Soulwax talk new single ‘Empty Dancefloor’: “We miss that emotion of making people lose their minds”

The dance legends talk to NME about new music, the future of nightlife, and working with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy

Soulwax have discussed how their surprise new single ‘Empty Dancefloor’ was inspired by the world’s clubs falling silent as a result of the coronavirus lockdown – while remaining confident that nightlife will return stronger than ever. Watch our video interview with the duo above.

The Belgian dance-rock legends dropped the new track last week, after it was written for the campaign for Apple’s new Airpod Max headphones but was deemed too “great” to not be released as a single.

“We made it in a couple of days and it was done like two weeks ago,” Soulwax’s Stephen Dewaele told NME. “It kind of brought us back to the [2005 album] ‘Nite Versions’ days when we would make a thing, play it at [legendary London club] Trash and someone would come in to Rough Trade the day after and ask for the mix. With that directness of things, it’s fun to see that it can still happen today.”


Asked if the repeated lyric “I can barely remember how it feels” reflects their own emotions around not being album to play, DJ or dance in clubs or venues, David Dewaele replied: “We get a lot of people telling us how much they miss that energy and feeling of being in a loud club and being amongst other people.

“People talk about the demise of other industries, it’s completely valid and a tragedy, but I’m completely confident that nightlife is going to bounce back like never before because the demand is so gigantic and the desire is so huge.”

He added: “That community feeling – it’s a thing that people miss more than the other things that people have had taken away from them.”

Stephen agreed that “the emotion of making people lose their minds and have an experience where they feel connected to everyone else is that room” is what he misses the most about nightlife, but he remained confident that clubs would come back stronger than ever after COVID restrictions lift with the help of ideas from “a new generation”.

“It’s neither black or white,” he said. “That feeling will come back. We hope that some young kids will come up with some really cool and inventive ways of doing this. It was becoming pretty corporate, like an industry. This should be taken as an opportunity for the cooler parts of it to be stronger and for the more corporate parts to maybe disappear.”


Soulwax live at All Points East 2018. Credit: Andy Ford/NME

As for other future plans, the brothers told NME that they had been hard at work in their Deewee studio, as well as planning a Soulwax tour and more nights for Depacio, their clubnight project with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy.

“During the lockdown we worked on a lot of stuff, and next year we’re going to release a new Charlotte Adigéry record, there’s a lot DeeWee stuff coming out, we’re making a record with [former Klaxon] James Righton,” said Stephen. “We make very little distinction between Soulwax, a Soulwax remix, or studio Deewee stuff. For us it all lives in the same category and we put the same time into it.”

He added: “Despacio will definitely happen next year too. That is one of the things above all that we created with James together. I do feel that the sound of physically experience of listening to that music on vinyl through Macintosh amps – I know that the first one back will be emotional.”

James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem performs at the Lisbon Coliseum on June 19, 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal. CREDIT: Pedro Gomes/Redferns

When quizzed about previously mooted music that they’d been writing with Murphy, Stephen replied: “He sent it to us. We forgot about it. It needs to resurface, but it has to have a context for all of us. The one pitfall that us and James has is that we can make some more! It was definitely something at a point of time where it was fun for him to make music without the pressure of it having to be LCD Soundsystem or us having to be Soulwax. It was all about having fun.”

Watch our full video interview at the top of the page, where Soulwax also look back on their landmark album ‘Nite Versions’ – which the duo recently reissued to mark its 15th anniversary

Soulwax’s ‘EMS Synthi 100 – DEEWEE Sessions Vol.01’ is also out now