Can you describe what you do? Where you are based, the neighbourhood you live in, your daily routine, the people you work with, the scene you feel the closest to.
I’m the programmer of Kavka, a youth centre based in the heart of Antwerp. We host approximately 220 events a year in our concert hall alone. Next to that, I host parties in other venues around town: So You Think You Can Funk and Next Level Shit being two examples. My daily routine pretty much looks like this: Wake up, check my mail, prepare for work. Once I’m in the office I try to combine my time to cover all the paperwork next to meeting promoters or having meetings with our team (which happens a lot, we’re 14 based in two offices and have more than 150 volunteers). On a production day I start to focus on the event from 14h onwards. Checking if all is ok with the promoter and artists. Briefing our crew, and especially the production manager who takes over in the evening. After work I mostly go to a show, theatre or hit a bar with friends somewhere around town. I can’t really plan ahead because I don’t know which nights I’d have to stay in Kavka. It’s always a bit impulsive. Our dedicated team of young volunteers is awesome and keep me in touch with youth culture.
How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe? How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?
I have a love/hate relationship with our city and the people who live in it. As a promotor you meet a lot of kind, enthusiastic people, who care about the things you love. But Antwerp has it’s downsides as well, just like any other city. Antwerp has a constantly shifting cultural landscape, thanks to the many art and music schools based in the city. Young talent pops up all the time. There’s a constant wave of new places to visit and unfortunately a lot are closing as well. 2017 kicked off pretty weird though without Petrol, Piaf, Emma VZW, Stadslimiet, Bar Gloed, Klub Goud and Kiebooms.
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?
Almost everything is possible in Antwerp, from the biggest commercial concept to the deepest underground performance. That’s the biggest plus. Antwerp hosts an insane amount of places where people can do what they want to do and experiment with their concepts and ideas. That’s why we have a rich cultural heritage that’s only getting bigger by the day.
There’s a constant wave of new places to visit and unfortunately a lot are closing as well.
How would you say Antwerp contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?
It basically did everything for me, next to having parents with a great taste in music. Thanks to the awesome underground shows and parties in places like Scheld’apen, Hof Ter Lo, Petrol, Freaks End Future, Bar Mondial, Envers-Swa, and Kavka, I started doing what I do now. My first show was in a basement in Berchem at JC Den Eglantier over 10 years ago. The most important meeting spot was Kavka, all the promotors back then met each other here. It’s also there that I met my long time collaborators Piet, Jules and Dries. Throughout the years, I helped organise, book and promote events and festivals all over the city. I think Doomsday Festival and Antwerp Open Air will ring a bell to most of the readers. In the meantime, I mostly worked at the infamous Spiegeltent and in September 2014, I started working at Kavka. So yeah, you could say the Antwerp scene shaped my career.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
More mid-sized and small (bar-)venues – we notice there just aren’t enough of these at the very moment. Every program is filled to the brim. A street filled with music bars, what the Suikerrui used to be in the past, would be fantastic to have back. Although I fear such things have become impossible due to all the noise complaints from the neighbours.
To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?
Meet the locals, get drunk and party your ass off. I’d also take them to our colleagues from Het Bos. One of the best places to have a healthy meal and when there’s a band playing it’s the perfect starter for your night out. Or of course a night at Kavka.kavka.be Jasper is pictured below on the right Photography Thomas Ost