“Calling” by DJ Licious is one of the best tracks of 2016. The gorgeous instrumental house production sounds like it could have been done in the same session as Massive Attack’s “Unfinished Sympathy.” A big hit all summer in Ibiza, “Calling” is set for a rerelease with a new to line from DJ Fresh in 2017. Now that is something to look forward to. I spoke to the Belgian DJ, founder of the long running Shomi party, at the Amsterdam Dance Event and can honestly say that it was one of the best interviews of 2016 as well.
RS: Is licious, luscious and vicious or what does it stand for?
DJ Licious: No, it’s kind of a saying from my youth, when I was 16 years old I used to love the track from Destiny’s Child - “Bootylicious.” I was starting out as a DJ and I thought that DJ Licious was kind of a nice play on words. Looking back, it might have been a bit juvenile but it stayed and everyone that is English speaking really likes it so I decided to keep it.
RS: You say English speaking, what is your first language?
DJ Licious: Dutch
RS: And you are from Belgium?
DJ Licious: Yes
RS: I didn’t think that Belgian people spoke Dutch.
DJ Licious: Everybody speaks Flemish or French so that is the 3rd language that I speak.
RS: Where did you grow up?
DJ Licious: In Antwerp
RS: But Dutch is your first language?
DJ Licious: Yes, that is the Flemish speaking part.
RS: And Flemish is Dutch?
DJ Licious: Yes, it is the same language but with a little bit different dialect.
RS: What does SABAM mean?
DJ Licious: It’s the author organization in Belgium that manages all of the neighboring rights and rights to music. When I get played on the radio they make sure that I get paid for that.
RS: Speaking about getting played and the radio, “Calling” is just blowing up massively right now. I know what I heard when I first heard the track, but what was in your mind when you first made that track?
DJ Licious: It’s funny, with most of my tracks I work on them for weeks but this one was made in 2 hours. I don’t know if you know the track “Walking With Elephants” by Ten Walls but my first reaction was that maybe it was too much like that track but my friend said that it wasn’t because I used a different melody. I came to Ibiza in May for the IMS Conference and I let Pete Tong hear the track and he was immediately blown away and it started from there. It’s strange because I had no expectations for this track whatsoever.
RS: When I first heard it I thought of Massive Attack if they redid “Unfinished Sympathy.” that is a high compliment coming from me and that is the kind of quality level you have there.
DJ Licious: Wow, thank you! Massive Attack is one of my favorite bands ever, thank you very much for that compliment, that made my day.
RS: The next important question is when is the topline coming?
DJ Licious: It’s kind of a long story but I’ll keep it short, we had been looking for a topline from the moment we released the instrumental because a lot of radio stations don’t like instrumentals. So we had been looking for a really long time and last week I got an email from DJ Fresh saying that he wanted to write a topline and he did and it is absolutely amazing. I heard about 40 toplines and nothing really stuck, I was really picky but Fresh just blew it out of the water and now we have a topline.
RS: And so if DJ Fresh is involved will there be a drum and bass mix also?
DJ Licious: He didn’t suggest it yet but yeah, why not? He is probably the only one that could make a proper drum and bass mix of that.
RS: Speaking about sick remixes, great job on the Kungs mix.
DJ Licious: Thank you, that was also a job that I had to finish in one day because the deadline was really close but I am happy with the result and Kungs is happy as well. He told me that he is going to add it as a bonus track to his full album release so that is a compliment as well.
RS: So he has an album, what would a Licious album sound like?
DJ Licious: No idea, I have always been a single kind of guy with EPs, maybe 2-3 tracks at the most. I have so many ideas but I don’t know if I am ever going to make a full album because it is a really difficult job. My concept of a full album is a story from the first track to the last one but my tracks are mostly dance floor orientated so it’s kind of difficult. There is a guy Zhu who did “Faded” that made a full album and he is the first one who really got both dance orientated and a whole story in the album. If I can ever make something like that then there will be a full album.
RS: If I were to go hear you DJ live, which I am sure you are amazing, how much of your set is your own music and how much of it is other people’s music?
DJ Licious: I started out as a DJ full time 10 years ago and only started producing 4 years ago so in the beginning it was only music from other people and now I think you can say 50/50. I make a lot of bootlegs now and remixes, even unofficial ones of tracks that I really like just to give it the DJ Licious touch. I am working on making my sets 100% my own but with elements of other people because you are still a DJ and people still want to have recognition and hear other people’s music.
RS: Let’s dive into the Belgian thing, how is Shomi going?
DJ Licious: It’s a very strange story, when I started DJing 10 years ago I wasn’t getting any air time or being invited to play in clubs. I read a little book that I found in London that said “how to become a DJ” and the first page said “if you don’t have an audience, just create your own events” and so I did. 10 years later we are always sold out, we have some festival hostings with Shomi and 3 months ago we started our label. It’s going great.
RS: Congratulations. Maybe it’s because I am a little older but when I think of Belgium and dance music I think of the euro pop like Ian Van Dahl, 2 Unlimited, Technotronic and Milk Inc.
DJ Licious: They are all friends of mine.
RS: Did you grow up listening to that stuff?
DJ Licious: Of course, I think that everyone in the world who was into dance music grew up listening to them, they are all big examples. I have been in the studio with Peter from Ian Van Dahl many times and Reggie from Milk Inc. just invited me to play in a few months. It’s really good music and I grew up with it but I have never played that kind of music. I have always been more into the house thing but I have nothing but respect and love for what they do.
RS: If that was the sound back then, how would you define the Belgian dance music scene now?
DJ Licious: I think that you can look at Lost Frequencies and guys like that, they are really the Belgian sound, house music with a lot of feeling and a lot of melody. I think that is the general new wave of sound that is coming out of Belgium. We have Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike but that is the harder sound and I think that is kind of blowing over. You can see it in their work and hear that they are going more towards the song kind of house structure now.
RS: So you have Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike and you have Lost Frequencies and you have Licious.
DJ Licious: Don’t mention me in the same sentence as those gods! They are way bigger but thank you for the compliment.
RS: I think we see the Belgian house mafia forming.
DJ Licious: The Swedish house mafia was 3 people; this would be 4 people. We are all good friends and really like each other. The club where I am a resident at in Belgium gave the first chance to Dimi and Mike back in the days so we all know each other really well. We come together at Tomorrowland and we respect and appreciate each other really well.
RS: Let’s have some fun, if you were a furry, what kind of animal would you be?
DJ Licious: I think I would be a dog because I like that dogs are really loyal and I like to be outdoors. I don’t like to play with a ball that much though but those are the aspects that I really like. Especially in the entertainment business, there is a lot of back talk and a lot of gossip but I always want to keep it honest and loyal and I think that is the reason why we are still here after 10 years.
RS: I like that a lot actually, great answer. When they make the movie of your life, the movie about the Belgian house mafia, what actor is going to play you?
DJ Licious: The thing is that my favorite actor, Al Pacino is too old to play me so that’s not going to happen. Let’s go for a real heart breaker, Ryan Reynolds.
RS: You have the cheek bones, totally see it!
DJ Licious: Thank you, I really like what he is doing, he is a great actor. I am also a big fan of Christian Bale too.
RS: Why is it that on stage all DJs wear black?
DJ Licious: I never do. It’s not me, I am wearing colorful shoes and blue and a t-shirt with flowers on it. I know it is a thing but it’s not me. It’s weird because when I am back stage at Tomorrowland or a festival you see a sea of black and then you see me in yellow or red. Everyone looks at me and thinks that I must be a beginner or a roadie or something and that I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t mind though.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
DJ Licious: I would like to thank them for being on my side for so many years. I didn’t always choose the easy road music wise but I have always gotten a lot of love. Thank you for everything and I hope that I can make you proud and give you more music in the future.
Interview conducted October 2016.