During the summer edition of Rampage, we had the huge honor to interview his creator: the Belgian producer Murdock! He gave us a few minutes for a chat, right before turning the first Open Air night up. Here’s the behind-the-scenes overview:
BassMusicChronicles: We can clearly see the evolution between the very first edition, the Free one, and this one. How did you manage to expand and grow up from the first edition ? How did you and your team cope with the Covid situation ?
Murdock: « It was just a decision we made when we came to the end of the lockdown: “We’re gonna come back but just much much bigger. So, why not try and go for the biggest thing we can possibly do!”. That means we need to call a bunch of people, and when it seemed doable we just went for it. I did Rampage with my partner Kristof Darcon, he’s the one taking care of the production. Rampage is 13 years old now and he’s been doing events for 25 years, he has a good network and is aware of what it needs to make it happen: getting the right tents, bars, staff, stages… »
BMC: So now, would you say you want to compete with bigger festivals that have several music types?
M: « Definitely. People like Drum and Bass and Dubstep. There are so many lovers of this music and they’re entitled to have festivals like this, of this quality and of this size. I, myself, am a big fan of these festivals: I loved playing at Liquicity, Dour, Let It Roll… Rampage, you walk around here and you can tell everyone is just on the same level, like the same things. It’s a big bonding situation. I think it’s different from other festivals with different crowds mixing together, from France, Holland, Germany, UK… Funnily enough, we’re still the only ones doing this, especially on that scale. I’m surprised that no one has picked up on this since! »
BMC: Where did the idea of creating a 100% women stage come from? Is it an inclusive perspective you tried to set up? What’s the story behind it?
M: « There aren’t so many female Drum and Bass and Dubstep DJs. In Belgium, we have of course Techno goddesses such as Charlotte de Witte or Amelie Lens, and on the international scene, Nina Kraviz (RU) and Peggy Gou (KO). So Techno girls have these shining examples on the biggest Techno stages, the biggest platforms, and they get inspired. If you see that at 16-17 years old, you’re like “Hey, maybe I can do it as well”. I’ve tried to book a lot of Drum and Bass and Dubstep DJs women but there aren’t that many, or some of them weren’t available, so I managed to get 10 or 12 from the Techno scene. I thought if we could get some Techno DJs, all females, girls in the festival would be able to see women behind desks for 3 days long, and then maybe they would get inspired. »
BMC: Was it challenging as well? Because if people saw Techno in a dedicated Bass Music festival, they could have been disappointed… Was it a risk?
M: « I saw a couple of people coming at me like: “Why would you do Techno ?” and I was like: “Ah… it’s there now, and if you don’t want it, just stay away, there are other stages to go to.” On the other hand, we did a poll on our Instagram stories asking people if they’d like to hear “Reggae, Dancehall, Hip Hop, Techno…”, and Techno was the most successful of them. »
BMC: We can really feel the Rampage team tends to be very close to its people and growing up in efficiency…
M: « I think, as an event, we’re ahead of the others, we take care of the people that come to the festival. At Rampage, you never have to queue at a bar, to wait longly to buy tickets. We make sure there’s enough staff and enough room for everyone. It’s something a lot of festivals don’t do because they cut costs and try to make an extra book or an extra dollar everywhere they can. It helps with the all-experience of going to the event, it’s very important to us. »
BMC: We are used to seeing MCs perform on stage, and we spotted Joost (Belgian rapper/entertainer) on the last indoor edition, and now Rare Akuma (Belgian underground rapper) -as 19825- will perform on a very special stage. Do you want to include an underground Rap scene too?
M: « He (Rare Akuma) made a track last year and he put the track on his Instagram with the caption: “Everybody tag Murdock because I want to hear it at Rampage”. I woke up and I had 200 notifications! I was like “What’s going on?”, I went to see the post. Actually, I was already following him before, so I hit him up and I said “Ok, let’s make it happen”. We’ve been in touch ever since, and it’s because we’ve been in touch that he started to listen to more Dubstep. I kind of introduced him to the Rampage project. He and Joost grew up in Drum and Bass, so they kind of represent the local scene and the whole Belgian crew during their earlier days. »
BMC: Would you say you feel proud?
M: (pauses) « People say all the time: “You must be very proud”, but it’s more like satisfaction. You put in so much work, you know, and when it all comes together, it works out fine and everyone’s happy. Obviously, I’m proud but more satisfied. »
BMC: On your own projects, how do you find the time to produce, perform AND organize such events? Do you sleep sometimes?
M: « Not that much sleep (laughs)… It’s just one thing at a time. I haven’t made any music in 3 months because we were so busy with Rampage. Normally we plan the organization of the festival 6 months ahead, but here we only started 4 months before. When this is behind me, I’ll go back to the studio. Like I said, one thing at a time. I already have an album ready to come out. Fifteen tracks are incoming, all finished. Passion drives me, it’s the only thing that matters. »
After this little Q&A session, Murdock runs to perform on his very own festival. We are thankful for his and the whole team’s time. You can now listen to Murdock’s new hits “Trouble” and « Make It », perfect to celebrate Rampage once and for all!
Credits : Rampage Open Air, Marine Rolland (co-redacted), Murdock
BASS IS LIFE, BASS FOR LIFE