Hello my friends!

I am back from one of the most interesting & shortest trips I’ve had in a very long time.

For those who don’t know, I went to Budapest with my lovely boss Jazzman on a business trip. Luckily, business trips in our industry usually involves music in one way or another, so this business trip meant that we went to Budapest for a bit less than 48 hours to dig for records. And oh boy did we dig…!

I’m not a massive digger myself, not because I don’t want to be, but whenever I get around to do it, I either feel very stupid in the shop or I never seem to find what Im after. I don’t really know the little tricks when it comes to what to look for when digging for records beyond artist/musician names & labels. So I feel very blessed to have gotten this great opportunity to go on a real digging trip with Jazzman because he shared some of his own tips & tricks.

We started the trip not knowing where this place would be. We had an address and Jazzman had sent an email to the guy notifying him we were coming, but that was about it. So we didn’t know what to expect AT ALL.

We ended up taking a tram to the very outskirts of Budapest to a place that looked like a small village out in nowhere. Since I am too tight to use my 3G network abroad, I had saved google maps description for how to walk to the place from the tram stop. So we literally climbed a small mountain, I had to improvise with the directions because they were leading us in a circle, but I managed to get on the right path and after 20 minutes we reached our destination that looked like this:

Where on earth are we?

Jazzman got slightly worried when he realised that this might not be a shop or a warehouse at all and that we probably were heading to somebody’s house. And he was right. All we knew was that the man was called Attila, so we when we reached the closed gate to the house, we picked a random doorbell and pressed it. An old Hungarian man walked out and I politely said that we were visitors from London who were looking for Attila. The old man said we had pressed the wrong bell but that he would get him, so he started shouting his name and knocking on all the windows on the house. After a few minutes Attila appeared, so I did the same polite explanation and he let us in.

What could be hidden behind these doors?

We walked through the doors and in the front room he had prepared boxes of Jazz records for us to go through. All Jazzman was saying was
“Oh my god – I can’t believe we’re in this blokes house!!”.

His wife and his wife’s mother were there too and they all greeted us and offered to make us some tea and coffee. Of course, Jazzman didn’t really care about any of that, all he wanted was to get started with the digging, so Attila went through the boxes he had prepared and Jazzman took out his portable vinyl player so we could listen to the records. As soon as Attila saw the player, his face went pale and he started to swear in Hungarian. I asked what was up and he explained to me that he had had a French DJ visiting a few weeks ago who also had a similar device, and he had scratched/destroyed 4 very expensive records, so he didn’t want us to do the same. I tried to explain to him in a very diplomatic fashion that Jazzman was a professional – that he had been doing this for longer than I had been alive and that Attila was more than welcome to stand next to Jazzman to ensure he wasn’t doing anything that Attila didn’t approve of. I also assured him that we would pay for any records we might damage in the process. First he wasn’t sure, but I smiled and insisted and in the end he said it was fine. So the real adventure began!

The front room

We came up with a system where Jazzman selected & took out the records, and I very carefully put them pack in their sleeves. I was plugged in with my headphones to the player as well, so once we had selected the stuff that looked interesting, we sat down to decide what was good and what was shit.

A little pile of records we liked

I ended up talking a lot to Attila’s wife Kata and her mother. Kata makes hand-made jewellery and she had recently started making hand-made clutches out of very fine Japanese silk. They were very busy because she was meant to go to Milan for a big Christmas fair, so they were busy making the final touches to all the clutches in the other room. They asked me if Jazzman was my husband and if it was me who decided what records to buy, I laughed and said no to both. They asked me a lot of questions about how it was living in London & “the west” – I told them that it was hard and that I had been very lucky but they didn’t seem too convinced. As the day went on they brought out snacks for us to much on whilst we were continuing our quest to find some decent records.

Snacking & Digging

It took us about 6½ hours to go through all the records in the front room plus a big box of 45s when Attila said that he had some more in the back but that they were in a specific order so Jazzman would have to go in there and listen if he was interested. Safe to say he was, so he headed in whilst I decided to stay with Kata & her mother because it was a bit too narrow in the other room for us both to try to dig & listen.

The back room

As darkness fell outside they made us some pogácsa to munch on & offered us some Hungarian beer. Jazzman declined because he didn’t want the alcohol to affect his judgement of the music. I, of course, decided to go for it. As a Hungarian myself I know that the worst thing you can do is to decline food & drink in a Hungarian home, especially alcoholic drinks. So whilst Jazzman continued to dig, we talked about my life in London, how much I earn, what I do, Jazzman’s history, what he does etc.

Pogácsa!

Hungarian Wheat Beer!

Jazzman digging in the back room

After about 8 hours of digging, our stomachs were very hungry (despite the snacks & beer!). It was cold & dark outside, so we decided to head back into town to have some food and a pint. I ended up buying 4 records and Jazzman walked away with about 20 (he said he’d be happy if he found 3, so I think it was a rather successful digging session!). Lots of Polish, Russian, Czechoslovakian, Bulgarian and not so many Hungarian records, or at least not as many as we thought we would find. But still – lots of fun and overall an amazing trip.

Damn, I really am a very lucky girl!

Hello my dear friends!

After almost a week of harassing Dave to sort out the NYC pictures, he’s finally done it so I figured it was time to share this great adventure with you all! They are a combination of nice ones with Dave’s camera and slightly crappy ones made with my phone ;) I will add all the text another day as it takes ages to add all these pictures one by one.

DAY ONE:

The Adventure begins...

In the taxi going to the hostel

The view from the taxi

Settling in in our room

This was our livingroom where we stayed

And this was the livingroom from the other side of the room with the kitchen

Pretty building in Williamsburg

We went for a walk over the Williamsburg bridge

The view from the Williamsburg bridge

After a long walk & jetlag we decided to take the subway home

Desperately trying to stay awake with the help of beer

Considering how warm it was during the day, night time was pretty cold!

And the beer was not really keeping us awake...

So we decided to call it the day and go home and sleep

DAY TWO:

A sunny day perfect for exploring a big city!

Central Park & Dave in the sunshine

We walked around for a bit and played on the playground

After Central Park we decided to explore Times Square

We were pretty tired so decided to sit down in Times Square and have a rest

DAY THREE:

Not many pics from day three because we were doing our separate things and I didnt have a camera. However I did check out quite a lot of records shops that day and in the evening we went to Madison Square Garden to watch a Rangers game.

Obligatory picture of a yellow school bus

Rangers vs Colorado at Madison Square Garden

DAY FOUR:

I dragged Dave along to go record digging with me. This awesome place was called the Thing

Dave being slightly overwhelmed by all the stuff

Then I took Dave to see all the discoveries I made the previous day

We went digging for some more records

Then we went to this amazing little Bakery on Bleecker Street

We shared delicious a pumpkin and pecan cake

After a VERY LONG day of walking we stumbled upon a little place to rest called Panda

After another long day of walking we took the subway home

DAY FIVE:

Radio City Music Hall

On top of the Rockefeller Center

Empire State Building & view from top of the rock

David at the top of the rock

Central Park & view from top of the rock

Dave poking the Empire State Building

Me and the view

Rockefeller Center

An amazing little burger joint hidden in a very fancy hotel lobby

Dave at burger joint

Me drinking some milkshake

DAY SIX:

Some more Central Park

Dave enjoying some icecream in the sunshine

Me & Mr Junior at Tip Top

DAY SEVEN:

Hill Country - where they sell food by the weight! We ate so much meat!

Drinking some yummy southern cocktail

DAY EIGHT:

Last day we went for a last walk in Williamsburg

Erykah Badu on the wall in the kitchen downstairs

Last picture of me and Dave at JFK before our flight home

Hello my friends!

I hope you are all well this somewhat grey autumn day. If you have had the chance to listen to my latest show from this week, then you will know that I went to Brussels for the first time last weekend and that this episode focuses on Release, the event that I attended and the main reason for my trip over to Belgium. However,  I wanted to share my first experience of Brussels with you as well, mainly because I had the pleasure of meeting so many of you! So here it goes…

This Little Miss Sunshiine adventure started with that I overslept (due to too many Duvel’s the night before) and missed my train on Saturday morning, which I admit added a very “special” element of complete panic and stress to the beginning of my trip.

But after managing to sort out a new ticket for free (I lied to the lady behind the counter and told her I was attending a funeral…)

I checked in, boarded the train, and tried to keep all the bubbly & excited feelings inside of me in check. I was sitting on the train, looking out over the green landscape and grey sky, trying to imagine what my trip would be like. Would I get along with Alex, the person I was meant to be staying with? Would Release be successful or would I end up with a bunch of disappointed Belgians? Would people be friendly or would I feel like a complete outsider? Little did I know what great experiences and people I was about to encounter.

As the train was reaching the Brussels Midi station, Grazzhoppa’s “Vous Aller a BX” started playing on my iPod, and all I could do was smile, it was the perfect song for the perfect moment. I got off the train and my heart started racing. Julius was meant to come and pick me up at the station, but I had only met him once for an afternoon here in London in August, so I was a little a bit nervous… As I was walking down the stairs that takes you to the stations exists, I saw him standing at the bottom looking up and smiling. I felt a sudden rush of joy running through my entire body and an extreme urge to run down the stairs, jump him and give him the biggest hug in the world. However, I managed to restrain myself due to the thought of potentially crippling the poor man, so I settled for a hello and kiss on the cheek.

I was in a desperate need of a coffee, so we took the tram to Saint Gilles for some coffee and a catch up. We got to Maison du Peuple, sat down and the first thing I noticed was that people were smoking inside (which was a surprise since it’s not allowed in the UK). We stayed for about 40 minutes, talking about this and the other, and then walked around the corner over to Alex’s place.

Now, I just want to point out that I had never met Alex before, so I was very much looking forward to meeting this very talented young man who had been kind enough to offer me a place to stay despite the very fact that we didn’t really know each other. He was meant to be VJ-ing with Gunter at Release in the evening, and of course, they were not done with the visuals. Alex seemed a bit stressed out, which was understandable, and I told him not to worry as I’d happily spend the afternoon with Julius. So I left my bag and headed out on the streets of Brussels with my wonderful guide.

Im going to be honest with you, I can’t remember the names of any of places I saw…  (Sorry Julius!) But it was a pleasant mix of nice areas and some parts that were a bit rough around the edges. I saw the peeing little boy, and I even managed to catch some kind of parade with traditional Belgian folk music and people dressed up like giants, spinning around on the street. (I’d like to pretend it was my welcoming party).

After a lot of walking and another coffee, it was time to head over to the Beursschouwburg to check out the preparations for the evening’s big event and also to pick up keys from Alex so I could go home and have a well deserved shower before the party. We got to the venue and I had the chance to quickly say hello to Bart from Onda Sonora, as well as having the pleasure of being introduced to LuiGi & Eric P from Infinitskills and wHo? (the very talented artist that has made some very cool editions of the Laid Back logo). Me and Julius ended up hanging out there for a little while before heading off home again to prepare ourselves for the exciting night ahead. After a shower and a huge dinner that pretty much put me in a food coma, we were finally ready to get our groove on and made our way back to the venue.

We arrived at the Beursschouwburg and there were already quite a few people inside. DJ Azer had started playing and we were cruising around the room trying to spot people we knew. First person I bumped into was Lefto, who I hadn’t seen since his visit in London this summer. He seemed a bit tired from the night before, but his spirits were still high and I was very happy to see him again. After meeting Lefto, everything seemed to be happening rather quickly, and I felt like I was attending a big family reunion. Lots of people were coming up saying hello and I was a bit overwhelmed with how friendly and open everybody was. Julius seemed to know most people there, and he was introducing me to all kinds of lovely people, who to my big surprise, had heard my show and apparently really liked it.

i-Sa kicked off the live performance part of the evening and never having heard of them before, I was very pleasantly surprised by the sounds I was hearing. When they finished, it was Infinitskills turn to take the stage and by that time, the venue was packed and filled with a great atmosphere. They started their show, and the only word that springs to mind in order to describe it is WOW. I had heard a couple of tracks from them before that I liked, but I also knew it was their first ever live performance, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But in my personal opinion, they absolutely SMASHED IT. Their music, the performance, and accompanying visuals were the perfect combination. I remember standing in front of the stage, dancing away in my own little world, thinking “Damn! These guys are fantastic, why have they never performed London!?”.

After a way too short set, Infinitskills handed over the stage to the one and only, JToTheC. He was the one I had been looking forward to the most all night, and words cannot describe the excitement I was feeling. bHe and his crew took the stage and literally blew us all away. JC has one of the most dynamic personalities I have ever come across in my entire life, and his stage presence and persona is incredible! You simply can’t take your eyes off him because you’re afraid you will miss something. They were very tight considering it was their first show and extremely entertaining, not to mention that the music was good as well. Everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves, dancing, laughing and joining in with the madness that was happening up on stage. I loved the idea behind the visual concept they had, having people sending in their own videos, and editing it to go with the songs. It gave the entire performance that little extra, and it felt very fresh. I know how much Alex and Gunter had been working on the visuals, so big ups for pulling it off!

I won’t deny the fact that it became slightly messier after JToTheC’s show since the Belgian beer finally started to have its effect. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed Dyno dropping the somewhat unexpected dubstep, it made me feel right at home (I am a sucker for a bit dirty dubstep).

All in all, Release was one of the best nights of my life, and I am still a bit overwhelmed by it all. It had pretty much everything: amazing music, great art and visuals, an enjoyable atmosphere and lovely people. I think the normal beer ran out at some point during the evening for a short while and there was even a queue to get in. Now if that isn’t a sign of a successful night then I don’t know what is… Much respect to all parties involved who made Release happen, you did an incredible job!

Sunday didn’t start until around 13:30 in the afternoon, but then again, we did go to sleep around 07.30, so the rest was well needed. After a quick shower, I found out that I was going to be kidnapped and taken to an exhibition by the two lovely girls, Shaerin and Vanessa, who I had met at the party the night before. But I couldn’t possibly be kidnapped on an empty stomach, so Alex decided to take me to a lovely traditional little Belgian bar around the corner from his flat. We had some nice lunch and managed to finish our second cup of coffee before the girls showed up to pick me up. Me and the girls rushed off and whilst sitting in the back seat of Shaerin’s car (who by the way was playing some wicked music!) I realised that I kind of miss having friends like them here in London, girls who are into the same type of things as myself. Nevertheless, the exhibition they took me to was really interesting, but unfortunately I had to be back at the flat by 18:00, so we quickly had to made our way back to Alex’s place, where we said our goodbye’s.


Alex Deforce @ Release” by Peter Forret.

Back at the flat I started preparing my new Little Miss Sunshiine show whilst listening to the premier of Gav’s new show here on Laid Back. However, after some technical difficulties, I decided it was best to leave it for later, and we took a break so Alex could show me his amazing art. Before we even realised it, the time had come to have some dinner. We had decided to meet up with Julius for a last meal, and made our way to the restaurant. When we got there, the restaurant turned out to be closed, so we started walking towards Julius place, in hope that there would be a restaurant open near his place. A 30 – 40 minute walk and 6 closed restaurants later, we ended up at a little Italian pizzeria. We ordered food and wine, and I remember sitting by the table looking at the boys, and feeling slightly sad that I would be leaving them in the morning. After having filled our bellies with pizza, we started walking home again, and a couple of blocks down the road, Julius had to go his separate way so the time had come to say goodbye. I really felt like a little stone had been dropped inside my heart and all of a sudden it felt 100 times heavier. But I told myself that it wasn’t a real “Goodbye” and more like a “See you later” in order to stop crying. We parted, and me and Alex carried on walking.

When we got back to the flat, the food coma had once again kicked in. We decided to have another glass of wine together before heading off to bed, and when I had finished my glass, I could hardly keep my eyes open. So I said goodnight and went to sleep. I woke up 05.30 the next morning, got dressed and packed my remaining bits and bobs. Alex woke up to let me out, and as we were saying our goodbyes, I could feel how that little stone in my heart was becoming heavier and heavier by every beat. I got outside and it was still dark, people had already started making their ways in to work, and I was having a hard time realising that my journey had almost come to an end. I walked the couple of 100 meters to the metro, and had a quick cigarette in order to try to calm myself down. I took the tram to the Midi Station, arrived just in time to check in, and even managed to buy a coffee and an almond croissant. I got on the train, and as we were leaving Brussels, I was amazed by the fact that I had managed to fall in love with the city in such a short period of time.

As I look back on my trip now, I honestly feel like that weekend was one of the best love stories of my life so far. The way I was welcomed by you all, and the love you showed me, combined with your great company and incredible music, resulted in so many mixed, but heart warming feelings. I wish I could slice my heart up into tiny little pieces and give each and every one of you a small part. So thank you once again, I had such a memorable and fantastic time, and I can’t wait to see you all again. Much love! xxx