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We Disco Baby, a chat with Kolombo.

Kolombo, a versatile music master

Having mastered the art of modern production, Belgium’s Olivier Grégoire has become one of the world’s most renowned dance music artists, with a bevvy of high-profile releases under his various pseudonyms. You may know him as Kolombo, the house player with a discography that charts esteemed imprints like Kompakt, Turbo, Diynamic, Noir Music, Suara, Snatch!, Sweat and most recently Dirtybird, with the summer 2018 single “It’s Gettin’ Hot”. Though he’s also made waves as the LouLou Players with his partner Jérôme Denis. Together they’ve toured the world and launched the LouLou Records imprint, a house label with several releases from Kolombo and the Players.

With shows at Belgium’s Tomorrowland, all across America, in Russia, Australia, and in the hip party capital of Berlin, the past few years have seen Kolombo’s star continue to rise as a DJ almost everywhere. But especially in South America, where he regularly plays major festivals and clubs. Grégoire’s relationship with the famed Brazilian open-air venue Warung has quickly grown, and 2019 will see the release of something very special on the Warung Recordings label, along with another outing on Dirtybird.

Last but certainly not least, Grégoire is also part of the highly touted Mugwump outfit, a leftfield house duo launched with Belgian dance music pioneer Geoffroy Mugwump in 2008. Together, their recordings have landed on electronic music’s most discerning labels, including DJ Hell’s Gigolo, as well as Kompakt, R&S, Cocoon, !K7, Throne Of Blood, Misericord, International Feel, Permanent Vacation and Endless Flight.

It’s apparent that Kolombo’s work ethic, consistency, and spirit of open-minded creativity have been the key ingredients for his success so far, and they all but guarantee his future will burn brightly for many years to come.

This master took the time to sit down with us to have a chat about the fresh release he made together with Ron Caroll. Enjoy the read.

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Kolombo on chair

We disco baby!

Hey Olivier, how are you doing these days?
Hey guys! I’m great! Just came back from 2 weeks holidays and getting ready for a bunch of gigs. I have next weekend Russia then I fly to a 2-week tour in Mexico, a full month in South America then finally back to Europe for the summer. Couldn’t be more excited!

You have one funky roller coming up? Tell us a bit about your nice groove with Ron Caroll “We Disco Baby”.
Ron is a good friend, such a legend from Chicago. I did a remix for “Lucky Star” back in the days and we stayed in touch ever since. Ad for a long time, we wanted to do something together. The vocals fitted perfectly on my 303 acid sounds like Chicago old school.

How did this release come together and in what does it differ from all your previous work?
I always had a good relationship with Warung crew and last year we talked about an EP with remixes would be cool on doing it. I’ve been changing my music slowly but trying to keep my identity. Ron’s vocal fitted perfectly on my style and the result it couldn’t be better for me.

We believe this one will set the room on fire for sure. Did you road-test the track and what were the reactions from the crowd?
Yeah, I’ve been playing the track for a while, it’s a bomb! It works really well. Also the remixes, very excited about the whole package.

Three remixes? As if one was not enough? All 3 are awesome. Tell us about these?
Hahaha well, Phonique and Fran have a special connection with the club just like me. Phonique has this history playing there for many years and Fran is a resident. So, it made sense to have them on board. Moonbotica saw me playing the original demo at our showcase during ADE last year, so I had invited them to remix as they also have a good connection with the Brazilian crowd.

What is your relationship with these artists (Moonbootica, Phonique, Fran Bortolossi)?
They’re all really good friends, I have much respect for them. Especially Fran, which is one of my best buddies, also we have a vast business partnership. Phonique I know for a long time. We are always crossing each other during tours and we have the same booking agent in Europe. Moonbotica we got this good connection since we’ve met a few years ago. They’re such nice guys and I am really happy to have them on board.

The release is out on Warung? You seem to have a close relationship with these guys as you play a lot in the club as well? How did this happen?
I have a great relationship with Warung guys since my first gig there. In fact, after my debut there that I’ve started having more and more requests in Brazil. It’s been 4 years that we have our night in January 2nd and one more gig at the club around May/June. Not counting many Warung tours I had played too. There are awesome, with no doubt my favourite place to play in the world.

You come from Belgium, but you play a lot abroad. How is your relationship with Belgium?
I used to play more in Belgium. It’s been a while I don’t play over here. I don’t know what had happened exactly with the club scene, for sure it’s more techno now. This year I’ll be back playing in a festival in the summer, I’m excited about it! I confess its kind of weird to play abroad and not in my country.

In how much, do you feel, is the club experience shaped by cultural differences? Do you, when travelling, take these cultural differences into consideration?
Absolutely. There is a lot of cultural difference. Sometimes even in the same country, the crowd can be different. I have to feel this crowd while I’m at the stage. Sometimes it’s tough and other times it surprises me. I believe this is one of the joys to at the work as a DJ. It’s amazing to have this privilege on travelling and knowing so many different cultures and see that your music has this impact, normally so far away from home. I think this is something that we never get used to, it’s really special.

It’s amazing to have this privilege on travelling and knowing so many different cultures and see that your music has this impact, normally so far away from home.

How far has your approach as a DJ perhaps even benefited from playing in different countries and in front of different crowds?
For sure playing in different countries gave me a bigger view of the worldwide electronic music scene, this had affected on my profile as a DJ. For sure if a benefit and a privilege to have people all around the globe dancing my music.

What is your or are your favourites places to play?
There are so many! But couldn’t mention the whole of South America. I really have a special bond with that continent, especially Brazil and Argentina. It’s unbelievable how they have welcomed me. Most of my fans are from there. I had never experienced something like this to happen in my whole career. They have a special place in my heart, for sure.

Kolombo at Warung

Looking ahead, how is your summer going to be? Festivals, travelling, … ?
As I mentioned before, I have 2 months touring nonstop ahead before European summer. I’ll be playing in some festivals in France, Belgium and Germany. There is some good stuff coming up that I can’t mention yet, otherwise my manager will get mad, hahaha.

A strong set can truly be more than the sum of its parts. How, do you feel, is the music transformed in the hands of a DJ? In which way are you actively trying to create an experience that is more than just stringing together a few excellent records?
I believe that music has huge power on people’s lives, for sure it’s not just put some records together. To be honest, I’ve always followed the kind of music I believe, that makes me feel something special at the moment. I have my old school groove and I cannot deny my hip hop background, that’s the way I always keep my roots on my identity. I think if you’re doing with your heart, you’ll bring the right experience for the ones that feel the same as you.

It’s amazing to have this privilege on travelling and knowing so many different cultures and see that your music has this impact, normally so far away from home.

DJs that just press play on their laptop may have given technology a bad name, but without technology, there would be no DJing in the first place. What’s your perspective on the relationship and the balance between technological advances, music and the art of DJing?
I used to say that technology can be really good or really bad. It depends of the way you use it. I am an old school guy, it was hard for me to switch from vinyl to start palying digital. But with Rekordbox you can loop almost every track and its really funny to loop a beat. That’s the great part with Rekordbox for me to making some loops with both tracks and making a long and funny mix. It had totally changed my way on mixing vinyl.

How have particular technologies changed your style of DJing?
Rekordbox, as I had mentioned at the previous question. I also I am completely against a computer, personally, not judging who use it, it’s just not for me.

Is getting out from behind the booth and dancing on the floor still something you consider essential for the growth of DJs? And do you mix with the crowd yourself?
I think it’s important to know what’s going on a part of what you’re doing, I’d like to go dance with the crowd more often than I do, but sometimes it’s just not possible. I do go to see friends playing when I have some free time.

If you weren’t making music what would you be doing with your life?
I really have no idea.

Name one track in your crate that gets the dance floor moving every time.
The classics always makes people move, even I’m being tired of playing it over again. Hahaha. But to name one, I’d say my last release on Dirtybird “O Ride O Ride” works pretty well.

Thank you!

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