Check out the interview below.
Congratulations on hosting your own stage at Tomorrowland this year! How much has your life changed since you first played there back in 2016?
Thank you so much! My first time playing Tomorrowland was actually in 2015. It was a branded stage, and I was not even announced. I played for 20 people, and many of them asked me what my artist name was—it was still RENEE back then. And it was at that moment that I realized I should change my artist name. I had to write down the URL to make sure they would find my SoundCloud or Facebook page.
Shortly after I changed my name to Amelie Lens, my first release came out. Everything happened fast after that, I was a local DJ in Belgium since 2009, so when I signed on an international label, I got massive support from the Belgian scene and started to get more international bookings too. Thinking back to that first time at Tomorrowland, it still feels surreal that I played on the mainstage last year. Not to mention this year, I will be hosting my own stage on both weekends.
How did you experience the music industry as a young woman back when you started your career?
To be honest, this is something I don’t like to talk about, since I see myself as an artist and not a female artist. I like to be treated equally and questions like this are somehow making me feel like I am not. But unfortunately, there is still a lot of prejudice towards women entering the scene. I had to deal with a lot of hateful comments with people telling me I should go back to my kitchen, that there must be a guy making my music… But these things have only motivated me to work harder and be better.
You are touring around the world non-stop. Is there a ritual or specific routine you try to maintain despite all these travels?
Not really, no. I’ve had a hectic life since I was 16 years old, combining work and school and traveling a lot. Thus, I never really had a lot of daily routines. I do try to video call my grandmother, who raised me, every two days, but that might be the only routine I have in my life to be honest
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 15-year-old self hearing electronic music for the first time?
In hindsight, it’s easy to say, but I am happy with all the choices I have made in my life. There is nothing I would have done differently. I would try to say what every grown up tells 15-year-old people though—try to enjoy your time being young. It's so cliche, but so true. Things really are different when you have zero responsibilities.
You have been DJing since you were 18 years old. Was there ever a plan B for your future?
Music was just a passion. I never really thought I would be doing this full-time. I was always working hard and trying to take as much as possible out of life. When I was 16, I realized I could study faster by myself and use the rest of the time to work. So I dropped out of school, studied independently, worked and traveled in the meantime. After I graduated, I was already financially independent and signed up for university, but it was almost impossible for me to pay by myself combined with my job. So, I quit. I found a school that offered event management as distant study, but even this was hard to combine with my job, since I was mostly living in Paris and London, but I had exams almost every week in Belgium. I was already DJing sometimes and making music for several fashion brands.