We at the UFO Network are very honored to be able to chat to Dutch EDM superstars Bart Riem and Sam van Wees, known as Mr Belt and Wezol! Thanks for taking the time to give us a sneak peek into your lives guys!
Often described as the Netherlands’ most striking DJ duo, Mr. Belt & Wezol stand out both production and appearance wise. Hits like “Finally“, “Boogie Wonderland” and “Let’s All Chant” have an old school house and disco vibe, twisted with Mr. B&W’s characteristic dynamic drops. While their sound is easily recognizable among the other Spinnin’ Records‘ releases, there’s also another piece to the cake that makes this act special: their videos. Always spot on between humor and originality it often makes the fans eager to not only listen to the next track, but also to see the next track.
With their packed festival schedule there is a big chance you will see the guys in real life. 2018 marked their debut at Tomorrowland and Wish Outdoor Mexico. Shows like those on Kingsday were celebrated with four appearances throughout all corners of the Netherlands. But if you really want to see the guys in their element, you should visit their “The Cuckoo’s Nest” hostings and clubshows. Here they play long solo sets or invite all of their DJ friends for a huge back2back frenzy. The ADE editions are traditionally sold out and new editions will be announced all year round.
Tell us about that first track that put you on the map in the electronic scene and the journey since. How did you guys get started?
Sam (Wezol): The first track we did was “Homeless”. It revolves around a sample from Crystal Waters’ 90s hit song “Gypsy Woman”. We gave it a funky twist and it ended up being a track that we still play to this date. Normally you get kinda tired of certain songs after a while, especially if they’re your own. But with this track, for some reason, we don’t grow tired of it. Since that track we made a couple of other tracks, one of which caught the attention of Oliver Heldens. He then introduced us to Spinnin’ Records, and four years later here we are!
Latest track / EP? What are you working on currently? Tell us more!
Sam (Wezol): Our latest track “Harmony” came out on November 2 on Heldeep. It contains a dreamy orchestral break, with a very heavy drop. It has a darker vibe than our latest stuff, and it’s specially made for club-use only. Luckily the response so far is great, both from fellow DJs and the crowd.
Listen to Harmony on Spotify!
What single night out has been the most memorable for you guys as DJ’s and producers?
Bart (Mr. Belt): I think that’s gotta be our latest “The Cuckoo’s Nest” event during ADE. If you don’t know us that well: next to our music and videos we also organise our own events under the flag of “The Cuckoo’s Nest”. During our event at Amsterdam Dance Event we invited over 20 DJs to come and perform a never-seen-before back2back set. There were back2backs between DJs that hadn’t even met each other before their set. It was a night with a great vibe, and completely packed! Here’s the aftermovie:
Tell us something we wouldn’t normally find out about you.
Sam (Wezol): I can touch my nose with my tongue.
Bart (Mr. Belt): I’m in a football team! I’m not that great, but last Sunday I actually scored my first goal!
Give us the name of one track that never gets old for you no matter how many times you listen to it?
Bart (Mr. Belt): Chris Lake – I Want You. It’s just such a simple, clean track. Cool vocal hook, and it always works like a charm on the dancefloor.
What tours / residencies / upcoming events do you have in the pipeline that we mustn’t miss out on?
Bart (Mr. Belt): We’re really excited for our Asia tour that’s coming up this November. We play twice in Taiwan and twice in Japan, which are both a first for us! We hope to see a lot of fans there, so if you’re from those places and haven’t got a ticket yet: we hope to see you there!
Does your Dutch heritage have any influence on your EDM production style?
Sam (Wezol): Haha, great question! I think it did actually. Back in the 90s dance music was already a huge thing in the Netherlands. Literally over half of the youth back then was a “gabber”, which is the term for people who like to rave on a very hard dance-genre called “Hardcore”. This resulted in dance music being very mainstream in the Netherlands very early on. Because of this I came in contact with dance music on a very young age, and I think all the hours in producing I had since that age has helped me tremendously in my career.
How do you get a track started? Tell us a bit about your production process. How long does it take you to complete a track on average, do you ever get writer’s block and who has been your favourite collab?
Sam (Wezol): I always love to talk about my production process. For this reason I started this video series were I explain every track that I made. You can find them here on YouTube:
Sam (Wezol): On average it takes me about 70 hours to completely finish a track, but this varies a lot too. I do get writers block every now and then, which sucks. A great way to move past it is to change your mindset from “I have to create a new professional track” to “let’s just create whatever”. Most of the times the latter mindset will result in the most creative ideas. My favourite collaboration was definitely the collab I did with PollyAnna on “Reckless”. She’s a great singer and a sweet person too!
Tell us about your monthly podcast “The Cuckoo’s Nest” – how did that start up?
Bart (Mr. Belt): During our sets we play sort of a mix between the more accessible house tracks and the more underground house tracks. We figured: why not use that format for our radio shows too? It also paints a good picture of what the music like at our “The Cuckoo’s Nest” events. So if you like our radioshow, you should definitely check out our “The Cuckoo’s Nest” event on December 1st in Rotterdam. Here’s the Facebook event link:
Fan question – “The relationship between the audience and the DJ is crucial, and yet it seems to be a fragile one – how do you see the balance between giving the crowd what they want and treating them to something new?”
Sam (Wezol): I love this question! I have thought about this a lot in the past and this is my conclusion. If people come to a show to see you perform, they are there because they like your music. Since that music came out of my brain you can draw the connection that the crowd, or at least part of it, is there because they like what your brain has put together music-wise. Therefore the only thing you have to do is listen to your brain when you’re playing music. Sounds logical, right? Still, it’s a big subject within the DJ world.
Bart (Mr. Belt): In the end it doesn’t really matter if a track is from Ed Sheeran or Oliver Heldens. If we both like the track and think it fits well within the set, we play it.