Archive for February, 2011

BAMMsterdam: Hurray for Dutch music videos!

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It appears that ‘the music video as artwork’ is reaching new heights in the Dutch music scene. Some of the very best music videos I’ve witnessed over the past year and a half are from Dutch artists. Even though budgets are small, especially compared to larger (music) nations, the added artistic value has been truly impressive. Let me run you through some fine examples of late.

Amsterdam-based indie pop quintet Moss – A staff favorite – have released a music video for “Angry Young Man”, the third single of their second record Never Be Scared/Don’t Be A Hero. A gloomy, surrealist story about a smalltown guy dealing with a rather odd pregnancy – his own. Associations with gouvernor Arnold Schwarznegger’s ‘funny’ movie period put aside, the story really keeps you on your toes all through the three minutes and fourty-one seconds of Moss’ post-punk infected tune

Great specimen of love and care for the music video is expressed by young Dutch singer-songwriter/folkrocker Tim Knol. Knol’s videos showcase a very charming, animated approach; something which quickly became an associated trademark with Knol’s music. Knol worked with director/animotor Sverre Fredrikson for the video’s of his first single, “When I Am King” and “Sam”. The use of what appear to be animated paper drawings gave the video for “When I Am King” the visual style of a cartoon set in medieval times. On folkrocker “Sam”, a collaboration with cartoonist Jean-Marc van Tol. you can see the video come into being as two hands sketch away to make the narrative (about a rebel/social misfit wandering through life) come alive.

For the above goes that they’ve enjoyed reasonable mainstream success over the past year, which landed their videos on the playlist for TMF and MTV, the country’s leading music television broadcasters. But even in the more obscure regions of Dutch Music, people are making some damn fine music video’s. Take Marlon Penn for instance. This alternative rocker took the same tender loving care  he put into the production of his remarkable debut album, Independence?, and went and made a smashing, in your face video for his single “Revolt! (Think Again)”. Despite having no noteworthy mainstream success, his video got nominated for a Dutch Video Music award. Quite the achievement. The song’s not bad, either!

Groningen-based chamber-pop outfit The Black Atlantic found the inspiration for the music video to their single Fragile Meadow, taken from their 2009 album Reverence For Fallen Trees, on THE platform for everything video-related: Youtube. Singer/composer Geert van der Velde found a video of a dancing girl doing some improvisations to the song. The video was traced back to Toronto, Canada. A fortunate turn of events (The band was invited to play the NXNE showcase festival) provided a window of opportunity for the band’s manager/labelboss/filmmaker Boudewijn Rosenmuller to meet up with Tessa (as the girl is called) and record a video during a very sunny afternoon in Toronto. The video’s beautiful simplicity appealed to many, including renowned Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, who selected the video as a 2010 favorite (on a world scale). This in turn caught the attention of Dutch daily primetime talkshow De Wereld Draait Door (DWDD), where they -at long last- were invited to play, almost 2 years after the release of their album.

It’s comforting to see that both established artists and underground talents are taking pride in the production of video content. Even without MTV exposure or the guarantee of reaching a large audience online, the music scene is willing to invest in video content that’s truly worth 4 minutes of a viewer’s precious time. It can only mean that the music video, long after the heyday of it’s original platform (television broadcasting), is still gaining weight as an artform. HURRAY! It still remains to be seen whether this movement will catch on to more commercial prospectors in the music industry – one can only hope.

by Jasper van der Put

Jasper van der Put (1987) is a member of BAMM’s music team. Working from Amsterdam, Jasper will share his thoughts on current developments in the music of North-Western Europe.