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Spin sisters: Three women who are shaking up Brussels' DJ scene
With an international career as a DJ and producer spanning two decades, Trish Van Eynde is humble about being dubbed Brussels' first lady of techno. But it’s an accurate accolade: she started making crowds sweat on dance floors with her powerfully emotive, cathartic Detroit-influenced beats back in the 1990s when clubland decks were an exclusively male domain. “It wasn’t easy,” she recalls. “But I didn’t let it stop me because there were no women already doing it. I had such a burning passion for music and DJing, it’s all I wanted to do.”
And she can pinpoint the exact moment she knew it. It was seeing UK drum’n’bass godfather Fabio mix three feedback loops at a party one New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands when she 18. “It was magical. It clicked. That was the moment I knew what I wanted to do in my life,” she says.
Van Eynde would practise on a friend’s turntables while she was studying for a degree in business administration. “I was quite stubborn in not compromising my music,” she says. “I bought vinyl instead of clothes, and skimped on food – I ate spaghetti with salt and pepper as I had spent the sauce money on vinyl,” she says. “And I practised in eight-hour stretches.” It has led her to becoming a virtuoso beat-weaver on three decks, commanding thousands of revellers at vanguard festivals such as Tomorrowland and collaborating with the likes of Antwerp filmmaker Sam Ostyn and French DJ Laurent Garnier.
Providing music is an essential therapy for Van Eynde. “After a frustrating week, the dance floor is a place where you can completely let go of all the rage and frustration,” she says. “People tell me I play hard or dark, but this hardness and darkness is triggered in their minds, it’s already inside of everybody. I do it on purpose, it has to come out.” She takes her practice further, in exploring the science of sound and its potential properties. “The healing effects of playing frequencies 432Hz and 520Hz to stimulate the pineal gland have been widely researched and documented. Nobody realises I play these frequencies,” she says.
Stepping out of the limelight to gather herself and nurture new projects, Van Eynde created a new techno label last year, Sphynxx, to support female producers. Her message to anyone, especially women, who feels the stir of passion to create music, is to go for it. In contrast to her years of experience, DJ Pllow, Priscilla Lowe, and DJ Bushra, Bushra Lamsyeh, are both relative newcomers who are creating a stir in Brussels’ underground scene.
Lowe started DJing two years ago, in the wake of setting up an artist management agency for DJs while still at university in Brussels. “I’m now exploring my Cameroon roots, particularly the percussion,” she says. “I love mixing it up with dance, house, funk and disco.” Her last live mix for Radio Kiosk in May hit number two in the Belgian chillout charts. You'll catch her at Bonnefooi, Cafe Maison du Peuple or the Massimadi LGBTQ Afro parties.
Lamsyeh has been appointed co-curator of the next edition of the Batard multidisciplinary arts festival taking place in Brussels this winter. Encouraged by friends to play at their parties, she learned to mix on the hoof at venues and has been taking to the decks in Brussels and in her home town of Paris for several years, in between her legal advisory studies. “It started small but became serious in Brussels,” she says. “When people like what you do here, they give you opportunities.”
She’s shaking up Brussels with her eclectic mix of world beats and electro chaabi, a lyrical and political music from the Moroccan countryside, which her mother encountered after moving from Casablanca. “Chaabi is the music of free speech,” she explains. “It gives the power of words to the most marginalised in society, such as prostitutes and transvestites, who sing about abuse and domestic violence. It’s also the only music I have seen my mother dance to,” she says.
For Lamsyeh, mixing it with electronica and music from other areas of the world fills her with joy. “I mix what touches my soul,” she says. “Music is such a universal and unifying language, I can only hope it will also touch others in the same way.”