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Noise101: Locked Groove

We interview Belgian artist Locked Groove who has so far played shows in the UAE, Lebanon, Israel, and Turkey - making the Middle East one of his favourite destinations.

The Middle East has seen a huge growth in musical entertainment, with an entire industry now claiming the region to be one of the world's leading dance music destinations. Many DJs are now claiming it to be one of their favourite places to play, becoming return visitors to some of its biggest parties over the years - Locked Groove is one of those DJs.

Tim van de Meutter aka Locked Groove was born sometime during the year 1988, to a professional DJ father who instilled in him a love for records and everything music. His life has always revolved around music, at a young age he received his first formal training, spending a year studying music theory before laying hands on his first instrument. As a young person who was brought up by an active professional DJ, Tim had every thing set. A stint working for Antwerp’s leading record store didn't hurt either, and fortified his love for vinyl. 

A few years ago Tim van de Meutter debuted as Locked Groove, with his first record Rooted out on Scuba’s Hotflush imprint, leading to a whole flurry of releases on different labels including another four on Hotflush. We contacted the artist ahead of his upcoming gig in the region, returning on the 17th of this month to what he cites as his favourite place to play in the Middle East - The Block, Tel Aviv.A now formidable name in the dance music scene, you have been able to craft a unique sound that has become in high demand in recent years. Let’s kick this off by asking what are the most important factors that helped you with the start of Locked Groove? And what advice do you have to aspiring electronic artists trying to make it today?

I’m not sure, what actually kickstarted it. I’ve had a passion for music for as long as I can remember. I was producing music before Locked Groove as well, but at one point I didn’t feel comfortable anymore with the genre, so I decided to start producing house and techno. If there’s one advice I can give it would be, do it with all your heart or don’t do it at all. 

How do you see the international dance music scene to be standing today as opposed to maybe 10 years ago?

A lot has changed and a lot is still changing. Our scene has become a lot more visible again over the last couple of years — also in the mainstream. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It just means we have the chance to introduce good music (in my opinion) to a whole new demographic.

Your sound is hard to pin down to any single genre, you have been able to separate yourself from the pack by offering many different styles in one set, something that you have become well known for. What is your inspiration when it comes to track selection and what do you think of DJ set that abides by one genre?

I mainly listen to non electronic music during the week. I’d say that is a big inspiration in regards of what kind off electronic tracks I like. I usually look for something that has an organic feel or has some kind off rawer edge. One genre sets aren’t a bad thing in my opinion though. If that’s what you feel comfortable with and do well, there’s no problem. Its all about feeling comfortable with what you play. It will reflect on the crowd and ultimately make it a better night.Constantly playing at a lot of different places, do you find dance music culture universal or is it different from one region or country to the other?

There’s a couple of differences music wise. Some tracks just don't work in certain places. But in general it's mainly the same. People want an escape and it's your job to provide that escape and let them forget their daily sorrows. 

How do you find the Middle Eastern region when it comes to dance music, did anything stand out that you liked/disliked here as opposed to other places you visited before? Also, which Middle Eastern countries have you played so far?

The middle eastern region is one of my favourite places to play for a variety of reasons, I love the food, the weather is great and people are really welcoming. In terms of liking and disliking I can’t recall a place that I disliked. The Block in Tel Aviv is probably the place I like playing the most in the region. So far I’ve done, Israel, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates and Turkey.How do you prepare for a gig? 

It’s a pretty normal procedure, I usually get all my music ready on Thursday in my studio, i’ll go through the promos of the week and make a selection of new stuff. If I play with vinyl i’ll go through my records at home as well. When I feel like I want some new ones I check out some records stores in town. 

In a previous interview when asked if you would ever play a live set you stated that you would find it too stressful and would probably stick to DJing. What are the main things you believe to be stressful about performing live that you don't find in DJing?  

It’s not the live set on its own per-say that I find stressful. The way I want to do it would be. I think if would just do it with a laptop and a couple of synths I would get bored. So if I ever do it, I want to involve other people and live musicians, that would definitely make it stressful haha…

You are set to play at The Block in Tel Aviv again this month, how many times have you been in Israel? 

I think this is about my 6th time. 

Do you think politics has a place in dance music? To put it in another way, do you think dance music can help solve political turmoil?

It certainly does, although I don’t think it should overpower the music. You can use music as a platform to bring awareness to certain problems. That being said music should sometimes also just be music. 

Tell us a bit about new music coming out of your studio? 

I recently got a piano again at home so I’m dividing my time between the studio and composing. I’ve been playing piano since I was 11 but then when I moved to Berlin I left it in Belgium. Now that I can play again, its given me a totally new perspective and I draw lot of inspiration out of it for my electronic music as well. Im currently working on a new EP that will be in the same line as the track I recently did on Speicher, experimenting with different time signatures, sounds and field recordings. 

Who do you find to be really pushing the envelope this season? Who’s set did you really enjoy this summer? 

Theres too many to mention. There’s a lot of great music being released recently and it's a bit hard to pick one. I really enjoyed Michael Mayer’s set at Panorama Bar a couple of months ago. He has so much experience and reads a room perfectly. Eric Cloutier also played one of the best house sets I’ve heard in a long time in the About Blank garden some weeks ago. It was the perfect set for the weather and crowd that was present. 

You have always been involved with music. Your dad was a DJ, you yourself picked up piano at a very young age, and you worked at a record store in your hometown when you were younger. If you were forced for some reason to quit the music industry, what other vocation do you see yourself picking up?

I think being a florist is something I could get down with. The only problem is, I hate getting up early and in order to be a florist you need to go to the market very early in the morning to get the best flowers. 

Finally, if you could recommend one record for someone that has never listened to dance music before, which one would you pick? 

K. Alexi Shelby - Vertigo Check out Locked Groove on Facebook here and follow him on Soundcloud for more tunes.

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