The product of a Peruvian father and Belgian mother, the prolific DJ and producer Diego Cortez Salas aka DC Salas is a real Brusseleir, born and raised in the capital. Landed in Uccle, the Cortez Salas family’s only child spent his childhood in the 1180 municipality until he expanded his horizons in Etterbeek, Schaerbeek and - nowadays - Laeken.
His first music studio was located at the family homestead, where he put the finishing touches on his debut EP Peru, not long after creating its blueprint on a plane home, returning from his father’s native land, after one of the biyearly family holidays in South America. Released on Doctor Vinyl Records in 2010, the EP would later prove to be the starting point of a fruitful career.
On a recent family trip to Peru, DC Salas was flabbergasted when opening his social media accounts upon his arrival in the capital Lima. He stumbled upon spontaneous reactions from local house music fans, speaking out as fans of his music. He hadn’t been aware of such a relevance for his music in South America, yet a whole new scene opened up to him, including local shows and radio appearances in no time. All of this didn’t come out of the blue, but is obviously the result of an impressive discography produced by the Belgian since his debut EP Peru, now beautifully completing the circle that had started 13 years earlier.
DC Salas’ artistic career is in full swing today. With several EPs on influential labels such as Live At Robert Johnson or R.A.N.D. Muzik x Echocentric and a full touring schedule taking him all over the planet, he is on a creative high. Acknowledging the importance of his DJ residency at Fuse, DC Salas shares these kind words about the city’s longest running club in Rue Blaes:
‘Being invited as a resident DJ at Fuse, in the true meaning of the word including co-programming and regular performances, really was a dream come true. I feel very at home in the club and couldn’t wish for a better audience. We were all shocked with the sudden closure caused by a neighbour’s complaint. The work of the Fuse staff to fight for its existence following these dramatic events was incredibly courageous and meaningful, you could really feel that this debate was much larger than Fuse but implied our scene as a whole. The symbolic recognition of clubs in Brussels as living cultural heritage is an important new step in protecting the long-term future of our city’s valuable nightlife.’
Here are the highlights in Brussels for this Uccle-born, Laeken-living cool cat.
Kauwberg is a 53-hectare semi-natural area in Uccle. The site is home to a variety of habitats, including an old sand quarry, meadows, woods and marshes, and is an important birdwatching site. Kauwberg is part of the hiking and bike trail La Promenade Verte circling around Brussels.
DC Salas: ‘ Kauwberg is right next to where I grew up and where my parents still live. As a kid, I often went there as a scout and now I enjoy going there to find peace and quiet. Once you exit the forest, you arrive at a surprising plateau offering an incredible view of Brussels, with cows right next to you and not a single other human around. It’s also worthwhile to descend a bit towards the Park Sauvagère, a beautiful English-style park.’
Kline Brussels is a restaurant located at Rue de Flandre in downtown Brussels. The restaurant is known for its modern Belgian cuisine and relaxed vibe.
DC Salas: ‘Opened by my longtime friend Ben, a former store clerk at Doctor Vinyl, this restaurant is a real treasure, part of a new wave of contemporary kitchens who focus on locally sourced ingredients. They offer everything that I look for in a restaurant: a warm and down-to-earth atmosphere combined with an innovative approach to food. I was for instance surprised to find out that their delicious bread is made with local ingredients, baked down the street from my place in Laeken.’
Music: Doctor Vinyl
Located right next to the beautiful Halles St-Gery, Doctor Vinyl never moved away from where it set up camp in 1997. The interior of the shop is a small museum full of artefacts left behind by customers, DJs , record labels, … and is of course jam-packed with vinyl records.
DC Salas: ‘ Doctor Vinyl is my second home, I have been visiting the shop for more than 20 years now. I believe that my DJ career has started at Doctor Vinyl and I continue being surprised by the piles of records owner Geert Sermon prepares for me. Its true value is in having established a collection of records that were previously left untouched by other DJs, but that are too good to be forgotten about. Doctor Vinyl is not only a shop but also a sort of social centre, a place where people from the hood pass by for their daily chat, where everyone is treated in the exact same way, whether your name is Ricardo Villalobos or you’re homeless and looking for some warm human contact.’
Hidden Gem: Sabor Latino
Located at the popular Parvis de Saint-Gilles, the hidden gem of DC Salas is maybe not so hidden in a strict sense, but it’s an untapped treasure from the perspective of an essential question asked by any fan of South American food.
DC Salas: ‘ On a basis as regular as the turning of a vinyl record, people ask me where the best Ceviche can be savoured in Brussels, which is the ultimate national dish from Peru. For years, I had no real answer to this question. To my knowledge, for a long time it was impossible to eat a good Ceviche in Brussels, apart from my parent’s place. But since I discovered Sabor Latino, finally I can direct people towards a really delicious Ceviche. Embedded in a real southern American atmosphere and with real local food from Peru and Colombia, this restaurant is a Cortez Salas favorite.‘