The Mechelen Hundred

Portraits of a city's people, today

Nestled between Brussels and Antwerp, Mechelen has often been overshadowed by its larger neighbours. Yet teaming up with the City of Mechelen, our line-up of 100 of the city’s most prominent people, places and projects proves the extent of its potential. From artists and creatives to critical thinkers and fighters, these are the powerhouses driving Mechelen forward one step at a time.

Joris Preckler

Joris Preckler

Jazz programmer at Klara (1977)

Can you describe what you do?

I work at the radio station Klara, primarily as a programmer with a specialisation in jazz. I also play music myself, and I lecture on and give presentations about jazz music.

I was born in Willebroek, a small town just outside of Mechelen. I went to school in the city and spent a lot of time there during my youth. At the same time, I became fascinated with Brussels because of my father, who was a musician and often travelled there to perform. Eventually my family and I spent 13 years living in the capital, but a few years ago we felt a growing need to get our own house with a garden and some peace and quiet. We found all of this in Mechelen, and after all those years, it really felt like coming home.

How do you perceive Mechelen? 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?

Mechelen both very humble and generous and caring. Anything you need, you will probably find it here (although sometimes you have to look quite hard).

It seems like everyone wants to live here now! When we went looking for a house, we spent a really long time searching for the right place and everywhere I went, I saw young people.

Mechelen offers great opportunities and chances. A lot of ideas and initiatives are approached with great caution at first, but when something proves to be a success it gets built upon. A good example of this is jazz festival Brand!.

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

Mechelen gave me the chance to find my own way. At certain times in my life, I left to live in Leuven and Brussels, and the city never held me back, I never felt like I was abandoning my home. The personal and professional experiences I had in Brussels have shaped my life, but when I came back to Mechelen, the city was still waiting for me.

For my portrait, I arranged to have it taken at the art academy where my mum used to go very often. I can still remember spending hours here, and even today I find it to be such an inspiring place, something which is also so evident when you look at the young people visiting and passing through.

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

We are desperately in need of a real Italian restaurant. I don’t mean a pizza place, I mean a traditional trattoria where you can have a pasta al tartufo in winter, and a pasta alle vongole in summer.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Mechelen?

Let me tell you about my perfect day in Mechelen. I get up really early, and go to the local bakery Broodbroeders to collect a fresh load of bread.  On my way back, I drink a delicious (and I do mean delicious!) coffee at Kaffee Ine in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwestraat. Not only do they serve great coffee, the atmosphere and the customers always help me relax and put me in a good mood. After that, it’s time to get my beard thoroughly groomed at ROOTS barber shop.

Just before noon, I pass by the Zondvloed to look discover and sometimes buy some new books. Usually around this time I am craving an aperitif, luckily there are more than enough places to have a great aperitif in Mechelen. I tend to go for a glass of cava with some tapas at Sava, or a fine wine at Unwined near the cathedral. And to finish off the day, nothing beats a jazz concert at NONA arts centre. The programmer there has an excellent taste in music, and every time you go there, you will discover some wonderful new music and artists.