As one of the most important tastemakers Europe has to offer, and affiliated with labels Brownswood, Blue Note, !K7 Records, Stones Throw and Jazzy Sport, Belgian music junkie Lefto is consistently a couple of steps ahead of what’s next in modern music spanning all genres.
His playlists for Belgium’s foremost national radio station Studio Brussel has been lauded excitedly by the likes of Rough Trade Shops and Gilles Peterson.
Famed for his gloriously eclectic DJ sets, he switches effortlessly between hip hop, funk, breaks, neck-snapping beats, future bass, South-American influences, bruk and some wild African rhythms. He’s not only a DJ and producer but also curates his own stage at the Dour Festival and his own nights in Gent in collaboration with Democrazy.
World renowned, Lefto regularly blesses sound systems from Tokyo to Seoul and Singapore to New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He has been a resident DJ for Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festivals since 2008 around the world. The travels resulted in the Worldwide Family Vol. 1 compilation on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings with partner in crime DJ Simbad in 2011. In 2012, he put out two compilations, one for American brand 101Apparel and the other one for Universal Music.
We’re crazy excited to have Lefto taking us *virtually* around the Belgian capital Brussels, giving you a definitive guide to record stores, coffee shops, the best views and the best food. What’s more, Lefto has recorded an exclusive mix of 100% local music to accompany his guide to the city, so you can immerse yourself to the fullest.
Below you can find an annotated Google Map of Lefto’s guide to Brussels accompanied by detailed explanations of every place pinned, plus his 100% local mix + tracklist.
Favourite place to buy records?
Well, there’s actually a bunch of record shops in the Brussels’ central area. Most shops sell new and second hand records and you could find something in one, and another great thing in the other; I would recommend you Caroline Music for some brand new records and would tell you to go to Veals & Geeks, The Collector and Jukebox for second hand but make sure you use Yelp as it will give you another 5 shops to discover.
Favourite place to listen to live music?
Back in the days everyone would go to the Tavernier bar, where every wednesday a live act was performing as part of the Jazzbreak weekly nights. These days I’d recommend the Bonnefooi, a music bar Rue des Pierres 8 in central Brussels. It’s a tiny bar with a (now) great sound system (Void) but where you’ll be able to hear great dj sets by underground deejays and live acts from upcoming or even well known artists with side projects.
Best sound system?
The best sound system, it’s hard to say, it really depends… I would give the Beursschouwburg café a good rate, great Nexxo sound there, the FUSE Club has a good sound sytem, as well as Bloody Louis Club. The main venues have an amazing sound (think Ancienne Belgique) but honestly, nothing beats the rental Funktion One sound system that regular nights have here from time to time.
Favourite outdoor party?
There’s a few outdoor parties in Brussels I like but the best might be the Boat Ride, it’s part of the summer beach event they do in the city alongside the canal. The boat leaves at 11pm and comes back at 3am and offers a nice and different view of our city and its skyline.
Favourite place to escape the hub of the city?
The forest which is part of the city, it’s in the south-east and is really nice to bike in, silent roads and the sounds of the forest; It is probably the only time that I don’t need my cellphone.
Best view in Brussels?
The city offers a few great panoramic views due to its many hills but my favorite view is uptown, by the Atomium, there’s a nice view from the park, close to the King’s home castle.
Where will you find the friendliest, most interesting local you like to have chat with?
There’s an area in Brussels called Les Marolles, which is one of the oldest areas if not the oldest area in town, there you’ll find the most interesting people with interesting life stories and neighbourhood talk. It’s a very particular area where you’ll still hear the old dialect of our city in the typical Brussels’ cafés.
Where would you go to see another medium of art other than music?
Around the Place des Palais there’s the Magritte Museum, there’s also Beautiful Arts museum and actually, there’s a gorgeous building that hosts the museum of the musical instruments and it also has a nice café on top with a great panoramic view…
Is there a person (dead or alive) who encapsulates Brussels for you?
I think Marc Moulin and his music definitely described the vibe of Brussels, funky, jazzy and sometimes dark.
Best traditional Belgium restaurant? And what meal would you choose?
It actually closed recently and it made me sad because it’s the place where I’d go watch the local football team play on tv while having a great steak. These days I’d have to go for La Fin de Siècle, which has very good steak with a potatoe filled with garlic and a salad on the side.
Favourite place in general for food?
I have so many favourite places for food in this town but if I had to choose one maybe it would be the most random looking café on the outside but they have an amazing kitchen. It’s called Le Portugal and they serve amazing black porc meat (pata negra), thin slices and grilled on wood. Fingerlicking good.
Favourite coffee shop?
It’s called Coffee Company and has my favorite hot chocolate. Hot chocolate, cream and marshmellows….oh my god!
Place to experience something uniquely Brussels?
Get yourself a waffle or fries in town and have a chat on a café terrasse with locals who speak flemish, french and english. But go to Les Marolles and witness the weekly flea market, it’s quite special.
Best and worst thing about living in Brussels?
Best thing about the city is its multiculturalism, Eurocrates meet middle eastern and maghreb cultures and eastern Europeans mix with Portuguese and Brazilians, I love my city for that. Worst thing is probably traffic as it’s the most congested city in Europe and also too many administrative and language fights due to the city’s official languages (french, flemish) and english (being the second language in our city).
Tell us a little about the mix you made for us. Where/how did you record it and are there any tracks/artists who you want to shout out?
The mix features some of my favorite and new cats on the block, some are really young but already have the potential to break out.
And finally, who are some of your favourite up-and-coming producers in Brussels ?
Basically some of the producers you’ll hear in this mix are some of my favourite in town and around.
Lefto’s 100% Brussels Mix Tracklist
1. LTGL – Hat To The Back
2. Sokoto – Bass
3. Dorothy Ashby – For Some We (Monkeyrobot Remix)
4. STUFF – Free Mo
5. Moodprint – Jordan (#exclusive)
6. Uphigh Collective – Dealing
7. Mastah William – Allgoldeverything
8. Shungu – The Creator (#exclusive)
9. Zomb – Youss (Bill Bile 2 ft. Sika, Frades & Veence Hanao)