Belgian producer Azo is a long-time musician who excels in the art of hybridisation: from digital to analogue, techno to acid, past influences to her idea of future sounds. A resident of Brussels' C12 club, Azo has been relentlessly playing in clubs across Europe for several years. While rave culture is going through a rough patch, she releases "Sunset In Kalt", a dark and delicious single, a nostalgic tribute to her last live performance in front of a live audience.
She agreed to answer our few questions.
Can you please present your project (its history, its influences...)?
I started making music at the age of 4, I learned piano and cello at the conservatory and when I turned 18 I bought turntables and started mixing and producing at the same time. This led me to play in places like Dour Festival (be), Concrete (fr), Horst (be), Couleur Café (be), Hoer (de) Listen Festival (be), La Machine du Moulin Rouge (fr) la Gaîté lyrique (fr)...
I'm passionate about music, from acid to rave to Detroit techno. I'm also a resident at the C12 club and at Kiosk Radio in Brussels. I organise events related to electronic music, including the Queer Future Club which is a new concept in collaboration with C12. We want to represent the future of queer parties, mixing music, performance and art, while being open and inclusive to any gender, sexuality, origin and any code that exists in the LGBTQIA+ scene.
Using synthesizers and drum machines orchestrated by digital controllers, I try to appropriate the history of techno, acid and rave culture to define what electronic music can be today.
Can you tell us about your latest release Sunset on Kalt?
The track "Sunset on KALT" is about my trip to KALT, a club in Strasbourg where I played last September on their rooftop. It was one of the only occasions where I was able to make an audience dance since this period of Covid. It was important for me to dedicate a track to this trip.
"Sunset on Kalt" (Credit: Gabriel JeanJean / Samuel Koehl)
The track is a melancholic and nostalgic mix of synthesizers reminiscent of Detroit music and UK hardcore breakbeats from another era, the era of raves that are no more for the moment. This is an extract from the KALT VA 02 compilation released on the club's label. After a first techno-oriented compilation, they have released a house coloured one. It features international artists like Massimiliano Pagliara, Shaun J. Wright, Alinka, Sedef Adasi and also Kalt club residents like Stu, Roan and Schaed.
What does success mean to you?
For me, success is first and foremost having the chance to work in a field that I enjoy, but also being able to share my music with people who appreciate it while remaining true to my values and artistic guidelines.
It's being able to pass on messages such as encouraging people to take care of each other, to accept differences, it's being able to focus on musical quality and being able to live my love of music to the full.
What does it mean to you to be an independent artist and what is the role of iMusician in this adventure?
Distributing my own music was a new experience for me. I usually work with labels that take care of connecting with distributors. The compilation was released on Bandcamp as a CD and KALT offered to stream my track if I wanted to. I contacted people around me to find out which platform was the most suitable and was directed to iMusician.
I found the platform easy to use for a first experience, I was helped by the team with specific requests I had in order to optimize the release of my song. It is essential for emerging artists to have simple and affordable solutions to distribute their music. The music industry is a complex system and it is necessary to have a reliable system and a team that listens.
Azo (Credit: Antoine Grenez)
What are your upcoming projects?
I plan to release 3 vinyl records during the year on 3 different labels. The digital releases have been a good springboard for me and I now have the confidence of the labels to release my EPs physically. The tracks will still be available digitally and on streaming platforms. The first EP will be on Biologic Records in September. It's a French-Belgian label run by DC Salas and Abstraxion. It was mixed at Greenhouse Studio in Belgium and includes a great remix that we can't wait to unveil.
I'm also planning to launch my own Queer Future Club label which will be a sub-label of C12 and will primarily bring together international queer artists on a compilation.
I had already curated the last C12 compilation Social Distancing (listen below). The goal was to make a compilation that reflected my musical influences in accordance with their artistic direction. C12's desire with its first series of compilations was to promote the Belgian electronic scene during the Covid-19 period, which is full of talent but under-represented.
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