‘What a DJ does is this: he knows music. The DJ knows music better than you, better than your friends, better than everyone on the dance floor or in the record shop’ (…) ‘A truly great DJ, just for a moment, can make a whole room fall in love’. (from Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton)
Much – too much, some might say - has been said and written about the rise and the role of the disc jockey, but in their epic, insightful and well researched history, Brewster and Broughton tell it like it is: it’s the music, stupid!
But HOW exactly does a DJ make a whole room fall in love? Alas, there’s no simple way to explain, even for a dedicated stalwart of Belgian night life such as Thang.
Born and bred in Ghent, a fertile breeding ground for world renowned spinners such as 2manydjs and The Glimmers, Thang offers up some key understandings: first up, you need a certain level of empathy.
A DJ must ‘feel’ a room, as they say. They are right.
Second, balance is key. Give and take. Teasing and crowd pleasing. No balance, no dynamic, no party.
Third, versatility. Very important, this one. A good DJ always has a plan B, plan C and a plan D. Be prepared, but also be prepared to boldly go where you haven’t been before. Every weekend offers a different story.
‘To be a good DJ you must develop the hunger’, Brewster and Broughton write in their book. Thang agrees. The hunger to smell new flavors well beforehand, the hunger that brings water to your mouth when discovering a lost collection of dusty vinyl, the hunger to dig into the past and revive old jams. Teasing and crowd pleasing are not a question of ‘or’, but of ‘when’. Obscure disco dubs next to high energy r&b next to slow motion techno next to Blondie next to a vintage rave classic, next to the next, rising on the horizon club banger? Anything goes, it’s all about the balance. And versatility. And… You get the picture.
Over the years, since his starting days around 1998-1999, Thang has built up quite the versatile résumé. From his residency days in the once notorious now defunct Culture Club, to festival slots such as Pukkelpop, Laundry Day, and WeCanDance, to releasing and remixing tunes under the Villa moniker (together with his production buddy François Demeyer – their unofficial rework, six years ago, of Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’ racked up a staggering 4.3 million plays on Soundcloud so far), curating his personal ‘Relax’ playlist on 22tracks.com, and, more recently, playing petite but quality clubs such as Antwerp’s Kelly Palmer, being part of the team behind the new Ghent hot spot Kompass (and it’s techno concept ‘1988’), and landing a new residency with ABSTRKT, a collective organising art and music events in Belgium. Together with veteran promotor and onetime mentor Oliver Tjon, teaming up as Darkroom DJ’s, Thang also hosts ‘Luid, Vuil, Traag’ (‘Loud, Dirty, Slow’), a club night of slow techno, rave and a musical mish mash the duo have christened ‘now beat’.
After almost 20 years tuning in to dance floors everywhere, the hunger in Thang is far from satisfied.
And so, the beat goes on.
Written by Jonas Boel
Thang (Official)’s tracks