Lefto about his favorite places in the world
For over fifteen years now, Lefto has won the hearts of Studio Brussel’s listeners with the most eclectic sets around. In between radio shows, he’s been travelling the world for different gigs. Seoul, Brasilia, New York and L.A. among others are no longer strange places to this man. Summer is just around the corner, which means the busiest time for travelling is about to take off. So what better way to get your travel mood going than having a chat with an influential globetrotter from Belgium’s dj-scene?
Written by Katrien Borzée, English translation by Nadia Hanssens. Nederlandstalige versie van dit artikel.
You’ve literally been travelling all over the world for your music. What’s been the funniest or strangest travel experience so far?
I don’t remember the bad ones, and I’ve got plenty of good ones. My weirdest travelling experiences go together with the strangest places I’ve been to. Places you don’t expect the people to lose themselves in the moment. A few weeks ago, I was in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. Such a bizarre place, really. The city is actually shaped like an airplane, so people refer to their living area as ‘the wing’ or ‘the tail’ for example. That’s so weird, especially when you’re looking down on the city from a plane. The city is more of a political center of the country, and most of it was designed by Brazilian architect Niemeyer. Anyhow, there I was. In a city that seems to be a ghost town. The place smells like red earth, the way some places in Africa do. Suddenly you find yourself in an area where there’s miles of cars and then you’re actually playing for a crowd of 5000 people. It was an awesome moment because I really didn’t expect that to happen.
In Belgium, everyone who knows a little bit about music or listens to the radio knows who you are. Do you get recognized outside of Belgium too?
Yeah, funny story actually. I was in a Turkish restaurant in Seoul one time, and this Turkish guy came up to me. He showed me a picture on his phone and asked me if I was the person in the picture. So he told me I had been on Turkey’s biggest national channel, because of my Boiler Room set in Brussels. I love playing Turkish music, and that's what I did in that set too. There's this song about politics that people go crazy over and I played it in that set. Someone from Turkey saw it, and put that part of the set on YouTube. That video made its way around Turkey and eventually appeared on television. It really was a strange moment.
So how was South-Korea? How was it getting used to the culture?
Seoul is a real hidden gem. It’s a city most people haven’t really considered visiting, as most people dream of going to places like Tokyo. But Seoul is pretty close to that kind of city, maybe even more fun. Not just in architecture but in cultural activities as well.
Any other places like Seoul you would recommend going?
Again, it’s easy to compare to Tokyo. In Tokyo the scene has been around for a long time, so it’s starting to fade a little bit. Seoul on the other hand, is all new and fresh. They’re just getting started. ‘Gangnam Style’ has really boosted the scene, it inspired people. Suddenly they had the courage to do their own thing, hoping it would take off like Gangnam Style did. A group of friends I have there, about 20 people, form a crew together called 360 Sounds. One ‘s into photography, the other one is in fashion, some of them in the music scene,… So you can feel anything music related is very much alive and kicking over there.
So yeah, Asia is totally up and coming right now, doesn’t matter where you are. Things are hitting off there, and when you come back to Europe, you feel like it’s actually slowing down here. America is a little bit inbetween. We as people ‘from the West’, are always a little bit condescending towards Asia, but it should be the other way around. Maybe we’re a little bit more advanced in music, a lot of what they’re doing is inspired by what we’re doing. But the main difference is that they like to push it just a little bit further. They give it a different touch, they put their own flavor into it.
Would you ever move to Asia? It seems like you really love the continent.
No, I don’t think so. I love being there, but I also love coming home. I really love my home actually. If you’d ask me where in the world I enjoy playing the most, the answer would still be Brussels or Ghent. Just because of what I built there. I’ve created something I’ve been working on for years. We started from nothing, and now there’s 500 to 1000 people at every party. People get me here. And I get them.