Part of a new generation who are rapidly reinventing nightlife culture, Oton is a DJ, producer and promoter to keep an eye on. Somewhere on the crossroads of techno, trance, psy, breaks and jungle - is a new sub genre available, please? - bounces Oton, always high on energy but never ever gratuitous.
When I talked to Oton, he just arrived back in Brussels after a calm weekend in the countryside, charging batteries while enjoying some quiet before the storm. Two days later, a plane took him to Montreal for a gig. And three weeks later, on the third of November, he will release his new album on Greek imprint Magdalena’s Apathy, in Oton’s own words a ‘niche dark-side trance, breaks, noise and ambient label that is one of my favorites for the moment’. It’s his third album, all released in 2023, next to several EPs, an impressive statistic. Oton also runs Alliance Club, a record label, collective and party series, which has gained a lot of attention over the past few years, resulting in a residency in the main room of Fuse among others.
Alliance Club was born out of the need for its own platform - a playground to experiment and share - and was inspired by a more DIY-approach. With the world turning at the speed of a laser beam, they opted for super fast operations with as little time as possible between creation, production and release.
‘Do you also live fast?’, I ask Oton. ‘Yeah, I do. There is so much to do and I want to do it all. Since the lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, we decided to live differently and our lives took a drastic turn. Those strange years convinced us to go 100% for what we really want to do, to invest in what fascinates us.’
When Oton mentions we, he refers to his best friends with whom he manages Alliance Club, a bunch hailing from Virton, a small Belgian city close to the border with Luxembourg and France. Its lively skateboard, punk and hardcore scene strongly influenced them, not only for the music but also the DIY-attitude and even the calming power of nature as a counterbalance to a hectic life in the big city.
Being trained and having worked as an audio engineer, Oton has a sharp ear for music. Now focusing full time on producing music and touring, he hopes to be able to present more live performances instead of DJ sets in the future. ‘My initial approach has always been to present myself as a live performer, which is my natural background having played in bands as an adolescent. Yet when I first started to storm the electronic music scene, I was puzzled to translate the energy I had in mind into my live set. After experimenting and playing live for a long time I began DJing instead.’
Oton walks us through the many musical influences that have shaped him into who he is today. ‘Lately I rediscovered my teenage love for nu-metal and punk hardcore, appreciating its attitude and esthetics. The energy and the dimension of community and plurality in this scene really glues people together, which inspires me much more than the individual energy from the techno movement. Everything has a reason, I guess.’
Music: Sono Ventura record shop
Sono Ventura is the shop of Renaud Deru (aka Cosy Mozzy or Attari), who launched the place to sell his own record collection in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Today Sono Ventura has become a fixed value in the Brussels record shop network, where to dig both for the latest new music as well as second-hand gems.
Oton: ‘Renaud has always believed in Alliance Club and my music, since the very start. They sell all our merchandise, vinyl records and CDs and the place is becoming a reference in the brussels music scene. The shop is really good. And I can recommend asking advice from their store clerk Köma, a very motivated DJ with a huge knowledge of breaks music.’
Food: Café La Pompe
Located in the heart of Saint-Gilles, this café has taken up residence in a former petrol pump, with its large bay window and wide terrace.
Oton: ‘There is one very important thing in life for me: I always need a good place to have a beer with friends. When I’m off the stage or clubs, I’m usually the whole day in the studio: working on new music, curating releases, administrating the label and parties, etcetera. So a beer around the corner at La Pompe is something I highly value at the end of a long day. A lot of artistic personalities hang around there as well. And they have an amazing cook and lunch menu.’
Hidden gem: Ritual Tattoo Shop
Active since 1992, Ritual Tattoo Shop is one of the longest-running shops in Brussels. Located in the Galerie du Centre among the numerous nail studios and Cinema Aventure, Ritual Tattoo Shop has liters of ink in experience and a very loyal customer base.
Nature: Place Morichar
A rectangular square in Saint-Gilles, constructed over various horizontal levels that each have another function, this square has something to offer for many different kinds of people.
Oton: ‘One of my main spots to go skating, Place Morichar is super diverse. All of its users understand that it’s a shared space where mutual respect is key. Young dads are teaching their children how to ride the bike, kids are having their lunch break off from school, we are skateboarding, others are playing soccer or basketball. It’s a nice mess.’