As we near the end of this interview series, we sit down with Ampe. Over the past years, few have left a bigger mark on the Ghentian scene than her. After an unequivocally and dashing conquest of all that is restless and unrelenting, before us stands an impressively calm and collected artist and Butternut co-founder and organizer who truly found her own voice.
︎︎︎ Funke exclusive set
︎︎︎ Spotify Playlist
— How did you get involved in the scene?
I started studying in Ghent and I moved here as well, some 10 years ago. After going out in Overpoort - you’ve got to start somewhere, right - I discovered a more in-depth sound in Decadance and I stumbled on techno. I was intrigued, feeling it right away, and wanted to dive deeper.
I had a brief career behind the bar in Kompass, which exposed me to many different kinds of music and nights. During the occasional after party I would spin tunes using a DJ controller. People present seemed to dig it, which motivated me to actually develop the skills and find out where I could play in front of an actual audience. Didn’t take long before that ball started rolling.
A friend of mine hosted an open air event and was set on booking me. My first gig I played as “Mariette” - which is my second name, by the way. I stuffed my USB sticks with mediocre YouTube rips and had a blast - the crowd dug it too.
” For my first real gig I stuffed my USB sticks with mediocre YouTube rips and had a blast - the crowd dug it too. ”
— Can you explain the difference between “Ampe” and “Mariette”?
“Mariette” is part of the illustrious DJ duo Mariette & Norbert - “Norbert” is Kjell’s (aka Corvus Ex’s) second name - so there’s that. I’d describe the music played by Mariette as fun and a bit more lighthearted, whereas Ampe is of course still fun, but more on the serious side of things.
— How was your first all nighter? Playing 8 hours is not an easy task
Honestly, I loved it. Finally I was able to dig through my entire library. In general I don’t want to limit myself to a single genre or mood, and this was the perfect opportunity to showcase that diversity and these different layers. Two hour sets are a bit restrictive in terms of conveying a message and - above all - a feeling. During these eight hours I was able to put forward a truly emotive trip. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. And being able to dance, together with the remaining audience, to my last tune was the cherry on top of the cake.
Of course it was challenging as well, changing the way I look at my music collection and forcing me to make deviating decisions. It’s not something to do every month, let’s say.
— As a Funke resident, you started a series called “Amped”. What are you hoping to achieve with the series? And how does it compare to Butternut?
For starters: Butternut was founded by Lien De Keyser and me and thus it’s the result of two people's perspectives colliding. Butternut is mainly affiliated with techno, whereas with Amped I do it all by myself. Considering the fact that I’m into an abundance of genres and styles it’s nice to be able to make singlehanded decisions. The result might be a night that’s a bit more broad and experimental - featuring artists like CCL that span a more junglish spectrum. Juggling with tempos and toying around with emotions: that would be Amped for me.
In terms of what I want to achieve: I’m dreaming of having a different feeling for all of my parties - featuring distinct deco for instance. Next to that, I have a loooong list of artists that I’d like to invite.
Two hour sets are a bit restrictive in terms of conveying a message and - above all - a feeling.
“ Juggling with tempos and toying around with emotions: that would be Amped for me.
— Let’s dive a bit deeper into Butternut: how do you look back on the first three years of your baby?
It became way more than what we anticipated. We tried a lot - but really, a lot of different things. By doing that, I think we sometimes overplayed our hand a bit but we learned a lot from it, eventually returning to the core reason why we started all of this: featuring an underground sound that was rarely heard in Ghent. This kind of techno was not really represented in our town - maybe because it’s a risk from a commercial point of view. And of course, maybe even more important than our stylistic choices: we’re doing this for a tight-knit, small and passionate community and during our events we want truly to enable them to be themselves - fully and unaltered.
We took opportunities that brought Butternut to venues and festivals where we had to compromise - especially on the community aspect - but we learned important lessons from these experiences. Also: hosting a stage at Tomorrowland for instance, was simply a lot of fun and it made us connect with an audience that we didn’t have before. I’m quite convinced that we won some souls in the Rave Cave. It was quite the ride up until now, but I think it’s safe to say that it feels more stable than ever.
— Butternut, Pulp Agency and its affiliated artists with their own concepts and parties - it seems all connected. Do you feel like you started a wave in Ghent?
Maybe? I don’t know - we started something non-commercial which resonated with a lot of people. One thing is crystal clear: it all started with a like minded group of friends who all had (and still have) very pure intentions. In that sense you’re right: we’re riding a wave that we ourselves created.
— How do you look upon the Ghentian nightlife scene nowadays?
A lot is going on, some of it can be linked to each other - some of it is not. Main differences - at least for me - is the approach to social media. A lot (still) revolves around social media and here I am, wondering if that’s the way to go. Let’s take for instance the making and distributing of videos during sets. In my opinion they divert the attention away from the music itself, and that’s a pity.
Alas, social media (and even videos) are key in promoting a party. People want to get a glimpse of what they can expect. Open question: how can we convey the vibe of a party without all these literal references?
— Does Funke influence the scene in Ghent?
Over the past years, Funke became the breeding ground for a lot of these different genres. For me, Funke feels like coming home. Everyone is welcome - everyone shares the same mindset
— Do you have a specific ritual going into the night?
I stress, still. But give me a beer and half an hour and things will eventually work out. Despite the stress, in general everything always works out.
— When you’re not busy, what do you like to do?
Finding inner peace in nature or just by being plain lazy. Away from impulses, away from the busyness of my mind. Organizing, being social during the weekend, working during the day, … It demands some peace and quiet to balance it all out. Avoiding social media, indulging in a bath - these things help.
— Looking back on 2023 - what stood out? What made you happy?
All the opportunities I was given - thanks to Pulp and Butternut. I was able to play at beautiful venues and festivals, surrounded by many supporting friends. That simply feels good.
I recently moved, together with my girlfriend. Settling in the nicest, cutest and homiest of homes makes me very happy as well. Bonus: it’s not far from Funke
— Are you looking forward to any specific moments?
Personally, I feel like I (finally) found my own voice in terms of music. I’m looking forward to exploring that even further. Of course I’m also looking forward to our next Butternut event in Wintercircus - quite the honor to be the first concept to host a party in this new venue. Another hosting in December still has to be announced, but let’s say it will be somewhere around the city of Vilvoorde.
Interview with Ampe + words by Hans Empereur