Brussels is known for many things, having spawned the great surrealist René Magritte and comic book character Tintin—not to mention its waffles and sprouts—among them. But for being a bastion of forward-looking club music? Not so much. Nevertheless, it was in this international city that, in 1983, the mono-monikered musician and producer known as Richelle was born. Richelle is a mysterious figure in the world of electronic dance music. He began playing the flute at age six, before adding clarinet, saxophone, and drums to his musical arsenal, and by 15, he was already producing tracks for obscure Belgian rappers who went by names like Shadow Loowee and Convok. “The rappers were mostly friends of mine,” says Richelle, now 30. “We were all listening to rap, so we tried to copy our idols, like Wu-Tang and Dr. Dre.” Searching for a way to put out his music, Richelle launched label Pelican Fly with his musical partner DJ Slow in 2011. The label’s premiere release, an EP titled Mascotte, features a novel mix of cutting-edge club beats and swaggering Southern hip-hop elements. Richelle’s second EP, On the Track, caught the attention of designer Rick Owens, who asked Richelle to create and oversee music that accompanied Owens’s Spring 2013 men’s presentation last June. But while all this might conjure images of nights spent haunting in dungeon-esque clubs in unsettled corners of the Belgian capital, Richelle’s version of the international DJ life—like most things about him—is refreshingly atypical: By day he works full time as an architect and is a partner in his own firm. “There are many similarities in the creative process, the way you make a sketch and refine it more and more,” Richelle says of his two primary creative outlets. “I love to be able to do a lot of things. Trying to switch from one to the other—it keeps you awake.”
PHOTO: RICHELLE IN BRUSSELS, JANUARY 2013. ALL CLOTHING: LACOSTE. SHOES: ALEXANDER MCQUEEN.
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