The Leuven Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

We’ve joined forces with Leuven to highlight 100 local people, places and projects that contribute towards making the city what it is today. From artists and architects to producers and professors, these are the driving forces powering Leuven forward one ingenious initiative at a time.

Brutus

Brutus

Stijn Vanhoegaerden, guitarist (1987) / Stefanie Mannaerts, singer-drummer (1989) / Peter Mulders, bassist (1980)

Can you describe what you do?

I play guitar in the band Brutus, an alternative metal band made up two Leuvenaars (Stefanie and I) and a Kempen-native (Peter) – but our group was founded and is based in Leuven. On top of that, I also work at a music school located above a music store in the centre of Leuven. I lived in the centre for over a decade, but now reside in a small town just outside the city. My daily routine switches between working in the school, going to rehearsals and playing gigs. All my colleagues are also working musicians and good friends, so it’s a nice place to hang out in, even during my spare time.

How do you perceive Leuven?

For me, definitely after having lived here for so long, Leuven is the perfect mix between a small city and a big town, where everybody knows each other. You can find everything you’ll need here, and walk through it in half an hour. After a couple of years, you’ll get to know most of the like-minded people in the city – which is probably harder in a place like New York!

What would you say is Leuven’s main appeal as a city? What gives it its edge?

Leuven being a city the size of a small town is always convenient if you need to go places. And, of course, the fact that there’s like 10,000 bars.

How has Leuven contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

Once I started working in a music school, hanging out with musicians all the time, I realised that all I wanted to do was play music. Thankfully, this awesome place just happens to be in Leuven!

Leuven being a city the size of a small town is always convenient if you need to go places. And, of course, the fact that there’s like 10,000 bars.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city? What could it do better?

I believe there could be a lot more small-scale gigs in Leuven. There are some nice, larger venues like Het Depot and STUK, and they do organise great concerts – but I would also love to see some venues with smaller capacities in the centre, where you could see punk bands for example. Don’t get me wrong, such spaces do exist, but having said that, this is something I often see happening more in other cities.

If you had to take an out-of-towner to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?

If I have friends over who are new to Leuven, I would definitely take them to Oude Markt: a city square that’s surrounded only by bars. It’s a great place to start and end an evening!

A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth that, to you, encapsulates the spirit of the city?

Leuven’s most well-known factory must be the Stella Artois brewery, located behind the train station. There’s an urban myth that there’s a pipe running underground, from the factory straight into one of the bars in the centre …!

wearebrutus.com