Concerts

Charlotte de Witte Aims to Transfix the Crowd the Only Way She Knows How

Charlotte de Witte
Charlotte de Witte Photo by Kemizz
"I need to feel the connection. I need clubs. I need festivals," producer, DJ, and label boss Charlotte de Witte tells New Times. If there is one thing the DJ juggernaut from Ghent, Belgium, requires, it is a nexus between herself and her brand of acerbic techno — and a crowd is the missing link that brings her music to life.

The dog days of livestreaming are over, and the only way de Witte can feel the passion is by blasting music in front of an audience. That passion should be on display at the Miami debut of her label party, KNTXT, on Friday, December 3, at Space Park.

"It's my first time playing during Basel," de Witte confesses. "It's also going to be the first KNTXT event we've done in Miami, so obviously I'm looking forward to it. It's very exciting and a very big moment for us."

As a label, KNTXT found its pulse in Belgium's clubbing milieu, specifically at the legendary Fuse nightclub in 2015.

"It started as an event — a night out," she explains.

What began as standalone events around Brussels grew to a tour-de-force record label with a penchant for evolution, identity, and an unbreakable familial characteristic. KNTXT also runs its own Apple Music channel and fashion columns.

"Our identity is important to us — the visual identity online, our flyers, and our creative bubble," de Witte says. "The goal is to have people walk in and say, 'This is KNTXT.'"

KNTXT centers on the evocative anthem-styled techno and acid that seemed to dim by the rise of deep house and more melodic tracks.

So while the open-air event starts at 4 p.m., it is a mistake to think the techno, acid, and psytrance de Witte and company plan to play will be any less apparent. In fact, the contrast will only fortify the speedy overtures and palpations that make up the label's DNA.
"It's going to be electronic music, some techno, some acid, and everything related to the family," de Witte says. "It's a bit difficult to put music in a box, but it will be a good night out, a bit of an underground night out, and just some good music. I think we invited some very good DJs as well.”

The lineup also features the legendary Victor Calderone, Los Angeles native Onyvaa, and the Detroit DJ Henry Brooks. When choosing a lineup, de Witte attempts to strike a balance between spotlighting KNTXT's talent and bringing in sovereign DJs to diversify the music from boilerplate experiences.

"We don't just want to narrow to our family and be overly exclusive," she says.

The acceptance rate for getting signed to KNTXT is low. During demo submissions, tracks have to catch de Witte's ears in just a few seconds.

"I'm in a very luxurious position because I'm the one who gets to decide," she says. "So it's really what I like, and it's very subjective — but that's going to get released on the label. [In March], we opened for demo submissions, and we got thousands of tracks. I go through all my promos very quickly. You look for the elements, and if it's there, you can pinpoint it instantly.”

Judging a snippet's worth of listening, de Witte manages to select emerging talent that fits the KNTXT mold and can mesmerize listeners.

"We found a couple of producers from the demos. One of them is Indira Paganotto — she's fantastic,” she says.

With a year and a half of mental and physical rest behind her, de Witte feels invigorated and she arrives armed with unreleased music made during quarantine that she can finally play to a crowd.

Audiences can expect to hear de Witte's and fiancé Enrico Sangiuliano's formidable remix of the 1990 trance classic "Age of Love." The remix is equipped with rolling basslines, acidic rhythm, and trancelike homages to the original.

"I didn't sit still musically, and there is a lot of new music that I can finally play in front of people," she says. "I couldn't play my previous releases in front of the crowd, but now I can, and it's so great to see how the crowd reacts. Surrounded by cameras for livestream is not the same as being in front of the crowd. It doesn't give me the same energy or satisfaction. It's more stressful and draining."

There is an obvious jubilance when de Witte talks about music, and it doesn't take much to draw it out.

"I'm happy to be back, and I hope it doesn't go away anytime soon," she says.

Charlotte de Witte presents KNTXT Miami. With Henry Brooks, Victor Calderone, Onyvaa, and Danyelino. 4 p.m. Friday, December 3, at Space Park, 298 NE 61st St., Miami; spaceparkmiami.com. Tickets cost $20 to $80 via eventbrite.com.
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Grant Albert is a writer born and raised in Miami. He likes basset hounds, techno, and rock climbing — in that order.
Contact: Grant Albert