Belgium’s Greatest Export is Back

Seminal dance label R&S Records returns

Just when you thought good old-fashioned dance music had given up the ghost under an onslaught of indie, one of the great labels comes charging back into the fray, like a veteran actor brought back to revive a flagging soap. Mention R&S Records to techno/experimental enthusiasts of a certain vintage and you’re likely to be met with a wistful stare and possibly a hummed riff from one of the many seminal cuts the label issued over its 20 year history. And quite right too, as the R&S roster is rather arousing: Aphex Twin, System 7, Model 500, Derrick May and Carl Craig all passed through its corridors back in the day. Label founder Renaat Vandepapeliere has a radical new plan for his reawaken beast, however.

Clash: Why start the label again?

“Public demand. Questions, questions, questions: ‘Why did you stop, why don’t you come back?’ I don’t know if I had the intention to do so because I thought it was finished, I couldn’t add anything more to it. But I always had the dream of signing a big pop act.”

A big pop act?

“That’s be something completely new for me, as a challenge. I’m going to leave Dan [Foat] in the UK to do the dance department. He has a free hand, he can do what he wants, he can be me, but thirty years younger. He has to prove himself. If he fucks up, he fucks up, or he does well. But he’s got the platform.”

So what sort of acts are you looking for?

“I’d like to work on an Underworld, a Prodigy, maybe even a Coldplay. That’s where the interest is, this is where my head is now, to be very honest. People say ‘no, you can’t do this, you should only do dance music.’ This was my biggest problem, I felt so trapped in being a dance label, even though I was trying to be as diverse as possible. But it wasn’t really accepted. I love dance music, but I love music in general. I want to be free and open minded.”

Why did you stop R&S, originally?

“So many reasons. The main reason, and why I’m going to leave Dan to do what he does, is that I felt dance-wise I’ve been listening to the same records over the last 24 years. Maybe its me getting old, maybe I’ve got Alzheimer’s, but I can’t hear the difference. I tried, I went to all those minimal clubs but I couldn’t understand it anymore. And the vibe around the music was gone. I’m not getting excited by clubs to be honest. But then I’m totally spoiled. I travelled the world, and we were at the beginning of something totally new. So it was exciting.”

But you’ll be re-releasing your back catalogue too?

“The whole back catalogue, the highlights, will be remastered, again because of public demand. The albums were very hard to find so why not? Even within my family, there are kids 18. 19, 20, they’re going out, DJing, so they’re grabbing my collection and found it interesting. You have a lot of youngsters who are going back to what the past was.”

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