"No, Belgium isn't the dance music capital of the world," quipped Jo Bogaert, founder of Technotronic, the Belgian group whose "Pump up the Jam" single recently topped the U.S. charts. "To make it big in dance music you've got to make it in America--where the big dance scene is. That's what I was trying to do for years."
Early last year--after two rock albums and 20 dance singles--producer-synthesizer player Bogaert, 33, was still looking for that U.S. hit. He had a few successes in his native Belgium, but it's a country without much of a record industry.
"It was very difficult for us to export music to other countries," Bogaert said. "But some of my dance records were popular in U.S. dance clubs and I knew that if I hooked up with the right people, I could make a record that would be a hit in the U.S."
Bogaert tapped the talents of Zairian singer-writer Ya Kid K, 17, and, later, British rapper MC Eric, 19. Last summer, using Ya Kid's lyrics and vocals, he constructed "Pump Up the Jam," a hyperkinetic, booming-bass number that may be the most popular dance-club tune since M.A.R.R.S.' "Pump Up the Volume." Originally on Belgium's ARS Records, the single was picked up for American release by SBK Records.
As it heads out on the road as the opening act on Madonna's high-profile concert tour, Technotronic is tackling a nagging problem--how to reconstruct its image after the exit of Felly, the exotic Zairian beauty many assume is the voice of Technotronic because she is pictured on the group's hit debut album and in its videos.
"She didn't have much to do with the record," Bogaert admitted. "Me, Eric and Ya Kid did it all. We needed Felly to help promote the group at first--to create this image. But now the music is a hit. The music--not an image--is carrying us now."