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.

Joris Vaes

Joris Vaes

Co-founder, Tangram Records and LoadStone Management / Promoter and Head of Communications, Het Depot (1985)

Can you describe what you do?

I run Tangram Records and LoadStone Management – two entities that I co-founded – as well as work as a promoter and head of communications at the local concert venue Het Depot. Depending on the day, I work from Het Depot alongside a great team of hard-working individuals, or in our Tangram office located in the city-centre next to Het Radiohuis with my colleague Marnix – or just anywhere in the country where there’s Wi-Fi connection and a power-plug, really.

How do you perceive Leuven?

Leuven’s a city with a town-like vibe. During the week, there’s an extra 50,000 people living here, but who tend to leave the city during the weekend or summer. This makes the centre of the city very busy on certain days, and feel completely abandoned the next. I really like this dynamic of having metropolitan features whilst still retaining its provincial feel. Since I visit, work and stay in other cities pretty often, I love coming home to a place that’s somewhat overlooked, cosy and even quiet at moments. And being able to bike to the office, that’s a big plus of course. Again, thanks to its small scale, everything can be found in your reach: a mere 15-minute bike ride will get you where you need to be, like from the historic centre to the countryside just on the outskirts of the city.

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

I’m not originally from Leuven, but I think its proximity to pretty much anything and everything is what drew me in in the first place. It makes you want to escape the city just as much as it makes you feel at ease when you return. For Tangram specifically, it nurtured an outward focus in us from the very beginning. We wanted to share our story in other places from the start; while at the same time staying very connected to the city, working together with a lot of local talents, and hosting various events in the city.

I’d like to see more space for experimentation, loud music, night-time activities, and so on. I’m confident that this is where and how the magic happens – and we could all do with a little more magic.

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

As Leuven’s a small city, there’s literally very little public space for youth to mess around in without any interference. Sure, there’s several interesting initiatives by and for our youths, but they still tend to be very regulated. I’d like to see more (literal) space for experimentation, loud music, night-time activities, and so on. I’m confident that this is where and how the magic happens – and we could all do with a little more magic.

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

Chill in one of the parks during the day, and follow it up with a (very early) aperitif in one of our many café’s – take your pick from Café Central, Bar Stan, De Optimist, Café Sport, De Commerce, and such. Grab a small bite there too, move inside and continue your sesh. If there’s a cool band playing at Het Depot I’d strongly advise you to check it out, otherwise an ONKRUID event is not to be missed either.

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

One of the biggest living legends of the city for me is Gie van de Rumba, or “Gie of Rumba”. Although he sold off his club Rumba & Co. a few years ago, he is still well-known (and well-loved) by us all. I love his no-nonsense approach to life, his work ethic, and eye for detail – if only he would become our mayor, things would surely be very different and even improved for the most part. This city could do with a little more Gie – the most authentically Leuven as can be.