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Reconnecting With Murdock

It’s been a turbulent few years for Belgian artist/ Rampage promoter Murdock. From the most challenging lows to the most unforgettable highs, he’s experienced the most extreme situations the lockdowns could impose on anyone in this industry.

If anything, though, it’s made him stronger and even more appreciative of what he has in life. His recent releases such as Come Together (with Pat Fulgoni), Make It and Trouble reflect his current mood and energy levels. And if they’re not enough evidence of Murdock’s current vibe, then videos of him getting involved in mosh pits and dancing on stage with his daughters definitely will be. Which is where our conversation with him begins…

Lush footage of you bringing your wife and daughters on stage at Rampage Open Air!  

That was very special. Very special. My initial set time was at 1am but things got moved around and my time ended up being 7pm. I figured that was a decent enough time for my daughters to join me on stage and so it happened and it was super amazing. My daughters are five and eight. The eight year old is usually a firestarter but she was quite shy on stage but my youngest just went full on! She was next to me dancing with a screw face and everything. She loved it. It was very hot up there with the fireworks and everything so afterwards we came off stage and I was cooling down, she said, ‘Daddy are we already done dancing?’

Awww. It’s interesting with kids. To them at home you’re plain old dad but at that moment they saw how the world sees you.

Yeah! It’s amazing. I love their very honest and uncompromised reactions. Like, ‘Daddy you were dancing a lot!’ I don’t really dance like a maniac around the house like I do behind the decks so it’s not a side of me they’ve seen before. It’s awesome. That’s something I’ll never forget and hopefully they’ll never forget it too. Although it’s funny how quickly things become normal for them. At first it’s like, ‘Wow!’ But then after five minutes it’s like, ‘Yeah we’re on a stage in front of thousands of people, whatever.’

Haha! So true! I read a really interesting quote from you in an article about Rampage where you said your father really worried about you pursuing a creative career and would have tried to stop it had he known… Very different times now!

Absolutely. My dad’s generation, to them anything artistic felt like such a gamble so I do understand why he felt that way. But we’re in a different time now and I would do anything I can to open the doors for my daughters and their generation to make the most of this.

Especially after the time’s we’ve been through. Rampage was the first show that had to reschedule. That was very difficult wasn’t it?

It was a very heavy hit. We had bad luck of being actually in the physical build-up the event. The Sports Palais is an empty box. There’s nothing there, not one speaker, not one light. Everything in there is down to us and we were pretty much done with the build. That was a big financial thing – the teams doing the builds, the equipment we’d hired. All of that needed paying no matter what. We were right on the edge of the world shutting down. Many of our colleagues and competitors were fortunate enough to have their events a few months away. It’s still a drag but it was unique for us and were lucky that our fans and followers stuck by us and kept waiting it out with us. We were all aching to get back to it after four or five reschedules. It was harder and harder every time. But when we finally got back to it, it was so emotional. I’ll never forget that weekend.

Real sense of appreciation!

Literally. I make a point of being around people the whole time, I want to experience the event like anyone would. That’s the only way to improve an event – to see it on the ground from a raver point of view. And everyone was saying ‘I can’t believe we’re really here’. I’m getting goosebumps just saying this. It was very special.

And you’ve got some special music to back it up. Come Together says it all really.

It felt like the right time to put it out. I’d had it for a while but it didn’t feel right to release it while we went from one lockdown to another. Pat Fulgoni, too… That voice, that guy, that vibe. I’m not a big Pearl Jam fan but I’ve always loved Eddie Vedder’s voice, that soulful bluesiness. Pat has that totally nailed. Of course, like most people, I knew him first for Turn Up The Music with Camo & Krooked. That’s one of my favourite tracks in drum & bass full stop. I’ve wanted to do something with him since then so I’m glad it came together.

Ha!

Pun intended!

Now, more recently, both Make It and Trouble

Well actually Trouble was meant to come out in November last year when I did an all-night DJ gig in Antwerp.

Oh yeah! How did that go?

Brother! That event was crazy. We were on the verge of a new lockdown. Two weeks running up to that event it was like, ‘Is this going to happen or not?’ Every two days we were waiting for the government to make an announcement. It was like, ‘Pleeeease’ do it after the event!’ They did eventually lock us down again… Two days after the event.

Phew.

Lucky, right? The gig was great. It was a bit like the old shows I’d do right back in the day when you’d play three or four hours without question. You don’t see that much now. I have to say I enjoy things now, too. I love having an hour where you can just smash it out and play 60-70 tunes in 60 minutes. I love that. But you get to play different music when you’re playing for that length of time. People are there to see you so they’re happy to go on that journey with you. So I was really looking forward to it and it was a very intense build-up of not knowing. We were actually meant to drop Trouble the day before the event but with all the uncertainty it just didn’t feel right. We postponed the release. Then when the world opened up in February and I was booking DJs for Rampage open air we needed a track for the visuals and it became an unofficial anthem for the event. So that’s why it came out when it did.

Then followed up by Make It. There’s some mad footage of a mosh pit for that one!

Yeah that was great fun. I’ve got a version with a really long build up and thought, ‘Lets play with it a bit’ So I joined the MC then jumped in the pit as well. Then I suddenly thought, ‘What am I doing?’ I had to run back and cue in the next tune. There was still work to be done!

I trust a DJ who goes in the pit. Or a promoter who’s in the crowd. Breaks down barriers, shows you’re doing it for the right reasons.

That’s the thing. I love it. My love for D&B is… Well, everything. I love all of it. I love the deep stuff, I love liquid, jazzy stuff, dancefloor stuff, techy stuff, jump up, neuro. There’s value in all of it. That’s what makes drum & bass so strong, it can carry any sound and style. I’m forever in love with it and welcome every style.

Yeah you gave gladde paling a big set. He tore it up!

Absolutely! I salute him! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with music that makes people laugh. Everyone is in on the same joke. He’s really interesting and plays around with elements and zooms in on them, like extending a fake drop for example. He’s stepping over boundaries and pushing things and I love that. The kids love it too, there’s no headsiness about it, it’s just whatever goes. We’re in Belgium so we get the joke more than other people outside of our territory. The Dutch have a great sense of humour, it’s so absurd so yeah… Salute!

Salute! How about other new names? The playing field has changed since covid

It has! That’s what stuck me the most at Rampage Open Air – it was an emotional week for all of us but what really stuck with me was that it was a full circle moment. People are talking about a resurgence of D&B right now and it does feel like that’s true. And from my point of view, we had a moment here around 2010/2012 with Netsky blowing up. He and a lot of guys were playing around with the dancefloor D&B vibe – slightly melancholy, emotional, bits of electrohouse and house in the mix. It really opened up the genre and in my opinion a lot of kids really caught on to that sound and got introduced to music through those artists. D&B was everywhere back then; every party, especially non D&B parties, the highlight of the night would always be D&B and the kids picked up on that.

Fast forward to now and look at acts like Used and Andromatik who are blowing up right now – you asked them what their motivation was and it’s always Netsky. They’ve made the music their own and now is the time for them to really flourish and bring it all together. That’s what you see at Rampage Open Air – that’s why I had them close off the main stage. Everyone who hasn’t been able to rave for two years, those guys who haven’t been able to play for two years – to give them that spot was important. And they really delivered.

Love that! Next?

Another Rampage is coming up in October. As is tradition, I do a Rampage anthem – I’ve been teasing it where I can. It’s with Rare Akuma,  he’s a Belgian rapper and a crazy guy, absolutely super talented and a gentle soul. We did a track and we’ve connected. It’s called Renegade, it’s very heavy metal inspired. It’s a special one, I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes down!

Murdock – Trouble is out now on Rampage Recordings

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