A talk with Jane Penny, TOPS’s vocalist, at her home back in Montreal
So we feed your hunger for insights and secrets in the Scene Report. Since the seaside’s the place to be on hazy summer days, we asked triple-threat Kamp Noord, a bicycle workshop, serigraphy studio and exhibition space, to take us for a tour around Ostend. Generating a hotbed of creativity for young artists, Lennart Dutrieue and Joris Roobroeck know exactly where you need to be
Words by Lennart Dutrieue and Joris Roobroeck
Photos shot by Tom Jonckheere in Oostende, Belgium
Three years ago, we decided to start screen printing without any prior knowledge, but by trial and error we taught ourselves an effective technique. We moved from studio to studio, with just two original members. Our story took a whole new turn when we found our current studio, back near the sea where we belong. It was an old bottling plant and it was actually way too big for us – but you know what they say about love at first sight. Now we have room to let our imaginations run wild and to host exhibitions and concerts.
We’re inspired by art movements like Dadaism, Wiener Werkstätte, the Parisian impressionists, ’90s squatters in New York and children from the suburbs in Paris. Our heroes are Jean Michel Basquiat, GG Allin, Jimmy Frey and Fausto Coppi. But we just see ourselves as simple draughtsmen, screen printers, ‘Flandriens’ – or real Ostend fishermen.
Here in Ostend, we all get along just fine. For youngsters like us we have Vrijstaat O, an art centre with a beautiful view of the seascape, our recently redesigned post office CC De Grote Post and our new basement concert venue The Elyséé near the entertainment district. If we want to get really wasted we go to the Krush Club, a trendy place near the Casino – if they let us in, that is.
Lately, Ostend is becoming a paradise for tourists with a lot of basic shops that sell the same stuff. It’s very hard to find something you like, especially if you like to think outside the box. Luckily, we still have the Ostendse Ploate, where we can find the vinyl and music we want. Each year, there’s a free six-day festival in Ostend called De Paulusfeesten (10-18 August). Afterwards, there are official after parties in The Elyséé, organised by Klub Fel, where we work together with other organisations from the area to keep these parties accessible for everyone with a love for music and art. There will also be a big Kamp Noord night with live screen printing, a big graffiti canvas to let your creativity go nuts and a six-hour back-to-back DJ set from our very own Kamp Noord Soundsystem.
Apart from our studio, you’ll also find us on the Oosterstaketsel, in Frankenstein, an ugly, super-scary skateboarding park in a garage; or 3 Gapers, a monument in Ostend where us youngsters hang out on our bikes just rolling around. When it comes to ‘scenes’, we don’t do pigeonholing. We have influences from every scene here in our city. Because we live near the North Sea coast, there’s a lot of music that blows over from the UK. That, and a lot of drunken British sailors. With the musical background we have from Marvin Gaye, Arno and even The Van Jets, you might say that we are open to any kind of music. But if we had to pick out one scene, we’d go for the psychedelic garage/surf-rock made by our friends at Alpha Wale, who have the salty water of the North Sea running through their veins. They can be proud of their debut album. With Bed Rugs from Antwerp, The Tubs from Ghent and Thee Marvin Gay’s from Tongeren, you might say there’s a music scene right there to look out for. And you could check them all out at Rock Zerkegem this summer.
Our goal is to keep on growing and become a valuable mix between a cultural centre, art studio and a sports bar. Our ‘Kamp Noord Market’ is well-known in our region. Three times a year, we give everybody a chance to set up a stand in our studio to promote their artistic goods or services. Together with Steer Shop Bruges, we hope to organise special bicycle events in the future. But someday, our dream is to rent an even bigger hall or shed with room for big containers on wheels. Each container could be a serigraphy studio, kitchen, bicycle store, pop-up store… you name it!
And of course: united we stand, divided we fall. We exchange services as much as possible. That way, you get to know a lot of people and you have the opportunity to discover different places.
People you better recognise: type and web geniuses Arthur Haegeman, Solid Crew (Wouter Adam, Tom Jonckeere, Daniil Lavrovski, Ben Bonneure) – a cool crew who fill their time with taking pictures and riding bicycles. Cray Cray Luciano Janssen, aka lucienlucienlucien – an upcoming flash tattoo artist. Bokeh & Kumar – two chaps who give themselves completely to the Kamp Noord project and also DJ and produce when they have some spare time, and the brothers Debruyne from Ratpooh (The Brown Collectiv), a stoner band from Ostend.
ESSENTIAL PLACES: Vrijstaat O, CC de Grote Post, Oosterstaketsel Frankenstein, 3 Gapers VENUES: The Elysée, Krush Club PEOPLE: Lucienlucienlucien COLLECTIVES: Arthur Haegeman Solid Crew, The Brown Collectiv, Kamp Noord STORES: Ostendse Ploate