27 Feb Interview with DJ Pascal
The Belgium Bears have been working with DJ Pascal for several years. High time to find out more about our “house DJ”.
Hello Pascal. Please introduce yourself briefly.
I am Pascal Hermans. 51 years. During the week I work in the purchasing department of a security company, but I am also a DJ and therefore passionate about music. I am married to an Englishman.
What does music mean in your life? Is it a hobby or a passion and when did this interest start?
To quote John Miles: “Music was my first love, and it will be my last”.
As far as I can remember I have always been passionate about music. It started at home with a “pick-up” (a turntable). As soon as I could hold a record in my hand, I was the one at home putting the records on. So I grew up with my parents’ records, mostly music from the 60’s.
For my 13th birthday I was allowed to visit a radio studio. That was super great! I eventually worked there for 8 years. Those were important years where I further developed my “musical roots”. Today I am still influenced by disco & music from the 80s.
In the late 80’s, I started replacing a DJ friend in a club whilst he went on holidays. Later I got the chance to play 3 times a week in a small club in Brussels, a club for over 40s.
In the mid 90’s, I played in a club close to Waterloo. This was a very different atmosphere as it was a club for young people. So I played what it was popular then: Robin S, Snap, Haddaway, Dr Alban and a lot of house music.
Towards the end of the nineties, I started spinning for the first time in a gay club in Ghent (the Paradox). That was again a completely new experience. Compared to the straight clubs, the atmosphere was very different. The visitors there were really there to party. No fight, just party, party, party! And yet also a bit of showing who did the best “Madonna moves” on the dance floor. 😊
Where can people usually hear you play?
Currently I’m not playing – thank you, Covid! But until March 2020, I had the pleasure of playing at Station BXL bar every Friday evening. Playing in a bar is of course very different from in a club because you should not play too loud so that people still can have a conversation. You shouldn’t necessarily let them dance all night long but still play music that appeals to them and makes them want to stay.
I also played once a month in a French club just across the border, past Dour.
In addition, here and there private parties, occasional weddings, etc.
And of course on the truck of the Belgian Bears at the Antwerp Pride and in Sitges!
What is your favourite genre of music?
Gosh, this is a really tough question. I am super eclectic. I like to listen to almost anything but extreme genres like Hard rock or Hard Core. I hate Drum ‘n Bass.
I love Disco and the music of the 80s and 90s, but also contemporary artists. I also like to play Trance, Progressive House and Deep House. So I feel just as comfortable playing super commercial music, or on the contrary totally non-commercial music if I have an audience that is looking for that.
Are bears a difficult crowd to entertain musically?
Quite the contrary! Bears but actually the gay crowd in general is an easy crowd because they want to party, have a good time, have fun.
Do you identify as a “bear” (in the broadest sense of the meaning)? What does the bear community mean to you?
I used to think that as a bear you had to be hairy (a lot) and so I thought it was not the best description for me. But I quickly learned that “bear” has more of a meaning of “body acceptance.” The bear community is finally a place where everyone can be themselves and where we don’t judge people for being fat or skinny, big or small, hairy or hairless . And I can certainly identify with that.
What do you prefer to do: mixing music or entertaining an audience?
I think these go together. Mixing is fun of course, but if you do this in front of an audience, you will see the reactions. There is no better feeling for a DJ than when you start spinning a song, hear the crowd cheering, whistling or singing along. This is nice, with a small group, with a hundred people, but if you get a reaction like that with thousands of people, I can guarantee you that it will give you goosebumps!
For which special occasions have you already played? Where do you still want to play?
On the Belgian Bears truck, of course since the first year that you participated in the Gay Pride and the Antwerp Pride! But also several times in Sitges, a few years also with Cruise4Bears on various cruise ships and on the official Mr. Bear election party. Also played 3 times at the “Le 15 août” festival in Ittre.
Where I would like to play in the future is at international Bear events such as Mad Bear, Bigger Vegas or Cannonball.
What do you think it takes to be a successful DJ?
If I knew that, you would have seen my name on the Tomorrowland line-up, hahaha!
Of course it depends on what you mean by “successful”. When I started DJ-ing, there was no such thing as DJ stardom like now. You didn’t even have to have a stage name. Actually, the DJ was usually in the darkest place in the clubs. Everyone knew there was a DJ, but no one should actually see him. I just started playing out of passion and not to play with my hands in the air in front of thousands of fans at a festival. For many people who become a DJ now, that’s what they want to achieve: they want to become a star. Beware, I am not saying that I would not like to play at Tomorrowland, but that I am not really my goal. What is important to me when I’m going to play somewhere is that people have fun, that I can find that song that makes them go wild.
Are you a fan of programs such as “The Voice”?
Fan might be too big a word. I used to watch The Voice on BBC and RTBF regularly. I think it’s a great program that shows that there are still a lot of talents out there. It’s just a shame that the music industry shows little interest in talent. Everything has to generate money quickly, they no longer want to invest in artists. I often say that we live in the time of the “throwaway hits”. Today number one, completely forgotten tomorrow.
Do you have a specific place in the bear / gay scene that you like to visit?
I don’t have much opportunity to go out, as I usually work on Friday and Saturday evenings, but if I can I like to go out for a drink in our Brussels bars Station BXL, le Baroque, Stammbar, etc. Once a month I like to drive to Eindhoven for the bear day in the Tibet sauna.
When the Corona crisis is completely over, what will be the first thing you do (again)?
Finally playing records again, waking up the nightlife and doing anything to help people forget this nightmare for a few hours!
Thank you, Pascal, for this interview. We wish you a lot of success and see you on a musical occasion!
Mixes and more info via these links: