From background tunes in Nintendo games over IDM YouTube digs to sets that are marked by tribal, hypnotic and introspective grooves: it all flowed very naturally in Corvus Ex’s musical journey. Being part of a pivotal generation that is both in tune with the super young and somewhat less young, we couldn’t wait to hear about his perception of communities and the scene nowadays in Ghent.
︎︎︎ Funke exclusive set
︎︎︎ Spotify Playlist
— Where and how was your musical journey sparked? How did it evolve?
My first active memory of music are the background tunes featured in my Ninentendo video games. Up to this day they linger, somewhere in the back of my head. I also recall the era when digging for music on YouTube was fun and good - nowadays the suggestions are shit. It took a while before I truly developed an interest in music. YouTube, and the discovery of IDM through it - with the likes of LFO and Autechre - played a big role in it. I like it when soundwaves stimulate and challenge me and IDM features sounds that do exactly so. Dub techno was a second revelation.
However, my first parties were in the realm of goa. This genre also stars a varied sound and it definitely grew on me. These first experiences were about more than listening to music though: it dawned on me that music has an effect on an individual body and on a group of people.
During my teacher education, I stopped going out altogether. This hiatus came to an end when I moved to Ghent. At first I lived together with my cousin, who moved abroad shortly after. Going out was also a means to get to know new people and Decadence was where it first started. Now the seed was planted.
To be honest: the ambition to DJ was never really there.
I was more interested in producing and creating intriguing sounds.
— How did your ambition as a DJ develop?
To be honest: the ambition was never really there. I was interested in producing and creating sounds. Experiments with a MIDI controller and Ableton never really led to finished tracks but it was compelling nonetheless.
Next to that, I grew interested in learning how to spin and out of curiosity (and a fair share of boredom from being alone in Ghent) I enrolled in DJ School. I didn’t learn that much, since I mastered the basics with a simple DJ controller I had at home, but it was a good pastime.
During that time I also handed out flyers for Kompass. Thanks to that I put myself out there until (after A LOT of flyers) the time was right to subtly ask for a chance to play in front of a crowd. I got that chance eventually. It was the second time I played a club. The first time, funny enough, was the day before at Decadence. So my first two proper gigs took place on the same weekend.
I was always able to stay close to the (strict) vision and limits I set out for Corvus Ex: tribal, hypnotic, introspective.
— Looking back, do you perceive a musical evolution?
The vision stays the same, I’d say. And I was always able to stay close to the (strict) vision I have for Corvus Ex. Tribal, hypnotic, introspective - these are some of the pinpoints I set for myself. Even though the music I play has changed and the skills developed over the years, these core conditions were never tempered with.
I’ll probably never listen to techno during my free time. I visit less techno parties as a dancer. And also as an artist I don’t want to be exclusively linked to one genre. This sometimes clashes with the strict vision I have on Corvus Ex as a project.
An off-grid weekend: that's what I get the
most pleasure from.
— I guess that’s where your alter ego “Norbert” comes into play?
Yes, absolutely. I created it out of a certain necessity to be able to share something else, without these self-imposed standards. Recently I played my first solo gig as Norbert, whereas in the past it was always a duo venture, together with Mariette (aka Nina Ampe). “Norbert” and “Mariette” both are our second names - has a nice ring to it, right?
Norbert enables me to color outside of the lines. I need that from time to time. That being said, I don’t think I will conceive many more alter egos. With Norbert, you never really know what you’re going to get.
— How do you perceive the scene in Ghent nowadays?
I feel like we have a pretty rich and diverse tapestry of scenes and communities. Especially when you look at the rise of the youngsters since covid. Sure it’s different compared to before, but the heart of it stays the same. I’m not looking down on these evolutions, on the contrary.
I was born in 1992 and I feel like I’m both in tune with the younger generation as with the people who are a bit more experienced. I feel like I contributed in an indirect way to what the scene is today. First and foremost by supporting. Secondly by teaching some youngsters how to spin tunes: for instance Stimular residents WØRTAAL. Actually Nina (Ampe) was my first student - subconsciously I started my own DJ School now that I come to think of it.
— Do you feel like Funke plays a big role in Ghent?
100% yes. That’s one of the reasons why I was so glad to accept this residency. For me, Funke is the only place in Ghent that’s in line with my own vision of nightlife. Not only in terms of music, but mainly in terms of community building. It gives loads of opportunities to youngsters, it creates space for other art forms. Community is key, especially when you want to introduce new genres to an audience. They need to be connected to a place (or group of people). That creates trust. Trust creates openness to new things.
Lineups are important, don’t get me wrong, but a consistent vibe is key. My all time favorite parties are organized by Ojoo and despite the fact I rarely know their headliners, I will always get a ticket.
— Residency-wise, what are your expectations or wishes here in Funke?
I’d really like to organize an ambient event because I’m quite fond of it myself and because it doesn’t happen that often in Ghent. Can be on a Friday evening for instance. At first we’d fill the pit with pillows, people can bring their books or blankets. Some moments of relaxation and introspection before the party hits off.
— What’s your happy place?
I live for a chill Sunday as well: spent in bed while watching movies and ordering takeout food.
Every once in a while a small group of friends take a little trip in the Ardens. To truly disconnect. Something to look forward to - rest is not always easy to find. I experienced panic attacks when I was younger. An off-grid weekend: that's what I get the most pleasure from.
— Looking back on 2023 - what stood out? What made you happy?
I joined Pulp Agency, definitely a highlight. Founder Sylvie is one of my best friends and she knows me inside out and knows about (and actively defends) my core values and communicates. Being part of this (super) young roster I must say I’m impressed with the youth’s passion and their drive.
In June I went to Waking Life for the first time and I have to say it was the most beautiful experience I had so far, in my life - a very intense feeling of happiness. I’m sure I’ll be riding that feel-good-wave for a long time to come.
— Are you looking forward to any specific moments?
Not really. I try to keep things in limbo - not planning too much or expecting anything. I try to focus on what’s here and now. As long as it’s fun and fulfilling, I keep on doing what I’m doing.
Interview with Corvus Ex + words by Hans Empereur