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©Boris Görtz – Filming of Girls in Hawaii at Bibliothèque Solvay

Every now and then you come across a project that rocks your world. Bruxelles Ma Belle is one of them. I discovered it thanks to Tim from BRNS who couldn’t believe I hadn’t yet heard of it. Indeed, Bruxelles Ma Belle has already blown their 5th candle! The concept is simple: to film international artists playing in unusual places around Brussels. The result? Beautiful videos of intimate and uncommon performances that are all the more unique since the locations are often quirky and bizarre. Some examples among dozens.:Puggy playing in the elevator of the Museum for Musical Instruments. Arno, in a peculiar hair salon of Sainte Catherine. BRNS in a Moulding Studio. Lily Wood and the Prick in a tram. The effect is mindblowing. You get to discover hidden gems of Brussels while seeing some incredible artists perform like you never would in a typical concert.

The man behind Bruxelles ma Belle is Manou Milon. The Frenchie arrived in Brussels to study cinema and, after gaining some experience working for national media, he got together with some friends from school to set up what could be called the ‘Belgian Blogothèque’, barring the differences. I met him for coffee at Café Parade (more on it soon) and he told me about BMB. Some of the locations featured in BMB are true treasures among the long list of Brussels’ Heritage Sites. Other spots have been found in books. Others by strolling through the city. Others yet, recommended by friends or the City’s Tourism Center. As for the bands, some correspond to Manou’s personal music taste. He keeps an eye out for the gigs in town and contacts them as they come. At other occasions, it’s the other way around. Labels come to him, hooked with the genius concept. When it comes to the Belgian music scene, he confirmes what I observed ever since I started the INTERVIEWS section. That it’s like a small family where everyone knows each other, many of them play in several bands and they all meet up in places like Atelier 212. The artists are accessible and open.

For Manou, it’s very important that there’s a certain harmony between the place and the band. Some sort of community of souls. An affinity that helps create the magic. Artist and location sublime each other. And it’s not always an easy feat. Some bands have very limited time so the filming needs to be super effective and there’s very little room for screw ups. Other times, the challenge is the sound… imagine recording an artist in the rain, in the tram, on the streets. And yet, the sound is irreproachable. Go take a look. New videos almost every Tuesday. And even free tickets for gigs. Keep your eyes peeled for the new improved website to come out soon in FR, EN and NL.

Below, some of my favorite videos.

Bruxelles Ma Belle: Keep on Keepin’ on.