A collective that has its roots on a university campus and the growing friendship between two music freaks, today leaving traces as a record label, club nights, concerts and a music management and consultancy agency. Meet Magma, the jolly gang centered around movers and shakers Seb Desprez and Julien Gathy. Both seasoned in the music industry, they decided to take matters into one's own hands. Fully reflecting their open-minded taste in music and club culture, Magma is active front as well as backstage. While the latter implies being fully supportive for other people’s careers - as managers of contemporary jazz band ECHT! for instance - the former brings them to the line-up of Listen Festival’s upcoming night at La Cabane.
Seb and Julien - also known as DJs Bon Public and Umbra or jointly as Magma Boyz - didn’t have to ponder long on an appropriate guest for their night during our festival: Swedish Axel Boman. Why? ‘He is a firm favorite’, explains Seb. ‘One of our favorite DJs ever. His label partner Kornel Kovacs - together they run Studio Barnhus - was the headliner at our first ever night as Magma.’ Julien adds: ‘Axel will have four hours to tell his story at La Cabane, our beloved venue in Watermael/Boitsfort / Watermaal / Bosvoorde. They were the first club to give us a residency, for which we are very grateful. The 300 person capacity is ideal and the conditions are first class. DJing at La Cabane is like driving a Rolls Royce.’
Prior to the night, a pop-up restaurant in collaboration with St Kilda will be installed at La Cabane, inviting clubbers to join a culinary experience before the actual dancing starts. Such a twist is typical for Seb and Julien, who are both foodies and find much inspiration in culinary culture. Who remembers their limited edition Magma cider brewed by Atelier Constant-Berger? Scanning a code on the bottle gives access to ten hours of DJ mixes made by DJ friends such as Zouzibabe, Coline Cornelis, DC Salas, DJ City or Mambele, all inspired by the slow fermentation process that is essential to the natural cider.
Last but not least, Magma is a record label. Adding consistency to the output of the collective, the imprint is yet another playground for Seb and Julien. It is not intended as a commercial vehicle but rather the result of a love affair with producers and artists they meet along the way. Their latest release saw the light of day last December and offers six tracks by Bleu Mustang, the alter ego of Nathan Van Brande who also plays the bass in TUKAN, a band managed by Magma. Their artistic vision definitely goes 360 degrees around.
Counting the days until their takeover of La Cabane during Listen Festival, we are eager to find out more about Seb and Julien’s Highlights in Brussels.
Nature: La Promenade Verte
La Promenade Verte is a route encircling the Brussels-Capital Region designed for bikers and hikers. Consisting of a 60 km parcours it is divided into 7 sections, all perfectly signposted, leading along the mighty Zoniënwoud / Forêt de Soigne, the Woluwe valley, the Heysel plateau or even a slice of the beautiful Pajottenland.
Julien explains why: ‘We did the full tour by bike, an amazing journey. Living in a condensed city such as Brussels, having this access to nature is very important to me. The Forêt de Soigne is one of my favorite spots in town, being so remote and still so close to the city center. Or how about passing the stunning hop fields in Jette, that are used for the fabrication of Gueuze beer? Love it.’
Food: St Kilda
St. Kilda is a restaurant in a residential area in Uccle in a tastefully decorated small locale. They serve foods, drinks and wine - all natural - and are only open on weekdays.
Seb explains what’s so great about St Kilda: ‘We very much enjoy gastronomy and in the vast offer of Brussels, this place has become my best-loved. They have a punk attitude, work with seasonal products and are ultra creative. I see great similarities between a chef and a DJ, who both mix and mingle ingredients to serve a great experience, whether it’s on a dancefloor or in the kitchen. You should definitely join us at La Cabane during Listen Festival, where we’ll bring both worlds together in the hours before lifting off our club night.’
Music: Grand Hospice
The Grand Hospice is a 16,000 m2 complex comprising several buildings and two listed gardens. Pending major renovation works, the Brussels CPAS has decided to make the infrastructure available to innovative projects with a strong social and cultural orientation. It’s here that Magma occupies an office space, alongside many other inspiring projects.
Seb: ‘The building is quite impressive, already for its architectural qualities alone worth a visit. Open almost every day of the year, there is a bar, an event hall, a hair salon, a thrift shop and a record store among others. The gardens and terraces are amazing, especially in spring and summer, to spend time in the sun. These kinds of green spaces in the city center are rare. The temporary occupation is supposed to be for two years, I’m hoping for it to last longer.’
Hidden gem: Cantillon Brasserie
Cantillon Brewery is a brewery located in Brussels, known for its production of traditional lambic beers. It is one of the last remaining breweries in the city that still practices spontaneous fermentation, a traditional method of brewing beer.
Seb again: ‘The brewery has been run by the same family since 1900. Housed in a beautiful venue in Anderlecht, there is also the Brussels Gueuze Museum. The brewing process is quite impressive and strongly connected to the location of the brewery resulting in the unique taste of the beer. Really worth a visit if you haven’t been yet.’