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.

Youssef Saoudi

Youssef Saoudi

Musician and film maker (1990)

Can you describe what you do?

Together with a few fellow rappers I run the recording studio Blackbox Studio, where young hip-hoppers can record their music. I also host a weekly radios how named ‘Urbansoundz’ for the ‘Project Wolf’ medialab.

Besides all that, I like making films and have started my own production company. Me and my friends started making short films in 2013, mainly to challenge ourselves and acquire some camera skills. But soon after we started creating and directing music videos as well. We started to get increasingly more assignments, so eventually we decided to pursue it on a higher level. With Mstalli Films we create commercials, company videos or promotional videos, aftermovies for events and music videos.

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 definitely looks unique with all its historic houses. The city has changed so much throughout the years, and most people here are friendly and sociable.

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

Mechelen is a beautiful and quiet city to live in. Except for the summer – then it’s the perfect city for going out!

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

I used to play a lot of soccer when I was little, in a club team as well as with friends on a playground in our neighbourhood. Then one day, after a complaint from the neighbours, the city of Mechelen decided to remove the playground and turned it into a parking square. My dream as a soccer player vanished after that. I remember being so angry at the time, but there was nothing I could do about it. So instead I started making music. Not long after that I began filming music videos and short films with my friends. I took it very seriously, and I did a lot of research about film techniques and cameras.

So in a sense, this is how Mechelen has helped to make me who I am today: a filmmaker instead of a soccer player!

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

Personally I’d like to see more possibilities for the organisation of urban events. I am the promotor of my own event here named BEAT UP, but it is very small-scale because the budgets I get for organising it are extremely low.

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

When I have guests over for the weekend, I would first take them to the Project Wolf medialab, where we can make some radio together on the live stream. Then of course we have to climb the St. Rumbold’s tower. After that, I take them out to play some paintball. On Sunday, we’d probably just hang out at Vismarkt for some drinks.