ReturnInterview with MTN Shop Brussels
This latest instalment of Montana Dealers features a spotlight on one of the oldest Montana Shops: Montana Shop Brussels. If you have never visited it, maybe you haven’t painted enough. Julien is the new manager in Brussels, and we caught up with him to talk about the scene in the Belgian capital, which is perfectly soundtracked by his Spotify shop playlist, including flamenco jams, hip-hop from both sides of the Atlantic and some local heroes.
Who’s behind the store?
Hi, I'm Julien. I am of Belgian-French origin but I’ve lived in lots of places. Started working with MTN just four years ago, after training in the world of business commerce. I also have experience in advertising, which I’ve learnt on the job. I’m also active on the Belgian hip-hop and graffiti scene. My passions, without a doubt, are painting and music.
Tell us the story of the store opening.
The store was opened by Nico, a very active writer on the Brussels scene between 1995 and 2010. It opened in 2005.
What do you like the most about the neighborhood where the store is located?
The store is located in l’Ilot Sacré, the old town of Brussels. It is a neighborhood popular with tourists and most of the shopkeepers know each other. It is here that young visitors go out to party in the city's most famous bars and clubs, like Delirium, C12 and Le Roi des belge.
How would you describe the customers who pass through the store?
The art scene is quite varied. We obviously have local writers, as well as many tourists who stay a month, a year or never leave. There are also sculptors, painters, designers, set designers and even people who come to the store because their kid or a friend has told them that we have loads of colors at a better price than their local hardware store to repaint their fridge, for example.
The Brussels graffiti scene is very cosmopolitan and colorful. There are crews like the BCP, KSA, FCK; writers like Sozyone, Rage156, oliB, Nean and Eyes B. In design we have Charles Kaisin, among others.
What is the graffiti scene like?
The scene is very diverse and there is a lot of activity, the styles vary according to the origin and inspirations of each artist. Being an ultra cosmopolitan city, there is a great influence from northern writers - Germany and Holland - a lot of writers dedicated to letters like Somey, Magic, Toner and Ryck. There are specialists in composition, like Delit2fuite, AF'S, PSK, and, like everywhere, there are fans of the "ignorant style" like Plorvi (Prada), Alors, Alez and Aber. There are powerful character artists like Nean, Iota, Magic and Spear, but in reality, here, the party is mostly about trains!
What are the most famous galleries, walls or events?
For street art exhibitions, we have two or three famous galleries where many important names have exhibited, such as the Alice Gallery, where Sozyone, Hello Monsters, Blancbec and Pantone have exhibited. At LE MIMA MUSEUM there is a year-long exhibition in which you can see artists like Sawe, Horfee and Boris Tellegen. There are also galleries such as Martine Ehmer, where you can find works by JonOne, L’Atlas and Koolkoor. The best open-air wall of fame will always be Les Quais de la Gare du Midi, where you can see the most impressive productions all year round.
Recommended places to paint or to enjoy pieces?
The Gare du Midi is the best place to see graffiti in traffic. On the street you can always see impressive murals everywhere, like the one in Bonom. There are also two or three legal sites like l’Allée du Kaii, near the canal, the pillars of the Nerpeed highway and also the walls of the VUB gym where the artists paint almost daily.
What are some of the most special products you carry?
Our store is famous for our collection of limited prints and t-shirts, produced by local artists and visiting writers, like Bootlegz, Wildbarz, Trolluxdeluxe, demaCNN, FATCAP and Ulteam Clothes.
There is always something new besides our best sellers, 94 and Hardcore.
Do you offer anything else besides paint products?
For a long time the store was also a gallery that showcased various names before they became famous, such as Hello Monsters or Blanc Bec. About two or three years ago it became impossible for us to continue the project because of a lack of space, but we want to show gallery work again as soon as possible.
We also have a large selection of books on graffiti or street art, as well as on design, interior decoration, typography, screen printing, realism and local publishers such as CFC edition, Premier Edition and Alias Press.
What can you tell us about the selection of tracks for the shop playlist?
The list is very eclectic, but there’s a large portion of hip hop, since I’m a massive fan of Boom Bap from before the 2000s. The playlist represents what we usually play here, especially the French tracks from Lunatic, Ideal J, Mafia K’1F ry and Timebomb, and the American jams by Lords of the Underground, Sadat X, Big L and KRS One. We also listen to salsa, cumbia, tango, jazz and old school rock. We can’t forget about local artists like Elka, Sam, Convok, Stickstoff, Xsarprod and Hamza, which makes up the majority of tunes we listen to in the store. Customers often ask us what we’re listening to. For me, graffiti without music doesn’t make sense!
Illustration designed by MacheShareApril 16, 2021