In September 2017, Charlotte de Witte featured on the front of DJ Mag’s flagship UK magazine with the tagline “techno’s next-gen superstar”. Just three years on, she claims the Highest Techno award in the Top 100 DJs poll, a title held by the legendary Carl Cox for just about as long as we can remember. On top of that, the Belgian has climbed a whopping 42 places, meaning she takes home the Highest Climber award too.
De Witte’s built herself up over the past five years, after first appearing under her real name on Tiga’s Turbo label in 2015. She launched her own KNTXT clubnight, which ran at Brussels institution Fuse, and this January celebrated its fifth anniversary at Kompass club in her hometown of Ghent. Last year, KNTXT became a label; so far it’s put out seven releases, including two by de Witte this year: the stripped-back ‘Return To Nowhere’ EP in June and four- track thumper ‘Rave On Time’ in September. She’s also launched a new solo stream series on YouTube that saw her play at a medieval castle in Ghent and a fortress in Montenegro.
Right now, though, her most pressing worry is the club scene getting the financial support it needs to make it through the COVID-19 crisis. “I hope going into spring 2021, times will change,” she tells DJ Mag, “and if they do, I’m sure that it will be crazy, people will be so happy.”
What three things have most helped you through coronavirus lockdown?
“Getting my life back in balance with [sleep and eating]. Surrounding myself with people that I love a lot, I mean really gamechanger, I wasn't alone, if I would have been it would have been horrible. And just trying to stay positive and use [my] time in a relaxed but productive way.”
What lessons should the industry learn from this crisis?
“I think that we should be given a voice, we should be heard in general. We are way too important to be neglected like this. We should really talk about the importance of nightlife and about the fact that people need a place where they can be free to express themselves. It’s incredibly important and too easily forgotten.”
What steps need to be taken to address racism in the dance music scene?
“This entire scene, and music culture, should be a place where you should be free to express yourself, to be whoever you want to be no matter what your gender, your age, your sexual preference, your race, it really shouldn’t matter, and I think that’s something that we should continuously put out there and continuously repeat to everyone. It’s a thing that should not be forgotten. And we should keep on educating ourselves, and work on establishing a better scene for everyone. It’s important to not leave anyone out, everyone’s included.”
What industry changes are you personally pushing for to make the dance music scene more inclusive?
"Well, just repeating the fact that there should be more equality and everyone should feel more included. I think it’s also important to keep an open mind and to be able to have an open conversation and discussion about how to improve our scene. I would like to underline the importance of having the possibilities to talk about how this crisis has been affecting us and our mental health. We're all in this together. Everyone, artists, stagehands, DJs, suppliers, managers, tourmanager, booking agents, VJs, club and festival owners.... We're ALL struggling. It pains me to see how people so easily jump to conclusions and start judging others on incomplete information and prejudices. There's a serious lack of support, coming from the
government but also coming from peers. Talk about it, keep your mind open and be understanding and respectful towards others or I'm afraid that the long-term mental effects of
this crisis will be visible even after we've somehow restrained this virus.”
What is the greatest dance music track of all time?
“Tough one, but Age Of Love ‘The Age Of Love (Jam & Spoon Watch Out For Stella Club Mix)’.