Brussels Highlights w/ Donia

Part of a new generation of DJs storming the music scene of the capital, Donia is one to watch. Her recent performances at L’Imprimerie during Listen Festival in or at Horst Arts & Music and Les Nuits Sonores have left a trace, and her label Sketchy Lines Records is becoming a fixed staple in the experimental club scene.

Donia started Sketchy Lines Records together with Brussels-based Algerian producer Kamoun and her sister in 2020, somewhere at the end of the first Covid-19 lockdown. They presented six releases so far, and counting, in various styles and music genres. Meanwhile they are hosting events in Brussels and Ghent, trying to bring something fresh to the scene.

“We like to give priority to producers who released music on our label, to perform on stage. Through our events, Kamoun and I want to create connections with what we love and care about, adding a kind of soul to nightlife.” 

Hesitantly, Donia mentions that she also works on music herself. Not sure whether to mention this new adventure already, she confesses it’s mostly a question of vulnerability and feeling confident enough to reveal more. So no details about a release are yet to be announced, we put our curious minds back to rest. 

Meanwhile Donia studies cultural management at the ULB in Brussels and works as a yoga professor for children in Molenbeek. She has been practicing the mindful exercise for many years now, a practice that is just as well leading to exciting new ideas connected to music production. Here is another cliffhanger for this article, growing more mysterious by the paragraph. 

But Donia has already more than enough to offer in the here and now. Listen to her Kiosk radio show from March 2023 for instance, where she offers a 60 minutes trip into ambient and meditative music. Meditation is a routine in Donia’s life, giving her strength and peace of mind at least twice a day. 

‘I recommend anyone to take a few moments everyday, it doesn’t even have to be long. A couple of minutes is already enough to put your mind to rest and take a little break from your daily tasks. There are many methods available, such as focusing on your breathing or observing a fixed perspective. Even running can be meditative, from the moment on you connect your body with the rhythm of your breathing.’

Wonderful advice from Donia, just as these four highlights in Brussels she chose exclusively for Listen Festival. 

Nature : Bois de la Cambre

This picturesque park is situated on the southeastern edge of the city. The park is characterized by a serene lake, wooded areas, and carefully landscaped gardens. Overall, Bois de la Cambre is a cherished green oasis within the bustling city of Brussels, providing residents and tourists with a peaceful retreat and a variety of outdoor and recreational activities.

Donia: ‘Bois de la Cambre is the point in Brussels where, for the first time, you feel like you're not in a city anymore, accessible at such a short distance from the city by bike or public transport. The sprawling park feeds into Forest de Soigne, and if you do have a Sunday to spare, this forest reminds you that there is rugged beauty in all places, even in the simple or urban nature available here in Belgium. I'm always discovering new hidden corners, reminding me how lucky I am to live nearby.”

Music : Beursschouwburg

Beursschouwburg is a vital cultural institution in Brussels, celebrated for its promotion of contemporary and experimental art forms, its support for emerging artists, and its contributions to the city's vibrant cultural landscape. Just as in 2023, Listen Festival will reside in Beursschouwburg during the whole festival weekend, presenting its discursive programme Our Scene.

Donia: ‘One of my favorite moments during the year is the month of June and Beursschouwburg’s Out Loud Festival. The festival is free and allows discovering a great deal of emerging artists and DJs. I was lucky to also DJ at the festival last year. For small collectives in Brussels it’s not always easy to find proper places to host events, but Beursschouwburg is a home to many of us.’

Hidden gem: La Forêt de Soignes 

La Forêt de Soignes is a vast and historic forest located in the southeastern part of Brussels, Belgium. Covering an area of approximately 4,421 hectares or 5,894 soccer fields, it is one of the largest urban forests in Europe. The forest has a rich and diverse ecosystem, characterized by beech trees, oak trees, and an array of flora and fauna. It is a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and picnicking, offering residents and visitors a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The forest also serves as an essential green lung, contributing to the region's air quality and overall well-being. 

Donia: ‘I enjoy taking a big backpack with me and embarking on a hike in the beautiful nature of La Fôret De Soignes. Spending an afternoon in nature is something I truly love and this forest has so many nice spots. I find pleasure in being alone during these long hikes, but just as well being accompanied by friends for a picnic. Or even going by bike is a fun excursion, being more than large enough to always remain among the trees.’    

Food : Baracca Boys

Baracca Boys is an Italian street food establishment situated on a street corner near Flagey. It's a compact eatery where you can dine al fresco at the outdoor seating area, or you have the option to grab your food to enjoy at Les Étangs d'Ixelles, where you can savor their delicious offerings while taking in a splendid view.

Donia: ‘The pastas at Baracca Boys not only excel in taste but also come at a reasonable price. I highly recommend it for its cozy atmosphere and easy accessibility. While the portion size may not be the largest, it's the quality that truly delights your palate. Perhaps what I adore most about it is how it evokes memories of my time living in Italy, providing a sense of nostalgia I no longer need to seek elsewhere when I dine here.’

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