“I started going out to underground clubs at the age of 16 and 17. I lost my heart to the kind of music they were playing and wanted to gain deeper knowledge of this world” – Charlotte de Witte

Charlotte de Witte is back in Barcelona for the second time this year to perform at the city’s Brunch in the Park series, after a whirlwind tour of some of Europe’s top festivals. The tour, which is far from over, also included a recent visit to Barcelona during the Sónar Festival last month, where she closed the main room. She is a great fan of the city, but wherever she is, Charlotte has one rule she always follows. When in Rome as they say! So as well as being a connoisseur of electronic music, she is also a self-confessed foodie, and Barcelona is a global epicenter of both, so Charlotte dives right in when she visits.

“If I’m in another country with people I know, I always try and discover the city and its restaurants. Going for artist dinner is a very important thing to me, especially when I travel alone. It gives you the opportunity to get to know the people you work with and the city they work in. In Barcelona, during Sonar, I went to Bar Brutal (Can Cisa) and Pakta for dinner and I can highly recommend those,” she said.

“Barcelona is filled with people you know so you constantly bump into friends, which is lovely,” she said. “After Sonar and before flying to Ibiza, I visited Elrow for the first time and it was a great experience to see everyone again after playing at their club Florida 135 in Fraga,” she added.

Getting to know the right folks in the industry didn’t come easy though. She has had a meteoric rise, but like everybody who has had a stab at this DJing malarkey, the path is a well-trodden one, and takes a lot of work and dedication to get one’s self noticed and to have any hope of stepping up to the next level.

“I started going out to underground clubs at the age of 16 and 17. I lost my heart to the kind of music they were playing and wanted to gain deeper knowledge of this world. So this resulted in me making some mixtapes on Ableton, and later, buying some decks” Charlotte reminisces.

“The beginning wasn’t easy. I must have emailed every single bar in Belgium to ask if I could come and play for free to improve my DJ skills. No one ever responded. I got my first opportunity in Jeugdhuis Tentakel (Youth Center) in Evergem where I used to live. I had no idea what I was doing, but I could practice there, which is something I’ll be forever grateful for,” she recalls.

Techno is an ever-evolving art form. Always was, and always will be, but what does the young techno star think about the way forward for the genre and how does her sound fit in with the genre’s progression? “My sound is techno with a more stripped hook. I don’t like music that’s too hectic. I find beauty in simplicity, which is something I’d like to bring forward in my productions and sets as well. I think techno is on the verge of becoming the biggest it has ever been. Things are moving in a very fast pace and there are a lot of good artists and quality music out there, which is great to see,” she said.

Do you have any advice for emerging talent trying to get a start in the industry? “With the amount of young and talented artists out there, it’s important to create your own style and identity. It took me a while to learn mine. You should explore new music and follow what’s happening. You’ll evolve, and in time, you’ll learn a lot of things about yourself, who you want to be in music and what you represent,” she mused.

Do you have any sponsorship deals? “I don’t have any regular sponsorship deals, but Strom often send me some awesome t-shirts. Also Adidas sent some stuff not too long ago because it’s basically all I ever wear at night. Three stripes for life! Lately, I started buying some casual designer stuff such as t-shirts from Vetemens, hoodies from Balenciaga or Acne… Just like music, I’m not into a lot of colors and I keep things very simple and basic,” she said.

As highlighted earlier, Charlotte is in the middle of the busy European summer festival season, so what’s next on the schedule?

“I’ve just played Awakenings for the second time this year. That’s always very nice. Tomorrowland, where I’ll be playing on both weekends. On the first weekend, I’ll be playing a set at the main stage, which is super exciting, right after the one and only Carl Cox, and on weekend two, I’ll be hosting my very own stage with my baby concept KNTXT. I’m also really looking forward to Nature One. Many of my friends go there every single year and to play there at the infamous Century Circus, is a huge honour,” she said.

So does she ever have time to relax and take in some downtime? “While on tour, by watching some Netflix in bed. If I’m back home, I try to maintain my social life by going out and meeting friends. Although I must say that I do enjoy a night at home, on the couch, where I usually fall asleep as soon as I leave my studio,” she added.

The production schedule has been key in her career, and while haters are going to hate, they just don’t seem to be able to deal with the fact she has single handedly achieved milestone after milestone with her solo projects and disciplined attitude to studio work. Over the last four years, she has been releasing on cherished imprints such as the legendary Novamute label in the UK, or underground favourites like Suara, Turbo and Mary Go Wild among others. As far as I am concerned the proof is in the pudding, and at Decoded Magazine, we have been fans of her work for quite a while. So what’s next for Miss de Witte?

“My biggest indoor show to date just got announced today!” she enthuses. “With my baby concept KNTXT, we’ll be throwing a massive party at Sportpaleis in Antwerp on November 3rd, so that’s all quite exciting. Intercontinental touring will also start again after summer, which is always great. I always loved travelling so combining that with music truly is something special, but I do miss extended days in the studio,” she added.

As usual it seems that time, or the lack of it, will always be the challenge, especially when you spend half the week on the road crushing dance floors. Nevertheless, Charlotte de Witte is a force to be reckoned with and a breath of fresh of air on what was a stale and heavily male DJ dominated techno scene. She takes it all in her stride though, and looks extremely comfortable on big stages, like Brunch in the Park, consistently delivering her musical bombs with ease and confidence.


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About the Author

Since moving to Barcelona 13 years ago, Mark J established himself as a DJ, a producer, a radio presenter and a freelance writer. He is nightlife editor of Barcelona Connect Magazine and has written for various online and print publications. Mark has interviewed legendary artists such as Jean Michel Jarre, Laurent Garnier, Dubfire & Funk D’Void as well as emerging artists like Carlo Lio, Mark Reeve or Coyu. You can catch him DJing in Barcelona clubs the Macarena and Becool.