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.

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse

Indie-pop band, Willem Schellekens (1994), Bram Knockaert (1993), Nick Socquet (1996), Yannick H'Madoun (1987), Bastiaan Jonniaux (1994)

Can you describe what you do?

We’re all musicians; some of us with jobs, some of us still students. For all of us, a large part of our lives evolved – or still evolve – around the city and the University. For those of us still studying, our days mainly consist of classes, going out for a drink or to a concert, or hanging out at our student housing. We often get together after classes to talk music, write new songs or attend to general band practicalities. Leuven has a vivid music scene, as well as a huge community of aspiring students. It’s very enjoyable to be in a place where these two aspects meet, and where we’re able to find a balance between our student lives and passion for music. Since our music is very much set within the city of Leuven – the place where we’ve developed most of our friendships and cultural backgrounds – we feel very much connected to the city and its vivid community.

The student life also provides a specific atmosphere: with many youngsters figuring out what they’re “all about”, this adds a certain innocent and carefree vibe in the air, while also representing youths’ willingness to chase their dreams.

How do you perceive Leuven?

Leuven is a very energetic town – the fact that it’s not so large in size makes it a very busy and cheerful place to be in. It’s true that you can get anywhere in about five minutes, stumbling upon plenty of great spots along the way. It’s almost impossible to make your way through the city without bumping into a familiar face. The student life also provides a specific atmosphere: with many youngsters (still) figuring out what they’re “all about”, this adds a certain innocent and carefree vibe in the air, while also representing youths’ willingness to chase their dreams. Leuven differs from other cities in that everything’s so closely related. It doesn’t matter what your interests are or what you’re studying – everyone’s lives evolve around the same few streets and campuses, which makes for very interesting friendships and settings.

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

There’s a real mix people in Leuven: elderly people who’ve lived here their whole lives, temporary international students, people with daily jobs, … But when the sun’s out, you’re sure to find everyone enjoying a drink at Oude Markt!

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

As a band, Leuven has had a hugely important influence on us. Our songs take shape within the vivid atmosphere of the city, and the more countryside-esque Rotselaar, where our rehearsal room is. It’s very interesting to start a song in our student rooms in Leuven, with minimal instrumentation, and finish it in full production in Rotselaar. Working on a song together in our rehearsal room, and fine-tuning it in our rooms in Leuven also gives our songs a nice twist!

Most of our shows are based around Leuven – and now that we’re getting a bit more known in other cities, we always love to come back for a show in our hometown, where the crowd sings along even to our lesser-known songs.

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

Maybe the city could do with a bit more venues – given the fact that the pubs in Leuven are often very small, hosting events can be quite difficult. It would be nice to welcome an alternative, charming setting for live music!

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

We would definitely show them around Oude Markt, which is a rare sight for foreigners. All of these little pubs crammed so close to each other resembles the general atmosphere of Leuven: lots of activity, very cosy and full of welcoming people. We’d also show them the Sint-Donatus city park, which is a perfect spot to chill out in; or Het Depot, our favourite venue.

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

When playing our show for Het Groot Verlof – a set of events run by the City during the summer season – the backstage happened to be located beneath the Town Hall. We were super fascinated with all the different manifestos of historical, local brotherhoods hanging on the walls, with names like De Mannen van 1870, or “The Men of 1870”. These documents also stated rules and pledges, mainly focusing on the fact that they vowed to hold plenty of festivities and parties throughout the year. Way to go, oldsters!