Written by: Charlotte Houareau
DJ and producer Lost Frequencies exploded onto the scene in 2014 with his infectious deep-house single 'Are You With Me'. Since then, he’s become a global dance music phenomenon, renowned for some of the industry’s most treasured songs.
Despite his monumental accolades, he remains a down-to-earth and authentic guy, who emanates genuine joy when speaking of his music and projects. It's clear he has an undeniable passion for what he does, one that shines through not only in the way that he talks about his work but through the sheer magnitude of what he’s managed to achieve since his debut.
From becoming the first Belgian artist to achieve a UK No.1 single to celebrating over 1,000,000 subscribers on YouTube and founding his own label Found Frequencies, there is no stopping this talented producer in the dance music scene. And he is showing no sign of slowing down so we jumped at the opportunity to catch up with him and hear what he’s working on in 2022.
It’s only the start of 2022 and you’ve already hit some epic milestones. You just played at Tomorrowland Winter, recently celebrated over 1,000,000 subscribers on YouTube, and 'Where Are You Now' has gone multi-platinum worldwide. What a great start to the year, congrats! Tell us more about how 2022 has been going for you so far?
Well, it's scary to be in the music industry sometimes because everything moves so quickly. Music genres change really quickly and there are new acts appearing every day. And then, on the other hand, festivals are also popping up everywhere. And I want to be part of everything, so I'm super happy to see all of these things happen.
But, I’ve been doing this for almost seven years and I'm still here. My new track is doing really well and I have a big summer ahead, so I'm super excited about everything. Even after all the lockdowns, we were able to pull it off and still be present and still be able to do what we love to do.
This year you’ll be returning to Tomorrowland in Belgium with a live performance and hosting your own stage. What can fans expect from this upcoming set? How are you feeling about running your own stage?
I have two weekends, during which I’ll be hosting the 'Lost Frequencies & Friends' stage. I’ve put together a really cool lineup with a lot of music, DJs and performers that I really like. It's a mix of chill music, then sometimes you can really rave, and then you can go back to good feeling music. So I think it's going to be amazing. And then over on the Mainstage I'm playing a live show. I'm working on it at the moment, I was literally in the studio two weeks ago putting it together.
Music-wise, I'm going to play some of my biggest hits, and some new music, and it will all be performed live. Bringing a live show to the Mainstage is quite intense, to be honest, because it's a lot of work. But I'm up for the challenge and once it’s done it’s going to feel incredible.
When it comes to performances as big as Tomorrowland, how do you prepare for your set? Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
I prepare my sets throughout the year. It's actually really rare that I add new tracks to my playlists because I play a lot of my own music. But when I do, I always try to put in a new track that not too many people have played. Throughout the year I listen to new releases, to find something different that I really like. And when I’ve found something, I then have to decide which playlist to put it into. I have a 'main stage playlist', and I also have a 'club playlist'. Then I always make sure my playlist is organised and that all my tracks are put in the right keys. This way when I play a track during my set, all the tracks around those tracks in the playlist are in the same key. So I know the transition is going to be smooth, which is something I really enjoy.
Right before my set, I'm probably going to be walking around with a beer in my hand. Because, after all, it's still Tomorrowland, it’s important for me not to overthink it, to relax and just enjoy the moment.
You’ve had massive success with your singles 'Are You With Me', 'Reality', and most recently, 'Where Are You Now' with Calum Scott, to name a few. When it comes to writing music, what’s your process? What gets your creative juices flowing?
Usually, I construct my tracks around something very small that inspires me. My tracks aren’t based on a whole progression of chords and songwriting. It's usually a very small part in a vocal or sound design that will speak to me and make me want to work on it Or it could be something like a very nice sample that I found from a clap sound, and then from that, I’m going to build a whole track around it.
And as you mentioned previously, you've been doing this for a few years now. What was the thing that instigated your passion for music?
I bought an iPod mini when it first came out and in my eyes, at the time it was the best invention of my entire life. I was buying one track a week on iTunes - because it was quite expensive - so I found myself listening to the same track over and over again. I just loved it so much. The thing I like most about music is how it can really set the mood, and change the atmosphere. Also, I really like how it's part of your life, even sometimes when you don't realise it is.
When you go into a collaboration, what’s the most important quality you look out for?
Usually, I work with producers that have a distinct sound that is very far from mine, something new that I can work with. For example, when I worked with Netsky, our sounds are worlds apart but it came together seamlessly. And when I worked with Zonderling, they have a clearer, punchier sound whereas mine is more round and smooth. I'm always trying to find something different. And then when it comes to vocals, as you can see in my music catalog, I'm really fond of male vocals and especially rock male vocals, so that's something I really like. When I worked with Adam Scott, he sent me the first version of the track and I was really happy. His voice is phenomenal.
Every moment I spend with somebody who is making music is a moment for me to learn something new. Because we all experience things in a different way. It's always nice to see how people perceive things. And of course, when I'm in the studio with producers, I'm always super curious to see how they actually get into the production process. So I always try to stay open-minded and flow with the atmosphere in the room to create something special.
You’ve recently announced your 'Live' tour in Europe and the US this coming Autumn. Can you give us a glimpse into how your preparations for the tour are going and what we can look forward to?
Usually, when I prepare a live set, I'm in the studio with my drummer to start with. The first thing I do is prepare a setlist of all the tracks I would like to have in the show and then we translate every single track from my Logic project to Ableton into a live project. From there, we work on transitions between tracks because I want it to flow from one track to the next. Once that’s done, we check how long the show is because, for Tomorrowland, we really need to make sure we don’t go over 47 minutes. For the live tour, the show will be about an hour and 45 minutes - I want it to be a whole story.
Once that’s sorted, we’re able to start rehearsing. I have a little rehearsal space where the guitarist, the drummer, and I go to practice the whole show together. After that, we work on the whole lighting and visual design of the performance. Before any live show, we give ourselves at least three days to do a full rehearsal with the singers, sound and light engineers, and the visuals.
When you are about to get on stage, what's usually running through your mind?
For the live show, I'm usually thinking that I don’t want to go up on stage! I’m so much more vulnerable than during a DJ set, so much more can go wrong so I get quite nervous. Then once the show has started and I start to feel the vibe of the room it all starts to feel amazing. Pressure is good though because it keeps your standards high. During a DJ set, I have a bit more control, so I’m less nervous.
But it’s funny because I’m usually thinking that it’s kind of crazy that the stage is completely mine for that window of time I’m given, that I can do anything I want with my music. It always amazes me that the promoters give me the complete freedom to do my thing, I could do something incredible but I could also mess it up completely!
Finally, what can fans expect in the coming months? Any other plans on the horizon that you can share with us?
Well, I've been working on a lot of new music, at the moment we're trying to find the perfect follow up to my last single, and then I'm going to focus on finishing my album in the next three months. Which will hopefully come out in September or October, just as we’ll be embarking on the 'Live' tour which would be perfect. And I'm looking forward to the summer, to performing at festivals and being back on tour so I can see all the fans, the promoters, the clubs, and the places that I love performing in so much again!
Check out which festivals you can see Lost Frequencies perform this summer here.