Robin Verslype is an active member of the Belgian nightlife community. Combining a job as communications manager and assistant artistic director at Arty Farty Brussels (Nuits Sonores, Reset), an important role in DIY-collective Grid and as a DJ.
︎︎︎ Funke exclusive set
︎︎︎ Spotify Playlist
— Wearing all these different hats - how do they add up?
I enjoy being involved in different aspects of nightlife and culture in general. After having done internships at Kiosk Radio and Listen Festival, I knew that I’m capable of doing this type of work. Pursuing a job in the scene that fascinates me the most wouldn’t be unrealistic. And I’m glad it actually worked out.
I’m not chasing a full time DJ career. I wouldn’t dare to put all my eggs in that basket. DJing remains a side project but I love it so much - I would never abandon it. Also, the combination of DJing and my current job makes a lot of sense to me, both being on the artistic spectrum.
“ When I stumbled upon Objekt and Skee Mask at Dour 2019, something clicked. ”
— Do you remember the moment you fell in love with electronic music?
Dour, summer of 2019. Me and my friends eagerly checked out the hip hop acts on the program but also stumbled upon a stage where Objekt was playing between 2am and 4am. The next night, similarly, we caught Skee Mask. Both sets blew me away and were quite different from what I listened to, up until then.
A couple of weeks later I went to Horst Arts & Music Festival for the first time. The same feeling hit me when I saw upsammy and Deena Abdelwahed’s sets. That moment I realized that one can pretty much play anything during a DJ-set, as long as people can dance to it.
I was already spinning hip hop and trap tunes as a DJ, but shifted my attention to different genres soon after these encounters.
“ I would definitely benefit from having an actual ritual, going into the night.
— What sparked your interest in music initially?
My father is a walking music encyclopedia. He was able to name almost every song on Studio Brussels - that impressed me as a young kid. Some teachers at school definitely left a mark too. Still fresh in high school, we were giving two hour lectures on pop music. “Knowing a lot about a lot of different music must be cool” I thought. So it started.
I come from Ypres, which is known for punk, hardcore and other heavier genres of guitar music. Going to the local youth center, we were exposed to other kinds of alternative music. Me and my friends definitely were influenced by a lot of different things and our musical path led to very distinct destinations. At first, we were punks. Later on, we got into hip hop.
In 2019, and in that same youth center, we started Grid. Grid is an experiment to combine electronic music with interesting visuals, as some of our group were into video art and the likes.
The composition of the core group might be slightly different now, but Grid is still run by a group of five friends. I’m co-curating the music program and I coordinate the whole event: following up on to-do’s, schedules and logistics.
“ I will never abandon DJing, even if I don’t have any bookings. ”
— How are you approaching your events here at Funke?
First and foremost, I want to book artists that inspire me. During my first event I invited Stenny who - for me at least - has never released a lesser track. All of his productions are 100% my cup of tea. I discovered k means in OHM and her set completely blew me away. A couple of weeks later, I invited her to Funke.
That first line-up leaned a little bit more towards a darker & rolling sound. Next time I might want to put together a more percussive and eclectic night. Still plenty of names on my wish list, like Marwa Belhaj Youssef.
Meanwhile I’m counting my blessings to be able to invite these kinds of artists to Ghent. I try to stay off the trodden paths by inviting people that otherwise wouldn’t be booked so often.
I played Funke a couple of times myself, sharing the line-up with artists I admire. Makes you appreciate the way things go here even more. Being able to start off your evening with a delicious meal prepared by chef Nicolas, is a delight. When you’re playing early and people are only starting to show up, it’s quite enjoyable to just listen to your selection coming through the impeccable sound system.
— How do you prepare for a night?
During the day, I choose four possible opening tracks. Depending on how the dancefloor feels like, one of these will be played.
Apart from that, there’s no ritual going into the night. At times I find myself behind the decks, not fully realizing I’ve started my set. When I played Horst however, all I wanted to do before the gig was to retreat backstage and stare blankly at a wall in complete silence. So I would definitely benefit from having an actual ritual. Suggestions are more than welcome! (laughs)
— Where is your happy place?
Wherever there’s railway tracks or water around. I live near ‘Moeraske’ in Schaarbeek: a small nature reserve featuring a series of pools and puddles right next to railway tracks. It’s the best of both worlds - amazing.
— What made you happy the past year?
My three sisters are pregnant at the same time. What are the odds? One of my sisters asked me to be the godfather of her kid. That moment was really quite unique. The past couple of years might have been gloomy worldwide, but it’s moments like these that make you realize that it’s not all dark.
Words by Hans Empereur