If you’re a follower of BAMM.tv, you’ll no doubt be aware that we’re a global bunch. As well as our main HQ in San Francisco, we also have offices in London and Amsterdam, as well as fanbases in numerous other parts of the world (special hello to our legions of very vocal BAMMers in Taiwan!). Now we’re happy to announce that we’re spreading our worldwide reach that little bit further …
… and opening a BAMM.tv office in Düsseldorf.
Why Düsseldorf? Well, we like to think we can spy great opportunities when they pop up, and Dusseldorf is fast emerging as one of the most exciting cities for digital innovation, development and commerce. This is particularly true within the mobile sector: the city is often referred to as the ‘Mobile Capital ‘ of Europe.
At BAMM.tv we believe that mobile is the new frontier of entertainment consumption, and a key enhancement to next generation IPTV services that are popping up around the world. And while it may lack the name recognition of Berlin, the quality of life in Düsseldorf is among the best in the world.
“In quality of living ratings, Düsseldorf was ranked sixth in global comparison and the top city in Germany. Düsseldorf’s cultural offering can easily match other big cities in the world. While offering art and cultural events many larger cities might envy, it has remained that rare thing – an exciting, yet relaxed cosmopolitan centre. Dependable political majorities and a political climate favouring businesses and entrepreneurship make Düsseldorf a prime target for investors.”
By moving in here, we’re adding another fantastic location to our roster … and we’re also looking forward to exploring the many wonderful aspects Düsseldorf has to offer.
But we’re not stopping here! This is just one of the many exciting global expansion programs we’re working on at BAMM.tv. Stay tuned for future developments – if we’re not already there, maybe we’re coming to a city near you…
As we recalled last week, BAMM.tv has had its eye on Amsterdam over the past year … and the verdict’s in: the Dutch can bring the goods with the best of them.
As we learned in the third episode of the Global Scene Amsterdam documentary series, the Netherlands produces a considerable amount of English-language output, with diverse influences. Inspiration comes from within, but location matters — even in a small country, with artists in the West tending to “play towards” the UK and the US, artists in the East keeping an eye on Germany, and artists in the South taking influence from Belgium. There is also a “Schiphol sound”, reflective of the large international airport at the heart of Western Europe where everyone seems to pass through at some time or other.
Global Scene is our flagship network program, offering a snapshot of what it’s like to be a musician in the most interesting music cities in the world (as well as Amsterdam, we’ve previously looked at the ultra-cool city of London). BAMM.tv doesn’t necessarily set out to produce “world music”, but we do produce interesting music from different parts of the world – music that we think deserves global recognition.
The diversity of the content we found in the Netherlands was astounding, and we think you’re in for a treat. We’re kicking things off with a week’s worth of singles from our Global Scene Live concert series, recorded in Amsterdam this year, as the documentary series was coming to an end.
For the rest of the week, we’ll be highlighting six outstanding bands. These include Koffie (playing an irresistable Afrobeat-inspired track), Avant la Lettre (the superb Dutch band with a French name playing compelling American indie), The Secret Love Parade (Holland’s answer to The xx), Hit Me TV (essential indie rockers whose albums you can download for free), Horses on Fire (indeed, they were smouldering that night) and the infectious energy and emotion of The Fudge.
Stay with BAMM.tv this week and next – because once you hear these songs, you’ll want to find out more about the artists. We’ll be releasing exclusive documentary interviews with all the bands all next week, alongside the world-famous International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)! We’ll also be rolling out more great videos from even more Global Scene Live artists, filmed at Amsterdam’s Desmet Studios, throughout the end of the year.
Oh yeah, musn’t forget (as if we would) …
Nobody would doubt that one of the most warmly received music groups in Amsterdam is the band Jungle by Night. Playing Afrobeat-inspired self-envisaged musical journeys, we had the privilege of working with them as they released their first full-length CD at the temple of Amsterdam music performances, Paradiso. We’ve captured the moment with an hour-long documentary introducing you to this unique musical collective, sharing the celebration on the happy occasion of their CD release party, and showing a good long set from Paradiso. That comes out next Monday, and we’re telling you: you won’t want to miss it.
Incidentally, if you’re in Amsterdam, you can pop by the Melkweg cinema on November 24th (time TBC) to catch a live screening!
So keep BAMM.tv on your musical radar in November. You’re going to like what you see and hear.
Of course, we all know Record Store Day celebrates a phenomenon we at BAMM.tv believe is becoming obsolete – the physical record. After all, without a physical product to sell, there’s no use for a physical marketplace. Thus, Record Stores are a dying place. But there’s an ambiguity here which is the source of much debate, and The Netherlands are no exception. At the heart of the matter are two separate arguments; 1. the viability of the vinyl record; and 2. the Record Store as a place of worship, a place where we can physically experience music discovery.
VINYL: FUTURE VINTAGE OR READY TO DIE?
The foundation of the first argument has shifted in the last ten years. Vinyl became the music medium of choice in the flourishing 1990s club scene, resulting in a veritable boom in new – mostly electronic genre – vinyl releases. To this day a steady flow of electronic music is being released on vinyl, but its significance is dwindling; the superior sound quality of vinyl doesn’t seem to match up to the flexibility and ease with which one can manipulate digital music formats. Software platforms such as Traktor and Ableton have reshaped DJ’ing from a rather mechanical event (beatmatching taking up most of your time) into artistic collage-making where the sky is the limit. Prodigious DJ/producer Madeon is a fine example of this, mashing-up 39 of his favorite tracks using just an Ableton controller and mixer.
While the electronic music sphere continues to attribute a high symbolic value to vinyl, its usage is limited and does not respond well to present-day developments in the DJ profession. Still, it didn’t stop Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden from contributing an all-vinyl mix to the legendary Fabriclive series. He even pressed a number of his own tracks he produced specifically for this mix onto vinyl, for the sole reason it provided his mix with ‘the right feel’. The significance of the ‘black gold’ in dance music history is undeniable, but it’s quickly becoming a museum piece.
There is, however, a wide range of consumers whose reverence of vinyl records has soared in the past decades. A lot of indie, rock and folk enthusiasts have taken to vinyl for its sound quality, artwork and the more focused listening experience. As Mark Klinkhamer of Music On Vinyl, a specialist label associated with the pressing plant in Haarlem, comments on their clientele in an interview with DJ Broadcast: “While it used to be people in their 30s and 40s that wanted a limited edition of Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue, you see a lot of young people that want to buy LP’s. Queens Of The Stone Age and Wolfmother, for example, are two bands that are doing well.”
This trend has prompted independent record stores and associated pop institutes in Haarlem to join forces in an initiative they’ve dubbed “Haarlem Vinyl City”, which will be launched on Record Store Day. They’re planning, among other things, several themed series of exclusive 7″ releases. Two of these stores have opened in the last 6 months: The Irrational Library collects art, handmade clothing, 2nd hand stuff and books next to records. Suburban Records is a store associated with the independent label of the same name. It focuses on vinyl releases from (underground) rock ‘n roll bands. The label’s roster includes one of the hottest garage-rock tickets in the Netherlands: Shaking Godspeed. Other artists of similar swagger include The Fudge and Face Tomorrow (both of which you’ll see more of here at BAMM.tv…!).
A PLACE OF WORSHIP?
So, onto the second argument: Record Stores are viable as a place of worship, a temple if you will, where we can physically experience music discovery. In this respect, a Record Store is a retail store like any other. Retail has had to give up some of its turnover to web-based shops. But we can’t deny the fact that retail still has a strong presence everywhere.
The raison d’être for physical retail stores is threefold: 1. to sample the product, 2. to interact with specialists, 3. to experience the store. The first one does not really compute with music; we don’t need to go to a store to find out whether we like the music or not, unlike, say clothing, delicacies or furniture. We actually don’t need to buy music at all, if we don’t want to, so that’s one reason out of the window.
The second reason varies wildly depending on the staff of the store and the involvement of the customer. While some people are more than willing to take cues from the “if you like one thing, try these alternatives” algorithm on Amazon, Spotify or the Itunes store, record store afficionados maintain a vibrant relationship to their favorite record store sales(wo)man. A good (i.e. trustworthy) retail salesman is a rare breed in any category, but all the more rewarding once you found them. What’s more, record store staff are usually pretty active scenesters, providing more than just a 9-to-5 service in a store. You’ll see them spreading their wisdom online, volunteering at concerts and festivals and fostering a sense of community. After all, where else to find the biggest music lovers than in your local record store? Like a good artisan, its always good having some expert salesmen and women around, even if their numbers are getting smaller.
The third reason, to me, is the gamechanger. The best stores, the ones you keep coming back to, are those that offer the best consumer experience. This can be attributed to atmosphere, impressive architecture, interactive elements, entourage… you name it. It all depends on the preferences and priorities of the individual. I believe that the contemporary consumer doesn’t go shopping for records because it’s a necessity; he does so because he wants to. One could argue it’s an absurdly romantic, High Fidelity-esque notion, and they might be right. But those very people might find the grandeur of the Apple stores not that abhorrent, or H&M’s Dam Square flagship store less of a labyrinth, or IKEA a nice day out.
Along these lines, debating the merits of the Record Store are the same as, say, debating Frank Zappa’s genius or the everlasting Beatles vs. Stones argument. There is no right or wrong here, and a consensus in the public debate will not keep the Record Store alive. In other words: Haters gonna hate. In the end any store that accommodates enough costumers gets to survive.
Of course, musicians will want to give the record stores a leg up on a day like this. Doing in-store performances is quite common practice, and is done pro bono 99% of the time. With only a limited number of clubs to play, they’re likely to get on the road (as far as one can call it being ‘on the road’ in such a small country) just to do an in-store performance. So, doing an in-store performance or two around the block to celebrate Record Store Day isn’t enough for some artists.
Singer-songwriter Case Mayfield (known for heartfelt songs, abrasive interviews and oddball twitter posts) has decided to test himself as a veritable Iron Man of in-store gigs, challenging the Guinness Record of 9 in-stores in one day set by his fellow singer-songwriter Eefje de Visser last year. He’s planning on doing 11 (!) in-stores in one day. Another fine example is Wooden Saints, who will be performing both live and streamed from 10 locations simultaneously. It works like this: Each band member goes to one record store and feeds his/her parts back to a central hub, where all the tracks coming from the various locations are mixed and sent back in realtime to each location and to the online stream on their site.
Time for another episode of our in-depth look at various facets of the London music scene (which is part of our wider series, aiming to go deep underground with the music boffins in a variety of international locations). This week, we take a look at how production technology affects the London sound, uncover the numerous ways it can be utilized, and the ultra-exciting progression of such technology.
In which two BAMMers lock horns ‘for’ and ‘against’ a hot topic. This time around: Jasper praises the new album by Justice, while Chris isn’t so keen:
For (Jasper, BAMM Amsterdam):
So, Justice made a bold move. They knew they had to. Producers Gaspard Augé en Xavier de Rosnay obviously learned from the pitiful downfall of fellow electro-rock crossover acts Digitalism and MSTRKRFT. All three surfaced around the same time with the same aesthetic, but were chastised for rehashing the same old tricks (insert Digitalisms latest LP I Love You Dude) or simply threw in the towel and went back to their garage (as in: revamping Death From Above 1979). Meanwhile, acts like Skrillex, Magnetic Man and Deadmau5 ascended, scaling up (or dumbing down – your choice) dubstep and techhouse to stadium-worthy proportions.
In a classic showcase of ‘no guts no glory’, the Parisian duo dig knee-deep into 70’s hardrock while adopting a more subtle, songlike approach for their second album. No, Audio, Video, Disco is no †, and thankfully so. That album already realised the entire potential of their newfound rock-electro crossover. There’s not contesting that on first listen, there are no epic dancefloor anthems here, or chart-topping hits along the lines of D.A.N.C.E. for that matter. But is that really the only meausure by which to judge Justice’s right to exist? Like MGMT, one could say Justice needs to step out of the hype in order to survive. MGMT’s sophomore album Congratulations was initially received with a lot of scepticism, but 18 months later people have become much more receptive towards it. It just took some getting used to.
Moreover, even without the conceptual banter this record still contains a handful of very recognisable disco-rock tracks (Civilization, Canon, Helix) and a novelty hitsong -the title track- to boot. It’s not brilliant all around, but plenty from an act in transit from the pinnacle of hype to the bedrock of the French house scene.
Against (Chris, BAMM London):
There’s nothing wrong with taking a ‘lighter touch’ to your sound – which is exactly how French electro-pop duo Justice have positioned their sophomore album ‘Audio, Video, Disco’, labeling it ‘daytime music’ as opposed to the nocturnal vibe of the last one. It’s just that – if you’re going to make things a little more sunshiney – you’ve still got to keep a bit of attitude in there. A bit of what made you special in the first place.
Does ‘Audio, Video, Disco’ have this? As much as I want to love this album, I’ve got to say that it doesn’t. At best, it’s a catchy but patchy prog-rock pastiche that passes the time amiably enough. Hit up the worst moments (and there are quite a few) and it sounds like a collection of MGMT studio outtakes. The whole record is deeply in thrall to the keyboard-wielding electro-epic forefathers of the late 70s – but it doesn’t do anything else with the sound (unlike, say, M83, whose aesthetic may be grounded in the 80s but whose sound also explores new territory).
Remember when you’re a kid, and your parents told you that they ‘weren’t angry, they were just disappointed’? That’s the overriding sensation I get from this album. After the promising, punchy, discordant and almost operatic vibe of their first album, it seems that Justice have taken a step backwards. And it’s a shame.
Following our big adventure at SXSW, BAMMsterdam has returned to business as usual, which means closely monitoring what’s hot and happening in the small countries this side of the Atlantic. The (outdoor) festival-season -traditionally opening on Easter- is about to commence, and everybody’s in full anticipation of the big festivals to come. But in the meantime, there’s plenty of delicious musical events to still your cultural appettite.
Take, for instance, the 40th birthday of the biggest traditional Dutch music magazine, OOR (ear). Despite the trials and tribulations facing old hardcopy media, OOR has made it this far and a celebration is in order. The entire Paradiso, from attic to cellar, is booked full of awesome bands that isn’t just answering the question “How to throw a live music party”, but is also a historical map of 40 years of Dutch pop history, with plenty of dinosaurs from the 70′s and 80′s, alongside today’s indie frontline. Indiefolk giants Alamo Race Track will be there. Having just delivered one of the finest Dutch albums of the year so far, it will be quite exciting to see these extraordinary gentlemen perform the songs of Unicorn Love Deer live. A host of songwriters are starring in a revue-style set up for the upstairs room or ‘bovenzaal’. Among them, the young and talented Tim Knol will play some of his westcoast pop, Tjeerd Bomhof aka Dazzled Kid will turn down the volume for some solo renditions of the songs of his recent release Fire Needs Air, as will Lucky Fonz III. Both have performed some intimate theaterconcerts in the past years, so they should be well equipped for the job at hand.
But this is not just a nationalist affair. OOR has managed to put together an international roster featuring some impressive names. Take Selah Sue for example; the young Belgian singer covers the ground between soul, folk, hiphop an dubstep in a way that is only matched by M.I.A. or Janelle Monae. A strong minded individual, she knows where she’s going. Cee-Lo Green recorded a duet with her that ended up on his latest hit-record. Expect great things from this blue-eyed blonde with the raspy voice. Also on the bill are The Naked And Famous. This kiwi bunch are quickly rising to starstatus with their spot-on mix of MGMT-style psychedelic pop and Passion Pit’s frenzied electro. They’ve proven their worth at this year’s SXSW festival, and are about to shine on festivals left, right and centre.
Talking of Austin: The Texans from Okkervil River will be present for an intimate acoustic set. The vintage indie rockband are releasing their sixth record I Am Very Far in May. Their timeless songs should fit the acoustic setting like a glove. Neil Young met Pavement countless times before, but Okkervil River has an especially effective way of taking the best from both worlds. Off course, no OOR party would be complete without some British influences. They pretty much took their entire concept from magazines such as NME and Q and still look to them regularly for inspiration. Frankie & The Heartstrings seem like a meagre choice, though. They’ve not raised many eyebrows with their traditional Britpop sound. It’s all upbeat and energetic, but it’s far removed from what British guitarmusic is all about today. In the same way, Okkervil River could be seen as a somewhat conventional choice.
A cover of OOR from 2008
We’ll just have to see how much of a clash between old and new these festivities will turn out to be. The celebration of this milestone will also have to address the question of OOR’s relevance in the néxt forty years. Without a doubt, it’s much harder a question to answer than defining the merits of OOR in the past. Obviously there will be plenty of tweeps among the many journalists, musicians and other VIP’s that were invited. And some of these bands are definitely hot and happening. Whether OOR has the means and wit to keep up with cheaper, more accessible online competitors remains to be seen. As an institution, OOR would be a shame to lose. But it’s no use for them to become some kind of museum piece, a living memory of how people used to encounter new music. One can only hope they find a way…
Earlier this week, BAMM.tv guided you through the highlights of 5daysoff, one of Amsterdam’s major electronic music festivals. This is the 2nd and final part. After two thoroughly enjoyable nights, another highly anticipated day commenced on friday. At Melkweg, the immensely popular British dubstep movement DMZ commandeered both halls for a night of deep, wobbly dubstep grooves. The line-up consisted of Skream, a live set by Kode9 & Spaceape, a DJ-set by British wunderkind James Blake, and others. Meanwhile, at the Paradiso, the guitar-loving indie hipsters got their night out on the town. A varied line-up of live bands with an electronic feel was served up.
spaceape & kode9
Both nights definitely had their merits. Melkweg delivered great value for money. From the heavy, commercial wobble of Skream to the arty, dubstep-beyond-borders of young master Blake, it all hit home. But this was no surprise; only the very cream of the crop was invited. The night at Paradiso had it’s ups and downs, but also a few very nice suprises. Headliner Goose is a big name in the Netherlands. The Belgian four piece’s set is loud as hell, but the new material from their second full-length Synrise is far from inspiring. This has been done better many times before. Meanwhile, Amsterdam championsTHE BENELUX proved themselves more than worthy of their spot at the festival, despite the fact that the band’s slightly laidback electrofunk was perhaps a little too rocksteady for a closing act.
In the end, it was the fairly unknown french electropop-band The Shoes that made the best impression. The Paris four-piece, revolving around producers Guillaume and Ben have yet to release an album in the Netherlands, but were given a very warm welcome in Paradiso’s main hall. They stole the show with a performance without pretence, and contained a plethora of cool glo-fi and tropicalia inspired tunes. Immediate eyecatchers were the two percussion players in the back, hammering on their drums with almost telepathic synchronicity. Tight is an understatement here. Meanwhile, synths, samples, bass and vocals provided the necessary hooks and structure. It’s safe to say that the vast majority of the audience had never before heard of The Shoes and their french swagger. But it’s not hard to predict there will be plenty of people eager to welcome them back after this performance.
Day four in the schedule was a bit of an off-day. The programming was more mainstream and less high-profile than the other days, and the sales reflected this; neither Melkweg or Paradiso sold out in advance. It appears they were betting on the tourists to fill the blanks on saturday night. Melkweg was hosted by the disco-boogie enthusiasts of Foxes And Wolves, while the broad-based night Colors hosted the Paradiso night. In short: Colors was an incredibly loud and annoying clubnight, despite the efforts of the esteemed techno-producer Joy Orbison (also known for his work as Ramadanman). Especially celebrity rapper/singer Sef, who acted as the night’s MC, was a nuisance. Melkweg proved a more comfortable environment. Hercules And Love Affair headlined the bill, but didn’t leave the strongest impression. BAMM.tv staff-favorite Palmbomen (check out BAMM.tv’s interview HERE) suffered from an intense flu but put up a strong fight, despite the cotton-candy in his head and technical issues.
It’s hard to name any standout acts for this night. Most of the acts lacked consistency in style, quality of the material and/or performance. One positive exception to this tendency was Tom Trago. The Amsterdam-based DJ/producer takes a combination of 80‘s italo-disco with modern dancefloor-material, and perfectly mends them together into a groovy, accessible whole. He’s also the only act to have played on two nights of the festival. First as opening act for the festival with the live electro outfit The Dirt Machine, and tonight as a DJ. Work ethic and consistency might not sound like qualities with high artistic value, but was well appreciated in light of this night.
For the grande finale, Modeselektion held court at the Melkweg. The final event, brainchild of the eclectic Berlin duo Modeselektor, could be considered the electronica-lovers wet dream: beside the obvious headliners, the shy but extremely talented producer Siriusmo; beat artist extraordinaire Hudson Mohawke; and the revered Berlin electronica-wizard Sacha Ring, aka Apparat. All four have more than earned their accolades in the scene over the past years. Siriusmo was slightly timid, but his creative productions pleased the crowd. Hudson Mohawke combined organic sounds with pumping hiphop beats. And last but not least, Modeselektor ran amok in the final hours of the festival, with a rough-edged set of raunchy gutter-techno.
But nothing could compare to Sacha Ring’s jawdropping, mindboggling live-set. Fans Apparat-experience as worship, a natural high, pure sex, or a combination of the three. One can only agree. As he approached the booth to start his first track, excitement soared through the hall. His deep, warm sounds had the Melkweg on it’s knees from the get-go. And then there were the whispers of an appearance by Moderat, the hugely succesful supergroup of Modeselektor and Apparat. In the spirit of the evening, both acts were more than happy to oblige. The first sounds of the synth-lead in fan-favorite Seamonkey led to an epic, hands-in-the-air moment one can only describe as ‘pure joy’. Later on, a rendition of Rusty Nails, albeit instrumental, was the icing on the cake. Apparat in such great shape is unrivaled. When in his element, he can put shivers down your spine, tears in your eyes and blisters on your feat, all in the span of approximately 75 minutes. Those who were lucky enough to be present that night, know. Apparat is the most profound, intelligent and intuitive electronic artist out there. A worthy closing night for a splendid festival, despite the slightly dim fourth night. We’ll be back next year, for sure!
Palmbomen is the Dutch delegate at BAMM.tv’s three-day SXSW platform launch event. So we feel it’s about time for a proper introduction of this boy wonder of italo and chillwave. His NON Records debut Moon Children EP has attracted attention from numerous blogs around Europe, not to mention the famous French electro/house label Kitsuné (Digitalism, Crystal Fighters a.o.) , whom issued a number of remixes from the young producer. Aside from this, he’s producing records for his fellow NON artists, including BAMM.tv staff favorites THE BENELUX. As we speak, Palmbomen (Palm Trees) is flying to Miami for that other major music gathering, WMC. We talk to the man behind the blond hair and processed vocals, singer/producer Kai Hugo, as he’s getting ready to spread his wings.
Hi Kai, how’s it going?
“I’m doing okay. I’m still recovering from a flu I caught a couple of days ago. It’s been pretty hectic the past weeks. I’ve been crashing the couch at a friends house for two weeks now. And meanwhile I’ve been working on my album, producing for others… so pretty busy.”
So where did you come up with the name Palmbomen?
“Well, it’s linked to the story of how I got started. A year or two ago, my girlfriend was organising this festival in Utrecht where I lived, and they needed someone to pitch in for an artist that cancelled their gig a week before the festival. They invited me to do ‘something’ to fill the slot. I was dabbling with electro at the time but felt like doing something different. Me and my friend Swiere (aka HyperHyper, another Non Records artist) had this idea for a kind of cool tropical 80’s project that reflected the atmosphere of these tropical swimmingpools. All we had at the time was this name, Palmbomen. I decided to use this on this project. It stuck.”
You’ve been doing quite a few performances abroad. Where have you been so far?
“Well, things are only about to get started internationally. So far, we went to France, Belgium, Germany. But that was all small stuff. We’ve only just started working with Kitsuné, so the best is yet to come. We’re planning on doing a number of small tours, stringing as many dates together as we could. I live in Berlin these days, so this way it’s easier to produce logistically.”
Palmbomen’s first shot at glory, the Moon Children EP, is a crafty six-song 12” which clearly showcases some of his main assets: vintage synths, slow pulsing disco beats, and vocals that sound both warm and distant at the same time.
Palmbomen live @ 5daysoff festival, Amsterdam. Click the pic to enlarge. Photo: Nick Lapien
How does the EP translate to live?
“It’s still a bit of a quest to find the right balance. I’m definitely looking to bring more up-tempo stuff into the mix, and add more dynamics to the set. Most of the songs on the EP came into being during the first few days I got started. It’s really more the starting point of a search to find out where I want to go with my music.”
You’re working on your first full-length. Any clues as to what it’s going to be like?
“I find it hard to talk about what I’m going to do with the album. I just don’t know. On the one hand I’m looking to put a deeper side of myself into Palmbomen, instead of making just a dancefloor records. But on the other hand I’m also delving into my Italo roots. I’m still searching. A lot of songs are killed in the process.”
Both you and the rest of the NON Records crew name Italo as an important influence. How did you first encounter this style of music?
“I got hooked on production at a fairly early age. I bought a few Italo-samplers by accident, and really liked it. Especially the early days inspired me, around ’82 – ’83, before the introduction of MIDI. They had this rough edge in the production, especially with the drums. Later on, I was inspired by Daft Punk and such, French filterhouse. They were inspired by the same thing. Also, there was this song on a Dutch Sesame Street cd. It had a wonderful electronic sound. I also like the fact that there is a lot of pop to be found on those early Italo records.”
Your off to tour the USA tomorrow. What’s the plan?
“We’re flying to Miami first. We’ve got a few gigs set up around WMC. WMC is much more about trance and techno than pop and electro, but there’s a lot of neat little parties going on downtown. You can catch Erol Alkan DJ’ing for a few people at a barbecue, which is great. After that, we’re off to New Orleans. Not sure what we’ve got going on there, but we’ll find somewhere to play or do a DJ set or something. From there on, we’re at SXSW for a few days, and then it’s off to Los Angeles for a few more dates.”
What do you expect from SXSW and your showcase at BAMM.tv’s platform launchparty?
“From what I’ve read, there are about 850 bands in the line-up, 1500 if you count all the showcases surrounding the official program. And most of them are playing multiple gigs there. So I’m excited to meet a ton of musicians and see them play. We went to WMC last year and picked up some great contacts. We’re hoping to find equally fertile grounds in Austin.
As far as the showcase is concerned: It’s definitely the earliest gig I’ve ever played. It’ll be interesting to see how my lighting rig will work out at noon. The music and the lighting rig interact, you see. It’s an important part of the show. Also, I’m a real nightperson, so waking up at noon is unusual for me, let alone play a gig!”
Here is yet another Bay Area-based band that will perform at our showcase at SXSW 2011. Birds & Batteries is one of the more interesting electro-pop bands that I have listened to lately. Their sounds are catchy, complimented by somewhat trippy sounds and psychedelic lyrics — it all works, making a real pleasure for the ear, something I’d like to listen to while driving in the car or riding on my bike across the bridges of Amsterdam. I hear a mix of modern-day, electronic sounds, coupled with more classical 1970s and 80s rock standards. Ultimately, and most importantly, though, the sound is their own, creating a unique combination of the old and the new.
The first song, Panorama, off their eponymous new album, is a great introduction to their work. Singer Michael Sempert uses his funky and folkish voice to bring the listeners up to speed in his world. When I said before that the band seems to seamlessly merge classical tunes from the 70s and 80s with more dynamic, electronic tracks of the current era, this is precisely what I mean. Give it a listen:
For me, some of the band’s other songs recall the Belgian electro-pop band Das Pop, which found success at the end of the 90s, and now finding somewhat of a resurgence in their sound. However, Das Pop tends to use more classical instruments, such as violins and cellos. What makes Birds & Batteries so compelling for me is that they have found a unique sounds which is both grounded in traditional rock, yet simultaneously looks relentlessly towards the future. A must-hear band at our SXSW 2011 showcase at the Palm Door on the 19th of March.
This weekend, the second edition of FabrIQ Festival resides at the top of our events calendar. Taking place in the city of Den Bosch, it’s the younger sister of the incredibly successful Le Guess Who? festival in Utrecht. But whereas the last edition of Le Guess Who? -this past november- contained some big headliners (Beach House, Caribou, The Tallest Man On Earth) to compliment their pick of underground talent, FabrIQ relies solely upon the acquired taste of it’s audience.
This year’s line-up includes Cleveland-based garage-pop youngsters Cloud Nothings, indie-psych-rockers Suuns, Dutch indie-folk pride The Black Atlantic and Portland’s experimental popduo Tu Fawning. These are the acts Festival FabrIQ considers to be of an Intrusive Quality. Ivo Cooymans, music director of the festival and local pop venue W2, comments: “Last year, the balance shifted a little more towards a quiet, folk/americana festival. Both Bas (Flesseman, founder of Belmont Bookings and the other half of the artistic team) and I think we came closer to what we had in mind with this year’s line-up. Cloud Nothings and Suuns for instance offer a nice bit of variety to the festival.”
Fabriq Festival is a close collaboration between W2 and Belmont Bookings, a booking agency that doubles as one of the finest festival-planners in the Netherlands.“They’re very important to the festival,” Cooymans comments, “They’re very close to the scene, picking up on new artists at an early stage. But they don’t mess around: What’s great about their philosophy is that they always make sure the planning is right. Rather than trying to sell everything at maximum profit, they try to get the right fit between the band and the stage”
The festival has been downsized slightly in comparison to last year, making it an even more intimate and up close experience. Especially the W2 and theater Verkadefabriek (resp. a former cigar- and cookiefactory) are considered amongst the city’s landmark buildings. Cooymans: “The venues really add to the atmosphere of the festival. This goes for both our regular programming and our secret little side-show, FabrIQsgeheim, which takes place on a hidden location somewhere in the city. Depending on our budget next year, we want to explore more locations that could add to the unique backdrop of the festival.”
Festival Fabriq offers great talent in an intimate setting, and does so with a down-to-earth approach. All for love of the game, or so it appears: “We invite acts we think deserve a place in the Dutch festival landscape,” Cooymans says, decisively, “You can’t fill a big festival with acts like these. We like quality over quantity.”
Festival Fabriq will be held at several locations in Den Bosch on February 26 & 27.