Charlotte de Witte is a name that had you not been living under some form of rock, boulder or large mineral material you might not have heard of. However, if your head isn’t full of dirty deposits and you listen to electronic music, you’d certainly have heard the Belgian’s name.
At 26 years old, she’s already taken the techno world by storm, but this didn’t happen overnight. Originally Charlotte went by the stage name Raving George. By the age of 17 she was playing at clubs in Ghent (her hometown) which eventually earned her prime sets at festivals such as Pukkelpop, I Love Techno, Dourand and Tomorrowland.
Having now ditched the Raving George name to reflect a shift to more personal music, she’s taking the rest of the world by storm. Her momentum only seems to be increasing as she’s constantly touring and performing at some of the biggest electronic music stages around the world.
With releases on Turbo, Suara, NovaMute with standout tracks like Closer and Control de Witte follows an intense, minimalist style of techno that highlights dark soundscapes, vocal lines and heavy drums.
Ahead of her visit to Australia in September for Novel’s Smalltown at B3 (you know that 5,000+ person rave in a carpark that everyone is talking about?) as well as the Sydney leg Moments Like This we had the chance to shoot her some questions.
Stoney Roads: You travelled to Australia last year for some shows in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne. What was your experience like last time and is there anything that you look forward to doing/seeing when you come to the land-down-under in September? What are some common stereotypes that you hear about Australians?
Charlotte de Witte: I absolutely loved my time down under! I remember I was completely exhausted, travelling all the way to the other side of the world for only 4 days! It was crazy, but i loved every second of it. I met some wonderful people, played at really cool venues and made friends for life. I didn’t have the time to visit a lot of places, which is something I definitely intend to do this time. I’ll be around for much longer so I’ll try and make the most out of it! I don’t know a lot about stereotypes to be honest. I do think Australians are extremely kind, open-minded and welcoming to other people.
SR: The techno and electronic music scene in Australia is one that has really started to explode in the past few years. Did you hear anything about it before your first trip down last year?
CdW: I didn’t really follow up on what was happening in the scene before actually going there on tour. I knew of the existence of some festivals, but I didn’t gain a deep knowledge of all the different clubs and events Australia has to offer. That has obviously changed.
SR: Apart from techno music, what do you listen to when you’re in the mood to relax and unwind from a busy touring schedule? Do you have any guilty pleasures with music?
CdW: I’m actually quite open-minded and I can listen to almost every type of music, depending on the mood I’m in. I’m very much into 60 / 70 / 80ies. I also quite often listen to Reggae music while being stuck in traffic or while doing accountant stuff. It has a very relaxing effect on me.
SR: What does a DJ set mean to you and what is a key factor that you find makes a quality set? When you’re performing, is there an overall feeling of vibe that you want to create?
CdW: Obviously, the main as a DJ is to make the people dance and make sure they have a good time. I try to bring a coherent set, with a combination of older (classic) tunes and fresh ones that often haven’t been released yet. It’s important to create a story and maintain the level of energy.
SR: As a producer, how do you deal with creative issues like writer’s block?
CdW: I didn’t really have a writer’s block yet. The one thing I do struggle with now is to find time to spend in the studio. I’m practically touring non-stop and I underestimated the effect that would have on my studio time. I bought a new laptop now to be able to create some loops on tour, so that helped, but it’s not the same as actually sitting in a studio.
SR: What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given in regards to producing music?
CdW: Basically don’t give up. Learning how to produce was very difficult to for. It was a long and frustrating process and the learning phase is endless! It took me a long to actually start enjoying it as well. It’s important to get through this annoying phase and to also realise that you don’t have to release everything you created.
SR: If you could work with anyone from the past, who would that be?
CdW: Really tough question! Sooo many people. Ray Charles, Leonard Cohen, The Beatles? Haha, the list would be endless. Who wouldn’t I like to work with from the past?!
SR: Has the thought of producing an album ever crossed your mind and is this something that you have planned for the future?
CdW: Yes, definitely! One day, there will definitely be a Charlotte de Witte album but I’ll have to find some hours to spend in the studio before that day comes.
SR: Outside of music, your favorite thing to do is eating. What’s your go to cuisine? Have you had some amazing food experiences whilst on tour?
CdW: My favourite cuisines would be Peruvian and Japanese. But I also love French and Italian food for their pure and refined tastes. While on tour, I always try and eat local or go to a highly recommended restaurant. Last time in Barcelona, I went to Pakta (combination of Peruvian and Japanese food actually, it was delicious) and I visit Noma during my stay in Copenhagen which was absolutely mind-blowing.
SR: They say on average that people have 7 different careers in a lifetime. If producing and DJing wasn’t what you’re doing with your life, what 7 professions would you choose? To make things interesting, you have to make one of those 7 jobs a criminal job!
CdW: I started studying law so probably something that would have to do with that. Working with animals in another country, probably as a volunteer to help street dogs in a third world country, would also be an option. Can’t immediately think of other stuff. You ask difficult questions, (laughs)
SR: Why do you hate balsamic vinegar?! That stuff is delicious!
CdW: I eat everything except balsamic vinegar. I’m just not into that extremely acidic taste. It ruins my salad. I really dislike that stuff.
Thanks to Charlotte for taking the time to reply to us. You can catch her when she comes to Aus for Smalltown at B3, which you can read more about here!