Belgium-based DJ and producer Cleveland got his start during his college years, throwing parties and DJing around Europ. In the years since, Cleveland has gone on to release projects on some of modern dance music’s most respected labels like WHITE, Hivern Discs, and ESP Institute. Through these releases and in his DJ sets, Cleveland focuses on crafting a seamless and enveloping atmosphere.
Cleveland is set to headline Zone One during a full club take over that features Magda, Francesca Lombardo, and more. Ahead of the night, Cleveland took the time to answer our questions and show us a few tracks that he’s been digging.
What inspired your “Cleveland” alias?
During my childhood when I wasn’t even speaking English there were some words which phonetically sounded nice to me; and “Cleveland” just stayed until 2012 where I started my solo project ; so no crazy story behind (sorry). Few years later I’ve noticed that I really like using geographical names for track titles because of their typographical shortness and abstract meaning leaving more space for interpretation and imagination.
What was your first encounter with dance music and electronic music?
Probably the first indirect encounter was my dad listening to Pink Floyd records. Then in my teen years I was hanging out with synth-pop bands using synthesizers and at the same period I discovered Daft Punk’s Interstella 5555 on TV.
You’ve worked with a couple of notable labels including Oskar Offerman’s WHITE and John Talabot’s Hivern Discs. Are there any hot labels you’ve been paying a lot of attention to at the moment?
You should definitely keep your eyes on Hivern Discs because there are exciting upcoming projects in the pipeline. Then my NL bros Pieter Jansen with his hybrid duo label Yeyeh / Ninih and Rey Colino’s Kalahri Oyster Cult and Obermann’s Nous’klaer who’s hot right now won’t disappoint in the months to come
You’ve expressed interest in abstract art, minimalism, and avant-garde. Are there any artists outside of the music realm you look up to?
I’m not really following any names right now but I can remember that people like Ellsworth Kelly were quite inspiring during my art study years. He basically unifies both abstract and minimal sides. I’m also quite attracted by minimalist furniture / interior design. I really like the shapes of chairs for example. In architecture I love brutalism; I’m lucky to live next to an impressively beautiful brutalist primary school. Brussels can be quite interesting visually because of it’s cultural diversity and urbanistic chaos.
You’ve performed in a number of different countries, mostly in Europe and the Americas. What kind of impressions have you had playing gigs for different crowds around the world?
European crowds are maybe in general the most exigeant and cultivated; though every country or even city has it’s own vibe. I really love Glasgow, Leipzig and Amsterdam for example. In the Americas I’ve only played in NYC, Washington, Mexico City, Sao Paolo and Rio. All of them were quite diverse; probably the Sao Paolo crowd was the hottest, in terms of vibe; also probably because it was “gay party” which for me is the best because of open-mind, tolerance and liberation. I could also feel a very special energy in Tbilissi (Georgia) or Tel Aviv for example which is also linked to their history / contexts.
Interview by Sean Clements