St. Paul presents 2018’s Stage FOUR line-up

Ever since the first edition of Best Kept Secret in 2013 you know where to be to experience DJ sets which take off in any direction but the one expected. Stage FOUR, hosted by the Netherlands’ most inspired DJ: St. Paul! These special sets and guests are on the bill this year:

Arp Frique (DJ set) – Braz (live) – Carista – History of Soul (Leroy Rey) – Ionica Smeets – Joep Beving (live) – Michael Midnight – Never Mind The Brexit (St. Paul UK Only Set) – Steve Davis & Kavus Torabi – Tala Drum Corps – The Gospel Sessions (DJ set) – The Mauskovic Dance Band (DJ set) – Thys – Yous & Yay

Want to know more about the FOUR line-up? In this blog, St. Paul himself explains his motivations for choosing each of these artists.


Somebody, somewhere in 2012, told me once: “Say, we’re going to organize a festival next year with your favorite artists. Oh, and by the way, here’s the key to your own stage. Good luck! ”

My reaction in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and now 2018, is pretty much “Waaaaaaaaaaaa!”

Once again, I get to host my own stage, Stage FOUR, at Best Kept Secret. For three full days, I’ve invited artists and DJs from all corners of the genre Beautiful Music to bring their favorite records. With complete disregard to continuity or convention, just so the audience can take everything in without the tyranny of expectation. My job is to connect everything and everyone with my own DJ sets in-between. For this year, I myself came up with an inevitable theme somewhere. I’m very proud of the assembly of people bringing in their own flavour to Stage FOUR.

The line-up is simply glorious this year: “Snookerstar DJ” Steve Davis behind the turntables, mathematician Ionica Smeets doing a tweepop set, future-soul pundit Carista, Noisia co-founder Thyn… ALL my first choices immediately said yes. Below, you can read my “raison d’être” for enlisting all my musical friends for this year’s Stage FOUR extravaganza. Because everyone deserves a place in the sun.

This rapper from Bergen Op Zoom was first introduced in Fresku’s Eindhoven posse, but now barges into Hilvarenbeek on his own two feet. His most recent release Brazpark can be considered a bumpy safari trip across hip hop’s vast terra firma. Braz will keep the audience guessing and spin them dizzy until all the movement actually starts resembling a dance. After previous stints from Cho, Jonna Fraser and Yung Nnelg, Stage FOUR now gives the mic to Braz, baptizing the Beekse Bergen into Brazpark for the time being.

Steve Davis & Kavus Torabi
Proud of this one! Steve Davis is a six-time Snooker World Champion who not only looks like a modest weatherman. Turns out he is a big fan of Aphex Twin and Autechre too. In fact, in the autumn years of his life, Davis started trading in the snooker table for a turntable more often. Like another would immerse into the realms of soul or jazz, Steve Davis is a savant of electronic music, krautrock, psychedelica or techno (“I press play”). Together with composer, musician (Gong) and record boss Kavus Torabi, this ‘snooker star dj’ currently travels from club to Glastonbury and back across England. At Stage FOUR he will play in The Netherlands for the first time without his cue.

Ionica Smeets
Dutch celebrities who love good indie are a pretty rare find. Tygo Gernandt lobbies bit too hard for rock (pronounced ‘wràààk’), and that’s about it. But a mathematician who loves and knows her tweepop? Well, come on down, Ionica! Rumor has it that Smeets has followed a special DJ course to showcase her love for bands like Belle & Sebastian and Stereo Total. With so many nice songs in her arsenal, I’m definitely standing in the front!

The Mauskovic Dance Band
Any Dutch DJ with even just a little interest in exotica should play some The Mauskovic Dance Band in his or her sets. The band led by Amsterdam’s Nicola Mauskovic has released an EP full of instant floor burners this spring on the unsurpassed Soundway label. Which means the time is due to put them behind the turntables themselves. Expect a healthy mix of afrobeat, cumbia and post punk with your potatoes.

Arp Frique
When did we polder people suddenly awaken as revisionists in exotic high culture? You take a nap and suddenly Altin Gün, The Mauskovic Dance Band and Arp Frique dominate the better dance floors and stages. Welcome To The Colorful World Of Arp Frique is an infectious debut full of Caribbean and Middle East Afrobeat. As if we’ve never listened to anything else. The BBC’s Gilles Peterson is also a fan. Le frique, c’est chic!

The Gospel Sessions
If Dan Auerbach was split into twins, they’d be called Paul Willemsen and Onno Smit. And if there was a Masterchef in Rhythm & Blues, this duo would be participant, finalist and winner every season. Paul and Onno, with Lefties Soul Connection, Beans & Fatback and The Gospel Sessions, have put their own soul food on the menu of Dutch cuisine. With Michelle David they are a particularly well-deserved entry at Pinkpop this year. On stage FOUR they will spin some of their favorite records.

History of Soul (DJ Leroy Rey)
Soul is a mother. There would be no BADBADNOTGOOD without the Funk Brothers and no Curtis Harding without Mahalia Jackson. For years, soul brother number one among DJs has been Leroy Rey (Sugar Factory, Paradiso, North Sea Jazz). On Stage FOUR, he’ll be leading us on a hip shaking & heartbreaking journey across the history of a genre that keeps on giving.

This month, Carista was a guest at BBC Radio 1, once again pointing out to host Benji B that Utrecht is not the same as Amsterdam. Which is, of course, always nice. Then she turned a earworm mix of broken beats and future-proof soul. Her star is not only rising in the clubs, but also with her own radio shows. Carista always leaves a trail of loyal fans behind, and it won’t take long before she’ll have Stage FOUR in her pocket.

Drum ‘n bass music is still a catalyst on almost every floor. The prime purveyor of the genre over here is of course Noisia. Their kinetic beats have resonated across the far sides of the world. So it’s nothing less than an honor to receive producer and co-founder Thijs de Vlieger on FOUR. For an hour he will deepen the genre, from the inevitable climaxes to the most subtle moments. Dynamics is a craft and Thys a bona fide master of it. The art of Noisia!

Yous & Yay
Between the two of them, Sef and Faberyayo could fill an entire floor, if there was a museum of Dutch pop. On that floor you can now listen to a cozy podcast called Yous & Yay: New Emotions. It contains nice offbeat conversations, with a different guest into the mix each time. At FOUR no exception really: we are all Yous & Yay’s guest during their lively DJ set. I’m curious about the favorite floor fillers of these two verbal greats.

Joep Beving
Joep Beving’s hypnotic, minimal music is like a fairy tale: for the Dutch pianist, everything is larger than life. His success, his imagination, his appearance. And the way his work spellbinds us defenseless listeners. On Sunday, we’re placing Joep and his piano in the middle of the dance floor, and allow his music to soothe our body and soul properly for the final leg of Best Kept Secret 2018.

Tala Drum Corps
This producer and DJ has an innate love and interest for percussion. Forming a drum band on your own is a bit tricky, however, but naming yourself after one is way easier. His set at Catch festival led to an acute muscle pain epidemic. Frolicking between kinetic percussion, hip hop beats and intergalactic disco, Tala Drum Corps sure finds its USB schtick.

Michael Midnight
By day Kim is just (a very good) dance programmer for Belgian fest Pukkelpop, but at 12AM he changes into Michael Midnight, a spastic eclectic superhero with strong predilection for black music in its full breadth. What happens when you book Michael Midnight by day, however, is still a big question mark. Best. Kept. Secret.

Never Mind The Brexit (St. Paul UK Only Set)
Arctic Monkeys are back with a brand new album and coincidentally, back since the very first Best Kept Secret. Which basically begs for a full hour of British pop and dance music. Politically, the island, like everyone else, has lost track, but musically there’s hope again. Never mind the Brexit and dance on everything between The Stone Roses and Bicep, The Kinks and Young Fathers or… God save the monkey, there will be darlings killed! (St. Paul)

We’re pretty sure there will be more surprises on Stage FOUR during the weekend of June 8, 9 and 10. Be there or be square, but remember: only buy your Best Kept Secret tickets from a trusted source.