Ronny & Renzo’s releases have been amongst our favourite records of the last few of years.
As the guys behind King Kung Foo Records and being based out of Antwerp, Belgium the guys have a deep, deep knowledge that we had to delve into somewhat, finding more info about what it is that makes them tick. Whilst we were at it we also managed to obtain an exclusive new Ronny & Renzo mix that can only be described as mind-blowing.
Speaking of which, for fun you will notice the track list for this mix has been somewhat encrypted. The first person to correctly identify the complete (And correct) tracklist wins a King Kung Foo 12″ record.
There are some easy to I.D tracks tucked in amongst some real nuggets dug deep from the Ronny & Renzo vaults.
Firstly however, here’s the interview (Conducted with Nicolas Rosquin), so click the play buttons at the bottom of the page, kick back and read exactly what we found out:
Cosmic Disco: Who are Ronny & Renzo? How did you guys meet and start working together?
Ronny & Renzo is our latest project since we started working together 18 years ago.
Some people may know us as Brian ‘Bradys’ De Schryver (38) & Nicolas ‘Saloquin’ Rosquin (35).
We like to spend our days in our hometown Antwerp digging for vinyl or retrieve in our studio, which is part production laboratory & part hideout.
We share equal amounts of love & hate for the computer but it’s our passionate & neverending, continious search for new music that inspires us to keep producing timeless electronic dance music on my label King Kung Foo Records.
Cosmic Disco: 18 years working together, that’s a long time! What are some of the other projects you have collaborated on during this period and is there anything that stands out that you are particularly proud of?
To be honest, I find the fact that we still enjoy working together after such a long period of time amazing by itself and something to be proud of. In 1994, 3 years after we first met, we produced & released our first 12″ vinyl record called Kinky Sex on Humanity Music, a now defunct sublabel of USA Import.
That same year Humanity label-boss Jan & I produced 2 more 12″s on Humanity before I decided I wanted to start my own studio. From those 12 inches a couple of tracks, Acquaintance and Storm got comped on a couple CDs in 1995 and in 2002 Acquaintance was re-released on Music Man Records together with a remix of that track by UK producer Cherry Bomb aka Richard Brown.
Running the studio, producing countless demo acts & working with Brian on our own material, trying new things out & finding our sound has kept me pretty busy up until 2003. Eventually in 2004 I decided to activate King Kung Foo Records, also because I wanted to bring out stuff I had been working on with Brian over the years. I guess that was also the birth of Ronny & Renzo.
Therefore I think it’s fair to say we’re most proud of our recent work on King Kung Foo because we really want to make music that can stand time & trends music that transcends genres. Strong music with striking visuals!
On top of that getting remixed by such extremely talented people as Joel Martin, Matt Edwards and Pal ‘Strangefruit’ Nyhus is also something to be really proud of.
Cosmic Disco: What does your current studio setup consist of?
For recording audio & sequencing we use Pro Tools and Logic Audio Platinum on a Mac that’s stuffed with plug-ins of all kinds.
All the mixing is done on a analog DDA mixing board and recorded straight onto a Tascam 2-track DAT. The wiring is completely done with 100% oxygen free copper cable. We also use a patch bay that makes it possible to literally interconnect every piece of equipment in the studio, which is a necessity to obtain our particular sound. Monitoring options are the classic Yamaha NS10s or the Dynaudio Acoustics M2 monitors to catch the full frequency.
The M2 go all the way down to a stunning 38Hz! We really need to hear this sub part because we pre-master our recordings in house. Then there’s also a lot of hardware or outboard if you want, like EQs (GML, Moog) and compressors (BSS, JoeMeek, SolidStateLogic), gates (Drawmer), pre-amps (Focusrite), valve processors (TLAudio) and digital signal processors (Eventide, Lexicon, Roland, Symetrix, TC Electronics).
For sound design we also love to use analog equipment like a ARP 2600 semi-modular synthesizer, a hand built Dutch Synton Fenix modular (1 of only 75 made!), a Analogue Systems custom RS8000 modular, a Korg MS20, a Roland Juno 06, various analog ‘stomp boxes’ like phasers, flanging, fuzzes, wah & filters, etc…
On the digital side there’s a Korg Trinity master keyboard, a Roland JD 800, the powerful, orange Waldorf Microwave XT, a pretty old school yet beloved EMU Emulator IV sampler, EMU orchestral & percussion modules.
Available drum machines are Alesis HR16, Roland TR626, TR707, TR808, the mighty Yamaha RX-7, Pearl Syncussion. Additionally, sounds from every other drum computer imaginable can be downloaded from the HD and thrown into a session.
Two other crucial parts of the set up are a 1981 Gibson Les Paul Firebrand Deluxe & a 1974 US Fender P-Bass. Of course, once in a while we slam the traditional bongos. It’s not only synthetic sounds we produce
Cosmic Disco: Ah, the good old Les Paul Firebrand! (I was a one time owner of a ’69 Stratocaster. Vintage white w/rosewood neck. Man, I miss it…). Can you tell us what are your musical (And non musical) influences and do you have any early recollections of defining moment/s when you knew music would play a major part in your life?
Sure, I have many recollections of such moments like when I was little older than 6 and I noticed that the melodies and synthesized sounds from a Vangelis record playing, did something peculiar with me. Something I could explain many years later as endorphins doing their job. Or the countless hours I spent as a kid lying face down on the floor with my ear glued to a hifi speaker, trying to analyse & isolate every individual sound on records.
I really enjoyed listening to this melodic pop music by 70s artists like Demis Roussos, the Bee Gees, Abba or even The Kelly Family, etc… Another very vivid one is when in 1985 a class mate gave me a copy of a mixed tape recorded at the Antwerp club Ancienne Belgique, that I believe he had taken from his older sister. Anyhow, that moment my 11 year old world stood upside down and it instantly triggered me to buy & collect records.
By then I started listening every Thursday evening to a local radio show called Liaisons Dangereuses. Because I was still very young and not allowed to go to clubs yet, that radio show was all I had to keep up with this ‘New Beat’ music coming out. The rebellious, eclectic style of that show was really revolutionary in our minds. I think they were first to introduce Acid House & the Chicago House sound to a bigger audience here in Belgium.
In 1990 my musical interest suddenly shifted towards Techno & Detroit Techno in specific after listening for the first time to Derrick May’s remix of ‘Neurotic Behavior’. This unheard sound immediately convinced me to start producing my own kind of techno music.
All this is before I would meet Brian but without knowing it, all that time we had been listening to the same kind of music. Evidently our music now has a lot of influences of most things we like but it’s such a broad horizon and of course there’s also life in general to get inspired. I mean, when ordinary things happen almost simultaneously and you’re able to connect some of the dots between them, like strange facts or other eerie coincidences that may grab your attention, then things get fascinating, don’t they.
It’s all art!
Cosmic Disco: We have heard of the famous Ancienne Belgique nightclub and it’s resident DJ’s such as Fat Ronny. What venues/nights did you used to regularly visit and can you give us any idea of the atmosphere/vibe of these parties such as the music that was being played, the DJ’s that were influential etc.
The Ancienne Belgique club was in fact a former theatre near the heart of Antwerp. The interior of the building was pretty much left untouched when it became a club. So you had a large, central dance floor, surrounding corridors with lots of decorative woodwork, a stage and a balcony that also functioned as DJ booth.
It was a very beautiful & classy place with its taupe painted walls and burgundy curtains. Unfortunately at that tender age of 11 I was too young to actually go out and visit the club. I did manage to sneak in under aged a couple of times but this was at least 5 years later when AB was a little passed its peak, I think it must have been somewhere in the early 90s.
Rumoured nights like the notorious Roman themed party that had a toga for dress code, are only of hear- say and I cannot confirm. But all that didn’t matter to me because the music on those AB tapes was more than enough for my young & inexperienced mind to deal with. Really, those mixed tapes were like valuable study books All these different styles brought together, the ‘genre crossing’ did have a great effect on me. New Wave, Electro-Pop, Soundtrack Themes, Afro beat or other musical stream could make sense next to each other. That was a major discovery for me.
Anyway, to my knowledge Ronny H. was indeed the first to DJ at AB but outside Belgium few people seem to know how brief that was. After Ronny it was DJ John who became resident of AB. He told me this when I looked him up a while ago to talk about his time in AB. The music played on the Liaisons Dangereuses radio show was quite similar to the stuff played at AB.
This also rubbed of onto other bars, clubs and radio shows in Antwerp and probably a similar thing happened in other Belgian cities like Ghent and Brussels. One of the founding members of this legendary club is Renzo Mela. Besides co-owner & founder, he was also occupied with the artistic direction of the club. That is why we use the moniker ‘Ronny & Renzo’ since those 2 names quite sum it up for us. Of course, later we did regularly visit that other famous Antwerp club called Cafe d’Anvers. There we attended many unforgettable evenings and watched influential DJs like Derrick May, Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins, Jon Dasilva & many more play for the first time in Antwerp.
I even remember a retro disco party at Café d’Anvers and Boney M performing live. We also visited lots of parties across Belgium and also organized 2 infamous ones of our own. Well acquainted ‘Antwerp Godfather of House’ DJ Koenie got asked to play. Two times in a row it resulted in the mighty yet long lost feeling of ’1 DJ, 1 crowd & 1 big *fooking* pile of energy’. As you can see, there’s been and still is an abundance of influences for us to channel
Cosmic Disco: What are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry, both for the major and independent labels? Does technology and wider access to communication tools such as the internet make it easier or more difficult for you to achieve your goals? What would you say are the difficulties you currently face producing, releasing and distributing music?
This is a serious topic and I think there are much smarter people than me out there who can give a reasonable answer.
I can only speak from my limited experience as a independent label owner. I remember a certain studio owner telling me when he’d returned from a Midem convention sometime in the late 90s and he’d attended a seminar where some lecturing musicologist said that he predicted the extinction of the ‘World Artist’ explaining further that because of the internet and the technological progress everything would get a different dynamic creating countless artists to release their own material on self-run indie labels.
The speaker also predicted that more and more artists would reach their audience on a different scale and this through their self created networking environment. I think he’s right about this particular evolution in the music business. It certainly is in our case and I can say for instance that MySpace played a major role in the way we put out the label and reached an audience worldwide.
Okay, this cyber networking is only a part of the process but we can’t deny how important that has become these days. Also the blogs and forums are a very interesting phenomenon and they are of considerable importance to the record labels of today. So it’s fair to say that these new communication tools certainly are actually positive things to occur in this digitized era.
About the difficulties we face: KKFR is a ‘micro-label of love’ meaning that it’s run by merely 2 people and a lot of help from friends. This has the advantage that I can publish only that what I really like, still we are subject to one major factor and that is money. It’s very simple: no money = no release. I know this may sound a little harsh but it is reality. And believe me, today it’s not that evident to break even when you look at the high production cost of our releases or records in general let alone to make a profit and create some continuity as a label.
However, being a small indie also gives you the flexibility to move pretty fast or respond to every twist & turn in the road. Also, we can anticipate what we think is strategically ‘the right time’ to put something out and release it for the public, almost like a guerilla leader would do. Of course this timing can depend on various factors and isn’t the only thing that matters in running a successful business. It may sound cliché but as long as the passion is there you have every reason to proceed.
This is what I love to do and will probably keep doing for the rest of my life regardless of an empty cash register at the end of the day.
Cosmic Disco: So, what formats do you release KKFR tracks on? Are you strictly a limited run vinyl only label or are you also releasing music digitally via such sites as Beatport/ITunes etc.? Can you give us any updates on any upcoming KKFR releases or any new artists on your label? Do you have any recommendations on new artists who you are feeling at the moment?
We currently release on limited vinyl but since the plans are laid for a Ronny & Renzo album and compilations as well, CD is inevitable.
Our catalog is also digitally available at Juno, DJHistory and Flexx (Belgium) and in a couple of weeks on our own restyled KKFR website. The site will also have a nice ‘Exclusive Mixes’ page and a ‘Used Records’ section where you can buy used rare vinyl records or other collectable stuff we particularly like.
I know Beatport and iTunes probably are the most popular download stores but I choose to work with individual persons and not faceless companies. Very big companies tend to take decisions over your head and sometimes suck you in their legal whirlpools so that before you know it you’re talking music to their lawyers.
As far as new stuff coming I can tell you that besides were working like berserkers on various tracks at the same time. The next Ronny & Renzo release is almost fact. I know it is taking a long while now since our last release but nothing leaves the King Kung Foo kitchen before it is ready. Once again it is going to be an impressive total package of incredible music and mind-numbing art on the cover. And special in a sense that once more we leave the conventional pathway of releasing a record and we try to add this extra awareness dimension to it without being corny.
I want to put out records that when you’re holding them, be it now or in ten years time when you pull one out of a bargain bin somewhere in a charity shop, you instantly know you just found something precious, crafted with a lot of devotion and care. I guess Me, Myself, Good is going to be our most emotionally laden release so far and for every copy sold a part of the money goes to the Gorilla Foundation/Koko.org. On top of it, this 12 release will also have a remix by Quiet Village and just like their remix of Uniqorns its going to be a groundbreaking listening experience. We had to wait more than a year for this release to be ready and complete so we’re really excited about it!
In the mean time we’re also talking to the Idjut Boys, Mungolian Jetset & other well/lesser known people for new material on KKFR but I can’t say much more about it because we like take it one step at a time in this slippery world.
The past year I mainly focused on digging & rediscovering old music. I didn’t really follow all the new stuff coming out so while I would love to recommend other artists we’re feeling I’m not going to. Also because I don’t think it’s fair to all the others out there giving their best in what they believe in. Like I said before, the internet gives everybody the opportunity to expose themselves and show their work to the rest of the world so I don’t think I can contribute much in mentioning artists already doing that. And of course the ones I personally think are unearthed diamonds in the rough I will approach in utter silence… Guerilla. Remember?
Cosmic Disco would like to thank Nicolas for taking the time and effort to give us such informative answers and as promised both Nicolas and Brian got together in-between their very busy schedules to put together this stunning exclusive mix for you and as promised, find below the encrypted track listing.
First person to correctly identify the full mix wins a special King Kung Foo 12 direct from Ronny & Renzo themselves! Maybe its a copy of their upcoming release Me, Myself, Good which has a hypnotic, dark mix on the B-Side from no other than Quiet Village?
Maybe, we can even get the guys to sign it especially for you! Leave your details and answers in the comments section below.
Ronny & Renzo Cosmic Disco Exclusive Mix:
- Throbbing Octopus
- Dont worry, Nina
- Black & White, Holmes!
- Cosmic Storm In A Swedish Glass
- Ganz Geil
- Biblical Proportions
- Tripping In Trieste
- Moving Between Silk Sheets
- Icelandic Rain
- Sleazy Peeping Rod
- Rhythm Of The Bong
- Latin Glasses
- Tralla La-La Land
- Final Beating
- Tokyo Lit By Lasers