Guest of Honor: Ivan Smagghe wants to kill undefined things

Guest of Honor: Ivan Smagghe wants to kill undefined things

Apr 17, 2014 |  by  |  Music
About the author
Born and raised in Amsterdam, lives to dance and dances to live on electronic music, has a small vinyl addiction, appreciates a little sarcasm now and then, thinks musicals are annoying and loves those moments where you lose track of time completely.

Ivan Smagghe is pretty cool. Just look at him. He looks so intriguing and mysterious. After reading his Facebook description I didn’t get the impression that he likes (lazy) journalists, but I took the risk. I like his music. What I like about it is that he plays obscure music but at the same time his sets are danceable. On the 3rd of May he’ll play at Horizon in Doka.

What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up today?
“Coffee, and where is the kitten.”

Some call you France’s most wanted radio host. Forgive me if the answer is obvious but I’m curious; how is making radio different than performing in a club in your experience?
“They are kind of polar opposites or very complementary. I hate doing a club set on the radio. I don’t see the point… Radio, in my mind, is the place where you can go on tangents, talk about records without any fear of losing your audience. You may lose them, but you won’t see an empty dance floor. I have never made “commercial’ radio, always some pretty underground things where the condition was ‘freedom’. Freedom of speech, but mainly of musical choice.”

You are very present on the web. Your blog A few things from Ivan Smagghe was pretty big. Why did you decide to move it to other platforms such as
“I am just compiling all the blogs. Most of them under Lesdisquesdelamort. It just makes sense to do it with the new label. And I like the idea of a record label site being more than just promo and releases. There will be edits, rants, ‘art’, anything we want really.”

On there you say that “there is no point in defining what we do not want to kill. Death is silent we are not.” Are there things you want to kill?
“Believe me, yes.”

You also say that it’s about music you love, music you hate, as long as it does not fit. Ever. And that randomness is your attitude. Your style has been described as electrohouse, minimal electro, electroclash and frozen Balearic gay biker house even. How do you feel about these classifications? Do you prefer to just call it random?
“Those are all rubbish apart from ‘frozen Balearic biker gay’ which was my definition. It’s rubbish too, but it’s a joke. If I define my own style, that’s me limiting myself. That’s a journalists job. I just play records I like. If I make it simple, there’s two types of music: good and bad. The rest are trends and I’ve seen too many appear, peak, faint, dissolve, come back, etcetera. I actually saw an article recently about “the good old days of electroclash.””

What’s your opinion about Amsterdam and its electronic scene?
“I tend not to reason in terms of cities. I don’t know what ‘the Berlin scene’ means, nor ‘the London scene’. There are, like in music, good parties and bad parties, better clubs and not so good clubs. Trouw is a very very good one. I’ve had fun in every city, and I’ve had bad times in most of them. If I have to say something about the Amsterdam electronic scene, it would be one word: DIMITRI. Which was one of the few DJs that truly fascinated me in the ’90s.”

Do you listen to non-electronic music in your free time?
“I actually don’t listen to electronic music for pleasure at home. Or really little. You mean ‘club music’, right?”

“I was listening to music way before house music was invented, my dad was a big record buyer. I am interested in anything but opera really. But not as much as others I know. There is not a constant flow of music at home. I don’t like ‘background’ music. I’ll have the radio for that.”

I observed that you’re interested in cinema and images as well. Give me an example of a film that you’re fascinated by at the moment.
“Too many to mention but Arrebato, the film by Ivan Zulueta, has taken a lot of our time at Les Disques de la Mort.”

Let’s talk about Horizon. Are you excited? What are your expectations?
“I never expect anything, good or bad, from a night before I get there. It keeps the edge and the excitement alive. Obviously, a lot of my friends will be there so it could be either very messy or very ‘familial’. And playing with Tim Paris as IAFL is quite fun (we also do a nice little comedy act on request).”

I’ll definitely request that in Doka. Thanks, Ivan!

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