Strange Rumblings in Belgium [Interview with Movulango on debut single Leave]

Every label needs a psychedelic romantic, right?” — DEEWEE

Between the dense fog and eternally damp cobblestones, people are working in Belgium. The spiritual and physical home of avant garde, central europe is the incubator for everything the rest of the world will think is cool in a few years. 

Things happen in Continental Europe (Scandinavia too), well traveled folks pick up on it and spread those ideas — once they land in LA they are inevitably put on camera in some regard and then beamed out onto the world’s screens to be endlessly replicated. 

European music has a distinct, unbothered, quality to it that is difficult to find in things coming from America — Euro sounds are seemingly made in a vacuum, as if somebody learned to use a synthesizer without ever hearing music before. In actuality they’re just reacting to a completely different set of stimuli within a different cultural context but whatever, it’s still weird. 

If you’ve ever taken psychedelic drugs in America that’s pretty much what it’s like to exist in Europe. The colors are all saturated and everything is a little too fantastic to be really real. You kind of just walk around in a daze all the time and the art that’s made there is impossible to make anywhere else. Just ask David Bowie with your Ouiji board. But when your existence is saturated in the Central Euro malaise, the brutal weather, the stones and wet grasses, the music people make is far less linear than the things we tend to spit out in the ‘new world’. 

DEEWEE Records is the Belgian collective formed by Soulwax. It comprises a truly stunning array of talented friends and affiliates working in the avant-garde synth space — DEEWEE has done the work of having good taste for you, next time somebody passes you the aux just throw on a DEEWEE mix and everyone will think you’re a genius. Their first ever label compilation, Foundations, is a lovely start. 

One of the standout tracks on the mix is Movulango’s Leave. It’s an off-kilter take on synth-pop cooked up by one half of Future Sound of Antwerp. Movulango is not a newcomer to the label, but this is his first venture into solo work — Future Sound of Antwerp are a label staple and on heavy rotation over here at The Kollection, their track Tom Cruise, Scientologist is also featured on Foundations

We had the honor of speaking with Movulango on the phone last month about his debut track, Leave, what it’s like to work with DEEWEE, Belgian lockdown and the ingestion of psychedelic mushrooms, amongst other things. 

Movulango is based in Gent, a beautiful little town skirted by the battlefields of World War 1, “It’s cozy.” he says — they’ve been locked in for longer than we have in California, the vaccine has been slower to spread in Europe. 

This project hasn’t been a direct product of COVID, he’s been working on new tracks for the last couple of years, but he recently made a breakthrough with his sound that he possibly attributes to being locked inside for the last year. 

In comparison to Future Sound, Movulango comes from a “More intimate place,” he says. “[Future Sound] Is never going to end… it was a need for us to experiment and go really crazy… have no rules. To go all out and get super freaky… it’s something on going that we can rely on.” But both he and the other producer, Oli, are deep into other projects at the moment. 

“I just needed to get some stuff out… I was locking myself up before COVID. Just in my room making beats and stuff, kind of isolating myself from the outside world… I wanted to sing, but I don’t consider myself a singer, but maybe now I have to. But at first it was me putting on some vocals and putting loads of effect on it, like autotune and echo to have the effect of having a fictional singer on my song… after a while I showed the demos to Steph and Dave (Soulwax) and they said I should sing more…”

Movulango’s voice is soft and midrange, it’s comfortable and lazy like a shoegaze vocal over moody swirling synths and a bouncing bassline. The whole track is atmospheric and daydreamy and really shines when played live. A live performance video of the track just dropped last week on Youtube via DEEWEE TEEVEE featuring Movulango playing and singing the track himself. In this format the root of the track, originally written on guitar then translated to synthesizer, lays itself bare. Seeing the well produced performance adds to the intimacy of the track, and the analog tonality works beautifully within the psych context of the track. 

DEEWEE TEEVEE is the latest offering from DEEWEE accompanying their latest Foundations mixtape. It’s a 4 part video series with an A-list cast (Chloe Sevigny, Alex Olson, Soulwax) meant to replicate the attention span of all of us in the current digital climate. It’s short, jumpy, engaging — greased up and ready to swallow.

“In the beginning it was much more a guitar track. Then we came together to de-guitarize the track and replace it with synths and a bunch of weird stuff… right now there’s a lot of guitar stuff [in the writing process] and maybe there will be more of that on the EP and the album.”

There’s a distinctive Dean Blunt feel to Leave. Like those involved couldn’t care less about appealing to any imaginary audience but are only making music to appeal to their friends and colleagues. But that’s not necessarily the case, Americans are just really used to being pandered to in the arts. The weather in California specifically creates especially sunny vibes that aren’t intuitive to those in other parts of the world.  “To us Europeans when we listen to your music we can feel the sunshine, you guys are like sunshine 24/7. We’re lucky if we see the sunshine, it’s like ‘What the fuck? The sun is shining?’”

The collaborative process at the DEEWEE is truly collaborative. Leave started as a grungier guitar track, Movulango sent it over the Steph and Dave, they synthed it up, Muvolango took a Korg MS20 to it played the solo, Steph and Dave chopped up the solo and remixed it and Leave how we know it was born. DEEWEE has a brick and mortar studio where the artists come in to get things done. They go in and out, bouncing between session rooms and smoking on the patio. It’s on display in the Leave video which highlights another day at the office for a DEEWEE artist. 

“It’s a real family… especially the people in Gent, but also the people in Brazil. We’ve become really close friends. It’s not like it’s a label, well it is a label but it really works in a different way. Just talking to them you get so much out of it… we talk about music and what’s better than talking about music. They have so much experience in the music industry… we’re able to grow as musicians because of their [Steph and Dave] input.”

Movulango had the video idea in his head but had a tough time putting it into words, so he told DEEWEE he would just make it and show it to them — they agreed and he enlisted his friend and cinematographer Vincenzo Linea to make it. They wanted to make it as honest a slice of life video as possible to show what it’s actually like to be part of the DEEWEE family. “It’s a family affair, it can get pretty funny sometimes”. 

We went on to talk about taking drugs and listening to KrautRock, but you can get all of that by listening to Leave, it’s best left up to your ears. It’s out now on DEEWEE’s first label mixtape Foundations. We’ll be catching up with Movulango again soon once his debut EP or record comes out, until then there’s plenty to enjoy from him and DEEWEE.