Interview with CFTH Vol II bands on the local music scene
After putting out the call for Calls from the Hull […]
After putting out the call for Calls from the Hull Vol II – Another Eleven Recordings from the Rotterdam, we were blown away by the amount of responses received from bands around the country. We extended an invitation to a selection of the responses and although it was hard to pick only a limited number of them, the process of offering the boat, the time of our wizard of a sound engineer Elmo as well as our equipment for recording songs professionally was something we were very much looking forward, in support of the artists and to create something we can really be proud of. The outcome was a beautiful compilation album that captured the sounds of 11 bands, overall a lighter spirit after strange times. We sent each band a few questions related to recent times and how they feel about the local music scene.
After your show in Grasnapolsky you mentioned ‘feeling the scene being more alive than ever’ and the importance of seeing great bands take the stage after the (Covid) pause. What has been most surprising about partaking in the scene again?
To be honest, we were pretty surprised by the music we ended up making. When we became a quartet, things got really exciting and we were blown away by what we were creating. Of course, the big question was whether anyone else would like it. Luckily, we’ve been getting a lot of love in Rotterdam and have had some awesome opportunities to perform.
We’re big fans of the music scene in Rotterdam. There are tons of talented bands here, and what’s really cool is that everyone is super supportive of each other.
You’ve mentioned you draw influence from classic British post-punk such as Joy Division and Killing Joke and you mentioned that the basis of music knowledge over there [in the UK] is much stronger – how would you like to see the local scene pick up on that sentiment, what do you feel is missing or differs over here?
It feels like music is more in the DNA of the British population. Everybody can sing along to songs from the likes of Oasis, Beatles etc. It unites people from different backgrounds. It would be so lovely if young Dutch kids would be spoon fed with ‘real music’ instead of the general dance and pop songs which are topping the charts. Besides that, nowadays everything is so fragmented and people only stay in their own box instead of uniting. It would be the dream to see that unity through music between Dutch people from all sorts of backgrounds
Though the Netherlands is a small country, it feels like we have quite a good and broad music scene. There are a lot of great bands and artists all over the country and a concept like Popronde makes it easy to make the first metres as a band.
You make your own merch, including encrypted gold/silver necklace chains, vintage garments with homespun embroidery. The music as well as the merch are the labour of love for a band to support themselves – how did your ideas for the merch come about and what does it mean to independent artists such as yourselves?
We create music and physical merch to foster community and connection, using the dregs of a wasteful system to try and literally (attempt to) Fix Everything with a club of like-minded people who appreciate well-made objects and love wearing them. We also hope to inspire other bands to think twice about getting their merch cheaply printed on sweatshop garments, while much more sustainable options are available (and can be way more fun!). We endlessly appreciate everyone who buys our stuff and gives it life. And we know we can’t fix everything. But we can try.
The scene is full of dope people and great talent, but it could definitely use more support infrastructure and funding to really thrive. Despite these challenges, the DIY scene in the Netherlands is incredibly resilient and continues to survive and develop. It’s inspiring to see so many alternative artists connecting, supporting each other and making music and art together.
Do you find the local scene in the Netherlands supportive of bands when it comes to getting booked for shows, festivals and getting yourself out there? In terms of that, are you happy with it and is there any change would you like to see?
I [Veerle Driessen] felt very well supported last year I must say, for which I’m very thankful. In general I find the fees given to bands low. More attention should be paid to this.
You’ve recently played your first festival show – how was that, how does playing a festival differ from playing a show at a venue?
Very cool!!! We thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s much grander than playing in a venue, the show, the production and all the preparations around it. At first I felt some tension during the preparations, I was thinking ‘Will everything go well?’ But it did and it was a magical experience! I’m looking forward to all the festivals to come.
What made you reach out to us for the open call and how did you find out about the Call from the Hull project?
I [Efrem Angela] reached out for the open call because I had played at V11 twice before with a previous band and remembered it being a really nice place. The people were friendly and I had a good time.
Aside from that we really wanted to record in a space with somebody helping us out. In this case it was Elmo, the sweetest person ever.
Usually I do the recordings myself or we do it together as a band, but it’s so much work it was nice to not have to worry about it and focus on the playing and to have someone who actually knows what they’re doing.
We’re so glad to have you on this compilation, we’ve also just announced your album release which will take place at V11 later this year. How do you feel about that?
We’re delighted to be in good company with bands such as Library Card and we’re looking forward to sharing the stage (and the record!!!) with them. It was also a pleasure to work together with Elmo, we managed to create something beautiful together.
We had so much fun recording parts of the boat, capturing the atmosphere of V11 and mixing it with smells, colours and stories of our childhoods in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen and more specifically trips to the coastal town Cadzand-Bad.
I think we managed to convey what we wanted to with this track. Hopefully people will find beauty and solace in its introspection.
What do you find unique to the alternative music scene within the Netherlands?
What is great about this small country is that it is very easy to go to different cities for shows, despite the size there’s lots going on. V11 is testament to this, we’ve often been to Rotterdam for shows and we always leave thinking how it might be the place to be.
Usually when you refer to a local scene you mean one city or region, but for us it feels a bit wider than that, we’ve felt that the scene in Amsterdam could be closer for bands. We also never really felt like an Amsterdam band, we spent our time recording in Eindhoven and we’re also part of Geertruida a Haarlem based label. Venues that still remain from the squatting era in the Dutch scene are places we find most interesting – places like OCCII in Amsterdam, Poortgebouw in Rotterdam and Burgers in Eindhoven.
You’re familiar with our venue for some time now. How do you see that V11 is contributing to the local music scene?
I [Bart Hoogvliet] think V11 is a good stepping stone for a lot of bands. To create some hype around a show and sell out that room. As for the rest, the boat is nice for sitting on the front deck in the summer with friends. Full pack of cigarettes and a couple of amber pints, that’s a mood.
Every time I come to check out a foreign act they are completely surprised it’s on a boat. “It’s on a F$% boat?!” I’d go hard on that too.
Taking the same question a little bit broader, how do you see Rotterdam contributing to the music scene within the Netherlands?
What strikes me most is that Rotterdam is on edge. Now is an inspiring time within the many genres, where many bands desperately want to say something. I think we really have some great acts who are capable of doing just that. It’s loud and it’s honest. I think that reaches people. Just look at the tour posters coming from Rotterdam. We have The Dawn Brothers in Germany, Tramhaus in France. Iguana Death Cult in the USA and Animistic Beliefs in Asia. That’s pretty cool!
As a Rotterdam band, what kind of change have you been witnessing within the local music scene in the city recently, if any? Any changes you’d like to see?
We’d like to see profits increase year by year this quarter. Especially within our noise punk quadrant which is a growing sector promising local and international trade opportunities. Dyatlov must be a major player in the new dawn of crypto information warfare and be supplied with warm food on their rider.
Are there any new exciting bands, labels, venues, or other contributors adding to the scene you would recommend?
Nospray Bookings, Little Water Records, Raid Events.
Rotterdam is a multicultural city known for its rich history of the underground whether it’s in music, architecture or poetry, to name a few, and also its straightforward attitudes. What do you think about these associations to the city?
I agree! As far as I can see there’s a broad music scene in Rotterdam, ranging in various genres and cultures. There’s a great track record of underground bands from this city and to be a part of that in any way is very inspiring to me. What I do need to add though is that the punk scene could be way more diverse. It’s overwhelmingly white, with some people in it who seem to confuse straightforwardness with being an asshole. But I guess you’ll find those people anywhere.
With this compilation we are essentially trying to support the local music scene while also capturing a moment in time. How do you feel about the time we are in and what it means for the local music scene in Rotterdam?
These are strange times. Classic thing to say, I know. There’s a ton of bands out there, all dying to get on stage and play together. But this city just doesn’t have too many opportunities for starting bands. Rehearsal spaces are very scarce, as well as money for venues and musicians. You either have to be good at writing long documents asking for government funding or know someone who is. Or, of course, have a shitload of money in your bank account. To me that’s not what music is about and the fact that it’s such a big part of our scene and its struggles makes me pretty sad.
Rotterdam’s legendary Star TV attends events in the city equipped with a cart, camera and audio equipment, broadcasting via their YouTube channel. You recently brought Star TV to your show at V11 – Can you tell us about your connection to them?
I’ve seen Chantal and Mike for over 15 years at small gigs of small unknown bands. We seem to have an overlap in music taste. They made a live video of our gig in a prison, several years ago. Afterwards we asked them to make a video clip for our single ‘Lycra Pants’. We didn’t actually bring them to our show but they like Venus Tropicaux so they asked if they could be put on the guestlist.
Although Rotterdam’s gentrification is going way too hard and fucking everything up, it’s still a city of mixed cultures, amazing food and honesty (in the streets, not in politics).