We met Lunar Convoy on the occasion of the release of his latest EP on Circular Limited and the different events he throws in the capital. The French-born artist has become an influential actor of the Brussels techno scene and is also the co-founder of Norite, the ever growing and expanding deep-techno label.
We know you as Lunar Convoy, the project you launched in 2014 when you arrived in Brussels. You perform in the electronic music world, however have you always been interested in this music?
At first I listened to what my parents were listening, such as world music, pop, rock and reggae. I also had a hip-hop moment during Skyrock’s golden age. Then I played as a drummer in a metal band and then an indie-rock one. My first contact with electronic music was with house music, which I discovered in Paris during a night out. Then, I really got caught into Techno while being in Berlin to celebrate my 26th birthday. It was in the Arena Club, precisely. I discovered Atom TM in live, Alex.Do, Ron Albrecht and Nihad Tule… what a memory!
You co-founded and run Norite, you rown label, alongside Foreign Material. Can you tell us a little about the label’s history? When and how was it born?
We created it in 2015; the idea had grown during summer and took shape in September. At first, there were three of us managing the label – Martin, Sebastian and I. Sebastian left the label recently but appears on the first releases as Miloyko. We met each other while carpooling between Brussels and Paris. He had his gear with him, it all started there. Then I met Martin when I sold him a pair of monitoring speakers. He told me he was a graphic designer and made music as well. Then, all happened quite fast because we directly got a residency at the Epicerie Moderne (RIP).
Currently, Martin and I are still working and managing the label together. Also, he is the one making the artworks.
Norite produces a great deal of solid tracks ranging from techno to deep-techno. The label has a genuinely unique atmosphere. Did you set a guideline from the beginning?
No. At first, the idea behind launching the label was to release our own tracks. To create a platform where people can express themselves. We released two variouses that featured the three of us. Only after that we started receiving demos. Once it was on, we thought we could record other artists as long as their music is consistent with the universe we want to promote through the label.
It is from that moment that we started following a guideline to avoid being all over the place. It has become more refined over time and keeps doing so. That said, after about twenty releases under our belt, we already have a fairly clear idea of where we want to go. At the moment, the label’s sound has developed and is performing in a recognizable universe.
You are a producer as well. Is it an important part of your projects? What is your relationship with producing and making music in general?
My activity as a producer is clearly linked to Norite. It started there but I don’t necessarily create with Norite in mind. Still a few months ago, I was releasing my tracks on my own label only. It was last December only that I signed an EP on another label – Circular Limited. It had me open up to other things and get away from the initial idea, which was to release tracks exclusively on my label. The idea was interesting in itself but musically and artistically, on top of the pressure, it put certain constraints.
Basically, when you produce you don’t do it for a label but for yourself, based on the aesthetics you have in mind. Only then you propose your production to one or several labels, hoping that it corresponds to their universe and what they are looking for. Also, you often target the labels to which you send your demos. Unfortunately, people often fail to do it. At Norite we are sent tons of demos that are sometimes very far from our universe. We even wonder if the person has listened to what we are doing before sending. It is a bit sad because it wastes everybody’s time.
As a producer, what is your relationship with music production?
In my productions, I seek hypnotism and before anything I need to feel it myself. Sometimes, I spend quite a few hours working on loops or jamming on textures. I need to vibrate with it. It is hyper-cathartic. It is just one way of expressing myself; I could sing, dance or play a classic instrument. Well here, it is by turning on my gear and making loops that I can release things I have inside.
You recently released a new EP, called “Sannyāsin”. Is there a story behind this EP and the different tracks making it up?
In early 2018, I went on a trip to India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia from January to the end of April. Not only it was an incredible break from my Brussels life, but also an opportunity to do some field recording and be immersed in other cultures. India moved me, both the country and the atmosphere itself.
At the same moment, I watched a Netflix documentary on the history of Osho, an Indian guru who created a controversial cult at back then. This documentary and its esoteric universe marked me. It inspired me for the tracks’ titles – they are nods to people whose lives are recounted in the documentary.
For instance, Rajneesh was Osho’s real name, Sheela was his first secretary and Sannyasin, the EP’s title, means “the pupil” or “the apprentice”.
It resonated well with my trip to India. I also incorporated field recordings of my travels in my tracks, one of which is titled Lubna after a small girl who has this name. His father founded a kind of hostel called “Lubna Guest House”, where I stayed for 2 weeks. These were some kind of chalets in a small town called Kuta in the south of Lombok. I made fields recordings from the room; there were incredible bird sounds. You felt like you were in the jungle.
There is actually a sequence where you can hear me talking to a couple that was staying next to us. There was quite an incredible atmosphere at that time and I tried to transpose it into this track. I created all this when I came back. I was very inspired because I couldn’t make music during the trip.
For some producers, collaborating with other artists is also an important part of their work. Is it something you are interested in?
I find it great to collaborate with other artists. Martin and I collaborated quite a few times but have never released any tracks together. It is something we have in mind but we are waiting for the right time. However, I made a track with Ymir – an artist with whom we signed twice – that is out on the last Norite’s various. I love his techno. It is both effective and esoteric. I really wanted to work with him. We discussed it and finally we recorded this track in a few days while being remote to each other. We made it over the Internet. We have never met but managed to make something we like. It was my first genuine collaboration and I am really looking forward to make more of it because I liked it.
If you had the chance to collaborate with an artist you really like, with whom would it be?
If I could choose two of them it would be Dorsiburg, for his groove’s mastering, and Acronym, because he manages to put so much emotion in his music…
You organise events under the name of Norite. Do you also collaborate with other labels? Have you projects for the coming weeks?
Yes, on Friday 1st of March we launched again a concept called Obsidian. There will be several events throughout the year. We are collaborating with Initiate and will try to make line-ups with exclusively female headliners, supported by Norites and Initiate’s residents. For the first edition we invited the Polish artist Milena Glowacka, who signed on Semantica for instance (ITW of Milena Glowacka HERE).
You have just co-founded a brand new series of events called Metropolis. There was quite a mystery around the first edition and the three last edition were a real success. Can you tell more about it?
For the past months, Altinbas, Sonhan and I have been trying to launch Sunday-afternoon events. We have just found the venue, which is quite atypical and intimate. We are offering a techno universe while opening up and experimenting ambient phases, even outright experimental.
The concept’s goal is to create a community around our events not to need Facebook any longer. We did not create a Facebook page but a website instead (www.metropolisbxl.be) where people can subscribe with their email address. We send the events’ information via our mailing list. The latest Metropolis took place Sunday 14th of April.
As an artist and event organiser, how do you see the local scene and more broadly the Belgian electronic scene?
From a general point of view, the Belgian electronic scene is thriving and not only with techno but also other universes. There is a large contingent of producers and creators trying to shake things up. The same is true for some organisers, such as the C12 team that has given a new lease of life to the Brussels nightlife. The Epicerie Moderne and Recyclart’s closing down killed a little the Brussels nightlife for a few months but now it has a new momentum. I feel that the creativity of many actors of the Brussels music scene is shared with the public. Word of mouth is also starting to work well. We felt it on some of our events. I think people today are ready to open up to other events perhaps more alternative. The Fuse felt it well when he proposed this rave in a tunnel. Even though the Fuse attracts a very large audience, it proves that people want different things and this is very important for artists, collectives and labels in Brussels.
Alongside this interview, you have registered a podcast for InDepth. How did you prepare it and what was the idea you wanted to convey through it?
I usually do much working and thinking on my playlist beforehand. There is a structure, an intro and an end… In addition, my podcasts are always “vinyle only”, except this time. I mixed on “CDJ” decks in one take. This way I could open up to wider selection, which I do not necessarily have in vinyls. I wanted to offer something different from the usual – much more eclectic, open and borderless with ambient and experimental stuff less rooted in the deep-techno I mix and produce. The two-hour format is really cool for this. This mix was an opportunity for me to say that I do not want to be too categorised in one single universe.
English translation by Raphaël Rozenberg.