[Q&A] Belgian Bass: Welcome to Rampage
[Q&A] Belgian Bass: Welcome to Rampage

Billed the “biggest bass music party on the planet,” the Belgian behemoth known as Rampage returns once again with a jaw-dropping lineup of the finest drum & bass and dubstep artists on the planet. Held annually in Antwerp, Belgium, Rampage goes off on February 18 and while it’s been sold out for over six weeks now, we thought we’d hit you with a glimpse of just how insane this European event is so you can begin saving your coin and preparing to join the Euro masses on their annual pilgrimage to the high-octane all-night rave.

Bassrush fam will feel right as home as the Rampage crew are determined to not only gather the finest artists and performers, but pay special attention to every detail of the experience with a breathtaking visuals and a full-on immersive sonic environment. With 15,000 like-minded hardcore bassheads gathering in one place for one night to witness the mayhem on one stage is something that has to be experienced to be truly understood.

With Noisia performing their Outer Edges show and heads like Mefjus, Doctor P, Funtcase, DC Breaks, Gentlemen’s Club, Mind Vortex, Loadstar, A.M.C and so many more stepping up this year, this eleven-hour party centered on drum & bass and dubstep is the full realization of Belgium’s own Murdock who admits that just how large the party has grown has taken even him by surprise. With a full-on 35-track compilation album just released, including an epic official “anthem” from Murdock and Doctrine leading the way, the crew is determined to make you feel a part of the festivities even if you’re half a world away.

Take us back to the beginning; how and when did Rampage begin? Was it always your vision to have it be “the biggest drum & bass and dubstep party in the world”?
I have been throwing drum & bass parties for two decades, and every party I have ever done started as a way to have fun with friends, an opportunity to bring over artists I liked, and give myself the possibility to play good slots at nice clubs with great sound systems. Whenever a party is successful, the next one tends to be bigger and that’s how a 1000-capacity party, which is how Rampage started out, gradually turned into the biggest drum & bass and dubstep party on the planet. But it was never intended like that. Happy it happened, though!

That’s a huge statement. Have you had to deal with other promoters attempting to challenge you for that designation? Speaking of which, how many people are your expecting to attend this year?
Having a baseline like that helps convince people to come over, and it helps paint a picture of what they can expect from the event. It’s a great promotional tool but it’s the truth as well, and I’ve made sure to always mark the night as being a party and not a festival, because the biggest drum & bass and dubstep festival in the world is, of course, Let It Roll, in the Czech Republic. We actually just said it was the biggest party in Europe, but artists pointed out to me that there were no other parties the size of ours, you know artists like Chase & Status and Noisia, and they would know, because they play all the biggest events! We sold out about six weeks ahead of the event, and that means 15,000 people will be joining us, and they come from 45 different countries.

Why drum & bass and dubstep as your primary focus?
It’s just what I like. I am a drum & bass DJ, first and foremost, and I’ve been involved with the music for 20 years. I don’t do events to make money; I am not involved in any events that have music that I don’t like. When drum & bass came to fruition back in the ‘90s, I was messing with hip-hop, breakbeats, electro and techno, mixing and blending all of that with anything else I could get my hands on, like reggae, dancehall, trip-hop and house music; mixing things up at the wrong speeds and = trying to make something that wasn’t already there. Being based in Belgium, way before the internet arrived, it took me a while to realize that there was a movement in the UK that was doing exactly that, and taking it to the next level.

What is it about that music and the community that it draws that appeals to you and your fans the most?
It just combines everything I like in dance music: it has the robustness and aggressiveness of breakbeats and funk, it adds the deep basslines from dub and reggae, you can easily take it into techno territory or make it super soulful. It’s just open to so many different vibes and I really like that. Keeping the party strictly drum & bass and dubstep has also helped bringing in the people, because most of the fans are pretty hardcore and don’t like their music being watered down into EDM, moombaton or what have you.

You have some of the biggest acts in the world representing; any specific names you’re particularly looking forward to this year?
One of my favorite acts ever is Noisia. I have seen their Outer Edges show three times already. But they get the opportunity to do that show at Rampage, with about 20,000 square feet of screens to project across, and I know they are very excited about that, and so am I! I’m sure they are going to go all out to make this the best show they have ever done.

A lot of artists always promise to premiere new tracks or open up with something special for the show. Has anyone made any promises to you this year? Are there any artists that always bring something special and are ones that fans should definitely not miss?
Two years ago, Eptic and Funtcase made a new track together because they would be performing b2b at Rampage, but apart from that, nobody ever made any comments beforehand. It is just super awesome when you hear brand new music at the event you’ve never heard before. Like last year, Camo & Krooked premiered “Ember,” which was a highlight of the event! This year, we’ve put together a compilation that has 13 exclusive tracks that have been made for the event, so we’re stepping it up a notch. The Rampage 2017 compilation has exclusive tracks by myself, Doctor P, Fox Stevenson, Macky Gee & Phantasy, Feint, Funtcase, Doctrine, James Marvel, Requake and more. You can get it here! But apart from those tracks, I still expect some artists to bring brand new music, as most of them love to upload the live footage of them playing it to 15,000 insane ravers.

The anthem for this year’s event is off the chain! Fill us in on the details so we can blast that shit loud!
Every year, Doctrine and myself go into the studio to come up with a track that we think will do great at the event, and that can be used for the promotional campaign. This year’s anthem is called “Fire” and it’s been getting great feedback. I’ve already done a VIP to play at Rampage, and that one is even more badass!

In the United States it often feels like dubstep and drum & bass are competing for the same crowds and space. How does that competition between the two subgenres work on the international stage?
Some people prefer one to the other, some people only like one of them. But because our night starts at 7pm and ends at 6am, and there is only one stage, I find it works really well to switch up between the two genres, because nobody can handle over 10 hours straight of the same music, and as a result, drum & bass heads discover they do enjoy some dubstep after all, and dubstep fiends totally get into drum & bass. And even if they don’t, the other genre gives them time for a breather, so they enjoy the sets they’re focused on even more.

Tickets are sold out so we can’t even fly over for the show. But you’ve also just dropped a compilation project and usually drop an ill aftermovie from the show. Fill us in on the details and tell us where should we direct our readers to keep up to date with how it’s all going down this year?
The main target should be our Facebook page, because that explodes every year after the event. We’ll bring you loads of footage and music from the night, including backstage interviews, full live sets, highlights filmed by the world’s best videographers, exclusive music, and it’s where you will be directed to the place where you can get your hands on the compilation or the merch.

We want them to start planning ahead to make a pilgrimage out your way next year so be sure to tell us what we should do to get ready to rage with the Rampage crew!
Next year’s date is March 3 and tickets will be going on sale end of September, but it won’t hurt booking your flight right now. See you next year!