Although Netsky maybe new to mainstream Britain, he has already created more buzz than a swarm of angry bees in Belgium.
For a long time Boris Daenen, most commonly known as Netsky, only belonged to Belgium, now he belongs to the world. You may not instantly recognise the 25-year-old drum-and-bass DJ-producer, but you almost certainly will have heard one of his records. He became something of an electronic cult star after releasing his self-titled debut album, which was not only critically-lauded, but it also served as an introduction, providing a backdrop of his high-octane, bass-heavy, energetic sound.
His follow up album, 2, which was released in 2012, was a huge commercial success: it hit the No.1 spot in the Belgium charts and also entered the UK album charts, making it his highest-charting album yet. It’s a remarkable feat and with his new found fame, he’s now unstoppable. “A lot of people recognise me here because I do a lot of TV shows,” he says from his home in Edegem, Belgium. “It’s really great. I never find it annoying like some people do. I think it’s part of the job.”
Blending his soul-influenced sound with breathy vocals layered over up-tempo beats is his speciality. He began producing music at the age of 16, practicing his craft in his spare time and DJing at house parties. “At that time, I wasn’t even thinking about being on stage or even performing on one,” he says, laughing. “I just loved being in the studio and making music. It’s my first love — making music.”
Travelling around the world performing and DJing non-stop, he doesn’t get much down time, he says. “The one thing I noticed after touring a lot is that it’s good to take a break sometimes. I’m at the stage where I now find time to spend with my friends and family. I really like doing it, it helps with writing records and it gives me a lot of energy as well.”
With his latest single, he is further consolidating on the success of his previous efforts. He wound up working with Beth Ditto on ‘Running Low,’ a song about “losing your love for somebody and not knowing how to cope with it.” Not that the message will resonate with his audience, he is nonetheless, telling a story. “It’s kind of a very depressing song, but there are two sides to it. I think sonically it makes you want to rave and dance, but the lyrics are a lot deeper than that,” he says.
On paper, it sounds like a dodgy formula that shouldn’t work, but Ditto’s high-pitched vocals bathed in lush, relentless, string-laden arrangements feels like it’s constantly on the verge of breaking — there is so much emotion as she sings: “You can see it in my eyes, so swollen in time from crying.” But through the bravado, what really defines the song is a certain willingness to venture into the unknown. There are some people who can do it, and there are others who just can’t. It’s as simple as that.
Daenen admits he was nervous upon meeting the Gossip frontwoman for the first time. “I wasn’t sure what kind of a person she was. You can watch loads of interviews of any artist but when you meet them in person, they might be very different. That wasn’t the case with Beth, she’s one of the most funny, loving and nicest people I’ve ever met. She’s also really inspiring and I enjoyed hanging out with her.”
His stage name Netsky — a name which, according to him, was contrived to indicate his passion and appreciation for all things science fiction. “I’ll admit it, I’m a sci-fi nerd,” he says with a smile. “Everyone always asks me if my name has anything to do with Terminator, but no, I’ve never been a fan of the Terminator. That’s not where my name’s from.” Up next: he’s preparing for a long summer tours and festivals. “I’m looking forward to touring together with Beth and playing our song live,” he says, “it’s going to be incredible. I cannot wait.” If there’s another thing you should know it’s this: Netsky is here for the long run.
‘Running Low’ is released August 17.
Words: Noel Phillips.