We sat down with the Belgian artist Charissa Cools aka AM.I. Antwerp-based producer and DJ is one of the names to get to know and watch throughout this upcoming 2021. Forward-thinking electronic music perfect to reconnect nightlife. She usually has an idyll with the melodies, but goes dark too!
AM.I is able to reintroduce melodic techno music in a whole new, fresh and unexpected manner. We won’t take long to discover her new EP, “Fugitive Bliss”, set to be released on Set About next January 15.
How did you discover electronic music?
When I was young, my best friend was always listening to trash electro music such as Redial, Boys Noize, Sebastian remixes … The energy these guys brought to the dancefloor is amazing. Always full-on and straight ahead. Starting from 18, I started switching from nu-metal to electronic music.
Which artists inspire the music you’re making right now or have been a real influence in your career?
With my classical background, I love the flowy ideas of Hans Zimmer and his melodies. He creates questions and answers in his music, which I try to bring to techno as well. Apart from that, my 2 biggest influences at the moment are Victor Ruiz and Alex Stein. Enrico Sangiuliano contributed with his amazing Biomorph. I love the little sounds and drive these guys uphold.
How long have you been producing and DJing?
My classical composition education started when I was 14 years old and continued until I was 18. From the age of 16 it was Fruity Loops that got me going into electronic production. Ableton and Logic followed later on.
Share with us some of the biggest highlights from your career to date?
During these times, I had one memorable moment here in Belgium. A bigger local event works with dress up themes and in August they chose ‘Prison Break’. 400 people dancing in separate bubble “prison cages”, on tables next to each other but still apart, for the first time after the lockdown. The energy of those people was something quite unique to experience.
Where are the best places you’ve performed?
I loved the small local events where everyone is dancing in front of you.
What makes the perfect DJ?
A perfect DJ is very difficult to tell. I think nowadays there are a lot of different types of DJ’s. Goes from vinyl to sets with samplers, to completely analogue. I prefer a DJ set up with a sampler, which gives the DJ a kind of producer feeling. You’ll have to be very creative, to bring a new set every time.
Who was the first big DJ to support your music and how important was that moment in terms of inspiration as well as being validated as an artist?
Well, I just had the amazing experience working with Alex Stein on one of my new EP’s. He’s such an inspiration, not only in music but also as a person. It was kind of a preparation for 2021 and beyond. I love it when your ‘heroes’ turn out to be normal chill people. It sets an amazing working and creative vibe.
Tell us about the scene where you’re from, how is the nightlife and do get a chance to play out very often?
My hometown Antwerp (Belgium) has an amazing nightlife! We have multiple clubs, with events all year through. ‘Club Vaag’ is a basement, specially made for Techno and other electronic music. When you’re on the dancefloor, it’s like the bass goes through your body. Super cool (and they have a badass light jockey)! The biggest event though is of course Tomorrowland, which is in our backyard. It’s on every DJ’s dream list of course.
The nightlife club events are also pretty known (Kompass Club, Café d’Anvers, …). My first bigger sets were planned just before the lockdown, so I’ll be patiently waiting to get a new chance to connect with the Belgian crowd. Hopefully pretty soon!
Who are some up and coming artists from Belgium to look out for?
We already have 2 big techno women on top. So pretty proud of them already! Upcoming artists are difficult to spot these times, as a lot of new producers are working on music right now. I think we can expect a lot of new stuff when the lockdowns are over.
What do you want your music to convey to the listener?
Only one thing: to lose yourself, into a moment and to no one else. No better feeling as just forgetting your troubles for a couple of hours and feel happy about everyone around you. It’s what connects us. I think music happens to be one of the few things that doesn’t make me feel lonely. On the dancefloor, in the car, in the living room or on the train, it’s like oxygen.
Which labels have you released on previously and which others are you looking to get signed on?
Recently I’ve released on Ballroom Records, which was a huge milestone for me as an artist. Since the beginning of my techno career, I’ve been listening to Kaiser Souzai. He brings a different kind of techno drive and I love it! He and the label have been a huge support for the latest EP and I can’t wait to bring something new to them again.
I’m having an amazing new EP coming in January, which will be announced on new years day. This one’s a step I thought I would never be able to do. Beyond my comprehension, but I think hard work pays off.
One of the more “ultimate” releases for me would be Terminal-M on Monika Kruse’s label. She gives artists a lot of room to be themselves. I think with the right EP, we would really connect. One can only dream!