Credits: De Wereld van Sanne
2022 was quite the year for Belgian D&B quatro What-U-On-About (Teezer, Speedwagon, Fuzz and Tesla), with bookings at Tomorrowland and Rampage Open Air. 2023 is shaping up to become even bigger. The four guys can be found on the line-up of Rampage Open Air once again, this time as stage hosts. Other than that they’re playing Kompass, one of Belgium’s finest venues, and Liquicity Antwerp.
But DJing is not the only thing these guys do. They also host events (with artists like Lenzman, Workforce and Skeptical as past headliners), and are throwing a rave for their ten year anniversary later this year. Lastly, they are documenting the Belgian scene with their podcast ‘What U On A Cast?!’. About time we sat down with them and had a chat.
Hi guys, how is it going? There’s a lot happening for you this year!
Teezer: Yeah it’s amazing. During COVID we started with our podcast and after everything was over, we moved to another club. This year it seems like everything is coming together.
Fuzz: Don’t forget that last year was pretty awesome too. Less clubby, but still, we were able to play Rampage Open Air and Tomorrowland!
Speedwagon: At the end of 2022, we wrote down some goals for 2023 and we have to say, there’s quite a few that we can tick off. Liquicity, Kompass, and having Murdock as a guest on our podcast. It’s like Teezer said, it’s all coming together it seems like. It seems like we are getting noticed, which is a nice boost.
Fuzz: And timing is really important. People have to notice you at the right time, I think that’s what happened here.
Speedwagon, you’re talking about a list of goals you guys wrote down at the end of 2022. What’s on that list?
Speedwagon:I would love to have played at Printworks, but that’s sadly never going to happen.
Fuzz: We were able to tick quite a few goals off already, but the ultimate goal is having Netsky as a guest on our podcast. DJing wise, Dour is still on the bucket list. And the Boiler Room at Pukkelpop.
Speedwagon: I’ve played the Boiler Room before, in 2014, but it would be cool to play with the entire What-U-On-About Crew.
Teezer: Our dreams will keep on getting bigger.
Tesla: Absolutely, because let’s be honest, a stage at Rampage Open Air, having the possibility to book artists you like, it’s something we didn’t dare to dream about a few years ago.
Speedwagon: I think what helped with that, was the fact that we played Rampage Open Air in 2022, and that it went really well. We had such a blast! The fact that we host events ourselves that tend to sell out is likely a plus as well
Fuzz: Drum & bass, especially in Belgium, remains small in numbers of promoters. And you have to take into account that combined, we have been going on for about 70 years.
Teezer: After a while you just know everyone in the scene, which makes it even easier to network and to get booked.
Let’s talk about those events you host twice a year, also called What-U-On-About. The last edition you invited Workforce, how did the event go?
Teezer: It was a big one.
Speedwagon: It was a successful edition. After our more commercial event with Used and Hazard back in December and Aphrodite back in October, we wanted to go back to the style of drum & bass we started the events with: the more rolling, liquid, deeper D&B. We wanted to promote the underground drum & bass sound again.
Teezer: Workforce might not be the most famous name, but it’s certainly one of the better ones, and he just really fits our brand.
Fuzz: A couple of years ago we printed a bunch of stickers with the tag “quality drum & bass”. This sounds pretentious, but the sound we booked was the one we liked the most and wanted to highlight again. We simply booked quality names we liked and we ourselves always had a good night..
Tesla: The scene in Leuven looked a lot different ten years ago. Back then we felt the need to push that deeper and rolling sound more in our hometown. The best way to do that was by starting small and gradually booking bigger and bigger headliners. We always kept the same menu: one headliner, us and the best the Belgian D&B scene has to offer.
Fuzz: So like Speedwagon said, after our more commercial events with Used, Hazard, and Aphrodite, we wanted to return to those roots. It’s not that Workforce is a small name, not at all. The heads really know him: he’s a fantastic producer, has an amazing album out, and was once a part of SpectraSoul.
I want to ask you something about Leuven now. For those who don’t know, it’s a city in Belgium which is known for its many students. Is that the type of people who come to your events?
Teezer: In the past we had a lot of casual ravers.
Fuzz: Nowadays though, we want to organise raves where it’s enough for people to buy a ticket when they see the name What-U-On-About.
Teezer: I think that after ten years in Leuven, we made that name for ourselves, people know what to expect, and the result is that you have a lot of people coming back each time.
Fuzz: Also, after moving to another venue (Rumba & Co) post-covid, we started doing presales. This helps us massively to figure out who’s coming, what to expect, etc.
Teezer: After moving to Rumba, it’s all become more professional.
Tesla: When building a name for yourself, it also helps to be consistent. We’ve been doing this for about ten years now, and the past seven we’ve been organising our raves around the same date. Our flyers have always had the same look, the ravers know what to expect from us. At the rave with Aphrodite, we even had people older than 45 coming in.
Teezer: That’s the thing, we book legends rather than newer artists. We don’t attract 18-year olds.
Fuzz: We’re aware that this is a risk we take, in a city full of students. We’re constantly looking for that line between what we really like, and what’s new and hip. Don’t get me wrong, we’re listening to new music every week, but the people we book are mostly ‘half legends’ who have been in the scene for 10-15 years.
Now, at the beginning of our chat you said something about a podcast you guys are doing. How did that start?
Speedwagon: It was an idea that started during covid. There were no bookings coming in anymore, we couldn’t organise events, so what could we do? A podcast seemed possible, and it was a way for us to start documenting the Belgian scene in an original way.
Teezer: We notice the podcast keeps growing each episode. Every episode we have more listeners. Personally, I think the reason why people like it is because it’s something else than listening to a mix. It gives DJs and producers the chance to tell their personal story rather than playing roughly 60 tunes and returning home.
Fuzz: Big ups to the inventor of our podcast, Tesla.
Speedwagon: We are recording our podcasts in Dutch, and I don’t think that’s going to change, or at least not soon. We like the organicness of it all, and I think one of the reasons why it sounds so organic is because we can record it in our first language.
Tesla: Absolutely, I remember that when we first started out, not one of us knew what we were doing, we were just having fun.
Teezer: We had to learn everything, from cutting and pasting to mixing the podcast. We get better at it every time, and we really like the process.
Speedwagon: It’s not meant to become a professional activity, that’s the beautiful thing about it. We just like to talk about D&B with our guests. It’s like being in a bar and having a chat.
Fuzz: And what follows are genuine talks. I know quite a few people who listen to our podcast and don’t know a single thing about our D&B scene. We’ve got a good thing going, and we’re genuinely interested in everything our guests have to say. I think that makes it nice to listen to.
What more is coming for What-U-On-About?
Tesla: We have a scoop for you! We are hosting our 10 years what-u-on-about?! Party at Het Depot in Leuven. A 1.000 cap concert venue and a truly iconic venue in Leuven. We are thrilled!
Teezer: Whatever’s coming, we are enjoying the ride. It’s fantastic to be able to do what we are currently doing. We’re going to drum & bass raves, we are organising them, we know a lot of people in the scene. It’s a great time we’re living in.
Fuzz: This has been building up for 15 years now. At the peak of D&B in Belgium around 2010-2012 we played about everywhere. And to do it all again ten years later, we’re really grateful. We all have our jobs, our own lives, but our love for the music stays and that’s why we keep doing it.
Speedwagon: We’ve got something really unique going with What-U-On-About. We’re celebrating our ten year anniversary this year, and that’s something to be really proud of as a group of four.