the album «Acts of Rebellion» for this first article of the series «Album of the month».

ella minus with her musical gear

Ela Minus : from percussion to analog

Ela Minus, released her first album « Acts of Rebellion » in October 2020. The young musician, composer and producer of Colombian origin is today based in Brooklyn. Gabriela Jimeno aka Ela Minus has always been rocked by music. She debuted in Colombia as a drummer in her revolting hardcore punk band: Ratón Perez. She then left her native country to study percussions at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in the United States. Once the percussion mastered, the electronic music of Boston night clubs will arouse the curiosity of Ela Minus who will begin a Master in Electronic Production and Design. These years also allowed her to fall in love with Jazz and analog synthesizers. Today, Ela Minus establishes a simple and disconcerting link between punk, jazz, pop and electro.

Ella Minus Vinyl Cover

Acts of Rebellion : rebellious and sensitive

Her latest album, “Acts of rebellion” is tinged with modern and retro sounds that reflect the reality of 2020: an invitation to brave the forbidden in times of pandemic. Between catchy beats and soaring sounds, Ela Minus makes the apology of “rebellion” by the small gestures of the daily life.
It is with «N19 5NF» that Gabriela invites us to a walk between instrumental tracks and concise texts that describe a reality that is common to us « They told us it was hard, but they were wrong » then invites us to rethink our relationship to prohibition. High, repetitive, soothing, this title is the demonstration of a state of lethargy that has nothing insurmountable.

Ela Minus then offers a share of herself with a disconcerting franchise via the title « el cielo no es de nadie ». With this title, she went back to her mother tongue, the texts carried by a catchy beat. A soft voice, troubled breaths, a sentimental texts and frank basses, Ela Minus indulges herself without detour. After the melancholy, comes the revolt with « Megapunk », like an awakening, a slap, this title brings us back to clubs, lights and endless nights.

Like a muddy and fuzzy tomorrow, « dominique  » marks a second time, that of introspection, of questioning a world that many of us no longer understand. It is by mixing her native Spanish and English that Ela Minus has found the way to transmit her anxieties, on a rhythm that is nevertheless catchy, even adventurous and joyful.

Ella Minus performing live

The introspection behind us, Gabriela then addresses the question of interpersonal relations in a perceptible, electronic, cold and finally reassuring chaos with the instrumental title « let them have internet » as well as with « Tony ». This second track arrives quickly, awakens us in an insolent and rebellious tone! Naturally, the end of the album Acts of Rebellion is punctuated by rebellious and dissident sounds, evoking a dream world, calm, soothed and soothing. It is with « Close », that Ela Minus, accompanied by Helado Negro closes her album. A last disconcerting and almost childish title that reminds us that as rebellious as we are, we all need each other.

The question of the Futurgrooves team

«Acts of Rebellion», a disorienting album that the Futurgrooves team loved. Frank, emotional, personal and inclusive, this album is certainly emblematic of a unique and universal period. «Acts of rebellion» asks a question in its wake: is it really an act of rebellion to call oneself a rebel?

Masked in electronic music

At a times where we are all living behind masks, the Futurgrooves team wanted to address the question of wearing the mask… in electronic music. The mask is at the origin of the culture of anonymity  serving the music. From the Underground Resistance collective in Detroit to Daft Punk, why do some electronic music artists prefer wearing masks?

70’s & 80’s : The birth of a culture

Let’s jump a little into the past, at a time when the exploitation of the image of rock superstars such as Queen or Kiss is at its peak. Back in the 70s and 80s: a time when the frenzy of the star-system borders on indecency, where exuberant script is king. Far away, a music with cold, jerky and repetitive rhythms is heard… it’s electronic music!

This new musical genre emerges in response to the abuse of star-system machinery: it is the birth of a new culture that puts music at the centre of attention. In opposition to the «super-scripting» of the bands of Rock’n Roll, the electronic music puts the artist at the same level as the public, the DJ’s and the dancefloor are one: it is the beginning of a new era of musical performance, whose mask will soon be a symbol.

End of the 80’s : The mask at the service of music

In a decade, electronic culture stands out because it focuses on music, not on the artist. It was the collective and label Underground Resistance (UR), founded in the late 1980s, that introduced the culture of anonymity into electronic music. The DJ’s of the collective offer incognito performances, dressed in black, faces hidden by hoods and scarves. The members of UR, originally from the ghettos of Detroit, prefer music to the artist’s ego: they perform masked and refuse to be photographed. With its innovative and challenging ideas, UR embodies and builds a culture of anonymity that will grow in

90’s: advance masked… in illegality!

Therefore, electronic music embodies values and ideals. The 90’s are the peak of this underground culture that carries protest and marginal values. It is with the birth of rave parties that the culture of mask and anonymity spreads. These parties celebrate music and dancefloor… illegally. It is therefore not surprising that many DJ’s preserved and hid their identities with hoods or masks. They did not hesitate to play hidden; nobody knew who they were, only the sound system was visible. Despite their anonymity, DJ’s were at the heart of a growing culture.

90’s: Anonymity, the key to success?

In parallel to this illegal context, masked artists make their appearance and democratize this practice to the general public. How not to evoke  Daft Punk: French duo pioneer of wearing the mask during their live performances. It is after the success of their first album Homework (1997) that Daft Punk puts on the helmet for the very first time. The two robotic and avant-garde characters maintain the mystery and create a universe that will make them famous worldwide. Result: 20 years of career, an international success, an iconic and unique universe thanks to their robotic alter-ego.

At the same moment, the mask was not the only way to put music at the centre of attention. The example of Bob Sinclar is revealing: the same alias for a multitude of DJs and producers. In 1998, the humorous alias «Bob Sinclar» brought together many anonymous DJs around the same project, erasing the identity of each to the benefit of music.

Anonymity and the wearing of the mask have seduced music lovers of all genres: from then on it is a scenographic and/or marketing asset.

Today: Why are DJ’s masked?

The appearance of masked DJs is strangely contradictory. On the one hand, DJs take hold of them to support dissident values. On the other hand, DJs are making it their trademark and are starting a new trend. However, a question arises: do these artists who are opposed in everything pursue the same goal?

There are many reasons why DJs wear masks. Bearer of mystery and imagination, the mask is for some an artistic, aesthetic or marketing choice. For others, masked performers represent the natural heritage of the underground culture of the 90s and allow them to preserve anonymity. Sometimes even, some DJ’s wear a mask during their performances to fight their shyness in front of the audience.

Despite all these reasons, which ultimately remain the choice of each artist, all these DJ’s have at least 2 important things in common: they focus on music and do their shopping in peace.

Does electronic music stimulate the brain more than other musical genres?

Who doesn’t like to listen to music? Whether in public transport, by car, at home or on the street, everything is good to change your mind. For many people, music is seen as soothing and allows to escape.

Studies have already shown that music is beneficial for the brain. It can, for example, soothe a state of stress. Music also intervenes in the secretion of dopamine, the pleasure hormone. Depending on the context, music can play in favor of neurophysiological, cardiovascular and respiratory effects. The list of the benefits of music on the human being is quite long, but what we must remember is the ability, during a musical activity, to be more resistant to brain attacks or psychological distress. But what about electronic music? Does it stimulate the brain more than in other musical genres?

Electronic music is very vast. Techno, house, deep house, psytrance, acid, etc. It contains a wealth of genre and sub-genre allowing to vary the pleasures. Fans of this music often experience well-being associated with psychomotor effects. But why is that?

Simply because there are no or few lyrics, we will focus more on the sounds produced by the music itself, like the bass for example. These musical genres have the particularity of being frequently repetitive, which causes a state of trance. This induced second state will make us release dopamine and make us eager to move.

When the music has a soft and calm connotation with few instruments, the adrenaline present in us will decrease to make room for relaxation. However, when the sound is strong, intense as with techno, our adrenaline levels will skyrocket. Therefore, this musical style often makes you want to dance, because the body is supplied with energy via positive stimuli transmitted to the brain. Although often connected to the world of night, it is not only in a nightclub or rave party that we can put our energy to good use. Some listen to electronic music to perform better at work. The heavy bass and the different sounds and tones give us pleasure and encourage us to go forward and improve productivity at work.

So there is a double issue in electronic music. It relaxes and stimulates at the same time. If this combination is possible, it is because there is an association between repetitive moments, allowing to be calm, which will be mixed with tensions and more dynamic moments where generally the sound will become stronger, more intense (called «drop»). Thus, the sound appears as a lullaby, allowing us to be transported to another world delivered from all fear. This state of well-being goes back to the first communities, at that point everyone is in symbiosis with the music. A bit like primitive societies during ancestral rites, this repetitive side of music puts us in a sort of trance.

Finally, there is the issue of  the “drugs”. It is not uncommon for seeing electronic music associated with this vice. Of course, consumption can accentuate effects, making the feeling of comfort in an extreme state. However, it can play the opposite role by disrupting the secretion of neuromediators (neurons acting on another neuron chemically). In practice, one can be confronted with psychosis or memory problems. Music is already a drug on itself, so it is quite possible to simply settle for it and get all the necessary benefits out of the music.

There is ultimately a strong psychological character reflected in electronic music. Just like meditation, electronic music has its ways of stimulating the brain via the positive waves that are influenced by the music. Like Tibetan spiritual songs, electronic music plays a protective role. Attaining a state of full consciousness is the goal, that state of absolute well-being.