Tag: Amsterdam The Netherlands

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Beacon Release a Driving New Meditation on Desire

Throughout this site’s 10 year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering New York-based electronic music duo and JOVM mainstays Beacon. Now,. as you may recall, the act’s third album, 2018’s Gravity Pairs found the duo — Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gussett (production, keys, synths) — writing material that was a sonic left turn from their previously released work.

As they continued, they expanded upon some songs and pared others band. Much like the bending of light through a prism, the abstract, patient and almost painterly creative process of Gravity Pairs eventually turned the material they wrote into a space in which wildly different colors, tones and textures — in this case, minimalist ballads, elaborate pop spirituals and driving dance tunes — can coexist simultaneously and at different speeds. With each iteration, the duo discovered they could easily expand upon how they presented the material within a live setting: they could play the same material in a straightforward fashion — or they could play the same material in a different fashion that added or subtracted color and shading, depending on the circumstances, their moods and their desires. And while Gravity Pairs pushed the JOVM mainstays sound and songwriting approach in an adventurous new direction, the album’s material remained imbued with a vulnerability and aching yearning.

Since the release of Gravity Pairs, the members of Beacon have been extremely busy: Last year they opened for Nick Murphy. during his North America tour, which included a stop at Brooklyn Steel. They shared a series of stripped back, live studio sessions and they released a remix album, which featured edits by Elkka, Helios, and CRi. They began 2020 with a meditative, piano-led take on the Pixies‘ “Wave of Mutilation.” Inspired by the slower tempo and phrasing of the UK Surf B-side, which showcased the original’s mutability — and then they went off on a headlining European tour, which stopped in my second favorite city in the entire world, Amsterdam.

“Feel Something” is the first bit of new, original material from the JOVM mainstays since Gravity Pairs and the track finds the duo continuing to prioritize discovery and experimentation in their songwriting approach. Centered around blown out boom-bap beats, a sinuous bass line, atmospheric yet menacing electronics, jagged synth arpeggios, shimmering guitar lines, a motorik-like groove and Mullanary’s plaintive falsetto, the song’s lyrics paint a surrealistic and disturbing vision of desire and control. offering an almost lived-in perspective of a codependent and dysfunctional relationship.

Beacon have released an accompanying visual featuring a kaleidoscopic and undulating array of colors, moving along to the song’s motorik-like grooves. Without touring on the horizon as a result of the pandemic, Mullarney and Gussett teamed up with their friends at inlet.tv to create a 24/7 steaming channel featuring live visuals from the band’s extensive and lengthy touring history, which you can check out on their website — https://www.beaconband.tv. The channel is also syndicated on YouTube, where users can engage in an active chat.

Each week through the duration of the pandemic, the members of the JOVM mainstays will be releasing a new live visualizer from their archives to the channel and will utilize it going forward to broadcast studio sessions, Q&As and premiers, leading up to new music in 2021.

New Video: Dutch JOVM Mainstay Nana Adjoa Releases a Feverish Visual for Slow-burning “National Song”

Over the past two years or so, I’ve spilled a fair share of virtual ink covering the rising Amsterdam-born and-based Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter and multi-instrumetnalist Nana Adjoa. The Dutch-born JOVM mainstay can trace the origins of her music career to when she joined her first band as a teenager. At the time, she chose to play bass because “every other instrument had been claimed,” she recalls with a laugh. Unbeknownst to Adjoa, her mother had once played bass in a Ghanian Highlife band and still happened to have her guitar. Adjoa went on to the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she studied jazz — electric bass and double bass; however, she found the experience wasn’t what she imagined it to be. “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.”

Interestingly, around the same time, Adjoa bean to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying in school and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while jamming with friends, outside of school. She quickly realized that pursuing a solo career was the best direction for her, so she recruited local musicians and started recording her own material. Since the release of Down at the Root, Part 1 and its follow-up, Down at the Root, Part 2, Adjoa has developed a reputation for being a restless sonic explorer, who has crafted material centered around deft poeticism and an adventurous yet accessible sense of musicianship. Adjoa set out to write her full-length debut at the beginning of last year. Working in her own studio, she not only had the freedom to write and record songs nearly simultaneously, she had a wide palette of instruments at her disposal. The end result is her soon-to-be released full-length debut, the Wannes Salomé-produced Big Dreaming Ants, slated for a September 24, 2020 release.

Reportedly lush yet delicate, intimate yet expansive and moody yet hopeful, the album’s material is features a diverse array of multi-layered tonal textures — including thumb piano, vibraphone and a vintage harmonium along with guitar, bass, vocals, etc. Although Adjoa — who, typically plays guitar on stage — handled, the majority of the album’s instrumentation herself, the album features a collection of Amsterdam’s finest players collaborating with her, including the members of her live band: Mats Voshol (drums), Daniel van Loenen (trombone), Tim Schakel (guitar), Jonas Pap (strings) and Eelco Topper (vibraphone). Thematically, the album reveals a young artist poised to make a clear and concise artistic statement, in which she continues an ongoing search for identity while pondering life’s great philosophical questions. “For me,” she says, “music is a way to believe in something deeper.”

Throughout the past couple of months, I’ve written about three of Big Dreaming Ants’ singles: the shimmering, hook driven “Throw Stones,” which featured a narrator desperately trying to calm themself and their emotions in the face of internet trolls, digital clashes and the overall uncertainty of our world, trippy and expansive “No Room,” which featured elements of shoegaze, indie rock and Afro pop and “I Want to Change,” a delicate song that expressed a skittish yet hopeful view of change and evolution — both internally and externally.

Centered around a gorgeous arrangement featuring twinkling synths, brooding strings, strummed guitar, stuttering yet dramatic drumming, and Adjoa’s achingly tender vocals, “National Song,” Big Dreaming Ants’ fourth and latest single is a slow-burning, lullaby-like song with a narrator, struggling with having a sense of belonging in a cruel, morally bankrupt world that values some and not all, the dangers of tribalism and nationalism and more.

“I feel that neo-nationalism is occurring all over the world. Our ‘nations’ and borders are no longer what they once were because of so many different and rapid changes in what used to be our small worlds,” the Amsterdam-born and-based JOVM mainstay says of her latest single. “Growing pains of progress (I hope), which express themselves as a desire for conservative ideas rooted in a fear of change. Every occasion in which the old tradition of a national song is sung, it feels to me like a moment of doubt between the past and the future. It’s something I never used to think about twice and now makes me feel something different; there is something uneasy about it. The Dutch national song, ‘Het Wilhemus’, is one of the oldest national anthems. It has its own funny story to its heritage. Some countries don’t even have lyrics to the national anthem because there has already been a history of identity crises within the nation itself. Some countries do not have one, but two, national songs, and some aren’t in the native tongue. What is this feeling of belonging to one nation worth nowadays? Especially for people with mixed backgrounds like myself.”

Directed by Robbert Doelwijt, Jr. the recently released video for “National Song” features dancers dressed in traditional Ghanian school uniforms expressionistically dancing to the song while a denim-clad Adjoa is captured singing the song in gorgeous golden hour sunlight. While feeling like a fever dream, the video subtly pays homage to Adjoa’s heritage.

New Video: Amsterdam’s Rex Releases a Horror Film-Inspired Visual for Brooding EP single “Dm”

REX is a rising, Amsterdam-based indie rock trio that features members with very diverse musical backgrounds:  Jonathan Rex (vocals, guitar) grew up with flamenco in his blood,  Nout Kooji (drums) grew up in punk rock, and Sara Elzinga (bass) grew up in a blues loving home. But despite their different musical backgrounds, the Dutch band’s sound draws from Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen and flamenco, while thematically their material tackles dark and murky topics — and as a result the band has developed a profile both nationally and across sections of the European Union. 

Because of their growing profile, the members of the Dutch act have played shows in the UK, Germany and Spain. They’ve opened for Claw Boys Claw — and they’ve made appearances across the European Festival circuit, including Into the Great Wide Openlast year. Adding to a growing profile, Rex released their self-titled debut EP earlier this year, and the EP’s latest single is the brooding “Dm.” Sounding like an incredibly stylish synthesis of The Doorsand Nick Cave, the track is centered around slashing guitars, an explosive guitar solo, and a propulsive rhythm section powered by a sinuous bass line, the track is a darkly seductive platform for Jonathan Rex’s sonorous, Glenn Danzig meets Jim Morrison’s baritone and Silia Hollestelle’s plaintive and expressive vocals. It’s fitting since the song is focused on a troubled male protagonist desperately calling out to a lost lover. Expanding upon the song’s theme and story, Jonathan Rex says ““His lover tells him that they can only be together if he chooses to cross the ‘other side’ where she will be waiting for him. Knowing that he will have to cross the river to the land of the dead, insanity starts to creep in.”

Shot in the Dutch forests, just outside Amsterdam, the recently released video for “Dm” evokes Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe movies — a feverish and hallucinogenic journey through the dark recesses of the human soul and mind. 

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstay Nana Adjoa Releases a Skittish and Hopeful Ode to Change

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the rising Amsterdam-born and-based Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter  and multi-instrumetnalist  Nana Adjoa.  And with the release of her debut effort Down at the Root, Part 1, the Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter received attention across the European Union for an easy-going and warm 70s singer/songwriter soul sound and approach that brought Bill Withers and others.

The Dutch-born JOVM mainstay can trace the origins of her music career to when she joined her first band as a teenager. At the time, she chose to play bass because “every other instrument had been claimed,” she recalls with a laugh. Unbeknownst to Adjoa, her mother had once played bass in a Ghanian Highlife band and still happened to have her guitar. Adjoa went on to the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she studied jazz — electric bass and double bass; however, she found the experience wasn’t what she imagined it to be. “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.”

Interestingly, around the same time, Adjoa bean to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying in school and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while jamming with friends, outside of school.  She quickly realized that pursuing a solo career was the best direction for her, so she recruited local musicians and started recording her own material. Since the release of Down at the Root, Part 1 and its follow-up, Down at the Root, Part 2, Adjoa has developed a reputation for being a restless sonic explorer, who has crafted material centered around deft poeticism and an adventurous yet accessible sense of musicianship. Adjoa set out to write her full-length debut at the beginning of last year. Working in her own studio, she not only had the freedom to write and record songs nearly simultaneously, she had a wide palette of instruments at her disposal. The end result is her forthcoming full-length debut, the Wannes Salomé-produced Big Dreaming Ants, slated for a September 24, 2020 release.

Reportedly lush yet delicate, intimate yet expansive and moody yet hopeful, the album’s material is features a diverse array of multi-layered tonal textures — including thumb piano, vibraphone and a vintage harmonium along with guitar, bass, vocals, etc. Although Adjoa — who, typically plays guitar on stage — handled, the majority of the album’s instrumentation herself, the album features a collection of Amsterdam’s finest players collaborating with her, including the members of her live band: Mats Voshol (drums), Daniel van Loenen (trombone), Tim Schakel (guitar), Jonas Pap (strings) and Eelco Topper (vibraphone). Thematically,  the album reveals a young artist poised to make a clear and concise artistic statement, in which she continues an ongoing search for identity while pondering life’s great philosophical questions. “For me,” she says, “music is a way to believe in something deeper.”

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles: the shimmering, hook driven “Throw Stones,” which featured a narrator desperately trying to calm themself and their emotions in the face of internet trolls, digital clashes and the overall uncertainty of our world — and the trippy and expansive “No Room,” which featured elements of shoegaze, indie rock and Afro pop. “I Want to Change,” Big Dreaming Ants’ latest single is a delicate, track centered around plucked strings, atmospheric electronics and Adjoa’s achingly tender vocals, the track expresses a skittish yet hopeful view of change and evolution — both internally and externally. Massive changes are coming y’all — and we all know it.

“The desire to change is a weird feeling and brings with it a dichotomy of emotions. You get a sense of wanting to move forward, of getting out of a (perhaps self-imposed) rut, but you also fear leaving behind the comfort and security of what you know,” Adjoa says. “With ‘I Want To Change,’ I’m giving space to an inner voice that quietly yearns for change and amplifying it in a way, calling for change that speaks to both the global and individual scale. I wrote the song over a year ago, now placing it in the context of the current state of the world, that inner voice feels more like a call to action for myself.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Nana Adjoa Releases a Cinematic and Symbolic Visual for Shimmering “No Room”

I’ve written quite a bit about the rising Amsterdam-born and-based Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter  and multi-instrumetnalist  Nana Adjoa over the past few years. And with the release of her debut effort Down at the Root, Part 1, the Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter received attention across the European Union for an easy-going, 70s singer/songwriter soul sound and approach that brought Bill Withers and others.

The Dutch-born JOVM mainstay can trace the origins of her music career to when she joined her first band as a teenager. At the time, she chose to play bass because “every other instrument had been claimed,” she recalls with a laugh. Unbeknownst to Adjoa, her mother had once played bass in a Ghanian Highlife band and still happened to have her guitar.

Adjoa went on to the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she studied jazz — electric bass and double bass; however, she found the experience wasn’t what she imagined it to be. “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.” Interestingly, around the same time, Adjoa bean to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying in school and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while jamming with friends, outside of school.  She quickly realized that pursuing a solo career was the best direction for her, so she recruited local musicians and started recording her own material.

Since the release of Down at the Root, Part 1 and its follow-up, Down at the Root, Part 2, Adjoa has developed a reputation for being a restless sonic explorer, who has crafted material centered around deft poeticism and an adventurous yet accessible sense of musicianship. Adjoa set out to write her full-length debut at the beginning of last year. Working in her own studio, she not only had the freedom to write and record songs nearly simultaneously, she had a wide palette of instruments at her disposal. The end result is her forthcoming full-length debut, the Wannes Salomé-produced Big Dreaming Ants, slated for a September 24, 2020 release. 

Reportedly lush yet delicate, intimate yet expansive and moody yet hopeful, the album’s material is features a diverse array of multi-layered tonal textures — including thumb piano, vibraphone and a vintage harmonium along with guitar, bass, vocals, etc. Although Adjoa — who, typically plays guitar on stage — handled, the majority of the album’s instrumentation herself, the album features a collection of Amsterdam’s finest players collaborating with her, including the members of her live band: Mats Voshol (drums), Daniel van Loenen (trombone), Tim Schakel (guitar), Jonas Pap (strings) and Eelco Topper (vibraphone). Thematically,  the album reveals a young artist poised to make a clear and concise artistic statement, in which she continues an ongoing search for identity while pondering life’s great philosophical questions. “For me,” she says, “music is a way to believe in something deeper.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about album single, the shimmering “Throw Stones.” Centered around a radio friendly hook, fluttering flutes, fuzzy synths, and a looping guitar line, the song features a narrator, desperately trying to calm themselves and their emotions in the face of internet trolls, digital clashes and overall uncertainty. Big Dreaming Ants’ third and latest single “No Room” is a decidedly trippy affair featuring  shimmering guitars, a strutting and sinuous  bass line, atmospheric electronics, twinkling blasts of keys, an expansive song structure, and Adjoa’s gorgeous vocals, the song may be the most expansive song of her career, as it has elements of shoegaze, indie rock and Afro pop. 

Directed by Rudy Aisbey, the recently released video for “No Room” is a cinematic and highly symbolic visual that make connections between Adjoa’s Ghanian roots and her Dutch upbringing, the passion for music that she can trace back to being small, the cultural misunderstandings between child and parent — especially when the child does something unusual. 

“The vision was to bring Nana’s duality in culture and music together,” Rudy Aisbey says in press notes. “Her name stands for so much more in Ghanaian culture. Nana means king/queen and Adjoa is her day name (Monday) which stands for peacemaker. For me, Nana’s music is a journey to finding the answers to life. Nana guides us with music to help us find those answers. I wanted to bring that journey to life in the visuals. In this video we see more of her Ghanaian culture and a journey to finding self— even though people want to put you in a box or want you to become someone else. In the end, she chooses herself. As Nana’s name represents, I hope her music guides people to choose for themselves, to learn more about their heritage in order to gain learnings from heritage and grow. Especially in these times, it is important to know where you’re from, in order to know where you’re going. We could all use a peacemaker.”

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstay Nana Adjoa Releases a Forward-Thinking Yet Accessible New Single

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the rising Amsterdam-born and-based Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter  Nana Adjoa — and as you may recall, with the release of her debut effort Down at the Root, Part 1, the Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter began to receive attention across the European Union for an easy-going, 70s singer/songwriter soul sound reminiscent of Bill Withers and others. 

Adjoa can trace the origins of her professional career back to when she was accepted at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she studied jazz — electric bass and double bass; however, however, she found the experience wasn’t what she imagined it to be. “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.”

Interestingly, around the same time, Adjoa bean to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying in school and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while jamming with friends, outside of school.  She quickly realized that pursuing a solo career was the best direction for her, so she recruited local musicians and started recording her own material. 

Since the release of Down at the Root, Part 1 and Down at the Root, Part 2, Adjoa has developed a reputation for being a restless sonic explorer, who crafts material centered around deft poeticism and an adventurous yet accessible sense of musicianship. The JOVM mainstay’s highly-anticipated full-length debut is slated for release this fall. The forthcoming album’s second and latest single “Throw Stones” features shimmering and looping guitar figure, metronomic-like drumming, brief blasts of handclaps and fluttering flute  and fuzzy synth arpeggios and a brooding string arrangement paired with Adjoa’s plaintive vocals — and it’s all held together with an infectious hook. And while the song manages to be radio friendly, the song is much murkier under its surface, as its narrator is trying to calm a rumbling anxiousness. 

“This song is about me calming myself down in difficult times. To feel, regroup, and reflect,” Adjoa says in press notes. “If you need that right now, to feel it to embrace it and slowly heal, you can listen to this song and count to 10. You don’t always have to be ‘on’, you are allowed to take time, to rest and come back feeling refreshed, better and stronger. I hope this song gives you pause, time to breathe.”

New Video: Amsterdam’s Cubicolor Releases a Mediative Visual for “Rituals”

Amsterdam-based act Cubicolor is an internationally acclaimed electronic trio that features a lineup of accomplished musicians and producers:

Ariann Olierook, a member of production duo 16BL and Cubicolor, who acts as the public face of both acts. Olierook has been writing and recording music professional over the past 20 years — and has toured globally for the past 15 years. Described as a “student of music” by his Cubicolor bandmate Tim Digby-Bell, Olierook has developed reputation both within the project and without as constantly learning, honing techniques, restlessly experimenting and trying new ideas and building his own instruments. including custom modular synths, mixing decks and speakers that trio uses for their recording sessions.
Tim Digby-Bell, a London-born singer/songwriter, poet and playwright, who began to learn the guitar when he turned seven.  Growing up, he was heavily influenced by Nick Drake and others. Before he joined the Amsterdam-based electronic act, the British singer/songwriter was best known for being in London-based indie quintet Duologue. 
Through their earliest releases, Duologue quickly became a buzzworthy act, and they wound up signing to a major label. Sadly, while on their first Stateside tour – a momentum and career building tour, at that – one of Digby-Bell’s bandmates was diagnosed with leukemia. With an uncertain future looming in front of them, the band spilt up. Since the band’s breakup, that now-former bandmate has recovered from his illness.

Roughly two years after Duologue split up, Digby-Bell was introduced to Olierook and Peter Kriek — and after collaborating with the duo on “Falling,” became a permanent member of Cubicolor in 2016.
Kriek is the most mysterious and enigmatic member of the act. He grew up outside of Amsterdam, attended university and started a successful IT company while co-founding 16BL and Cubicolor with Olierook. Roughly 15 years ago, Kriek decided to withdraw from much of normal life, leaving his company and living a monastic-like and solitary life on a houseboat, which doubled as recording studio.
Reportedly, Kriek doesn’t listen to much modern music and is generally unreceptive to new ideas – and although his living situation and habits are challenging to deal with, his 16BL and Cubicolor bandmates will openly admit that he has an non-Western ear for melody and is one of the most talented musicians and producers they’ve ever met or worked with.
Since Cubicolor’s formation in 2014, the act has released three EPs and a handful of singles through Anjunadeep Records that found the act’s sound moving from progressive house to experimental electronica. The act’s breakthrough,  full-length debut Brainsugar was heavily supported by Spotify‘s Austin Kramer, Pete Tong, Joris Voorn and Kölsch, received airplay throughout the UK and KCRW and received critical praise from Mixmag, RA, Thump, Consequence of Sound and DJ Mag, which gave the album a 9/10 review. Brainsugar album tracks were remixed by Patrice Baumel, Lindstrom and Prins Thomas— and those tracks received support and play in clubs throughout the world. And adding to a growing profile, the album has amassed over 40 million streams globally.

Back in 2018, the band had written, recorded, and finished what was supposed to be their sophomore full-length album Trick of Light. The album was delivered to their label and to the digital streaming platforms. A full press campaign for the album was planned and then shortly before the official announcement of the album, the band decided to cancel the release and scrap the album. Three album singles were released off the canceled album — “No Dancers,” “Counterpart,” and “Boxed Out.” “Counterpart” received airplay on the BBC Radio 1 programs of Annie Mac, Pete Tong, Phil Taggart and Kölsh. Adam Port’s remix of “No Dancers” was a club hit. “We got home and listened to it, then got on the phone with each other and decided to drop the whole thing,” the band’s Tim Digby-Bell recalls in press notes. “The next week, we went back into the studio and started again. We didn’t keep anything, we shut ourselves on the boat in Amsterdam where we work and didn’t stop until we made the record we wanted to make.

“There were a lot of moments when we weren’t sure we’d ever find what it was we were looking for,” Digby-Bell continues. “On the way, we lost friends, lost loves, battled health issues, lost an album, lost each other and came back together again. Looking back now, it was pretty crazy, but the world keeps spinning and I guess we just don’t want to put out anything that wasn’t true to ourselves as a band, and the very best we can do as musicians, no matter how long it took.”

The trio’s latest album, the long-awaited, Hardly A Day, Hardly A Night is partially inspired by the seemingly endless cycles of space and time and is centered around an unwavering dedication to earnestness of emotion and purpose. Thematically, the album at points touches on much more personal topics than others: the Digby-Bell penned single “Points Beyond” is a loving tribute to a dear friend of his, who died last year. Other album tracks are meant to evoke the uncertainty and fear that the band felt during the writing and recording process. Overall, the album’s material paints an intimate and provocative picture of the trio’s evolution as artists and as people.

“Rituals,” Hardly A Day, Hardly A Night‘s latest single is centered around looping and twinkling piano, thumping beats, Digby-Bell’s plaintive vocals, shimmering synth arpeggios blasts and a soaring hook. And while sonically bearing a resemblance to Floating Points and Bonobo, the track manages to be cinematic and remarkably intimate, delving deep into the psyche and souls of its creators. 

Directed by Callum Bain, the recently released, intimately shot video for “Rituals” stars Misfits and Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy actor Robert Sheehan, who gives a raw and primal performance, as we see him moving through both time and space. “We all have rituals, from habitual daily activities, to practices in meditation, worship, dance,” the video’s director says in press notes. “Movements based on fortune and luck, or just superstition. Do they hinder or help our daily needs? Does it matter? Is the act of doing them reward enough?

“This video explores ritualistic movements, both extreme and delicate. It visualizes the micro-movements and slight variations found in repeated rituals, it observes the forward and backward motion of time.

“At its heart is Robert Sheehan’s performance, primal, instinctive, totally captivating and depicting a state of pure consciousness.

Is he anguished by carrying out these rituals or are the rituals providing an element of comfort or nourishment to an anguished soul? Must we break the cycle of bad habits that have become ritualistic . . . ”

Snowapple is an Amsterdam-based, multi-national, multi-ethnic and multidisciplinary ensemble that specializes in a unique sound that frequently combines diverse and eclectic musical influences, including pop, folk, opera and experimental cumbia among others. Visually, the ensemble uses theatrical elements, extravagant costumes paired with provocative thematic concerns to create epic live sets and videos.

The members of the Dutch ensemble have brought their unique and epic live show to the international festival circuit with sets at Eurosonic Nooderlsag, Cervantino, Ollin Kan, Oerol and Larmer Tree — and they’ve made appearances on a number of TV stations around the world, including Canal11, TV Azteca, and Canal22. Adding to a growing international profile, the act has also received airplay on BBC Radio multiple times.

Snowapple is currently working on their new festival set 4 Lunes, the follow-up to the act’s 2019 theater shows Mr. Moon and Project Lucy and to their political program La Llorona — Ser Mujer (The Weeping One — Being a Woman), which raises awareness of femicides in Mexico. But in the meantime, the act’s latest single, the David Ott-produced “Simple Things” is an adaptation of Armando Tejada Gomez‘s and Cesar Isella’s “Las Simples Coasas,” which has been performed by Chavela Vargas, Mercedes Sosa and countless others. Centered around a cinematic, genre-mashing arrangement that’s one part tango, one part chanson and one part Tropicalia, the Dutch act’s rendition evokes smoky cafes, narrow and foggy European streets and the work of David Lynch but imbued with an aching nostalgia. And as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the song takes on a heightened and deeper meaning: there’s a longing for the things, places and experiences we may never get back — with the acknowledgment that there are things we often say goodbye to way too quickly, not noticing how much they meant to us until they’re gone.

 

 

 

New Video: Amsterdam’s Someone Releases a Low-Budget Horror Film Inspired Commentary on Social Media

Over the past couple of years, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink writing about the Amsterdam-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and multidisciplinary artist Tessa Rose Jackson, the creative mastermind behind the rising indie recording project Someone. With the release of her debut EP Chain Reaction, Jackson quickly received attention for pairing her music with an accompanying short film.

The Dutch singer/songwriter, producer and multidisciplinary artist’s sophomore EP Orbit found Jackson exploring the intensity with which art and music can be fused and how they can be more fully enhanced. Thematically the material was an incisive commentary on our overstimulated digital age that suggests that we spend so much time staring into our phones and on social media, endlessly exposing ourselves to external distractions to the point that we’re essentially orbiting each other. And as a result, we rarely touch, rest or even focus long enough to connect to anyone or any particular thing. Orbit received praise from The Line of Best Fit, DIY Magazine, The 405 and NME — with NME picking her set as a highlight of last year’s Eurosonic.  

2020 looks to be a breakthrough year for the Dutch-based Jackson: her highly-anticipated Someone full-length debut, Orbit II is slated for a June 20, 2020 release through [PIAS] Recordings. And already, the album’s first single “Forget Forgive” was recently featured in a pivotal scene of the acclaimed Netflix series Dear White People. Building upon the momentum of the past year or so, Orbit II’s latest single “You Live In My Phone” is a sultry and decided change in sonic direction for the Amsterdam-based artist. Centered around a shimmering synth and key arpeggios, stuttering beats, Jackson’s breathy vocal delivery the song sonically sounds like a slick synthesis of neo soul and Daft Punk. Thematically, the song continues the Dutch artist’s focus on technology and social media on us and our relationships. 

“It isn’t meant as a personal diary log for me to vent my feelings and that’s that. I’d like it to be more of a bolstering experience, a conversation starter for people that recognise themselves in these songs,” Jackson says of Orbit II’s material. “The music is optimistic, even if the lyrics sometimes wade into some pretty harsh waters and this balance -to me -helps to bring perspective, positivity and a little humour into the mix.”

Created by Someone’s Tessa Rose Jackson and directed by David Spearing, the recently released video for “You Live In My Phone” is indebted to 50s and 80s low-budget sci-fi and horror films. We follow the life story of its protagonist, Joe who has spent his entire childhood immersed with his smartphone, to the exclusion of life around him. One night, the grown Joe falls asleep with his trust phony during a thunderstorm, and when he wakes up he finds his phone gone — and his head replaced by a giant emoji. It’s a decidedly absurd tragicomedy that finds our now emoji-headed protagonist desperately alone and misunderstood. Every time that he tries to reach out to another, he’s completely ignored by people on their phones. The only time anyone does connect with him, they spend time taking picture of him for their social media feeds. And in anger, he turns those who have tormented him into emoji-heads. 

Orbit II will be releasing alongside an app that allows listeners to experience the record’s artwork in augmented reality. ” “To me, playfulness is a big part of what I do. I hope to invite people to explore and experience new music (and art) actively, instead of passively. Hands on,” Jackson explains. “This is why the visually interactive element of ORBIT II is so essential.”
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A Q&A with Donna Blue’s Danique van Kesteren and Bart van Dalen

Donna Blue is a rising Amsterdam-based indie act centered around its core duo, romantic couple Danique van Kesteren and Bart van Dalen. Creatively, they’re each other’s muse. And with the release of their debut 7 inch EP, which was released in 2017, the Dutch indie act quickly established a unique and dream-like sound seemingly influenced by Phil Spector, Wall of Sound-like pop, Pasty Cline, yè yè and the work of David Lynch – in particular, Twin Peaks. “Sunset Blvd,” which appeared on that 7 inch was played on Elton John’s Apple Music radio show Rocket Hour.

Building upon a growing profile, the Dutch duo released the yé yé inspired single “1 2 3.” Sung in French, the song describes the lack of a passion within a romantic relationship. And instead of making a standard music video for the song, the duo chose to create an audiovisual monologue conveying the narrator’s longing that’s visually inspired by the nouvelle vague movement.

Released last month through Dutch indie label, Snowstar Records, the self-recorded and self-produced 5 song EP Inbetween finds the act continuing to draw from and seamlessly mesh Roy Orbison, Julee Cruise, Nancy Sinatra, Patsy Cline and yé yé into a unique sound that evokes late nights wandering around narrow European streets, smokey cafes and swooning Romanticism. Personally, listening to the EP reminds me of late nights walking through Amsterdam’s Centrum and the Red Light District and of walking down Frankfurt-am-Main’s Haupwatche and Romer Districts with the aching loneliness of being a foreigner, of being a Black man in Northern Europe. And although that’s a deeply personal lens, the material overall is smoky, cinematic and absolutely gorgeous.

Persfoto 2019-1 (Satellite June)

Persfoto 2019-5 (OAK & FIR)

Inbetween

I recently exchanged emails with Donna Blue’s Danique van Kesteren and Bart van Dalen for this edition of the JOVM Q&A. Current world events have impacted all of us – and they’ve found ways to bleed into our personal and professional lives in ways that will reverberate for quite some time to come. As COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the rising Dutch act was here in New York, playing the second annual New Colossus Festival. Shortly after their New Colossus Festival sets, the world as we know it has been at an uncomfortable and indefinite pause. While we do chat about their excellent new EP, we do talk seriously about the impact of the pandemic on their careers, how much Twin Peaks has influenced their work and we reminisce about beautiful Amsterdam. Check it out below.

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WRH: Donna Blue is centered around core duo and romantic couple Danique van Kesteren and Bart van Dalen. How is it like to collaborate and tour with your partner?

 

Danique van Kesteren: Thatʼs a big question to start with. Itʼs hard to explain well, but itʼs very special. I believe thereʼs a certain energy and creativity that only sparks when youʼre completely on the same wavelength as the person you are collaborating with. We work together so intimately that our ideas can flow without speaking.

Bart van Dalen: That being said, working closely together on a project blurs the lines between work and personal life. Itʼs all about keeping a good balance and that takes work. But most of the time itʼs very good. And touring together is super nice. Sharing experiences, traveling to all those places with her, performing and seeing Danique next to me on stage. I like how we can always feel what the other person is feeling on stage and feed off each otherʼs energy during a show.

WRH: Most of the known world has been in quarantine in some fashion since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic last month. How have you been holding up? What have you been spending your time doing? Binge watching anything interesting?


DVK: We mainly have been resting a lot, staying at home reading and cooking healthy food. We did set up a studio at home, so we can record ideas for new songs whenever we want.

BVD: Itʼs a weird time. We wouldʼve been in the US right now taking some time off after a tour. So weʼve been adjusting and taking time to think about where we are going from here. And weʼre binge watching a lot of Mad Men.

WRH: Donna Blue played this yearʼs New Colossus Festival. How did it go? Did you get a chance to take in any local food or bars or anything? Did you have a chance to see anyone play while you were in town? If so, who?

BVD: We had such a good time performing at the New Colossus; itʼs a really good memory. We played 4 shows and met some amazing people. We saw a couple of other artists perform at the festival, like Luke De-Sciscio, Kirsten Knick and Ghost World, which was very fun. And we got to play a Paste Magazine session while we were in town. But every day felt more uncertain as COVID-19 was really hitting Europe hard. So, it was a strange time.

DVK: We were in New York for 5 days, so we tried to explore some of the city, even though it felt like we shouldnʼt. In the mornings we got bagels and we walked around the neighbourhood a little. Some of our band went to MOMA the last day before it closed. But mostly we stayed indoors until it was time to head off to our show. We all shared a big loft, so we just chilled in the living [room] and tried to stay calm and positive.

WRH: You were supposed to head down to Austin for SXSW after New Colossus Festival and unfortunately while you were in town COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Shortly after that festivals were postponing and canceling left and right, including SXSW. How has COVID-19 currently impacted you and your career?

BVD: Yes, that was a hard pill to swallow for everyone. Of course, weʼve worked very hard to get to SXSW and set up a tour around it. And thereʼs a huge financial investment that comes with touring the US. So not being able to play an important festival like SXSW and cancel all upcoming shows does impact our career. But weʼll carry on and keep making music, weʼll just have to wait and see what the scene is going to be like when we can go back out.

DVK: I think it will impact our career the same way it does any artist at the moment. Itʼs all very uncertain when we are going to be able to bring people together for live performances again, and if they even want to come out again when itʼs allowed. Small venues will collapse, international touring will be impossible for a while and it might be a lot harder to get our music in front of interesting parties.

WRH: Youʼre from one of my favorite cities in the entire world –- Amsterdam. I was in the Netherlands three years ago and I miss Amsterdam and the country. So say, Iʼm a tourist and itʼs my first time in Amsterdam, where would I go to get a taste of local life?

DVK: Amsterdam is a really special place. I still canʼt decide whether I love it more when the city wakes up in spring or when itʼs quiet in winter, the narrow streets and bridges covered in snow. It just feels so old and magical. I would recommend just walking past the canals just outside the busy city center. Have a little picnic on the waterfront, maybe smoke a funny cigarette and donʼt forget to look up to stare at the beautiful facades. Go through the ‘9 straatjesʼ or down Haarlemmerstraat for some nice local shops and vintage stores.

BVD: If you like movies, visit LAB-111 (best programming), beautiful art deco cinemas The Movies or Tsuchinsky, or the EYE film museum.

WRH: Whatʼs your favorite spot in Amsterdam to catch live music? Why?

BVD: We have a beautiful venue called Paradiso, itʼs in an old church and saw some real underground action in the 60s. Now itʼs one of the most important concert venues in our country, and still a magical place.

DVK: Bitterzoet is also a venue I really like, itʼs smaller but very cool, and it has a little red light district vibe going on.

WRH: Are there any Dutch acts that should be blowing up that havenʼt yet?

BVD: Definitely. Look up a band called Lewsberg, and Eerie Wanda.
DVK: And a band we love that make[s] awesome music to dance to is called Yin Yin.

WRH: I understand that Elton John played “Sunset Blvd” during his Apple Music radio show Rocket Hour. How did it feel to receive a co-sign from someone as legendary as him?

DVK: So unreal. I never thought in a million years I would hear Elton John say my full name.
BVD: Weʼve also been getting a lot of attention and radio play through it, so itʼs been very helpful.

WRH: I was first introduced to you and your sound through the Paste Session you did last month. So how much has David Lynch and Twin Peaks influenced the band and its aesthetic?

DVK: A lot, especially at the start. The way David Lynch plays with mystery and beauty is something we find really inspiring and try to incorporate in our own music. And visually too, we get inspired by his films for our music videos.

BVD: And of course, the soundtrack and music of Twin Peaks are so good. Being one of the bands playing at the Roadhouse is one of our musical dreams. We try to capture some of that Roadhouse-feeling in our own live performances.

WRH: How would you describe your sound to those who would be initially unfamiliar with you and your sound?

BVD: We usually describe it as sultry indie pop under the influence of 60s yé yé, Lynch movies and old Hollywood romance.

WRH: Who (and what) are your influences?

BVD: Musically our influences are mainly artists from the 50s/60s. Think of Serge Gainsbourg, Roy Orbison, Nancy Sinatra, Link Wray. And as mentioned before, so is the mystery from the Twin Peaks soundtrack.

DVK: Next to that we get inspired lyrically and visually by things like our own relationship and stuff we go through, cult movies from the 70s, Jean-Luc Godard, old Hollywood glamour, books and big questions like is there a heaven and would it be fun to go there for all eternity?

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

DVK: For Donna Blue, we try to listen mostly to ‘oldʼ music, but of course so much modern music is great too. Weʼve been listening to Alexandra Savior, Hayley Hendrickx, Babe Rainbow, Kevin Morby, Jess Williamson, Yo La Tengo, SadGirl.
BVD: And I just got a Velvet Underground vinyl for my birthday that weʼve been spinning on repeat.

WRH: Your latest effort Inbetween EP was released last month. Itʼs a gorgeous and cinematic effort that evokes film noir, smoky cafes and bars, strolling down narrow European streets, swooning love – and to my ears, I hear quite bit of Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline and Phil Spectorʼs girl groups in the overall production. Iʼve managed to play the EP quite a bit late at night and for some reason, it reminds me so much of wandering around Amsterdam Centrum and the Red Light District. Is there a unifying theme that holds the EPʼs five songs together?

DVK: Itʼs not so much a theme as it is a feeling. Weʼve tried to translate that place between waking and sleeping into songs. Strange things happen there. Sometimes literally, like in title track Inbetween. But sometimes itʼs more figuratively, like waking up to what love really is.

WRH: “Desert Lake,” “Billy” and “Fool” are among my personal favourites on the EP. Can you tell us a little bit about what that songs are about?


DVK: Yes of course, “Desert Lake” is about the badlands every artist needs to cross while they do their work. Right between dreaming up a song and finishing it, a fear always creeps in: is it good enough? No matter how beautiful it is to create things, it will forever come with doubt. For the song we made up a cinematic story about someone getting lost in that madness of art. “Billy” is a song about l’amour fou gone wrong. We wanted it to sound like a sweet little 50’s heartbreak song at the start, but it ends like an eerie nightmare. It leaves you wondering what happened to the person not picking up the phone. And “Fool” is a song about the moment in a relationship you realise there is no such thing as perfect love, even though you thought you had it figured out. Itʼs a personal testament to losing some of that beautiful, open innocence of childhood love when transitioning into an adult relationship. Like an awakening.

WRH: How do you know when you have a finished song?

DVK: I think for a big part itʼs a feeling, you just know when thereʼs something still missing from the song.
BVD: Usually when we think a song is complete, we let it sit for a while. Then we listen to it again after a week or two, if it still feels good, itʼs finished.

WRH: Whatʼs next for you?

DVK: Weʼll be working on new music, maybe even a full-length album . .  .
BVD: And of course making plans to set up another tour as soon as we can.