x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

2manydjs to appear at Nasimi Beach's Sandance Festival

Ahead of their appearence at Nasimi Beach's Sandance Festival, 2manydjs discuss their reputation as the kings of the mash-up.

Brothers Stephen and David Dewaele of 2manydjs say their lack of sibling rivalry sustains their musical and personal relationships.
Brothers Stephen and David Dewaele of 2manydjs say their lack of sibling rivalry sustains their musical and personal relationships.

What happens if you mix the Velvet Underground with Sly and The Family Stone, Dolly Parton and some 10CC?

In the wrong hands, this would be the recipe for an unlistenable train-wreck, but if the Belgium mash-up kings 2manydjs are behind the decks, it becomes the soundtrack to an unforgettable party experience.

Like vintage pop artists, Stephen and David Dewaele pillage music's most recognisable names and blend them with disparate musical elements to create something special.

A scour through their one official release and several bootlegs reveals unlikely musical bedfellows: The Beatles and Kraftwerk, Stooges and Salt 'N' Peppa, P Diddy and Bob Seger.

On their way to Dubai to headline Friday's Sandance Festival, I caught up with Stephen Dewaele, who says cooking up a successful mash-up is not as easy as turning on your iPod shuffle.

"It's more difficult than people think it is," he says. "A lot of people forget that it has to be something musically, as well as being enjoyable."

The brothers began 2manydjs in 2000 as a club-friendly spin-off from their traditional rock band Soulwax. Through their Belgian radio show Hang the DJ, the duo turned heads with hour-long pairings of seemingly incompatible genres such as rockabilly with disco and hip-hop with new-wave.

Their now classic track in which The Stooges I Want To Be Your Dog meets Salt 'N'Peppa's Push It, became the lead track of their 2001 bootleg release As Heard on Radio Soulwax Part One.

Their big break, however, arrived the following year with an official release, entitled As Heard on Radio Soulwax Part Two, featuring samples that had been cleared for use by the original artists.

Since then, the brothers have been cited for inspiring an army of club and bedroom DJs to produce their own musical mash-ups.

While flattered with the recognition, Dewaele says 2manydjs were not recreating the wheel.

Instead, the duo's shape-shifting musical styles can be traced to various genres.

"There have been numerous theories about the aesthetics that we use,'' Dewaele says. "Some say it's a hip-hop aesthetic but it's also a kraut-rock and rock aesthetic.

"The minute people started making music and using certain parts or elements of popular culture and put it in a new context, that's when something new is happening." But the 2manydjs approach of blending the old with the new initially ruffled feathers in a cliquey European dance scene priding itself in playing only new material.

"I don't particularly care about that," Dewaele scoffs.

"There are some DJs who say 'I play nothing but the latest tracks that nobody has' but these tracks are rubbish so we won't play it. For me it's better to play two really good tracks and mix them badly than somebody to play new tracks that are bad and mix them well."

Dewaele says this quest to enlighten dance audiences is something 2manydjs shares with their peers Justice and LCD Sound System.

"One of the points for making our album was to play a track by a band called The Residents and then have people hear them and say 'wow, that is crazy music'," he says.

"Sometimes we play an old Human League track and after the show four people come up to me and say it was amazing we played that track. But then I will have 20 kids that come up and also ask me what that new track was. I then have to explain to them that it's 25 years old."

With so much time spent travelling and working together, Dewaele admits that he and David do go through stages where they need time apart.

But it's the brothers' lack of sibling rivalry that sustains their musical and personal relationships.

"We might get on each other's nerves sometimes but at the end, when the music comes out, it is all about the result," he says.

"We always play good cop/bad cop and we flip positions to challenge each other, to push our limits and get better and better."

Dewaele explains it is this sibling intuition that would define their set in Dubai.

He describes 2manydjs festival performances as "grander" than club gigs.

"There are songs that we know we are going to play, but Dave and I never sit down and talk about what we are going to do," he says.

"Normally when we play festivals everything is in a bigger scale and we are less subtle about things.... We basically just want people to go crazy."

Sandance Festival featuring 2manydjs, Roger Sanchez and The Brand New Heavies is on Friday from 2pm-2am. Nasimi Beach, Atlantis Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. For tickets visit www.itp.net

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