In November, Charlotte De Witte and friends took techno somewhere it's literally never been before
Charlotte de Witte can fairly be described as techno’s current next-generation prodigy. In just a few short years, she has risen to become an unstoppable force on the electronic music circuit; one to be reckoned with and to be taken seriously. Known for her immaculate mixing, mesmerising track selection and outstanding production skills, she's fast becoming a bona fide techno superstar.
Starting out under the alias Raving George seven years ago, Charlotte admits she never expected to get so far, so fast. These days, her impressive resume includes an Essential Mix on BBC Radio 1, a weekly radio show on Studio Brussels, a Boiler Room showcase and premium spots at the world's biggest festivals (closing the main stage at Sonar, two weekends at Tomorrowland, Awakenings, a residency at Amnesia Ibiza and headlining at Pukkelpop, among others). However, in a male-dominated music environment, the path has not always been always easy; hence the male alter ego of Raving George, which in the early days avoided Charlotte ever being accused of ‘exploiting’ her femininity to get more bookings.
But there's surely no better way to show everyone what your music is all about, and to prove all the haters and naysayers wrong, than by doing something that's never been done before. So – perhaps inspired by Audio Obscura, who booked her for a monster seven-hour set in the unusual setting of Amsterdam's Central Train Station during this year's ADE – Miss de Witte booked Antwerp's immense Sportpaleis concert hall for her own techno concept, KNTXT. The venue has never been used for a techno rave of this size before, further cementing her status as a powerful new force who has started, and will continue, to shape the future of techno music.
KNTXT began life in Europe's ultimate techno venue (and, at 24 years old, one of Belgium's longest-running electronic music institutions) Fuse in Brussels. The party was started with a very clear objective: to deliver a high-quality techno experience by presenting national and international acts. After editions in Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp, last year KNTXT got to host its own techno stage at Tomorrowland for the first time. These achievements, Charlotte's determination and her collaboration with Live Nation, Fuse and Tomorrowland, all led up to 3 November, when the headstrong techno massive travelled to Sportpaleis - and it was simply insane!
On the production front, De Witte spared no expense in providing a one-off memorable experience, with a mesmerising light show, mind-blowing lasers, triangular LED screens, stunning psychedelic visuals at the back of the room and even flame-throwers shooting ceiling high at front of the stage, all perfectly synced with the fat and heavyweight techno beats. To support her idea of a good techno party, Charlotte then asked a bunch of highly-respected celebrities in the music industry - Len Faki, Chris Liebing and Sam Paganini - to come and share the stage of Sportpaleis with her. In Flemish, one might say - ‘goed gedaan’ - a job well done!
Impressively, de Witte did not use only big names; she showed that she's also a supporter of upcoming talents by giving opening slots to One Track Brain and DVS1. One Track Brain, a local talent (it's actually the techno alias of Jeroen De Pessemier from The Subs) kicked off the party skillfully and gradually got the crowd into the groove, while DVS1, an American with Russian roots, also displayed his versatile skills behind the decks. But what we truly desired came next, in the form of German powerhouse Chris Liebing, who prepared us for the cavernous treat to come with his infectious energy and innovative techno.
The driving force behind KNTXT, Charlotte de Witte, was next. A roar like thunder spread through the crowd as soon as the first beats of her hypnotic, all-enveloping main room techno set dropped. There's something about this Belgian starlet that's simply so irresistible that the entire crowd was hypnotised within seconds, and left with nothing else to do than to go wild. On her home territory, tangible magic occurred when Charlotte channelled the melancholy gracefully with tracks such as Closer, then bombarded us with the heavy deep rhythms of recent releases, but also old faves such as Needle Destruction. As a true patriot, she also treated the crowd to at least one Belgian trance classic. It felt like we'd been teleportated back in time to the spirit of 90s raves, with an ocean of hands shooting in the air and Belgians’ hearts visibly melting down on the dancefloor.
To follow de Witte requires some serious skills, so what better man for the job than Len Faki - one of the most in-demand techno artists of the moment? The Berlin-based DJ/producer and Figure label boss challenged his audience with a raw invitation to succumb to his cascading techno, then simply waited for the dancefloor to explode. To round things off in style, stellar Italian artist Sam Paganini, whose sets are characterised by strong beats combined with percussive and harmonic sounds, served us some "sexy, groovy dark techno". The perfect dessert to finish off a techno feast!
I walked away from the Sportpaleis in the early hours of sunny Sunday morning with a huge smile on my face, feeling a stronger connection to my techno addiction than I've ever felt before - hat’s the power of Charlotte de Witte and the journey she takes me on every single time! A truly unforgettable event.
Words: Agnes Klos Main pic: Kemizz De Witte/Lieibing pics: Fille Roelants