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 a lover of real electronic music in all its spectrums, and I carry a great interest in design, art, architecture, culture, travelling and world music. I’m based in the 2018 neighbourhood of Antwerp, also known as Little Antwerp. I’m usually up until the early morning, until the first sun rays. Ampere, or the office, is a three-minute bike ride away. I wouldn’t want to put myself in a specific scene, I don’t like to be put in boxes and I would never do so with someone else either. Life has many phases and offers people the chance to try out different boxes, which makes me one of those scene-hoppers that kind of blends in everywhere and probably have ticked all the boxes in my short existence. it kind of offers you a broader awareness and understanding of life. The same goes for music, I can appreciate many different genres and I’ve been discovering them since an early age. With Ampere, we try to offer a sustainable ecologic multi-purpose event space with a strong focus on youth culture, nightlife, and social awareness, our mission being to explore the wide spectrum of quality electronic and world music culture in its broadest sense. We don’t aim to be a typical nightlife club, we prefer to be seen as a venue, rather than as a club.
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?
Luckily the city is still raw and open to exploration and expansion, waiting and preparing for its big boom. I personally think that Antwerp is a raw diamond that is currently being shaped and formed. And still, has many opportunities and creates a strong breeding ground for young urban creatives in every shape or form. Antwerp is currently in transition but has that big mix of everything you want from a metropolitan city blended together with that intimate village feel. A city that now offers everybody with bright ideas opportunities and that listens to the youth and their culture. Although work is still in progress. I lived in Rotterdam for a while and in a way, it feels like Rotterdam ten years ago. But Antwerp still keeps that authentic architectural feel within it’s city centre. Also, Antwerp people are becoming more and more straightforward, speaking their mind about and being proud of who they are and embrace all the good things and all the change happening around them. It took us a while, but I think we all are starting to become more and more open to positive change.
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?
I had been walking around with the idea for a sustainable creative event space for years before we finally opened Ampere. Looking for the right venue close to the centre isn’t an easy feat. Luckily I stumbled across a project via the Antwerp department of youth and culture and AG Vespa, an autonomous municipal company for management and urban projects in Antwerp. I found Ampere thanks to them and thanks to the alderman of youth “Nabilla Ait Daoud” who is also a strong purveyor of sustainable and ecologic projects within Antwerp. They embraced our project and have given Ampere the chance to become what it is today. We also work closely with the city for youth and socio-cultural projects and offer space for more than just nightlife and urban culture. It is, for me personally, a strong example that Antwerp is a city of opportunities and that the city is open to working with and towards good ideas.
It took us a while, but I think we all are starting to become more and more open to positive change.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
Better infrastructure for cyclists. More public transport during the night, especially during weekends. More international promotion when it comes to night and youth culture, as Antwerp is currently very innovative with both. And, what’s most important in my opinion for young creatives, designers and musicians, are the regulations for young businesses. It’s not normal how much start-ups have to contribute in social fees and other taxes. It almost seems like the city wants to discourage people to become self-employed. Even when you have great ideas, it’s a challenge. If these regulations were loosened, I think it would equally solve a lot of unemployment issues, and would provide the government with more money in the long run.
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?
While Antwerp might be small, it’s not an easy thing to discover the city in a mere two days. When I take people on a tour I like to take them through the city centre, to go and see the magnificent churches. My favourite is the Saint-Carolus Borromeus church. The Kaaien (docks) are equally essential, as is a view from the city from across the river in Linkeroever. Good coffee is everywhere, Caffenation and Coffeelabs being just two examples. Amazing Bahn Mi sandwiches you’ll find at Camino. And, after a stroll through the Kloosterstraat area, I’d offer visitors a taste of Dellafaille, one of the best bakeries in town, or Fruxino across the street, who offers the best sandwiches. No tour is complete without a visit to a bar, and one of my favourites is without a doubt the authentic Kulminator at Vleminckveld. Then there’s M HKA museum, which always hits the spot. In terms of restaurants, I believe Antwerp offers world-class quality. One that I personally love, because of its no-nonsense approach, is Mampoko. And, of course, the day ends with a night out, and for that there’s no place better than Ampere, where we welcome the world, where you can dance the night away and give mother nature a hand.
A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth?
Antwerp has too many legends, too many anecdotes and too many urban myths. We could write books about them and I could also fill a book of my own. But I will just finish off with one of my own quotes: “Less ego, more creativity.”ampere-antwerp.com Photography Thomas Ost