Welcoming him to the District of Monuments here at the U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C. on the first stop of his ‘Lost In America’ tour, Felix De Laet, or internationally renowned for his moniker Lost Frequencies — talks about why entrepreneurship is important in the music world. Last year, he founded his own label, Found Frequencies – distributed by Armada Music – which is quite an early entrepreneurial route for any artist, let alone for any 25 year old. His diligence towards working and promoting other artists, he feels, will lead to driving his own brand. He stresses to early artists, that the money will come later once you really focus on your own craft because what good is money if your music isn’t good?
Emerging in 2014 with the global hit of ‘Are You With Me’ he quickly rose to multi-platinum status by reaching the #1 spot in 18 countries, while becoming the first Belgian artist to hit #1 in the United Kingdom. He has toured all over the world with more and more hits such as ‘Reality.’ In 2017, he rose as a debut entry in DJ Mag as a top contender spot at #26 to rising up to #17 or top ranking global DJs. This is quite a feat as in 2018, he has reached over 1 billion in streams for his music.
Furthermore, he will be going on his fourth year with his ‘Lost Frequencies and Friends’ stage at Tomorrowland. He will also be headlining Tomorrowland with such acts like Armin van Buuren and Steve Aoki. Just last week, he was also announced as one of Ultra’s headliners. Even with millions of followers and billions of streams, this humbled artist is here to not only drive success for other artists under his label but to offer the best cultural representations in all the music videos he shoots all over the world. In doing so, he has gained international fans from all over the world.
However, if you see his tour schedule, you know he is in work-mode constantly. So let’s catch up with him on how an artist can drive his own label and brand while being in the public eye constantly.
Headlining Tomorrowland sounds dope. Are you excited?
It’s crazy I’m headlining for the fourth time! Yeah, the people at Tomorrowland do an amazing job – its really cool with them to work with me. The whole electronic music scene is changing. It used to be just EDM on the main stage, and now it’s becoming very progressive. It has a completely different sound.
I’ve had a ‘Friends’ stage for years, now that I’m on the main stage for the third time, it’s amazing.
Who are you excited to see the most and potentially ‘collab’ with?
I would love to collab with Fisher. If he could do a remix of one of my tracks, that would be amazing.
So the song ‘Crazy’ was the first to be shown on your own Found Frequencies label. How did it feel to know that you had most of the creative direction for this song and other songs coming out?
For me, I get to play a lot of sets that are released on my label.
I get a lot of demos. Like today, I listened to about 50 different demos, and I try to give as much feedback to artists as I can. It also helps me to also keep an open mind of, “Can we sign this one or not? What can we do? Can I play it in my set? Can we do different stuff with this?”
How does it feel to have that independent freedom of your own brand?
It’s really challenging but it’s also a really cool thing to do. The team is getting bigger so everything is getting more like “day to day” work and everything is starting to come together.
How big is the team now?
Close to me, we have two people. We are starting to create a real identity cover wise. All the artwork for the single – we just hired a designer and took him in like one month in from now. Otherwise, I have another girl working for me doing all the planning and all the releasing and working with all the other artists too — so they know what is coming up. And then I have song guys from Armada – my other label – they are helping us to put everything in line and put out some promos.
Where do you see this label, Found Frequencies going five or ten years from now?
I want to be where I can do the distribution myself and have a sub-label to my label. I want to work with friends doing a lot more techno music. Hopefully I can have a whole team working together to be able to release stuff. I want to have a whole stage at festivals, and have a whole family at festivals.
Would you want to launch your own festival?
Not yet. I have a friend organizing a festival in Brussels for like 2,500 capacity. We are putting artists on the label out there. It’s a fun challenge.
Your music videos are known to be visually appealing and diverse in setting as well as casting of people from different backgrounds. What makes you really want to encapsulate and capture all types of people from around the world?
When I travel I see a lot of different stuff. Everywhere I travel, I say, “I want this to be a part of the project.”
As a producer and entrepreneur, what advice would you to new up and coming artists?
What I see now is – you have a lot of things online on how to act with labels, and how to act with people and stuff like that. But for me, when I sign an artist on a label, I want to know that they are excited, and are happy to be able to work on something, and want to go to the next step.
Cause’ when I ask a guy if they want to sign the next track and they immediately think of more technical stuff and more about money – then it’s not the vibe. I’m not making any money off this label. I just want to make it so that up and coming artists have a chance to release a track and get a platform. It’s not about the money first.
So I would say, “pay attention to vibes, and how everything is growing and less about what you can get out of it money-wise”. Because in the end – I’m having a lot of side projects and I’m not expecting money out of it – but I’m having so much fun meeting new people and releasing stuff on other labels. It’s so exciting to do a lot of this stuff.
I get way more out of it releasing stuff than getting money out of it. But getting feedback from other guys, and you see the project, and that the project is growing way more faster than if you were paying attention to having one dollar more on a track. Its meeting the people and having a good vibe from them.
In the end they’re going to support you. You’re going to have more supporters, fans, followers – then you’re going to be able to do more shows. Then the money will come that you wanted in the first place. It’s going to come later one but at least you’re going to make it.
Who were the best DJs you’ve worked with so far? You have mentioned being inspired by Avicii, Afrojack and David Guetta at a young age. However, the production game is getting younger and younger – who are you inspired by now?
I’m more following brands and blogs that talk about studio environments to get better hardware than DJs actually. I’m really focused on building my own studio because it’s always been my dream. I’m really following people on how they put their studios together. I’m seeing a lot of new stuff that I didn’t really think about – discovering new sounds from all this hardware in the electronic music scene. It’s like reaching a purity of the music.
It’s really inspiring for me right now, even focusing on just knobs. I’m really coming into contact with like synthesizer brands. It’s a really exciting journey to be do all of this stuff.
So this is in line with building a studio, to then build the brand and mentor artists?
For the label for example, a lot of guys send tracks, and the idea of the track is really good but sometimes the mixing is not that great. So I tell them to send me the track – I know a guy – he’s going to help you mix the final track real good and then we can release it as a really good track. And then it’s really exciting – it’s a step that a lot of people don’t really know. And then we get really good tracks that people are going to support more than if we didn’t do those steps.
I’m really happy to help those guys out and to do something new for them and take it to the next step.
What collaborations are you looking forward to in 2019?
Banks. Jillian Rose Banks.
What new releases can your fans look forward from you this year?
I’m releasing a new single in mid-march. I’m going to drop the Kanye West and Estelle remix at the end of March. I’m going to play it tonight actually. I’m going to release an album before the summer. So I have a lot of stuff coming up.
So the album will come before your Tomorrowland headlining debut?
So you’re constantly traveling, making music and listening to new artist’s demos, so when do you sleep?
I sleep when I’m at home. I’m actually really focused on when I’m suppose to sleep to get full nights. For example, we arrived yesterday in Washington and I’m counting my hours to get full nights to be able to do all the rest – to be in a good mood.
It’s not all about the business, I want to be able to enjoy it. If I was here and I was really tired, I won’t be enjoying tonight. For example, we had a meet and greet earlier here with fans that came at 8:45pm. And If I was really tired, it wasn’t as fun. In a good mood, I would be able to talk to everybody.
Thoughts for the fans?
I want to thank everybody for coming out tonight. I’m really happy to be able to travel, to come here and be able to do a show in this venue. For example, this venue looks amazing and I’m really happy to be here.